Voice of the Faithful

Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of mainstream Roman Catholics working 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 has three goals: to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and shape structural change within the Church.

Homepage: https://voicefaithful.wordpress.com

Can the Catholic Church find a better way to choose bishops? / America: The Jesuit Review

In the United States, Voice of the Faithful, a group of lay Catholics founded in 2002 to respond to survivors and ensure a greater voice for laypeople following the revelations of child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston, has long called for reforms to the process for selecting bishops. The group drafted a document calling for the pope “to restore a role for the laity in the selection of their bishops by expanding the recommendation processes at diocesan and archdiocesan levels to require formal consultation with groups of committed Catholic men and women.” (America: The Jesuit Review)

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“More than a report about culpability for sexual abuses spanning decades, the Vatican’s report on Theodore McCarrick is an indictment of institutional knowledge and decision-making in the Catholic Church. The report, issued on Nov. 10 by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, not only charts who knew what and when about the disgraced former cardinal. It also gives us keen insight into the people, decisions and processes that enabled his rise to posts of authority in the church, despite knowledge of his crimes of the abuse of power and sexual abuse—from bishop, to archbishop and then cardinal.

“Is there a better way to select bishops? Can the process of vetting candidates for episcopal promotion in the Catholic Church be more transparent?

“Whistleblowers sounded their concerns before Mr. McCarrick’s ascendancy to the rank of archbishop—and again to the cardinalate. We now know that allegations of sexual misconduct were repeatedly overlooked or explained away by those who had the power to ensure protection and justice for his victims and to stop his rise through the ranks.”

By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Who’s at fault? New reports on clergy sex abuse offer different views. / Sojourners Magazine

“On the same day last week (Nov. 10), two reports on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church made headlines. The first report, released by the Vatican, is the so-called ‘McCarrick report’ … The second report was released by an independent commission in the U.K … What the reports have in common is long lists of sexual abuse victims and their broken families. The testimonies of survivors are instructive for the quality of their demand for justice and yet, to paraphrase Tolstoy, each unhappy survivor story ‘is unhappy in its own way.’ Each story is unbearable in its details of the physical and psycho-spiritual torture and the chronic wounds that remain.

“Both reports released last week reveal water made toxic by clericalism, or the misuse, overreach, or outright idolatry of clergy’s authority. This leads to abuse of power, which leads to religious violence, sometimes in the form of sexual abuse, but most often in the form of spiritual and moral domination of women, laity, children, and other vulnerable or dependent adults. ‘Clericalism is our ugliest perversion,’ Pope Francis told seminarians in 2018.

“The abuse of power within the Roman Catholic hierarchy has caused many who seek God “to stumble” (see Mark 9:42). Not only is the Church’s moral authority to address key social issues undermined, but individual souls seeking a spiritual anchorage are left adrift — or they reject God altogether.”

By Rose Marie Berger, Senior Editor, Sojourners Magazine, on Sojo.net — Read more …

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‘Economy of Francis’ event to showcase papal vision for global economic shakeup / Cruxnow.com

In this article by Elise Ann Allen, which appeared today (Nov. 19) on Cruxnow.com, she says: “A long-outspoken critic of market capitalism and neoliberalism, Pope Francis offered a clear picture of his vision for global economics in a post-pandemic world in his recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti, which, among other things, criticized nationalist populism and argued in favor of multilateral accords.”

Our view parallels Pope Francis’, and also that of Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr, who quoted author Sharon Harper* in his meditation today:

“Evidence of the presence of the Kingdom of God is thick wherever and whenever people stand on the promise of God that there is more to this world—more to this life—than what we see. There is more than the getting over, getting by, or getting mine. There is more than the brokenness, the destruction, and the despair that threaten to wash over us like the waters of the deep. There is a vision of a world where God cuts through the chaos, where God speaks and there is light. There is a vision where there is protection and where love is binding every relationship together.”

Those who deny Pope Francis’ view of this world and treat Christendom as an imperial system impede the coming of the Kingdom of God into this world. For the umpteenth Advent season, this Advent we’ll hear sermon after sermon about the humility of Jesus being born in a manger. Will that truth, whether myth or fact, sink into your soul, or will it sink no deeper than water sinks into a rock in a river.

*Lisa Sharon Harper, The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right (Waterbrook: 2016), 205.

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Voice of the Faithful Releases 2020 Diocesan Financial Transparency Report

Despite financial stress, many, but not all, U.S. dioceses post audited financial reports

Despite financial stress from the COVID-19 pandemic and clergy sexual abuse settlements, the number of dioceses posting audited financial reports to their websites rose 5% in the past year, according to Voice of the Faithful’s 2020 study of U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency.

However, 43 dioceses posted no financial information at all, and overall, diocesan transparency dropped slightly from 65.11% in 2019 to 64.76% in 2020. Relatively stagnant overall scores resulted, at least in part, from the change of one word in Question #8. The reviewers added the word “current” to Question #8, which refers to lists of Diocesan Finance Council members. Dioceses scoring zero on Question #8 almost doubled from 2019 to 2020, going from 68 to 113 out of 177 dioceses and offsetting major gains in scores overall. According to the study’s authors the importance of the DFC and lay membership cannot be overstated. Lay members “represent the laity of the diocese in ensuring that their donations advance the mission of the Church,” VOTF’s study says.

VOTF’s fourth annual review of all dioceses comprising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was conducted between June 1 and Aug. 31 by three independent reviewers and their report, “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2020 Report,” found that:

  • 70% of U.S. dioceses posted audited financial reports on their websites;
  • U.S. dioceses posting audited financial reports increased from 65% in 2019 to 70% in 2020;
  • 6% of the dioceses provided only unaudited reports, and 24% posted no reports at all;
  • 93% of dioceses now post a central finance page on their websites, making it easier for members of the faithful to find available financial information.

The top five dioceses, each of which received a perfect score of 100%, were the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland, and, for the second consecutive year, the Archdioceses of Anchorage, Alaska, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Dioceses of Erie, Pennsylvania, and Rochester, New York. The five lowest scoring dioceses were Camden, New Jersey; Crookston, Minnesota; Lubbock, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

VOTF’s annual review continues to emphasize the importance of financial transparency, especially in an era of continually tightening finances and dioceses’ attempts to minimize the effects of clergy abuse settlements.

VOTF’s 2020 report points out:

“Every Catholic shares in the responsibility to ensure that funds donated for Church work actually go toward those purposes. Without access to financial reports and information on diocesan finance councils, budgets, and the overall financial health of a diocese, ordinary Catholics cannot exercise their full responsibility of stewardship or verify where their donations go … This 2020 report and the three that preceded it provide tools that faithful Catholics can use to understand how their diocese uses their donations and to help them exercise good stewardship of the gifts God has given them.”

You can read VOTF’s previous annual reports on diocesan online financial transparency by clicking here.

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The McCarrick Report confirms it: clericalism powered the sex abuse crisis / America: The Jesuit Review

“Even more, it (McCarrick Report) gives us a close-up view of concentric layers of plausible deniability and culpable ignorance, powered by clericalism, that allowed McCarrick to evade discovery or accountability.” (America: The Jesuit Review.)

“People have been scouring the 461 pages of the McCarrick Report, looking for a smoking gun that definitively explains what went wrong and who should be held responsible for the church’s long-standing failure to take allegations of abuse by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick seriously. But there is no single smoking gun. Instead, the report documents decades worth of smoke during which almost no one went looking for the very real fire producing it. Even more, it gives us a close-up view of concentric layers of plausible deniability and culpable ignorance, powered by clericalism, that allowed McCarrick to evade discovery or accountability.

“There are, to be sure, specific events in the report that are particularly shocking, most especially Pope John Paul II’s irresponsible decision to accept McCarrick’s protestations of innocence over the counsel of multiple advisors when transferring him to become archbishop of Washington, D.C. But even if John Paul II had refused to promote him, McCarrick would have remained the archbishop of Newark, with the hope—made explicit by those recommending against his appointment—that the rumors swirling around him would simply fade into the background, never to be further investigated.

“This dark and deceptive hope, focused on avoiding scandal, is perhaps the single most common theme in the report. It shows up when McCarrick is passed over for appointment to Chicago and New York, when he is chosen for Washington and when the Vatican spends years unsuccessfully attempting to limit his public activity and travel. Over and over again, shepherds of the church, were faced with persistent and proliferating rumors and eventually even specific allegations that one of their brothers had abused and mistreated those entrusted to his care.”

By Sam Sawyer, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

Click here to read Voice of the Faithful’s “Clericalism: Reality and Concerns.”

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Voice of the Faithful Statement on Release of Vatican’s McCarrick Report

November 10, 2020

Voice of the Faithful has long called for holding bishops accountable when they have covered up clergy sexual abuse or, as in the case of disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, were themselves guilty of using their positions of power to abuse minors and vulnerable adults. The Vatican today released its long-awaited report into McCarrick’s case.

As the summary of the Vatican’s report shows, the line of bishops complicit in covering up, and at least implicitly condoning, his behavior stretches from his peers in the USCCB all the way to the Vatican.

“Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI both knew of the credible allegations against McCarrick,” VOTF President Mary Pat Fox said, “and the report summary names the bishops and curial officials who also knew. Clear repudiation and sanctions are needed against those still in office to demonstrate some effort at holding bishops accountable.”

Fox continued, “We also hope that Pope Francis will demonstrate his own sorrow for accepting the word of other bishops before, finally, ordering this investigation. An excellent demonstration would be accepting the resignations of all those involved.”

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Vatican’s explosive McCarrick report largely places blame on John Paul II / National Catholic Reporter

“In an explosive report that calls into question the decision-making of three Catholic popes, the Vatican has revealed a series of institutional failures that led to the repeated promotion of now disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite rumors of his alleged sexual misconduct with young men as early as the 1990s.

“The Vatican places an abundance of responsibility on Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick as archbishop of Washington in 2000 and made him a cardinal in 2001.

“The report reveals that the late pontiff, now a Catholic saint, made those appointments despite being warned in 1999 by then-New York Cardinal John O’Connor that McCarrick had been the subject of anonymous allegations and was known to invite seminarians to sleep in the same bed as him.

“The executive summary of the expansive 450-page text suggests that John Paul may have been blinded by his own prior friendship with McCarrick in the 1970s, and by his experience in communist Poland, where authorities would sometimes level false accusations against bishops in order to try and damage the church’s reputation.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

November 9, 2020

TOP STORIES

Vatican court hears unprecedented sexual abuse criminal trial
“An unprecedented trial is underway this month at the Vatican, the result of a whistleblower going public. A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy over a five-year period inside Vatican City walls(link is external). An older priest is charged with covering up the abuse. It’s the first criminal trial for sexual abuse to take place in the Vatican court. The first hearing of the trial lasted just eight minutes — enough for the Vatican court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The alleged victim, identified by his initials, LG, was forced ‘to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City,” according to charges read out by the court clerk.’” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio

The rise of Wilton Gregory, the first African-American cardinal
“Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and a leader of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church’s response to its sexual abuse crisis, was among 13 new cardinals that Pope Francis announced on Sunday (Oct. 25). The move positions Archbishop Gregory, 72, to become the first African-American cardinal next month(link is external). He has been a national figure since 2002, when, as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he presided over the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy toward priests guilty of sexual abuse. He was elevated from his position as the bishop of Belleville, Ill., to lead the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2005 before Francis installed him in Washington last year.” By Christina Morales, The New York Times

Are women involved in a toxic relationship with the church?
“It’s not what they say; it’s the way that they say it. Documents and Scripture translations annoyingly border on gaslighting women.(link is external) Not the big-league, drive-her-crazy gaslighting, just the subtle cognitive dissonance that slips into relationships large and small. You know, ‘He loves me, he loves me not …’ Cognitive dissonance includes saying one thing and meaning another. It exists, painfully enough, in the church. We know what the church says, but we know what it does. You have to wonder, are women involved in a toxic relationship with the church?” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Australian state police rule out probe into Vatican money transfers during Pell trial
“Police in the Australian state of Victoria said Friday (Oct. 23) that they have no plans for a further investigation into reports of money transfers from the Vatican during the trial of Cardinal George Pell(link is external), while federal police have said the information they have received is under their review, and been shared with an anti-corruption commission. Victoria Police told journalists Oct. 23 that AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, had shared information with the force regarding the transfers.” By Catholic News Agency

POPE FRANCIS

Pope names new cardinals, putting his stamp on Church’s future
“The nine new cardinal electors, whom the pope listed in a surprise announcement while addressing pilgrims from his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, include Archbishop Wilton Gregory(link is external) of Washington D.C. Gregory, who will become the first African-American to hold the rank, has become a national figure in recent months. He has called for dialogue to ease racial tensions in the United States following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police in May. He has also indirectly clashed with U.S. President Donald Trump last June when he said he found it ‘baffling and reprehensible’ a Catholic Church in Washington allowed Trump to use the facility for a photo opportunity. Trump supporters later denounced Gregory.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

CARDINALS

Cardinal Woelki would step down if implicated in abuse cover-ups
“Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki would resign from his office if the sexual abuse study he commissioned implicated him in any cover-ups(link is external), according to the Cologne Archdiocese. The German Catholic news agency KNA said the archdiocese was confirming a report in the local Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper that Cardinal Woelki had expressed this intention before the diocesan pastoral council in November 2018. The aim of the study is to identify by name those who were involved in sexual abuse.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

VATICAN

Taking a broader view of Vatican ‘anti-corruption’ reforms
“When he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was infamous for rarely giving interviews(link is external). An Argentine reporter told me in 2013 that he once went out to a site where Bergoglio was saying Mass to cover the event, and then spotted him heading for the subway afterwards. From the window of his car, the reporter told Bergoglio he was heading back towards the center of town and asked if he wanted a ride, and Bergoglio reluctantly got in.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Cathedral treasurer stole £222,000 from church to feed gambling addiction
“A gambling addict took more than £220,000 from Norwich’s Catholic Cathedral while volunteering as its treasurer(link is external). Rene Mugenzi was jailed for more than two years at Norwich Crown Court on Friday (Oct. 23) afternoon for siphoning off the cash from the bank account at St John the Baptist Cathedral and into his own between March 2016 and May 2018. He admitted the fraud at Norwich Magistrates’ Court in July, but magistrates barred the public from knowing about the case because Mugenzi’s solicitor told them the fraudster’s life was under threat.” By Tom Bristow, Eastern Daily Press

VOICES

To end sexual abuse in churches, dismantle purity culture
“With tears in her eyes, Shannon Dingle approached a female volunteer, the lone woman on an all-male staff at a friend’s church youth group. Dingle was 16 and had finally worked up the courage to disclose that she had been repeatedly raped as a child(link is external). ‘We had just heard a talk on purity and modesty, which was the only context in which sex was ever discussed in the church, so it felt like, Okay, at least we’re kind of in the right area,’ Dingle, now 38, recounts. ‘They were talking about the choices people make, and I kept thinking about how my experiences so far hadn’t been a choice.’” By Leslie Goldman, on MarieClaire.com

Q&A with Sr. Patricia McCann: ‘Be a thorn in the side of injustice
“Although Mercy Sr. Patricia McCann and her companions told the Birmingham, Alabama, police officers that they were participating in a ‘spring educational tour of the South,’ the four buses with Pennsylvania license plates told a different story. McCann, Mercy Sr. De Lellis Laboon and other faculty mentors were supervising the buses, which were full of students from Carlow University (then Mount Mercy College), the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. They planned to participate in the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965(link is external). Skeptical but with no grounds to hold them, the officers begrudgingly waved them on.” By Carol K. Coburn, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

French cases lead Focolare to promise investigation of handling abuse claims
“The president of Focolare has accepted the resignations of the lay movement’s top leaders in France and announced the group will ask an independent committee to investigate how allegations of the sexual abuse of minors have been handled(link is external). ‘The task of this body will be to listen to the presumed victims and to gather further testimonies, as well as investigating eventual omissions, cover-ups or silence on the part of those responsible for the movement,’ said a statement released Oct. 22 by the Focolare movement, which is headquartered outside of Rome.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CALIFORNIA

Survivor group slams Fresno Catholic churches for withholding names of accused priests
“It remains unknown when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno may release its list of credibly accused priests of sexual misconduct two years after it began to ponder what to release(link is external) to the public. An advocacy organization says the diocese is stalling the release of names of accused priests because it doesn’t want to encourage more lawsuits from victims. The diocese would not comment on that claim.” By Yesenia Amaro, The Fresno Bee

ILLINOIS

Clinton County priest suspended for ‘inappropriate conduct’ with minor
“A priest at two rural Clinton County parishes has been suspended from ministry after he was accused of ‘inappropriate conduct’ with a minor(link is external). According to a letter to Clinton County parishioners from Bishop Michael McGovern of the Belleville Diocese, Rev. Anthony Onyango, who was pastor at both St. Bernard Parish in Albers and St. Damian parish in Damiansville, was removed from ministry last week.” By WMIX94 Radio News

Names of priests added to Rockford Catholic Diocese sexual abuse list
“Six more names have been added to the Catholic Diocese of Rockford’s sexual abuse list(link is external). The list, updated Oct. 21, now contains the names of 21 clergy members against whom allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been substantiated. The names of the six priests added to the list and their parish assignments are …” By Chris Green, Rockford Register Star

Catholic Diocese of Bellville removes priest to investigate allegation involving minor
“Bishop Michael McGovern of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville has removed a priest from ministry due to an allegation made last week of ‘inappropriate conduct involving a minor(link is external).’ McGovern made the announcement about the Rev. Anthony Onyango on Saturday (Oct. 24) in a letter to parishioners at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Albers and St. Damian Catholic Church in Damiansville, where he was serving as ‘administrator,’ according to the online diocesan directory.” By Teri Maddox, Belleville News-Democrat

LOUISIANA

New Orleans archdiocese seeks laicization for all clergy credibly accused of sex abuse
“While allegations against two New Orleans-area priests have again raised questions about the Church’s response to clergy misconduct, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has confirmed that for the past two years it has been seeking to laicize clergy who have been removed from ministry for credible reports of sexual abuse(link is external). ‘In the Archdiocese of New Orleans, very soon after the publication of the 2018 Clergy Abuse Report, conversations began in an effort to seek the laicization of those living clergy that had been removed from ministry for abuse of a minor and this is in process,’ Sarah McDonald, communications director at the New Orleans archdiocese, told CNA Oct. 26.” By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency

Rev. Pat Wattigny, Louisiana priest accused of sexual abuse, arrested in Georgia
“Police in Georgia have arrested Roman Catholic priest Patrick Wattigny on a St. Tammany Parish warrant accusing him of sexually abusing a minor while he was leading a Slidell church(link is external), authorities said Friday (Oct. 23). Wattigny’s arrest comes a little more than three weeks after he allegedly admitted to the Archdiocese of New Orleans that he had started sexually abusing a teenage boy in 2013. He faces four counts of molestation of a juvenile, all stemming from the same victim, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate

MICHIGAN

New charges files against Catholic school teacher after two more victims come forward
“New sexual assault charges have been filed against a former Catholic school music teacher after her prosecutors last month accused the 67-year-old man of sexually assaulting two other minors while he was employed at St. John Catholic School(link is external) in Jackson in the 1970s. Joseph – or Josef – Comperchio, of Fort Myers, Florida, is charged with five new counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving two individuals. Four of the counts occurred when the victims were under the age of 13, and the fifth was while the victim was physically helpless – second-degree criminal sexual conduct–injury to incapacitated victim. All charges are 15-year felonies.” By B. Thompson, MLive.com

NEW JERSEY

Four more sex abuse suits filed against Delbarton School Catholic order, 16 cases now pending
“The Catholic order that runs the Delbarton School in Morris Township now faces 16 sexual abuse lawsuits in state court after four more were filed(link is external) Thursday (Oct.22) naming Timothy Brennan, a priest and former teacher who died late last year and who has been the focus of at least 20 complaints since the 1980s. St. Mary’s Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict New Jersey, which runs Delbarton, has settled at least 10 complaints involving Brennan over the years. Brennan is also named in 10 of the pending lawsuits.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Findlay priest, Zacharias, indicted for sex trafficking
“U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman announced today (Oct. 26) that a federal grand jury sitting in Cleveland has returned a 10-count indictment charging Michael J. Zacharias, age 53, with sex trafficking of a minor and sex trafficking of an adult and minor by force, fraud, or coercion(link is external). The defendant was arrested on August 18, 2020, and has remained in federal custody since that time. ‘This defendant is accused of using his status and position as a religious and community leader to seek out troubled minors and exploit their personal challenges for his own satisfaction,’ said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman.” By Shore New Network

NEW YORK.

Deadline to file childhood sex abuse claims against diocese of Syracuse set
“Chief Judge Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of New York stated that survivors of child sexual abuse within the Diocese of Syracuse will have until April 15, 2021 to file claims against the Diocese(link is external). The Diocese of Syracuse filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2020 after dozens of abuse survivors filed abuse lawsuits against the Diocese. The bankruptcy filings show the diocese has assets of more than $10 million but less than $50 million. Lawyers for the diocese from Syracuse firm Bond, Schoeneck & King estimated the diocese has between 100 and 200 creditors and up to $100 million in liabilities.” By Legal Examiner

OHIO

Former priest files defamation suit
“Former priest William B. Smaltz of Youngstown and his wife, Noreen, filed suit against the Diocese of Youngstown on Tuesday (Oct. 27) alleging defamation after the Diocese included Smaltz’s name on a list of priests it called ‘credibly accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external).’ The Diocese released the list to the public Oct. 30, 2018, and various news outlets published articles on it. In May, however, the Diocese said it was removing Smaltz’s name from the list after further investigation and additional information indicated that the earlier allegations against Smaltz are “no longer deemed to be credible,” according to Vindicator files.” By Ed Runyan, The Vindicator

Ohio priest accused of sex trafficking played father figure to victims, enabled drug addiction
“Michael Zacharias, 53, former Ohio priest who was arrested in August 2020, is facing a 10-count indictment with charges that include sex trafficking of minor, sex trafficking of an adult by fraud, and coercion(link is external). He has also been accused of sexually exploiting the minors by enabling their drug addiction. A Federal Grand Jury in Cleveland on Friday handed down Michael, a 10- count indictment. Michael was arrested on Aug. 18, 2020 and has remained in Federal Custody since then. Michael has been accused of engaging in sexual acts and grooming of minors since late 1990s when he was enrolled as a seminarian.” By Suneeta Sunny, International Business Times

OREGON

Former Marist High student sues, alleging school knew of sexual abuse by administrator
“A former student is suing Marist Catholic High School in Eugene and the Marist Brothers of the Schools in New York for $3.25 million, alleging an administrator in the 1970s sexually abused him for years(link is external). The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Multnomah Circuit Court in Portland, states that Brother Robert Ryan worked at the private Catholic high school in Eugene as vice principal in the 1970s and used his role to groom and isolate students, sexually abusing them at school and on school trips.” By Jordyn Brown, Register-Guard

PENNSYLVANIA

Diocese of Scranton: eight more accused of sexual abuse
“More than two years later, the fallout from Pennsylvania’s scathing Grand Jury report on clergy sex abuse continues in Scranton. Another well-known priest joins the dozens of members of the Diocese of Scranton who have been accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). 80-year-old Monsignor Joseph Kelly served as the head of Catholic Social Services for a decade and was heavily involved with St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen in the city. He is now retired.” By Elizabeth Worthington, WNEP-TV16 News

Patton priest placed on leave after accusation
“The Rev. Ananias Buccicone, OSB, pastor of Queen of Peace Parish in Patton, has been placed on leave from public ministry after an accusation of recent inappropriate conduct involving minors(link is external). The allegation was reported to authorities, and law enforcement is investigating, according to Tony DeGol, director of communications for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Father Buccicone, 58, was ordained a priest in the Benedictine Community of St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe in 1993.” By Altoona Mirror

Handling of abuse allegations divides AG candidates
“Heather Heidelbaugh, Republican candidate for Attorney General, said current attorney general Josh Shapiro should not have publicized the names of priests who weren’t charged but were accused of molesting children(link is external) in a grand jury report detailing the abuse of at least 1,000 children across the state over decades. Hardly any of the priests named in the report were charged because the crimes occurred so long ago that the state’s statute of limitations had expired. Efforts to open a window to allow survivors of child sex crimes to sue despite the statute of limitations have stalled, though the General Assembly could vote next year to put a Constitutional amendment question about opening a window for lawsuits on the ballot.” By The Sharon Herald

VIRGINIA

Catholic Diocese of Richmond to pay $6.2 million to sexual abuse victims
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced last week that it is paying $6.3 million to 51 people who experienced sexual abuse as minors by clergy(link is external). The diocese released details on Oct. 15 in a report on its website, richmonddiocese.org. In February, Bishop Barry Knestout directed the formation of a program to offer assistance to those who experienced abuse. ‘Recognizing that no amount of money will ever be able to fully compensate for the injury inflicted by abusive clergy, Bishop Knestout announced the Independent Reconciliation Program as one of many means to offer individuals a tangible sign of the Church’s effort to repair the injury and overcome the estrangement caused by clergy sexual abuse of minors,’ the report stated.” By Richmond Free Press

CANADA

Man sues Catholic Church in Vancouver alleging he was drugged and sexually abused by priest
“A man is suing the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver over allegations that a former priest and a former teacher sexually abused him(link is external) in the mid-1970s. The man, who is only identified as John Doe in the lawsuit, says that Father John Kilty, an ordained priest of the Vancouver Archdiocese who served as pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in North Vancouver from 1956-1982, targeted him while he was a six-year-old student at Holy Trinity Elementary around 1974 and ’75.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

Montreal archdiocese says priest found guilty of sexual assault has been defrocked
“A priest sentenced in 2019 for abusing two boys has been formally stripped of his priesthood(link is external), Montreal’s archdiocese said Friday (Oct. 23). Archbishop Christian Lepine had defrocked Brian Boucher in March 2019, following the conclusion of a church judicial process, but that decision had been subject to appeal. The archdiocese said in statement that no appeal had been filed. ‘Therefore, the decision stands. Mr. Boucher is no longer a priest of the Roman Catholic Church.’” By Canadian Press on TimminsToday.com

GERMANY

Row over unpublished report on Cologne clerical sex abuse cover-up
“Germany’s most influential Catholic diocese stands accused of protecting senior bishops after refusing to publish a report outlining their cover-up of clerical sexual abuse(link is external). Last February Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Cologne and one of Germany’s most senior Catholic figures, promised to publish within a month a report by a Munich law firm granted access to diocesan archives. The report, he promised, would name figures who ‘as a result of their decisions and their behavior could have contributed to abuse: structurally, institutionally or even in a concrete way.’” By Derek Scally, The Irish Times

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Derry man who says priest abused him hits out at church probe
“A man who alleges he was abused by a priest in Londonderry 28 years ago has criticized the Catholic Church’s investigation. Denis Cairns was just 13 years old when he claims he was abused by a priest attached to the Nottingham diocese(link is external). He has now received a letter from the Bishop of Nottingham, Patrick McKinney, in which the Bishop said he was ‘unable to reach the required moral certainty’ demanded of him after considering the evidence from Mr. Cairns and the priest at the center of his allegation.” By Donna Deeney, Belfast Telegraph

Former priest who downloaded child abuse imagery jailed
“Defrocked priest Oliver O’Grady was sentenced to 22 months in prison at Waterford Circuit Court on Tuesday (Oct. 27) after being found guilty by a jury earlier this month of possessing child abuse imagery(link is external). O’Grady had been accused of using a computer that had been loaned to him by a housemate at 21 Otteran Place, South Parade, Waterford, to download a video showing an underage girl being abused. O’Grady denied the charge, but admitted that the computer was used to search for images and videos of ‘young boys in underwear.’” By Darren Skelton, The Irish

NEW ZEALAND

Rosmini College sex abuse: Brother William Jackson groped boys during music lessons
“An Auckland lawyer and former politician has come out in support of a Rosmini College sex abuse victim, saying he too was groped by brother William Jackson(link is external). And the school itself has been contacted by another former student who said they had a similar experience with Jackson, a music teacher at the Catholic school in Auckland during the late 1960s and early 1970s.” By Elizabeth Binning, New Zealand Herald

POLAND

Poland’s Cardinal Dziwisz denies knowledge of abuse complaint, Maciel’s crimes
“Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the influential former long-time personal secretary of Pope John Paul II, is denying a priest’s accusation that he covered up a case of clerical abuse in 2012(link is external). In an extraordinary Oct. 20 interview for the largest private TV station in Poland, TVN24, the cardinal also denied that John Paul had any knowledge of the crimes committed by Marcial Maciel Degollado, a serial child abuser and founder of the once-powerful Legionaries of Christ.” By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter

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Vatican court hears unprecedented sexual abuse trial / National Public Radio

“An unprecedented trial is underway this month at the Vatican, the result of a whistleblower going public.

“A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy over a five-year period inside Vatican City walls. An older priest is charged with covering up the abuse.

“It’s the first criminal trial for sexual abuse to take place in the Vatican court.

“The first hearing of the trial, held earlier this month, lasted just eight minutes — enough for the Vatican court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The alleged victim, identified by his initials, LG, was forced “to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City,” according to charges read out by the court clerk.

“The alleged abuse took place from 2007, when the victim was 13, until 2012.”

By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio — Read more …

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The rise of Wilton Gregory, the first African-American Cardinal / The New York Times

“Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and a leader of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church’s response to its sexual abuse crisis, was among 13 new cardinals that Pope Francis announced on Sunday. The move positions Archbishop Gregory, 72, to become the first African-American cardinal next month.

“He has been a national figure since 2002, when, as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he presided over the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy toward priests guilty of sexual abuse. He was elevated from his position as the bishop of Belleville, Ill., to lead the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2005 before Francis installed him in Washington last year.

“In recent months, Archbishop Gregory has pushed for better race relations in the church, saying it was important that young Black Catholics see church leaders who look like them.”

By Christina Morales, The New York Times — Read more …

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