Archive for February, 2023

Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego accused of fraudulently transferring assets to foil sex abuse liability / Los Angeles Times

The total tax assessed value of those properties is $453 million, Irwin Zalkin, a San Diego lawyer who represents about 120 sex-abuse claimants, said at a news conference Wednesday (Feb. 22).

By Greg Moran, Los Angeles Times

“A sweeping lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court accuses the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego of a scheme to fraudulently transfer hundreds of properties to avoid potentially large payouts stemming from a new wave of lawsuits alleging abuse by clergy members.

“The suit was filed on Tuesday, less than two weeks after the diocese held a news conference warning it might have to file bankruptcy for the second time since 2007, because of the threat from potentially large payouts to approximately 400 people who have sued alleging they were abused years ago.

“The latest lawsuit said that the diocese transferred 291 properties into real estate holding companies in late 2019, just after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that opened a three-year window for people who claimed they were victims of past sexual abuse to file new claims, long after the legal timeline had passed.”

By Greg Moran, Los Angeles Times — Read more …

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New archive of Santa Fe clergy abuse documents hailed as unprecedented / National Catholic Reporter

The archive agreement states that the archive will include documents ‘including but not limited to’ clergy personnel files, other perpetrator personnel files, victim files, investigative files, investigative transcripts, depositions, clergy risk assessments, minutes of Personnel Board and Permanent Review Board meetings, assignment records, seminary records, statements given to investigators or law enforcement, and under oath proof of claim forms from the Chapter 11 case.

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, National Catholic Reporter

“An unprecedented public archive of clergy sexual abuse documents is being established at the University of New Mexico thanks to a collaborative agreement between abuse survivors and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

“The archive, documenting one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s epicenters of sexual abuse and coverup, is the result of a commitment Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester made to the creditors’ committee that represented clergy sex abuse claimants in the archdiocese’s concluding Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

“The archdiocese, five participating religious orders and their insurers are funding the $121.5 million settlement trust, finalized in December 2022. In addition, the religious orders will contribute more than $7.7 million for specific claims against their members.

“Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall, along with law partner Levi Monagle and co-counsel Lisa Ford, represented 145 abuse survivors in the bankruptcy — more than one-third of the 395 claimants. Hall told NCR he hopes Santa Fe’s abuse document archive will become a template for current and future Chapter 11 cases involving sexual abuse.”

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Partners in mission: Dicastery promotes ‘co-responsibility’ of clergy, laity / National Catholic Reporter

‘The laypeople are not there at our service,’ (Quebec Cardinal Gerald) Lacroix said. ‘We are together at the service of the mission of the church.’

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

For too many Catholics, ordained or lay, the responsibilities of the laity are those “delegated” by the priest or bishop.

“As the continental assemblies for the Synod of Bishops make clear that hot-button issues — like sexuality, climate change and the role of women in the church — are not going away, the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life is pointing at a more fundamental issue at stake in learning to be a “synodal church”: What responsibility comes from baptism and unites all Catholics?

“And, related to the synod’s goal of promoting a church where people listen to one another and work together to share the Gospel and care for the poor, the dicastery is asking: How do clergy and laity walk and work side by side?

“The dicastery is exploring those questions Feb. 16-18 at a conference titled, ‘Pastors and lay faithful called to walk together.’ The meeting, in the Vatican Synod Hall, has an enrollment of 210 participants from 74 countries: 107 laypeople, 36 priests and 67 bishops.”

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Feb. 16, 2023

Feb. 16, 2023


More than 4,800 victims of sexual abuse uncovered in Portugal’s Catholic Church
“An independent commission looking into the sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church says it had documented cases pointing to at least 4,815 victims. Set up by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference to examine abuse in recent decades, the commission added this was the tip of the iceberg. Presenting the report, the commission’s president, child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, described its objective as ‘giving voice to the silence’ of victims. He paid tribute to the hundreds who contacted its staff to provide testimony. ‘They have a voice; they have a name,’ he said.” By BBC News on YouTube

Catholic Church in Germany has paid $43.5 million to more than 1,800 victims of abuse
“The Catholic Church in Germany has so far paid more than $43.5 million (40 million euros) to victims of sexual abuse, German Catholic KNA agency has reported. The Independent Commission for Recognition Payment approved an average amount of $24,000 (22,150 euros) in 1,809 cases. The commission’s annual report was presented in Bonn Feb. 3. There have been a total of 1,839 applications from victims of sex abuse seeking compensation from the Catholic Church.” By OSV News in America: The Jesuit Review

Irish Catholic Church in ‘terminal decline’ after sexual abuse scandals
“Ireland was once regarded as the most catholic Country in the World. That, though, is no longer the case. Mark Vincent Healy was sexually abused by a member of the Spiritan Order while at school during the 1960s and 70s. He says the sexual abuse he experienced destroyed his life. ‘It had a profound psychological effect on me and the way that I made decisions in things that I wanted to do with my life, even more recently and obviously when this matter came forward and it surfaced in my life, everything changed,’ he revealed to Euronews.” By

Which U.S. dioceses have declared bankruptcy? Here’s a map
“Cardinal Robert McElroy announced last week that the San Diego Diocese may have to resort to a declaration of bankruptcy in 2023 to manage the cost of hundreds of new abuse claims. The Santa Rosa Diocese in California might also declare bankruptcy, according to local media reports. At issue, McElroy said, is a mounting number of abuse claims filed under a three-year window opened by California’s governor, which began in 2020 and expired on Dec. 31, 2022. Some of the new abuse claims brought to the diocese date back 75 years, the cardinal wrote.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency


Child sex abuse in the Catholic Church
“Portugal on Monday (Feb. 13) will become the latest country to issue an independent report into clerical sexual abuse, an issue that has dogged the Catholic Church for years and undermined its moral authority. From Australia to Ireland via the United States, thousands of priests, bishops and cardinals have been caught up in abuse scandals, as well as lay members of the Church such as Catholic school teachers or youth group leaders … Between 1950 and 2018, the US Catholic Church received credible complaints of child sex abuse involving 7,002 members of the clergy, according to the website” By Agence France-Presse on

New York debates whether clergy should be required to report abuse
“If a member of the clergy suspects that a child in the congregation has been abused, is the clergyperson legally required to report it? In New York state, the answer is no. But some advocates, clergy members and lawmakers think that should change. The issue is at the heart of the Child Abuse Reporting Expansion Act, a bill making its way through the state legislature that, if passed, would make clergy mandated reporters.” By Kathryn Post, The Washington Post


Irish delegates call for radical change in European assembly of churches
“An assembly of the Catholic Church in Europe has been told that members in Ireland want women to be admitted to the diaconate and priesthood. In island-wide consultations ‘many women communicated their pain at being denied their agency in the life of the church and spoke of feelings of exclusion and discrimination. Women play a critical role in the life of the church but so many men and women have spoken of the church excluding’ the fullness of the gifts of women,’ representatives of the Irish church said. In Ireland there was ‘a deep longing for a more inclusive and welcoming church.’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

After synodal assembly Europe’s bishops pledge to ‘work tirelessly’ to enlarge Catholic tent
“‘Something special happened here,’ Archbishop Eamon Martin, president of the Irish bishops’ conference, said at the close of a continental assembly of the European Catholic Church held this month as part of Pope Francis’ ongoing process to reinvigorate the Synod of Bishops. As in-person participants, among them the representatives of 39 bishops’ conferences across Europe, filed out of the assembly venue in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, the leader of the Irish church said in a video statement that there had been ‘huge diversity, a huge range of opinions’ and ‘a strong acceptance that the body of Christ is wounded and in need of healing in so many ways.’” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter

Oceania/Fiji Islands – Assembly of the Bishops of Oceania wants to ‘listen to the people of God’
“The Assembly of the Federation of the Four Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) was inaugurated yesterday, Sunday 5 February, with a Mass in the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Suva, capital of Fiji. Present at Suva Cathedral were hundreds of local faithful, dozens of bishops, priests and religious, and other assembly participants. Referring to the Gospel of the Day, Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, said: ‘To be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we must rediscover the power of being brothers and sisters in Christ.’” By Agenzia Fides on, Information Service of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Reform and renewal – Prague gathering aims to chart new pathway for global Catholic Church
“Delegates representing the Catholic Church in Ireland will join another 200 in-person and 390 online delegates from around Europe at an assembly in Prague today (Feb. 7) to hammer out recommendations on reform and renewal for global Catholicism. The ground-breaking European Synodal Assembly in the Czech capital is the next stage in a radical process of widespread consultation within the church initiated by Pope Francis in 2021.” By Sarah Mac Donald,

Tobin says ‘doctrinal change’ not the point of Synod on Synodality
“While two of his fellow American bishops clash over possible doctrinal changes as a result of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality, one US cardinal is calling a focus on outcomes rather than process a ‘red herring.’ ‘There are certainly voices that would suggest the need to change Catholic doctrine, but I don’t think that’s what the Holy Father has in mind in this whole process,’ said Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark in an interview with Crux. ‘It’s much more about how we walk together.’” By John Lavenburg,


Francis is ‘light years ahead’ of other popes in tackling abuse scandal, says pioneering journalist
“An American journalist who was one of the first reporters in the world to expose the clerical child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church says Pope Francis ‘has gone far beyond his two predecessors in confronting’ the issue. Jason Berry (73), an author and documentary-maker, said the current pope ‘has made his share of mistakes, not heeding Ireland’s survivor leader Marie Collins on genuine reform, and his failure initially to believe news reports about the scandals in Chile. But he did change, sacking a third of the Chilean hierarchy and getting to know survivors like Juan Carlos Cruz [a prominent international campaigner on the issue].’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


Enlarge the tent by rethinking women’s ordination
“The recently released Working Document for the Continental Stage, or DCS, of the Synod on Synodality is like a breath of fresh air, according to most women. It mentions that reports from all over the world display an urgency to critically rethink women’s fullest participation in the life and mission of the church as ‘baptized and equal members of the People of God.’ This implies greater involvement in significant decision-making and administrative processes. Hope of women receiving the sacrament of holy orders is also expressed in synodal reports.” By Nameeta Renu, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican’s most senior woman says Catholic Church ‘failed’ child abuse victims
“The Vatican’s most senior woman says the Catholic Church has ‘failed’ victims of child abuse, and the church must become more modern and inclusive to stay relevant. Sister Nathalie Becquart, the first woman to receive voting rights in the Synod of Bishops, is on a tour of Australian Catholic dioceses, advocating for the church to listen more to its congregation.” By Isobel Roe, ABC News

Church encourages women in South Sudan to break through cultural barriers
“In South Sudan, the cultural expectations for women are clear: They’re to get married young, have children, and stay at home to watch over and support their families, giving little thought to things such as an education and a career … However, increasingly, South Sudan women are pushing back. Martha Malok Acingath, 18, is a graduate of the secondary school Treacy runs in Rumbek, and is eager to begin university classes in Kenya in another years’ time, with ambitions to pursue a degree in criminal law.” By Elise Ann Allen,


Stop prioritizing powerful institutions and focus on the safety of the children
“I signed up to speak at Rep. Rozzi’s ‘listening tour’ event on 1/27/23 as a public commenter. Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected and didn’t get that opportunity. I stayed publicly silent for 32 years after being sexually abused as a child. Then, I shared my story with Philadelphia Magazine in 2018, detailing my life at ages 12-14 when I was groomed and then repeatedly sexually abused by a teacher at my middle school.” By Liz Goldman, ChildUSA


Roman Catholic Diocese sent out letter from bishop amid possibility of bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego could be facing bankruptcy in the coming months, according to a letter signed by the Bishop of San Diego, Robert Cardinal McElroy. Reverend Efrain Bautista told CBS 8 they mailed the letters out to parishioners this weekend to keep them informed on the situation. However, many parishioners CBS 8 spoke to at mass Sunday (Feb. 12) said they never received the letter in the mail … The idea of potentially filing for bankruptcy comes after Assembly Bill 218 lifted the statute of limitations.” By Ariana Cohen, CBS-TV8 News

‘Pure greed’: Indy woman, 72, who stole nearly $547,000 from Catholic church gets fed time
“It took Marie Carson 13 years to embezzle nearly $574,000. Now the 72-year-old will spend two years in federal prison and was ordered to pay it all back. Carson pleaded guilty to wire fraud after being accused of illegally transferring the money from the business accounts of Saint Matthew Catholic Church and School in Indianapolis to her personal bank accounts, a news release from the United States Department of Justice states.” By Jen Guadarrama, IndyStar

Steubenville diocese announces external audit as part of merger reflection
“Bishop Jeffrey Monforton announced on Feb. 2 that the Diocese of Steubenville has commenced an external financial audit, part of a process of charting a viable future for the diocese, which may include a merger somewhere down the line. Monforton provided the update in the Steubenville Register. It comes about four months after he announced his desire for the diocese to merge with the neighboring Diocese of Columbus, which was met with swift backlash that ultimately tabled a November U.S. bishops vote on the idea.” By John Laenburg,


Vatican conference aims to empower laity without ‘clericalizing’ them
“Ahead of a high-profile Vatican conference on collaboration among laypeople and clergy, several Vatican officials stressed the importance of empowering laity without ‘clericalizing’ them or, in the case of women, trying to ‘stake a claim’ or to fill gender quotas. Speaking to journalists Tuesday, American Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, spoke of ‘co-responsibility’ between clergy and laity, saying, ‘Co-responsibility is exactly what it says…It does not mean that the laity in the church have to become clerics, and clerics in the church have to become laity.’” By Elise Ann Allen,


Pope Francis is redefining ‘the spirit of Vatican II’
“The phrase ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ gets tossed around a lot lately, especially by people with clear political agendas. It’s become a cudgel for both the left and right, tangled up in the culture wars consuming America. That spirit either signals pent-up hopes for the church’s future or utter despair —depending on which side of the aisle you stand. What ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ means for Catholics today may come into focus over the next few weeks.” By Joe Ferullo, National Catholic Reporter


Judge upholds Main law allowing older sex abuse lawsuits
“A state judge on Tuesday (Feb. 14) upheld a Maine law that eliminated the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, allowing survivors to pursue lawsuits for sex crimes that happened decades ago. An attorney for more than a dozen plaintiffs who have brought civil lawsuits since the law went into effect praised the decision. ‘Survivors have suffered a lifetime of pain that has affected their relationships at home, at work, and in the world. Now survivors are empowered to face those who allowed such heinous abuse and hold them accountable,’ attorney Michael Bigos said in a statement.” By David Sharp, Associated Press

California lawmakers seek to end civil statute of limitations on childhood abuse claims
“Childhood victims of sexual abuse in California would no longer face deadlines to file civil claims against their alleged abusers under a new bill announced Monday (Feb.. 6) by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) and Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). The Justice for Survivors Act seeks to end the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, including claims against institutions that may have enabled or covered up abuse. Under the state’s current law, survivors are required to file claims in civil court by their 40th birthday, or in some cases, within five years after discovering their abuse as an adult.” By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott and Mark Villarreal, NBC-TV Bay Area News

R.I. high court weighs whether law allows Providence Diocese to be sued in older child sexual abuse cases
“Victims of childhood sexual abuse by priests asked the state Supreme Court in oral arguments Wednesday (Feb. 1) to revive their lawsuits against the Diocese of Providence, arguing that a state law passed in 2019 allowed them to sue the institution and its leaders. The case comes down to whether the Diocese of Providence and its leaders can be considered ‘perpetrators’ of childhood sexual abuse under a 2019 law. The victims argue that the conduct of the diocese and its leaders was so egregious that they could be considered a ‘perpetrator,’ the same way the driver of a getaway car can be criminally charged in a bank robbery.” By Brian Ameral, The Boston Globe


Six key details in the new report on Jean Vanier’s abuse
“Earlier this week, a commission of French scholars released the results of their two-year investigation, nearly 900 pages of information, on sexual and spiritual abuse by Jean Vanier, his mentor Thomas Philippe, and their mystical-sexual sect that played a role in the founding of L’Arche, a worldwide organization that supports people with intellectual disabilities. The report includes historical, sociological, psychological, theological, and religious analysis, drawing from more than 200 hours of interviews and numerous documents from the archives of two L’Arche communities, L’Arche International, the French Dominicans, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Vanier’s personal archives, and more.” By Mitchell Atencio and Betsy Shirley, Sojourners


Catholic church agrees to settlement in alleged East Hartford child sexual abuse, attorney says
“An attorney representing a woman who alleges she was sexually abused as a child by a Catholic priest in East Hartford said they reached a settlement with the church. The woman’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said the claim was outside of the statute of limitations and was settled ‘in the low six figures.’ The settlement was finalized in January, he said. Garabedian said his client, who is now an adult, was repeatedly sexually abused by Toribio Villacastin, a priest assigned to St. Isaac Jogues Parish in East Hartford from 1969 to 1970.” By Peter Yanbkowski, CT Insider


Department of Children and Families investigating Pensacola church volunteer deacon
“The Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating claims made against a volunteer deacon at Little Flower Catholic Church in Pensacola, according to the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee says Little Flower Catholic School received a complaint from three students about the deacon who oversees mass at Little Flower Catholic Church. The deacon will not serve the ministry until the investigation is complete.” By WEAR-TV3 News


Lake Zurich pastor again reinstated after archdiocese finds insufficient evidence of abuse
“The pastor of a Catholic parish in Lake Zurich has again been reinstated to the ministry after an Archdiocese of Chicago panel found no sufficient evidence he had sexually abused a minor, Cardinal Blase Cupich announced in a letter to parishioners Saturday (Feb. 11) night. The Rev. David J. Ryan, who stepped aside when the allegations surfaced in September, can return immediately to his duties at St. Francis de Sales Parish, Cupich wrote.” By Charles Keeshan, Daily Herald

Letter from Cardinal Blasé Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on Father David Ryan
“Dear Parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Parish: Last September, I informed you of new allegations the Archdiocese of Chicago received, accusing Fr. David F. Ryan of sexually abusing a minor. In keeping with our procedures, he once again was asked to step aside from his pastoral duties until a thorough investigation and process could be completed. He has fully cooperated with civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago during these months. After numerous attempts, those making the accusations have refused to cooperate with both civil and church investigations.” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich

A priest scandal rocked Belleville Diocese 30 years ago. How have things changed?
“What a difference 30 years makes. The watchdog organization Voice of the Faithful recently ranked the Catholic Diocese of Belleville the seventh most ‘financially transparent’ diocese in the United States. The lay organization’s 2022 report states that, while financial transparency wouldn’t have prevented clergy sexual abuse in the past, it would have kept the Catholic Church from secretly paying cash settlements to families of child victims in exchange for their silence.” By Teri Maddox, Bellville News-Democrat


Three words: How the Catholic Church and allies altered a bill to protect it from sex abuse lawsuits
“(Kathleen) Hoke (former assistant attorney general) understands better than most the consequence of a bill passed by state lawmakers — unwittingly, some legislators say — to create a statute of repose for lawsuits over child sexual abuse. Five years later, the implications are still coming into focus. Authorities recently told the courts they finished a nearly four-year investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore and uncovered a history of child sexual abuse by priests. The revelation set off a groundswell of support for survivors. In Annapolis, there’s more political will than ever before to remove a legal barrier for adult survivors to sue the church. There’s just one problem — those three words (statute of repose).” By Tim Prudente, The Baltimore Banner

‘I’m a survivor’: parishioner finds strength in faith even after abuse
“Patty Ruppert was trembling so badly she wasn’t sure she would get through her talk. Standing in front of her fellow parishioners at the conclusion of an evening Mass in December, the faith formation director at Immaculate Heart of Mary revealed a painful secret few knew about her: she is a survivor of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. “I stand here to try to help others put a face to this horrible reality of abuse,” said Ruppert, who gave the same address at all the liturgies that weekend.” By George P. Mastysek, Jr., Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Review


Diocese of Worcester releases report on allegations of cleric abuse of minors
“A new report by the Diocese of Worcester identified 173 credible allegations of cleric abuse of minors since the diocese was established in 1950. The diocese said the report by Bishop Roberth McManus serves as an update to the 2004 report by then-Bishop Daniel Reilly. The total number of allegations made in the review, including allegations deemed unsubstantiated false or withdrawn, was 209.” By Spectrum News


Two former SLU priests accused of abuse
“St. Louis University has learned that two of its former priests have been ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse. The regional Jesuits’ Province added the men’s names to a list tracking highly probable abuse incidents. One priest, the late Daniel Campbell, was a faculty member in the late 1950s. The other, David V. Meconi, was working at SLU as recently as 2021. According to the Province, the timeframe of the abuse allegations against him was from 2015-2016. Meconi directed the university’s Catholic Studies center. In a letter to the SLU community, president Fred Pestello said the university is coordinating support for those who were affected. He also urged people to report any instances of abuse.” By KMOX News Radio


The challenge for the archdiocese: looking forward, but never forgetting
“Archbishop John C. Wester has seen the Archdiocese of Santa Fe through a cataclysmic clergy abuse scandal, a bankruptcy of more than $121 million, and worst of all, the unscrubbable stain of the damage done to hundreds or thousands of New Mexico Roman Catholics, most of them children. The clip file is huge and painful. But if you look at the calendar, much of it is in the past. Or is it? Not by a long shot. My source? Archbishop John C. Wester. ‘You know, sometimes people say, ‘Well, I guess we’ve settled that,’ Wester said in a recent interview. ‘I say, ‘Oh, no, we haven’t settled it at all.’” By Phill Casaus, Santa Fe New Mexican


New Details: Jamestown priest arrested on sexual exploitation charges
“A priest with The Diocese of Fargo was arrested Wednesday (Feb. 1) on suspicion of committing sexual exploitation by therapist in Stutsman County. The Diocese says on Jan. 14, Father Neil Pfeifer was removed from active ministry, pending an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct. ‘Today I have learned that Father Pfeifer was arrested. Father Pfeifer remains out of ministry as pastor of the Basilica of St. James in Jamestown, St. Margaret Mary in Buchanan and St. Mathias in Windsor, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation,’ said the Most Reverend John Folda, Bishop of Fargo. ‘Please pray for all involved.’” By Kortney Lockey, Valley News Live


Harrisburg diocese bankruptcy finalized: restitution set for abuse survivors
“A federal judge gave final approval Wednesday (Feb. 15) to a bankruptcy settlement that will require the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and its insurers to provide $18.25 million in restitution to survivors of child sexual abuse in the church. Negotiations over the settlement spanned almost three years, with the diocese and a committee representing sexual abuse survivors reaching an agreement in November. Patrick Duggan, an abuse survivor who served on this committee, called Wednesday’s legal resolution ‘bittersweet’ — noting that it secured money for damages and numerous commitments from the diocese but also leaves some survivors without the chance to confront church representatives in court.” By Bethany Rodgers, York Daily Record


What we know about the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville investigations and lawsuits
“In the last year, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has been hit with two lawsuits alleging improper investigations into sexual assault complaints. These lawsuits cracked open the inner workings of the diocese. In the course of reporting on the lawsuits, Knox News has published a number of articles detailing different aspects of how the diocese has, and has not, held itself accountable. Here is a look at the findings of Knox News’ investigation.” By Tyler Whetstone, KnoxNews

Knoxville diocese asks judge to allow it to keep documents secret, cites Knox News reports
“The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville is asking a judge to grant greater secrecy as the church continues to defend itself in an explosive sexual abuse lawsuit. The effort is in large part due to the reporting of Knox News. The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has asked a judge to allow it to keep secret internal documents as it defends itself in an explosive sexual abuse lawsuit.” By Tyler Whetstone,


Congolese survivors of abuse by Catholic priests demand Pope take action
“On Thursday (Feb. 2), protesters gathered outside Kinshasa’s Notre Dame Cathedral to denounce systemic sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Advocates are drawing attention the case of a 14-year-old girl who was raped by a priest in the DRC, and demanding the church apply a 2019 law enacted by the pope to hold bishops accountable for sex abuse or for covering it up.” By


Funding scheme offers healing for victims of Church abuse
“People who have been abused or harmed in Church or other settings and are seeking healing may be eligible for a new funding scheme available in 2023. The Grief to Grace team in Perth is making funds available to cover anyone in Australia who wants to attend the healing retreat program overseas. The program has been offered in Australia three times, however COVID-19 and other issues have made it difficult to continue offering the program locally. This is why the Perth site has decided to release funds to help people living in Australia to attend the program at established Grief to Grace sites in the UK, US and Europe.” By

Secondary victims in abuse cases – developing law in Australia and England
“The Australian Victorian Supreme Court has permitted a claim for damages by a secondary victim of abuse and effectively confirmed the extension of liability to secondary victims … The claim was brought by a father whose son had allegedly been abused by George Pell, the second defendant to the proceedings and a Vatican official, in 1996 when Pell was appointed as an assistant priest, bishop, auxiliary bishop and cardinal in Australia. The claim was also brought against the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, the first defendant.” By Amanda Do, Alastair Gillespie, Lucinda Lyons and Katherine Neal, Clyde & Co., on

Safeguarding expert’s meetings with local leaders ‘an encouraging opportunity’
“International safeguarding expert Fr Hans Zollner SJ says his latest visit to Australia has been an encouraging opportunity to strengthen the global network of individuals committed to safeguarding children and vulnerable people from abuse. Fr Zollner is the director of the Institute of Anthropology, Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care (IADC) at Pontifical Gregorian University. His 10-day trip to Australia concluded on Saturday (Feb. 11).” By


Parents learn of sex abuse case against teacher six months after hearing
“Parents of students at a Catholic high school in Perth, Ont., are only now being told about a historic sexual abuse case, nearly half a year after the province’s regulatory body for teachers deemed it credible. The Ontario College of Teachers ruled last summer that Edward (Ted) Michael Oliver was guilty of professional misconduct after it investigated allegations that he sexually abused a 17-year-old female student while he was teaching at St. John Catholic High School. The regulator revoked Oliver’s teaching certificate after verifying complaints through its internal disciplinary process.” By Giacomo Panico, CBC


Church in Costa Rica to compensate four victims of ex-priest serving 20-year sentence
“The Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference and the Archdiocese of San José announced that an agreement has been reached to compensate four victims of sexual abuse by ex-priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence. The bishops said in a Feb. 1 statement that in order to close the legal proceedings for damages against the victims, “an agreement has been reached” that is “satisfactory to all parties.” By Catholic News Agency


Abusive German priest with links to late pope to face trial in March
“The civil lawsuit by a German abuse victim against a convicted abusive priest with links to the late pope Benedict XVI and representatives of the Catholic Church is now due before court on March 28. The Traunstein Regional Court in the southern state of Bavaria set the trial date on Thursday (Feb. 9) in a case which is considered one of the most prominent in the abuse scandal involving the German Catholic Church. The priest, a repeat offender convicted of sexual abuse identified by the initial H under Germany’s strict privacy laws, must appear in court.” By Gwinnett Daily Post


Sexual abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church reached ‘epic proportions’
“On February 13, the final report of the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church will be released. In October, the commission had already validated testimony from 424 witnesses, but most had already expired in legal terms. However, Pedro Strecht, President of the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church, says what they have is compelling: “The witness reports present a lot of identical information, a fact that reinforces the consistency of the testimonies and outlines serious situations existing over decades that become more evident the further you go back in time, and in some places, they assumed truly endemic proportions.” By Filipa Soares,

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A priest scandal rocked the Belleville Diocese 30 years ago. How have things changed? / Belleville News-Democrat

Recognition for transparency in the Belleville Diocese is significant, particularly considering its reputation in the early 1990s, when victims, advocates, journalists and others complained that it had kept clergy sexual abuse hidden from the public.

Teri Maddox, Belleville News-Democrat

“What a difference 30 years makes.

“The watchdog organization Voice of the Faithful recently ranked the Catholic Diocese of Belleville the seventh most ‘financially transparent’ diocese in the United States.

The lay organization’s 2022 report states that, while financial transparency wouldn’t have prevented clergy sexual abuse in the past, it would have kept the Catholic Church from secretly paying cash settlements to families of child victims in exchange for their silence.

“‘The horror of clergy sexual abuse … would have been reported, not covered up, and abusers would have been called to account for their crimes,’ the report stated. ‘Victims of serial abusers would have been protected.’

“Recognition for transparency in the Belleville Diocese is significant, particularly considering its reputation in the early 1990s, when victims, advocates, journalists and others complained that it had kept clergy sexual abuse hidden from the public for decades.

“The Belleville News-Democrat published its first story on the issue in February 1993. By 2002, the diocese, which covers 28 counties in southern Illinois, had removed 15 priests and one deacon from ministry.”

By Teri Maddox, Belleville News-Democrat — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Feb. 3, 2023


Fordham report faults Jesuits for stressing discretion in handling abusive priests
“Anew report from the Jesuit-run Fordham University on the long-term impacts of clergy sexual abuse criticizes the global Jesuit religious order for placing importance on discretion when handling Catholic priests accused of abuse, instead of on discipline or prevention of further abuse. The report, released Jan. 26, summarizes the findings of 18 research projects that were part of a yearslong effort to better understand clergy abuse.” By Aleja Hertzler-McCain, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis admits mishandling of sex abuse cases, says church must do more
Pope Francis has shed light on the Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse allegations against East Timor’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning independence hero, suggesting that he indeed was allowed to retire early rather than face prosecution or punishment. Francis made the revelation in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday (Jan. 17) with The Associated Press, in which he also denied he had a role in deciding the case of a famous Jesuit artist whose seemingly preferential treatment cast doubt on the Vatican’s commitment to cracking down on abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican weighs in on German plan for governing ‘council’ of laity and bishops
“Senior Vatican officials have notified the bishops of Germany that they are not empowered to create a proposed legislative body made up of clergy and laity, which would act as a governing body for the whole Church in the country. ‘We wish to make it clear that neither the Synodal Path, nor any body established by it, nor any Episcopal Conference has the competence to establish the ‘Synodal Council’ at the national, diocesan or parish level,’ a Jan. 16 letter sent to the German bishops explained.” By Luke Coppen and J.D. Flynn, The Pillar

Vatican’s handling of Rupnik case shows church considers women unequal
“The global Jesuit order issued a notice in early December that it had placed restrictions on the ministry of Jesuit Fr. Marko Rupnik, an internationally known religious artist, after accusations he had abused several adult women. While remaining deliberately vague about the reasons for the move, the Jesuits seemed keen to stress that ‘no minors were involved.’ While the Jesuits and the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith avoided further comments on the case, some Italian blogs reported that Rupnik, a charismatic star in certain circles, had been accused of spiritually and sexually abusing consecrated women of the Loyola Community, a religious community he had co-founded in Slovenia in the early 1980s.” By Doris Reisinger, National Catholic Reporter


‘Confusion, control and abuse’: Report offers new details about Jean Vanier’s secret sect and sexual exploitation
“When revelations emerged nine months after his 2019 death that Jean Vanier — a philosopher, author and activist once deemed a living saint — had sexually and spiritually abused women, his legacy was upended. Now a massive report, released Jan. 30, seeks to untangle and analyze many pieces of the dark and complex story of Vanier’s decadeslong hidden life, highlighting both the extent of abuse and the ‘incredible persistence of a perverse nucleus’ of abusers. Produced by an independent, interdisciplinary commission of French academics, the nearly 900-page report validates the claims of 25 non-disabled women against Vanier, who founded a worldwide organization supporting adults with intellectual disabilities.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter


Spanish bishops lament low participation in Synod on Synodality, especially by young people
“The Spanish bishops consider ‘synodality to be advancing in our Church’ although they report low participation, especially among young people, to whom the Church must learn to listen and modulate the way of communicating the Gospel, they say. The Spanish Bishops’ Conference has presented the Synthesis for the European Continental Stage of the Synod on Synodality, which will be used in preparing the final document to be taken to the Continental Assembly.” By Catholic News Agency

Each of us must become a synod, says Sr. Nathalie
“‘This is a very special time for the Church and, as you know, we are all together, everywhere in the world, living this Synod now,’ Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ said as she commenced her Australian tour in Melbourne on Tuesday (Jan. 31). The Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops gave her perspective on synodality, its challenges, and the future of the global Church at a public forum hosted by Newman College in Parkville, in Melbourne’s inner north.” By

The role of bishops in the synodal process
“On the eve of the celebration of the Continental Assemblies, it is with a letter addressed to all the eparchial bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches and diocesan bishops around the world that the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, and the General Relator of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, address the topic of the bishop’s role in the ongoing synodal process.” By Cardinal Mario Grech and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich

Rigid definitions of ‘Catholic’ leave too many out in the cold
“Collectively, it’s led to a sense that the church has to do something about those who walk away and don’t come back. At the global level, Pope Francis has called a synodal listening and discernment process for the whole church slated to run into late 2024. The U.S. bishops have initiated their own call for renewed teaching and understanding of the Eucharist. Beneath the surface of each initiative are foundational questions about who gets to call themselves Catholic, who gets to call anything Catholic, and who even wants to be called Catholic.” By Don Clemmer, U.S. Catholic


The Anti-Francis Gatekeepers: this January exposed the opposition to Francis
“New Year in Rome, normally a quiet time, is when the Vatican slowly emerges from the post-Christmas shutdown. While keeping one eye on the pope’s address to foreign diplomats, many reporters dare to take time off. In January 2023 that was a bad idea. The passing of Benedict XVI—ninety-five and long ailing—on December 31 was followed by the unexpected death on January 10 of a giant figure of conservative Catholicism, Cardinal George Pell, eighty-one, who had concelebrated Benedict’s funeral just five days earlier. What made this one of the most turbulent months of the past decade was not just these two deaths but what they exposed: the tactics and mindset of a group of conservatives who, smelling the end of the Francis era, are determined to secure its reversal in the next conclave.” By Ausen Ivereigh, Commonweal

Pope Francis recalls a ‘conversion moment’ on abuse
“In a wide ranging interview with the Associated Press, published on January 25, 2023, Pope Francis explained how he had a ‘conversion moment’ on the issue of abuse within the Church during his 2018 trip to Chile. He also commented on two important abuse accusations that have emerged over the last months. The first concerns an East Timorese Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bishop, Carlos Ximenes Belo, and the second a Slovenian Jesuit artist, Father Marko Rupnik, whose paintings are found in churches all over the world.” By Isabella H. de Carvalho, Aleteia

Pope discusses his health, critics and future papacy
“Pope Francis says he hasn’t even considered issuing norms to regulate future papal resignations and plans to continue for as long as he can as bishop of Rome, despite a wave of attacks by some top-ranking cardinals and bishops. In his first interview since the Dec. 31 death of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis addressed his health, his critics and the next phase of his pontificate, which marks its 10th anniversary in March without Benedict’s shadow in the background.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope Francis, between reality and representation
“The news that the French priest and psychiatrist Tony Anatrella has been barred from public life, but not reduced to the lay state, after his final conviction for abuse, has arrived for Pope Francis while the echoes of the Rupnik case have not yet quiet down … Probably, the decisions of Pope Francis must be considered the natural implementation of measures that had already been put in place in the past. Of course, there are new elements, but the line of judgment is the same. Indeed, Pope Francis allows for even more exceptions and is more personal in his decisions.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Monday Vatican


Prominent Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet denies 2nd allegation of sexual misconduct
“Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet is denying allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by a woman in 2020. On Friday (Jan. 20), the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Quebec City confirmed that it had received a second complaint against Ouellet, the former archbishop in the provincial capital. A Vatican investigation was conducted in the wake of the second complaint against Ouellet, but Pope Francis decided ‘not to retain the accusation against the cardinal’ who now serves as head of the Vatican’s bishops’ office.” By CBC News


Stika told priests accused seminarian was ‘victimized’
“The Pillar has confirmed a recently-made allegation, that Bishop Rick Stika told priests a seminarian accused of sexually assaulting a parish organist had actually been victimized by the organist – essentially recasting the story so that the accused seminarian was the victim, rather than the alleged aggressor. The allegation came in a lawsuit refiled last week, which charges that Stika impeded an investigation into the claim that former seminarian Wojciech Sobczuk sexually assaulted the lawsuit’s plaintiff, who worked as a musician at the Diocese of Knoxville’s cathedral.” By The Pillar

India: Bishops need to be serious about their meetings
“In recent years, the simple church-going Catholics in India, the world’s biggest democracy, have been scandalized by allegations of clerical sex abuse and financial crimes rocking the Catholic Church in India. Will that be a botheration for the bishops as they gather for their annual plenary meeting this week in southern Indian Bangalore city? The growing rift and spirited fight among the bishops, priests, and the laity, some of them involving court cases, have undermined Catholics’ faith in the Church’s self-stabilizing system and exposed to the world the serious lack of leadership in the Indian Catholic Church today.” By Michael Gonsalves,


Is there room in the tent?
“As the Church prepares for the next phase of the Synod on Synodality, one of the most pressing issues is the relationship between women and the Church, combined with the problem of clericalism. The Working Document clearly states that ‘almost all reports raise the issue of full and equal participation of women.’ (No. 64.) Many national reports asked to restore women to the ordained diaconate, yet the Synod’s Working Document for the Continental Stage refers to ‘a female diaconate’ … While women are increasingly included as professional managers within Church structures, notably within the Roman Curia, deep resistance to accepting historical precedence of women’s ordained ministry remains.” By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano

Installing women as lectors, Pope says Word of God is for all
“Pope Francis Sunday (Jan. 22) celebrated a special Mass marking the Day of the Word of God, during which he conferred the ministry of lector on seven lay people, five of them women, and said the Gospel is intended primarily for the sick and far away. Francis formally opened the ministry of lector, along with that of acolyte, to women in a 2021 decree. He established the Day of the Word of God on the third Sunday in ordinary time in 2019. In his homily for the Jan. 22 Mass, the pope noted that Jesus in the scriptures is ‘always on the move, on his way to others.’” By Elise Ann Allen,


Australian Catholic groups push for progressive church reforms in wake of George Pell’s death
“A coalition of 20 Catholic groups will this week push for significant reform of the church in Australia to make it more inclusive, saying the conservative stance of the late Cardinal George Pell ‘may have galvanized the mood’ for change. The Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform will gather on Thursday (Feb. 2) – the same day as the funeral planned for Pell at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral – in support of Pope Francis’s commitment to a more inclusive church and less autocratic and patriarchal leadership.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Pope Francis confers lay ministries upon 10 people in St. Peter’s Basilica
“Pope Francis formally conferred the ministries of lector and catechist upon four men and six women from the Philippines, Mexico, Congo, Italy, and the U.K. on Sunday at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Celebrating the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 22, the pope presented Bibles to three new lectors and said: ‘Receive the book of Holy Scripture and faithfully transmit the Word of God, so that it may germinate and bear fruit in the hearts of men.’’ By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency


Protecting God’s children
“The approach of Catholic Schools Week gives us an opportunity to revisit the efforts the Archdiocese of Chicago has been taking to keep our children safe. First, we must acknowledge forthrightly the serious mishandling in the past of child abuse in our parishes and schools by clergy and others. The pain caused by these failures is the reason this archdiocese has, for more than 30 years, been at the forefront of creating and continually improving policies and programs to address the scourge of child sexual abuse and support survivors.” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, Chicago Catholic

Catholic Church doing opposite of public statements on abuse safeguarding – advocate
“The leader of a network for survivors abused by priests says the Catholic Church’s new promises to change are not genuine. Earlier this week a 10-point statement was issued by NZ Catholic Bishops Conference president Cardinal John Dew, and Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa president, Fr Thomas Rouse … But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Aotearoa leader, Dr Chris Longhurst, told RNZ: ‘What the bishops and the congregational leaders of the Catholic Church are saying in public is not what’s happening behind closed doors.’” By Radio New Zealand


Vatican to hear final appeal of former pastor removed from St. Matthew Catholic Church
“The legal fight behind the walls of the Vatican over the pastorship of Charlotte’s largest Catholic church has reached its end game. Rev. Patrick Hoare, who was removed as spiritual head of massive St. Matthew Church based on allegations of misconduct involving young people, has filed his final appeal to reverse the 2020 decision by Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte. While the Diocese of Charlotte previously has acknowledged that its investigation of Hoare had not revealed any incidents of sexual abuse of young people, his odds of reversing his removal appear small.” By Michael Gordon, The Charlotte Observer


Where is Mass attendance highest? One country is the clear leader
“A compilation of new data by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University sheds light on the countries around the world that have the highest Mass attendance numbers. CARA researchers used data from the World Values Survey (WVS), a major international study of religious belief that has been conducted for decades, to examine 36 countries with large Catholic populations. Of those countries, the researchers ranked them by the percentage of self-identified Catholics who say they attend Mass weekly or more, excluding weddings, funerals, and baptisms.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

Running the numbers, Africa isn’t the Catholic future – it’s the present
“While Catholicism officially numbers around 1.3 billion adherents worldwide, a good share of that total is fairly nominal. In terms of setting the tone within the church, those who are more active generally punch far above their weight – generating a greater share of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, for instance, as well as various lay roles. In much Catholic parlance, it’s long been said that Africa is the future of the church. Looking at the numbers in terms of who actually shows up, however, Africa isn’t the future. It’s the present, and it has been for a while.” By John L. Allen, Jr,

Seattle Archdiocese announces sweeping plan to consolidate parishes
“The Seattle Archdiocese is consolidating parishes in a sweeping plan that will affect virtually every Catholic Church community in Western Washington. In Masses and vigils over the weekend from the Canada to Oregon borders, pastors announced the four-year plan to group two or more parishes together in ‘families’ that will share one priest and one assistant priest. Some churches will likely close or be repurposed for uses such as early learning centers or homeless shelters.” By Nina Shapiro, The Seattle Times

Losing their religion: why U.S. churches are on the decline
“Churches are closing at rapid numbers in the US, researchers say, as congregations dwindle across the country and a younger generation of Americans abandon Christianity altogether – even as faith continues to dominate American politics. As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year in the country – a figure that experts believe may have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic.” By Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian


$5.4 million altar for Work Youth Day generates controversy in Portugal
“Although Pope Francis hasn’t even formally confirmed his presence yet, the 2023 edition of World Youth Day in Lisbon is already generating controversy over a $5.4 million price-tag for the altar area from which the pontiff is expected to celebrate a closing Mass. Last week Lisbon city officials published details for the massive 54,000-square foot altar and stage area, at a cost of 4.2 million Euro plus VAT, or value-added tax, for a total outlay close to $5.4 million. The contract has been awarded to Portugal’s largest construction company, Mota-Engil.” By


Is the Vatican clericalist in all the wrong places
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller suggested recently that the Vatican could appoint a layman or woman to serve as Secretary of State, in line with curial reforms issued by Pope Francis last year. The suggestion from the former prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has been widely taken as either ironic, or as a barbed attempt at humor around the Vatican. But what point was he trying to make? And if the idea of a layperson serving at the top of the Roman curia isn’t to be taken seriously, what does it say about the nature of Francis’ reforms in Praedicate evangelium, the apostolic constitution promulgated last year?” By Ed Condon, The Pillar


The Church’s memory problems: trying to reckon with the past—and the present
“One month into 2023, it seems there are fewer comforting pages of Church history to balance out the increasing number of shameful ones. The past five years of Francis’s decade-long pontificate have presented no shortage of difficulties tied to the abuse crisis—from his disastrous trip to Chile in January 2018 to last month’s revelations about Jesuit artist and alleged serial abuser Marko Rupnik. The recent deaths of Benedict XVI and Cardinal George Pell have brought to light further reminders of the unpleasant past; their records on the abuse crisis and Vatican governance are, in different ways, problematic and controversial and unlikely to be settled anytime soon.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Considerations for a Church in crisis
“In terms of its harm and far-reaching effects, the present crisis in the church must be compared with the Reformation and the French Revolution. It is this conviction that brings to my mind the forthright declaration of the Second Vatican Council, Our era needs wisdom more than past ages…. The future of the world is in peril unless wiser men and women are forthcoming (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World, No. 15).” Originally published May 27, 2002, by John R. Quinn, retired archbishop of San Francisco who died in 2017

Academic theology needs to be more connected to the church
“The confused sense of purpose in the theology departments at many of our Catholic institutions of higher learning is one of the biggest challenges facing the Catholic Church in the United States. Deconstructionism, with its hostility to the very idea of a canon, and its various post-modern offshoots, have left their mark on theological scholarship, frustrating or making any attempt at a lived connection with the life of the church nonsensical. This is a difficult story to report. Colleagues do not like to complain publicly about each other.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Clerical loss of power – Germany, synodality and the synodal way
“The Roman Catholic Church is in the midst of the greatest church crisis since the Reformation, which is not triggered by the worldwide abuse scandals, but finds a focal point in them … Will uncoordinated processes of ecclesiastical decision-making and reform lead to the self-destruction of the previous Roman Catholic world system? Or can the current disputes between the Vatican and above all the Church in Germany pave the way for a new, more comprehensive ecclesiastical self-understanding?” By Sigrid Grabmeier and Christian Weisner, The Tablet


Low blow by PA lawmakers: playing politics with kids abuse by clergy, harmed by polluters
“In what only can be described as a low blow (or, more likely, an immoral partisan backroom deal), the Pennsylvania State Legislature seems prepared to use the constitutional amendment dubbed “Marsy’s Law” — meant to guarantee the rights of crime victims’ rights — to also move two other highly contentious amendments related to voter identification and regulatory review. Even my hometown Blair County Republican Representative Jim Gregory said, ‘What they’re trying to do, in my opinion, is use victims as pawns in a political game, and I’m not going to play that.’” By Mitchell Hescox, York Daily Record


Former nun adds to abuse accusations against prominent Slovenian Jesuit priest
“A Slovenian former nun has come forward to accuse a Jesuit priest once prominent at the Vatican of sexual and psychological abuse, at least the fourth public accuser in a case that has shaken the worldwide religious order. The Italian investigative newspaper Domani, which has been breaking ground on the story for the past few months, on Monday (Jan. 23) published an interview with the woman, who said she was pressured into sexual acts by Father Marko Ivan Rupnik.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

WA lawmakers propose bill requiring clergy to report child abuse, citing InvestigateWest Reporting
“In response to InvestigateWest reporting on Jehovah’s Witnesses covering up allegations of sexual assault, Washington state lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. Senate Bill 5280, and its companion bill in the state House, would make it illegal for clergy not to report sexual abuse allegations to authorities unless the information came in the form of a confession. Currently, Washington is one of a handful of states in the country that do not list clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect at all.” By Wilson Criscione, InvestigateWest


Santa Rosa priest was accused of child sex abuse by error, plaintiff’s attorney said
“A veteran Sonoma County priest who was named among the perpetrators in a crush of new clergy abuse lawsuits last year has been vindicated by the very man who first accused him. Monsignor James Pulskamp, one-time director of the Hanna Boys Center in the Sonoma Valley, was misidentified by the alleged abuser, the plaintiff’s attorney says. The accuser has since identified his alleged assailant as disgraced Rev. John Crews, who succeeded Pulskamp in 1984 as director of what was then a residential school for at-risk boys.” By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat


Man sues Denver archdiocese over abuse by convicted priest
“A man who says he was repeatedly sexually abused as a teen by his Catholic priest more than two decades ago filed a lawsuit against the now-defrocked priest and the Archdiocese of Denver on Thursday (Jan. 19), taking advantage of a recently passed law that allows victims to sue even if the statute of limitations has expired. The lawsuit targets Timothy Evans, a priest convicted in 2007 of sexually abusing other teens in two Colorado counties around the same time frame.” By Colleen Slevin, Religion News Service


KBI produces what archbishop had requested: a serious study
“On Friday, Jan. 13, in the late afternoon, then-Attorney General Derek Schmidt released a summary report conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) on Catholic clergy abuse in the state of Kansas. The investigation was undertaken on Nov. 15, 2018, after my request to Attorney General Schmidt … I am grateful to the attorney general and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for the considerable time and resources they devoted to this investigation. They provided what I hoped for: an objective, thorough examination of the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and the deficiencies of the response by Catholic officials, namely bishops.” By Archbishop Joseph Nauman, The Leaven

Lawmakers, survivors call on Kobach to release names of priests investigated for abuse
“Survivors of sexual abuse are calling on Kansas’ new attorney general, Republican Kris Kobach, to release the names of Catholic priests investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for perpetrating or ignoring abuse. A coalition of sex abuse survivors, lawmakers and advocates made the plea outside the Johnson County Courthouse weeks after Kansas’ previous attorney general, Republican Derek Schmidt, released a 21-page summary of a multi-year investigation on his last full business day in office.” By Ketie Bernard, The Kansas City Star


What we know about the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville investigations and lawsuits
“In the last year, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has been hit with two lawsuits alleging improper investigations into sexual assault complaints. These lawsuits cracked open the inner workings of the diocese. In the course of reporting on the lawsuits, Knox News has published a number of articles detailing different aspects of how the diocese has, and has not, held itself accountable. Here is a look at the findings of Knox News’ investigation.” By Tyler Whetstone, Knoxville News Sentinel


Abuse survivors say Catholic church has failed to disclose hundreds of cases in NJ
“Four years ago, when New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses released a list of 188 clergy who had been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually assaulting children, church leaders vowed that they would continue to update the names as new allegations arose. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, leader of the Newark Archdiocese, wrote that he hoped releasing the names would be ‘an expression of our commitment to protecting our children’ and ‘a new level of transparency in the way we report and respond to allegations.’ But today, Newark’s inventory of 63 credibly accused clerics remains unchanged.” By Deena Yellin and Abbott Koloff,


New York diocese, abuse victims file competing bankruptcy plans
“A Roman Catholic diocese on Long Island, New York, proposed a bankruptcy plan on Friday (Jan. 27), moving to retake control of its Chapter 11 case after a committee representing sexual abuse victims filed a competing restructuring proposal. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, one of the largest in the United States, said in a statement Friday that the proposed aggregate payment and the payment each abuse victim would receive under its proposed plan are ‘well in excess of any other Diocesan Chapter 11 plan in history.’’ By Dietrich Knauth, Reuters


Pa. House leaders are on a listening tour. Sex abuse survivors feel unheard – again
“Before every interview she does, Lara Fortney-McKeever clasps a delicate key-motif bracelet around her wrist — a symbol of the years she and her sisters spent locked in silence about their childhood sexual abuse. Even after the arrest of the parish priest who had groomed and molested Fortney-McKeever and four of her younger sisters, a gag order signed as part of a settlement with the Diocese of Harrisburg prevented them from speaking about it.” By Bethany Rodgers and Bruce Siwy,

Former priest sentenced to 37 months on child porn charges
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of collecting thousands of child pornography images while serving overseas and then bringing them with him when he returned to the United States has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison. The Rev. William McCandless, 57, of Wilmington, Delaware, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Easton to 37 months in prison on a conviction of having used his cellphone to try to access pornography featuring underage boys.” By The Associated Press on


Anti-abuse advocates: diocese’s move to require victim’s name in lawsuit is ‘heartless’
“In an unusual move, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville won a legal effort to force an alleged rape victim to use his legal name instead of a pseudonym if he wants to continue his lawsuit against the church. The diocese’s push to name the victim alarmed clergy sex abuse advocates across the country. Several told Knox News the maneuver is meant to intimidate the man and scare off those who consider reporting a sexual assault in the future.” By Tyler Whetstone, Knox News


San Antonio priest quietly removed after sexual misconduct investigation
“Fr. Duncan Amek, a Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of San Antonio has been removed from active ministry following an investigation of sexual misconduct involving women and financial impropriety. On May 15, 2019, in St. Ann’s Church, where he had been a deacon for the previous year, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, ordained Duncan Amek, a native of Homa Bay, Kenya, to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Amek then went to work for St. Matthew Church and School in San Antonio, Texas.” By Zach Hiner,

Pavone was accused of ‘sexual misconduct’ before laicization
“Laicized priest Frank Pavone was accused before his laicization of sexual harassment, grooming behavior, and coercive physical contact with young women, several sources close to the allegations have told The Pillar. The Pillar has learned that at least two reports of misconduct were sent to the Diocese of Amarillo during or before 2010, with additional complaints also likely filed, sources said. Reports involved allegedly inappropriate behavior toward interns and junior employees of Priests for Life, the non-profit organization Pavone has headed since 1993.” By the Pillar

El Paso Diocese sex abuse lawsuit settled
“A settlement on the eve of jury selection in Deming’s Sixth Judicial District Court last week pre-empted a civil trial against the Catholic Diocese of El Paso alleging past sexual abuse by a priest who is now deceased. The trial had been set to begin today (Jan. 24). The plaintiff, identified as John Doe 117 in the 2019 complaint, alleged he was abused during road trips to Deming by Father Pedro Martinez, a priest at the Mt. Carmel parish in El Paso, where the plaintiff also lived at the time.” By Algernon D’Ammassa, Demming Highlight


Pope urged to sanction Congo priest in child sex abuse case
“Kinshasa, DR Congo- Congolese and foreign activists on Monday (Jan. 30) called on Pope Francis to sanction a priest accused of sexually abusing a minor in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he arrives on Tuesday. A girl identified as Marie told reporters by video conference how she was raped nearly two years ago by a priest from the Tshumbe diocese in the center of the country, when, at the age of 14, she was ‘aspiring’ to join the church. Marie said she had informed the church authorities in Congo. Since then, ‘I am not living in safety, everyone around me is under threat,’ she said.” By Agence France-Press in Manila Bulletin


Ex-Vic priest extradited on assault charge
“A former Victorian priest who was jailed for sexually abusing six schoolboys will be extradited to Tasmania to face more indecent assault charges. David Edwin Rapson was in 2015 found guilty of abusing the boys, aged between 11 and 16, at two Victorian boarding schools in the 1970s and 1980s. He was sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail, with a non-parole period of nine years and four months. The Victorian attorney-general office on Monday (Jan. 30) lodged an application in Melbourne Magistrates Court, requesting Rapson be extradited to Tasmania.” By Australian Associated Press on

‘Tip of the iceberg’: hundreds of victims allege sexual abuse at Victorian state school
“Almost 400 civil claims have been made against the Victorian government for historical child sexual abuse in state schools in the past 12 years, with more than half settled out of court, documents obtained under freedom of information laws show. Since 2010, 381 claims have been made for abuse that occurred in Victorian state educational settings between 1960 and 2018, including primary and secondary schools, specialist schools, early learning centers and after-school care.” By Benita Kolovos, The Guardian


Court rules on Mt. Cashel settlement for abuse cases
“A Jan. 12 decision by the Newfoundland Labrador Supreme Court is expected to solidify and focus the compensation claims process for the victims of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Geoff Budden, a lawyer for the claimants, told The Catholic Register that while ‘it isn’t the process that we advocated, it is a process we are fine with.’ ‘The court wrote that from our four representative plaintiffs, we’d get insights that would perhaps lead to resolutions for the other plaintiffs. The claims officer, he or she, could take these decisions as sample guidance to help determine the rewards for the balance of the claims,’ said Budden.” By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

Canada to pay Indigenous abuse survivors more than $2bn
“Canada will pay hundreds of Indigenous communities more than $2 billion in compensation for nearly a century of abuse suffered by children in residential schools, its government has announced. The Can$2.8 billion (US$2.1 billion) settlement, the result of a class action lawsuit by 325 Indigenous groups, will be placed in a not-for-profit trust independent of the government. It will be used to ‘revitalize Indigenous education, culture, and language -– to support survivors in healing and reconnecting with their heritage,’ according to a press release.” By


‘We want justice’: Victims of sexual abuse by French Catholic Church seek financial compensation
“On 5 October 2021, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the French Catholic Church published its report. Its revelations were chilling. From 1950 to 2020, no less than 330,000 minors were victims of sexual abuse by clerics or laypersons within the Church. In response, two independent bodies were created to deal with reparations: The National Body for Recognition and Reparation, and the Commission for Recognition and Reparation. More than a year later, have the victims been able to find peace? Far from it, says Nancy Couturier.” By Johan Bodinier,


Peterborough Catholic priest, 74, accused of abusing children
“A 74-year-old Catholic priest has gone on trial accused of sexually abusing two children in the 1980s. Dennis Finbow, who had worked in Dogsthorpe in Peterborough, faces six counts of indecently assaulting a boy and girl aged between 10 and 13. The trial at Huntingdon Crown Court heard the prosecution say that the defendant had touched the girl while she was in bed.”

 By BBC News

Shamed Glasgow priest convicted of sexually abusing girls
“A shamed priest was convicted today (Jan. 20) of sexually abusing four girls. Father Neil McGarrity, 68, preyed on his victims at two churches in Glasgow as well as his parish home in the city. McGarrity played ‘footsie’ under the table with one of the girls and was caught in a ‘prolonged embrace’ with another. The priest of 33 years, from the city’s Maryhill, also touched and rubbed the girls with one victim claiming he hugged her while sat on a couch.” By Connor Gordon, The Scotland Herald

Exclusive: bishop reported to police for abuse as Vatican probes lockdown sex parties
“Bishop Robert Byrne has been reported to the police following an allegation of abuse made against him by a Catholic priest, the Catholic Herald can reveal. The Oratorian stepped down as Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle in December – almost a decade before he was due to retire – saying that the demands of his office were ‘too great a burden.’ Last week, however, the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops launched an investigation for ‘an in-depth report into the events leading up to Bishop Byrne’s resignation”’ which will be overseen by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool.” By Simon Caldwell, Catholic Herald


Spiritans told abuse survivor (74) they would deny everything and ‘get him’ for costs
“A survivor of abuse at a school run by the Spiritan congregation in south Dublin was told they would deny all allegations against them, force the case to a higher court and ‘get him’ for costs. Dr John Connolly (74) says he went to the Spiritan congregation in recent years with allegations of his abuse as a child in 1958 by the late principal Fr Robert Stanley (‘Stanno’) at their Willow Park school in Blackrock. However, Dr Connolly ended up in the Round Hall of the Four Courts in Dublin where he was told ‘they would not only deny everything but force it to a higher court and get me for costs [range €40,000-€80,000].’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


Philippine Church must let the law take its own course
“Pope Francis has forbidden attempts to obstruct justice and asks to turn over clerical child abusers to civil authorities. The institutional Church in the Philippines has never had a priest jailed for child sexual abuse so far because as Cardinal Antonio Tagle told the BBC’s Hardtalk TV program, it was an internal affair handled by Church authorities. That policy is now changing as Pope Francis and the Vatican have forbidden such handling. The days of impunity are past. Or are they?” By

Prosecutors, children win convictions of sex abusers
“It is a happy day when I can write about victories and convictions. Prosecutors are fighting hard for child rights and are winning important convictions. Judges, too, believe testimonies of children with horrifying accounts of multiple rape and sexual assault by biological fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles and Catholic priests. These are great victories for those who hunger or thirst for justice and have had their fill.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times


How is Spain facing up to its Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal
“For a long time, Fernando Garciá-Salmones found it hard to accept his own reflection in the mirror. When he was a schoolboy, aged just 14, a priest named José María Pita da Veiga began to sexually abuse him. Fernando says, ‘the vulture made the little mouse feel guilty.’ ‘The priest came to me one rainy day and asked me to go upstairs to dry off in his room and that’s when it started,’ he said.” By Carlos Marlasca,

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Is there room in the tent? / L’Osservatore Romano

People around the world have asked the Church to outgrow clericalism and recognize the managerial and ministerial abilities of women. There is progress in adding women to management. The extended Synod process should not delay the restoration of women to the ordained diaconal ministry.

Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano

“As the Church prepares for the next phase of the Synod on Synodality, one of the most pressing issues is the relationship between women and the Church, combined with the problem of clericalism. The Working Document clearly states that “almost all reports raise the issue of full and equal participation of women.” (No. 64.)

“Many national reports asked to restore women to the ordained diaconate, yet the Synod’s Working Document for the Continental Stage refers to “a female diaconate.” Does this indicate ongoing discernment about the ability of women to receive sacramental ordination as deacons, despite the historical evidence of ordained women deacons? While women are increasingly included as professional managers within Church structures, notably within the Roman Curia, deep resistance to accepting historical precedence of women’s ordained ministry remains.

“Can the Church overcome clericalism and the denial of history?”

By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano — Read more …

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