Archive for category Clergy Sexual Abuse

Explainer: What the church has done to fight clergy sex abuse since 2018’s ‘summer of shame’ / America: The Jesuit Review

According to a ProPublica database, 178 dioceses and religious orders in the United States have now released lists of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The lists name 6,754 alleged abusers in total. (America: The Jesuit Review)

“It has been two years since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was published on Aug. 14, 2018, documenting in at times disturbing detail at least 1,000 cases of abuse by 300 predator priests spanning seven decades. Within two months, 13 more states and the District of Columbia had launched similar investigations, and Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then-archbishop of Washington, who was named in the report as failing to deal adequately with abuse when he was bishop of Pittsburgh.

“The Pennsylvania report came in the middle of what became known as the Catholic Church’s ‘summer of shame,’ which began with the surfacing of accusations of abuse of minors by the now-laicized former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and ended with the release of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s bombshell letter accusing church leaders, including Pope Francis, of knowing about Mr. McCarrick’s actions and failing to take action.

“Two years later, the church has taken actions on local and global levels toward greater transparency regarding abuse accusations and investigations, closed loopholes that had allowed bishops who covered up abuse not to face consequences and created universal guidelines for abuse reporting systems to be established in every diocese in the world.”

By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Vatican says bishops should report sex abuse to police
“The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday (Jul. 16) they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police(link is external) even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests. The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws continue to be ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favor of protecting their priests.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Catholic Church lobbied for taxpayer funds, got $1.4B
“The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid(link is external), with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups. The church’s haul may have reached — or even exceeded — $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found.” By Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

Reporter’s notebook: clergy sex abuse accountability
“I interviewed Francesco Cesareo, the former chairman of the National Review Board, last week for Our Sunday Visitor on the completion of his eight years leading the committee that advises the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on clergy sex abuse matters(link is external). Cesareo, the president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, also went into the progress made on holding bishops accountable, the changes that he believes still need to be made to the Dallas Charter, as well as the reasons he sees for why a culture of accountability may not yet have taken root in some parishes or schools.” By Brian Fraga, Our Sunday Visitor, on Patheos.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Argentine archbishops under attack for establishing abuse reporting offices
“Two archbishops in Argentina are under fire for following Pope Francis’s orders in creating an office to receive allegations of clerical abuse(link is external). They are being accused of ‘usurpation of the role of the State, swindles and other frauds,’ an allegation some described as ‘grotesque.’ The criminal complaint against Archbishop Eduardo Martin of Rosario and Archbishop Sergio Fenoy from nearby Santa Fe was filed after the two prelates announced the ‘implementation of a system for receiving allegations’ of sexual crimes committed by priests and other members of the Church.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Diocesan clergy abuse Review Board Chairman John Hale resigns, quits Catholic church following Bishop Weldon report
“The chairman of the Springfield Catholic Diocese’s volunteer Review Board resigned in the wake of the release of a report finding late Bishop Christopher Weldon raped a young boy(link is external). John Hale, who served on the volunteer board that hears clergy abuse allegations for 14 years, said he resigned in disgust in the wake of the report, authored by retired Judge Peter A. Velis at the request of the diocese … Hale, retired from both the U.S. Air Force and the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, said even more than that, his experience over the Weldon matter triggered his decision to leave the Catholic church altogether.” By Stephanie Barry, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

Leadership Roundtable calls for new financial standards for church
“A new report by Leadership Roundtable recommends establishing national standards for financial management for dioceses across the United States(link is external), along with an annual, publicly shared audit of financial policies and practices. It also calls for the church to invest in more training and support for young adults interested in ministry. The proposal is modeled after the ‘Dallas Charter,’ which was implemented by the U.S. bishops in 2002 and established national protocols for child protection and would be codified in the church’s canon law. The Leadership Roundtable is an organization devoted to promoting best management practices in the church.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

New cardinals? They’ll be more of the same
The good news is 15 new cardinals seem to be on the Roman horizon. The bad news is they are all men(link is external). Yes, Francis will choose from the peripheries. Yes, he will most probably select the usual suspects — the archbishops of Washington, D.C., and Paris, for example. But a mix of major sees, elderly theologians and surprise picks is probably the best he can do right now. Don’t expect a woman’s name to be on the list. The 1917 Code of Canon Law decreed cardinals — advisers to the pope and electors of his successor — must be ‘at least’ priests. The 1983 code added they ‘must receive episcopal ordination’ if not already bishops (Canon 351.1).” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

My faith sustained me: Cardinal Pell
“Cardinal George Pell says he was spat on and abused by fellow prisoners while serving time in jail for historical child sex offences(link is external) and that, in his darkest hours, he contemplated abandoning his fight to clear his name. Opening up about his time behind bars, Cardinal Pell also said the fact he was despised by many of his fellow inmates for being a convicted child sex offender actually helped restore his faith in the natural “existence of right and wrong”. By CathNews.com

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

New sex abuse accusation surfaces against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick
“A firm that has filed previous legal complaints against former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick and church entities added another complainant July 21 against the defrocked prelate, leveling a new accusation that he allegedly abused its new client as a boy at a beach house in Sea Girt, New Jersey(link is external), in the early 1980s. (Attorney Jeff) Anderson said the new complaint identifies at least seven children who were ‘groomed by others for McCarrick,’ and in addition to McCarrick it names several Catholic entities as defendants.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, America: The Jesuit Review

‘Pray for your poor uncle,’ a predatory priest told his victims
“Rain fell in New York City four days before Christmas of 2018. Francis M. had planned to be in the city that day for business, but he had dutifully put aside time when asked to answer questions at the Archdiocese of New York offices about his experiences with “Uncle Ted” — former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick(link is external). Francis had been in enough depositions in his career as an attorney to know how these question-and-answer sessions went. He assumed he would relate the story of his interactions with Mr. McCarrick, which began when he was 11, and then he would return to his usual routine.” By Elizabeth Bruening, The New York Times

BISHOPS

Allegation of clergy sexual abuse cover-up filed against Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski
“Olan Horne, a long-time advocate for clergy sexual abuse victims, has filed an allegation that Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski engaged in a cover-up(link is external) with the Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service. Horne said his complaint is not solely based on a recent investigation by retired Judge John Velis that determined how the Springfield Diocese handled allegations of abuse against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon was ‘greatly flawed.’” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican

PRIESTS

Opus Dei confirms one of its priests sentenced by Vatican for abuse
“Through a statement released on Thursday Jul. 16), Opus Dei publicly acknowledged the first sentence issued by the Vatican against one of its priests for sexual abuse(link is external). ‘The Opus Dei prelature in Spain asks for forgiveness and deeply regrets the suffering caused to the victims,’ says the statement. ‘We ask God to bring comfort and healing to those affected.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Safeguarding seminar highlights the need for more holistic formation
Priestly formation should focus as much on relationships and formation around sexuality(link is external) as it does on the intellectual, spiritual and pastoral aspects of priesthood, international child protection expert Fr Hans Zollner told Australian seminarians and formators last week. Catholic Professional Standards Limited held the first session of its online Seminary Formation and Safeguarding Seminar last Friday (Jul. 10), which included a keynote from Fr Zollner for seminarians and others involved in forming people for religious life.” By Michael McVeigh, Catholic Outlook

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Boston College theologian Richard Lennan returns as speaker for 2020 Voice of the Faithful Conference
“Voice of the Faithful is welcoming back Boston College theology professor Fr. Richard Lennan as a speaker at its 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church(link is external), a virtual Zoom gathering that takes place Oct. 3. VOTF members and others will meet to promote their visions of a just Church 18 years after The Boston Globe brought to light widespread clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston and Voice of the Faithful was founded. After nearly two decades, VOTF continues to address the scandal.” Digital Journal

VATICAN

Vatican: In rare cases, lay faithful can lead marriage rite
“The Vatican said on Monday (Jul. 20) that in very exceptional circumstances and with special permission, lay Catholics can be allowed to perform marriage rites(link is external). In a document issued by the Holy See office for clergy, the Vatican said that could only happen if there are no priests or deacons available, the nation’s bishops sign off on the exception and the Holy See OKs it too.” By Associated Press

Vatican issues guidelines for parishes in Pope Francis era
“Urging parish communities to abandon ‘outdated’ models and to embrace what Pope Francis has styled as a spirit of ‘missionary evangelization,’ the Vatican Monday (Jul. 20) issued a new instruction on the renewal of parish life(link is external). Among other things, the guidelines caution priests not to ‘commercialize’ the sacraments by charging fees, and they stipulate that financial difficulties within a diocese are not a legitimate reason for closing down parishes.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Archdiocese adds $2.5 billion to Queensland Economy
“A ground-breaking study shows the Brisbane Archdiocese makes a $2.5 billion contribution to the Queensland economy(link is external) through its parishes, schools and agencies … It’s the first time a socio-economic study of this size and scope has examined the community role of the Church, stretching across south-east Queensland, taking in 17 local government areas, 24 federal and 70 state electorates.” By CathNews.com

Vatican’s new financial regulator vows transparency
“The Vatican’s new financial regulator says he is confident that the days when the Holy See would ‘wash dirty laundry’ in private are over(link is external) and that Pope Francis’ recent spending rules are a sea change in transparency. In an interview with Reuters, Carmelo Barbagallo, the head of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF), cited two recent scandals that were revealed by the Vatican and not by the media.” By Philip Pullella and Stefano Bernabei, Reuters

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German archdiocese plans to cut parishes from 1,000 to 40
“A German archdiocese is pressing ahead with plans to dramatically reduce the number of its parishes despite the Vatican’s decision to block a similar plan in another diocese(link is external). CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German language news partner, reported July 15 that Archbishop Stephan Burger intends to turn the archdiocese’s 1,000 parishes into 40 mega parishes. In a July 14 letter to archdiocesan staff, Burger described the proposal as an ‘adequate response to the challenges facing our archdiocese.’” By Catholic News Agency

VOICES

Bishop McElroy’s hopeful vision of a church transformed
“Last week, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy ordained a new auxiliary, Bishop Ramon Bejarano. McElroy’s homily was a tour de force, not only for its spiritual insights, but for its connections of those insights with the crises facing the nation today(link is external). He spoke this brief but incisive meditation on the Gospel image of the Good Shepherd that should be shared with all new bishops …” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Statute of limitations reform: A bittersweet, overwhelming success
“This week (Jun. 26), the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reported that allegations of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church TRIPLED in the past year. There is only one reason for this huge increase in reports: Statute of Limitation Reform.(link is external) Survivors in many states (California, New Jersey, New York, Arizona) now have the right to come forward in the courts to expose the men and women who abused them and the institutional actors who covered it up.” By Joelle Casteix, The Worthy Adversary

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Top Vatican investigator on sex abuse says church must empower victims
“It’s been more than a year since Pope Francis issued his historic document, ‘Vos Est Lux Mundi (You are the light of the world),’ and ushered in a new wave of transparency and accountability for abuse cases in the Catholic Church(link is external). But according to Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, much more still needs to be done. ‘We need to empower disclosure’ of abuse cases by providing victims with avenues for safe communication, said Scicluna, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, during a webinar for “A Safer Church” on Tuesday (June 30).” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

ALASKA

Despite abuse allegations, a Jesuit with Alaska ties worked for a prominent Northwest university for years
“In 2011, the Jesuit Order in the Northwest settled a bankruptcy case for $166 million. It’s one of the largest settlements in Catholic church history. A small fraction of that money — less than $500 every month — is going to a man who spent most of the last year behind bars at the Anchorage Correctional Center. His criminal history includes a lot of alcohol-related violence and he blames much of his record on an experience he had with a Catholic priest when he was still a child(link is external).” By Emily Schwing, Anchorage Daily News

CALIFORNIA

Presentation Catholic H.S. admits they failed to protect students from sexual abuse
“Decades after the first complaint, Presentation High School officials admitted Thursday (Jul. 9) their premier San Jose educational institution failed some of its students. ‘I’m relieved. Because it just validated everything I’d been saying for three years,’ said former student Kathryn Leehane … She first penned an op-ed article about her alleged abuse at the school in the 1990s. That led to almost two dozen victims coming forward(link is external), who said administrators did not report instances of sexual abuse and assault stretching back more than three decades.” By Jesse Gary, KTVU-TV2 News

CONNECTICUT

Danbury clergy sex abuse case postponed two months
“The pre-trial hearing of the former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys(link is external) has been pushed to Sept. 4. Jaime Marin-Cardona, 52, is charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact. He pleaded not guilty to all nine charges. The warrant for Marin-Cardona’s arrest alleges that he groomed two boys over the course of four years, and sexually abused one of them over the same period of time.” By Kendra Baker, News Times

FLORIDA

Sarasota County man sues priest, alleging sexual abuse
“A 33-year-old man has filed a lawsuit against a retired Catholic priest who lives in Ormond Beach, accusing the priest of sexually molesting him(link is external) two decades ago when the man was a teenager being held in a juvenile detention facility. Louis Reed’s suit is filed in Polk County Circuit Court against the Rev. Fred Ruse. An attorney for the former priest said his client did not want to discuss the lawsuit and denied the allegations in a phone interview, citing Reed’s criminal history to question his credibility.” By Frank Fernandez, Herald-Tribune

LOUISIANA

Lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by priest filed against Catholic Diocese of Shreveport
“A civil lawsuit alleging repeated sexual abuse of a minor by a priest(link is external) has been filed against the Shreveport Catholic Diocese. The lawsuit, ‘Paul Doe vs. the Diocese of Shreveport’ accuses the late Rev. William Allison, a priest who served under the Alexandria Catholic Diocese from 1949 until his death in 1987, of sexually abusing the plaintiff during his two-year tenure at Our Lady of Fatima in Monroe, when he was an altar boy in the fifth or sixth grade.” By ArkLaTexHomepage.com

New Orleans clergy abuse plaintiff aims to move bankruptcy-halted case out of federal court
“The plaintiff in a Catholic clergy sex abuse lawsuit(link is external) halted by the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ federal bankruptcy filing is seeking to have his case moved back into state court in hopes of continuing to pursue his claims. In a filing late Tuesday (Jul. 7), the plaintiff’s attorneys argue that the suit revolves around matters of state law and therefore should be transferred back to Orleans Parish Civil District Court rather than handled in the federal system.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The New Orleans Advocate, on WWL-TV4 News

MAINE

Statute of limitations runs out on assault allegation
“The statute of limitations for reporting sexual assaults will prevent a potential case(link is external) involving a priest or pastor from being prosecuted, according to District Attorney Matt Foster. ‘I tried to see if the United States Attorney’s Office would be able to prosecute, but they didn’t think they could prosecute the case either,’ Foster said. Hancock County Sheriff’s Det. Stephen McFarland last week took a complaint from a New Jersey man who reported sexual assaults were committed against him between 1978 and 1980 in Dedham.” By Jennifer Osborn, The Ellsworth American

MASSACHUSETTS

Priests question fund appeal for camp cited in Bishop Weldon abuse report
“Like all camps that can’t open this summer, the one the Springfield Diocese owns alongside a cool mountain reservoir is hurting for money. This week, the Dalton priest who runs Camp Holy Cross passed the hat … What he got instead, from at least two priests, was censure(link is external). That’s because the camp’s name was linked to clergy sexual abuse in the independent report released June 24 by retired Judge Peter A. Velis.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MINNESOTA

Deadline set for St. Cloud Diocese clergy sex abuse claims
“The Diocese of St. Cloud has announced a deadline for claims for victims and survivors of clergy sex abuse(link is external). The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota issued an order Tuesday saying anyone making a claim against the Diocese for sex abuse must make a claim with the bankruptcy court no later than 5:00 p.m. October 21, 2020.” By Jennifer Lewerenz, KNSI Radio

MISSOURI

Lessons learned: St. Louis archbishop-elect leaves a community still reeling from a bombshell report on clergy sex abuse
“A narrator’s voice on a show about the Sistine Chapel triggered John Doe’s memories of horror he experienced as a 9-year-old altar boy. He survived being gang raped and other abuses by Roman Catholic clergy that were so traumatic they took some 50 years to resurface(link is external). Doe ultimately wanted the Springfield Diocese in western Massachusetts to know what had been done to him in the early 1960s — not just by rank-and-file priests, but by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, whose reputation was still untarnished from leading the diocese from 1950 to 1977.” By Jess Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese releases additional sexual abuse allegations against a retired priest with many ties to the Ozarks
“Since the initial April 27, 2020, release outlining an allegation of sexual misconduct involving Fr. Gary Carr, retired, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau has received three additional allegations involving Fr. Carr(link is external). The three allegations were reviewed by the Diocesan Safe Environment Review Board at its most recent June meeting, and all three were found to meet the criteria for publication as they satisfy the prevailing standard of Semblance of Truth. One of the allegations involved a male, now an adult, who reported that Fr. Carr made inappropriate physical/sexual contact with him in 1987.” By KY3-TV News

NEW JERSEY

Nine new sex abuse suits filed against Newark Archdiocese include cleric not accused before
“Nine lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church on Monday (Jul. 13) include allegations of sex abuse against seven clerics(link is external) — including two priests who worked for years after church officials were told of alleged abuse and a religious brother who worked at a Florida university until two years ago despite a criminal conviction. Taken together, they allege abuse by four archdiocese priests and three members of religious orders, including one cleric who had not been publicly accused of abuse before Monday.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Delbarton sex abuse lawsuits may be first of a wave, raise new questions about abusers
“A new round of lawsuits filed against the order that runs the Delbarton School in Morris Township underscores questions about how allegedly abusive monks are being dealt with even now(link is external) — with one still having voicemail at a residence on school grounds after being the subject of another lawsuit settled two years ago. Attorneys filed six lawsuits Tuesday (Jul. 7) that contain new accusations of sexual abuse allegedly committed by five men who have been monks of St. Mary’s Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict and one former Delbarton lay teacher.” By Abbott Koloff, New Jersey Herald

NEW YORK.

Lawsuits claim priest in ‘The Exorcist,’ three others sexually abused McQuaid students
“Three priests and a lay teacher who taught at McQuaid Jesuit High School decades ago have been accused of sexually abusing students there in newly filed lawsuits. In a suit filed Tuesday morning, a one-time star teacher at the Brighton school, the Rev. William O’Malley, was accused of sexually abusing a student there in 1975 or 1976. O’Malley, who left McQuaid in 1986, was well-known for his teaching and writing and for his role as a Jesuit priest(link is external) in the supernatural hit film ‘The Exorcist.'” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Child Victims Act suit filed against former St. Joseph’s school
“A Dunkirk man has filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit against the former St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and School for repeated abuse(link is external) he alleged happened in the early 1960s. The 20-page complaint was filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Chautauqua County. The Dunkirk man, who is not being identified, said he was abused by the Rev. Edward Walker between 1960 and 1962 when he was about 12 to 14 years old. Walker was a priest at St. Joseph’s and was associated with Sisters of St. Joseph in Clarence.” By Eric Tichy, Post-Journal, on ObserverToday.com

Survivor Speaks About Syracuse Catholic Diocese Filing for Bankruptcy
“Amy, a sexual abuse survivor, was 11 years old when she was touched inappropriately by a male figure in her church(link is external). ‘Somebody had brought this up to his wife who was the other person running the meetings and she kind of blew it off like she didn’t want to know,’ said Amy. ‘Several times I was told … no one would believe [my story] anyway,’ said Amy. Amy is not her real name but she wishes to stay anonymous for her protection because even to this day she runs into her abuser.” By Katelynn Ulrich Central NY Spectrum News

Albany Diocese adds deceased Capital Region priest to list of offenders
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany on Tuesday (Jul. 7) added Rev. Alan Jupin – who spent most of his tenure as a priest at Our Lady of Fatima, now St. Kateri Tekakwitha, in Schenectady – to its list of priests and clergy ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing children(link is external). Jupin, who died in January 2019, is accused of molesting five children in Schenectady and Albany in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. He is the latest, and the first 2020 addition, to a list of nearly 50 priests and clergy who have substantive complaints of molestation filed against them, as determined by a diocesan review panel.” By Cayla Harris, Times Union

Firms file 20 Child Victims Act lawsuits against diocese
“Twenty new lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Ogdensburg under the New York Child Victims Act Tuesday (Jul. 7). The suits collectively named 14 priests. ‘The Diocese of Ogdensburg takes all allegations of abuse seriously(link is external), and these new allegations will be investigated,’ Diocese of Ogdensburg Communications Director Darcy Fargo said. ‘We hope and pray that victims of abuse are able to find healing and reconciliation, and that justice is served in these cases.’” By Cara Chapman, Press-Republican

NORTH CAROLINA

Bishop: North Carolina priest kept on leave on abuse claims
“A Catholic priest in North Carolina will remain on administrative leave after allegations of sexual abuse against him were revealed last year(link is external), the Charlotte diocese’s bishop said. Bishop Peter Jugis made the announcement to St. Matthew parishioners in a letter Wednesday (Jul. 8), writing that he had accepted the recommendation of the diocese’s Lay Review Board to keep Father Patrick Hoare out of ministry, The Charlotte Observer reported.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

OHIO

Northeast Ohio priest indicted on charges of child pornography, child exploitation and juvenile sex trafficking
Justin Herdman, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Cleveland, Ohio has returned an eight-count indictment against Robert D. McWilliams, 40, of Strongsville. The defendant is charged with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of children(link is external), one count of transportation of child pornography, one count of receipt and distribution of visual depictions of real minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of possession of child pornography.” By The Highland County Press

PENNSYLVANIA

Diocese of Scranton seeks stay of sex abuse cases
“The Diocese of Scranton wants the state Supreme Court to stay all activity in lawsuits filed by five men who allege they were molested by a priest(link is external) until the court rules on a critical legal issue that could nix the cases. In a recent court filing, attorneys for the diocese estimate it will incur over $200,000 in attorneys’ fees gathering evidence that lawyers for the victims are seeking. Those fees would be wasted if the Supreme Court ultimately overturns an Allegheny County case that extends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims to file suit.” By Terrie Morgan-Besecker, The Citizen’s Voice

Erie Diocese facing lawsuit over fund for abuse victims
“Filing of writ signals suit in Erie County Court. Claims linked to St. Hedwig Catholic Church and its long-closed school. The Catholic Diocese of Erie is the subject of a potential lawsuit over its victims’ compensation fund(link is external), a program the diocese created as an alternative to allowing victims to sue over clergy sexual abuse. Two anonymous plaintiffs have filed paperwork indicating they plan to file a full-blown suit against the diocese in Erie County Court.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Former Philadelphia priest pleads guilty to decades-old sex assaults of altar boys in Bucks County
“After years of dodging allegations of abusing children(link is external), a former Catholic priest pleaded guilty Wednesday (Jul. 8) to molesting two altar boys in Bucks County decades ago. Francis Trauger, 74, admitted his guilt to two counts of indecent assault of a minor, and Bucks County Judge Jeffrey L. Finley sentenced him to 18 to 36 months in a state prison and seven years’ probation.” By Vinny Vella, The Philadelphia Inquirer

TENNESSEE

Catholic leaders in Nashville face scrutiny over handling of sexual assault allegation against former Aquinas College priest
“A woman has accused the former chaplain of Aquinas College of sexually assaulting her nearly three years ago while she was a student at the Nashville school(link is external). Catholic leaders in Tennessee are now facing scrutiny for how they handled her allegation against the Rev. Kevin McGoldrick, the 46-year-old priest from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who ministered in Nashville for almost six years.” By Holly Meyer, Nashville Tennessean

TEXAS

Two Catholic priests who worked in Fort Worth were accused of molesting kids elsewhere
“Two Marianist religious order priests accused of molesting children(link is external) in the United States worked in the Diocese of Fort Worth. But they aren’t on a list of clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors in the Fort Worth area because the alleged abuse didn’t occur here, according to a statement from the diocese. The Roman Catholic religious order based in St. Louis recently released the names of its members found to have sexually abused a minor since 1950 in the United States.” By Domingo Ramirez, Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram

VIRGINIA

Former Norfolk Catholic teacher given 3 years for sexually abusing student in 1970s
“A former teacher at Norfolk Catholic High School has been sentenced to five years in prison with two years suspended in connection with sexual abuse of a student(link is external) that happened in the late 1970s. Daniel Wolfe was arrested in March 2019 after the victim came forward alleging sexual abuse between 1978 and 1979, when Wolfe was employed as a teacher at Norfolk Catholic High School. Wolfe pleaded guilty to one charge of crimes against nature in October 2019 in connection with the allegations.” By Sarah Fearing, WAVY-TV10 News

WYOMING

Natrona County prosecutors again decide not to charge retired bishop with sexual abuse
“Natrona County prosecutors have again decided not to pursue sexual abuse charges against retired bishop Joseph Hart, who has been accused of abusing boys(link is external) dating back to the early 1960s. The decision was confirmed Tuesday by Michael Schafer, an assistant district attorney in Natrona County. In a message to the Star-Tribune, Schafer said that prosecutors “did take a look at it for the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office, and after reviewing the investigation, we don’t feel like we can be successful” in prosecuting Hart. Cheyenne’s top prosecutor recused herself from adjudicating the case last year, citing a conflict.” By Seth Klamann, Casper Star Tribune

ARGENTINA

Argentine archbishops under attack for establishing abuse reporting offices
“Two archbishops in Argentina are under fire for following Pope Francis’s orders in creating an office to receive allegations of clerical abuse(link is external). They are being accused of ‘usurpation of the role of the State, swindles and other frauds,’ an allegation some described as ‘grotesque.’ The criminal complaint against Archbishop Eduardo Martin of Rosario and Archbishop Sergio Fenoy from nearby Santa Fe was filed after the two prelates announced the ‘implementation of a system for receiving allegations’ of sexual crimes committed by priests and other members of the Church.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Former WA Catholic priest, 84, to face court on historic child sex abuse charges
“An 84-year-old man will face Perth Magistrates Court on Monday (Jul. 13), charged over historical child sex abuse allegations(link is external) dating back to the late 70s and early 80s. Police claim the man indecently assaulted a girl, who was between six and seven years old at the time of the first offence, while he was a Catholic priest providing pastoral care from 1979-1982. The man, who is from the Mandurah district, has been charged with six counts of indecent treatment of a child under 14 years old.” By The Sydney Morning Herald

FIJI ISLANDS

Uncovering child sexual abuse in Fiji’s Catholic schools
“The abuse began when he was seven. He among other young children kept the abuse quiet by the priests and brothers working and living near the Marist Brothers Primary School he attended in Fiji. The sexual abuse happened so repeatedly the children thought it was normal(link is external). ‘[There] were two main ones that would do it to us regularly. Almost like a daily thing,’ the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, told 1 NEWS.” By Barbara Dreaver, TVNZ-TV1 News

GUAM

Catholic archdiocese in Guam stopping monthly payments to former archbishop
“The Archdiocese of Agaña announced Tuesday (Jul. 7) it will no longer give a monthly honorarium to its emeritus Archbishop Anthony Apuron. Archbishop Apuron, 74, was found guilty of some of several abuse-related charges(link is external) by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2018. The archdiocese announced June 30 that ‘the decision by Archbishop Michael Byrnes will become effective Wednesday, July 1.’” By Catholic News Agency

INDIA

Indian Bishops to implement CDF guidelines on abuse
“Indian bishops say they are ready to implement the guidelines of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on sexual abuse in the Churh. Bishops in India are ready to implement the instructions contained in the new Vademecum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on procedures to be followed in cases of sexual abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy(link is external).” By Vatican News

INDONESIA

18-year-long child abuse at an Indonesian church opens a can of worms
“A parish church tried to hide a series of sexual assaults, but as more victims come forward, investigators begin to view the case as a Pandora’s box(link is external). ‘I thought church was a safe place. But it is not,’ said Azas Tigor Nainggolan, an Indonesian lawyer, recalling the words spoken to him by one of his clients. In late June, Michael — not his real name — told Nainggolan that his son had been sexually assaulted at St Herkulanus church in West Java, Indonesia. His son had been enrolled in the church as an altar boy, a priest’s assistant during a service – they are most prevalent in Roman Catholic Church services.’ By Jennar Kiansantang and Johanes Hutabarat, TRTWorld.com

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Vatican says bishops should report sex abuse to police

While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. (Associated Press)

“The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday (Jul. 16) they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests.

“The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws continue to be ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favor of protecting their priests.

“While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. That policy requires bishops and religious superiors to report allegations of sex crimes with minors only where local laws require it.

“The manual says: ‘Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.’

“And it says church leaders must comply with ‘legitimate’ subpoena requests.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Latest USCCB abuse audit report shows cover-up’s extent, 4,400 new allegations last year

BOSTON, Mass., Jun. 26, 2020 – The numbers tell the story. According to the USCCB’s 2020 Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, more than 4,400 allegations of Catholic clergy sexual abuse were reported over the single year ending Jun. 30, 2020, the period of the report, which was released yesterday.

The report said the actual number of child sexual abuse survivor allegations over the past year was 4,434, more than three times the 1,451 allegations in the 2017-2018 reporting period.

The numbers show like none since the 2002 revelations in the Boston Archdiocese the extent of the cover-up the Church’s hierarchy has perpetrated. This increase in allegations has brought to light thousands of concealed clergy abuse cases from victims/survivors just now coming forward as a result of recent reforms of state statutes of limitations, nationwide civil investigations prompted by the August 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, increases in lawsuits and victim compensation plans employed by several dioceses. How many abuses will remain hidden by diocesan bankruptcies may never be known, and many victim/survivors agreeing to compensation plans will never get their day in court.

The USCCB’s National Review Board chairman, Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., pointed out in a letter prefacing the report that activities and “a growing desire among the laity for greater involvement in addressing this issue has led many to question whether the audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root.”

Equally if not more troubling is the report’s reference to current rather than historical cases. Thirty-seven 37 new abuse allegations have been made since last year. Cesareo made the magnitude of the problem perfectly clear. As much at 30 percent of dioceses have recurring difficulties pointing to a “lack of diligence that puts children’s safety at risk.”

“The current year’s Annual Report” he said, “highlights concerns also noted in previous years that speak to the issue of complacency. We continue to see the failure to publish reporting procedures in the various languages in which the liturgy is celebrated; poor recordkeeping of background checks; dysfunctional Diocesan Review Boards; lack of a formal monitoring plan for priests who have been removed from ministry; failure to update policies and procedures in light of the 2011 Charter revisions.”

And, with the Charter still not requiring parish audits, the need for continued vigilance is obvious.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Jun. 26, 2020
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Abuse allegations against former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon ‘unequivocally credible,’ investigation finds / The Springfield Republican

The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious, vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking. (The Springfield Republican)

A retired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegations against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield for more than 25 years, found the accusations to be ‘unequivocally credible.’

“Meanwhile, mandatory reporters in the diocese who first heard the alleged victim’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive summary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis, who was hired a year ago to investigate the matter.

“Velis’ report concluded ‘the allegations of the Complainant of sexual molestation committed upon him by Bishop Christopher J Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ that included anal rape, indecent assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress are unequivocally credible. The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious,  vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.'”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Report on sexual abuse allegations against late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon could prove pivotal / Springfield Republican

There have been reports that those in the diocesan hierarchy with ties to (Bishop Christopher J.) Weldon — and had sexual abuse allegations made against them — destroyed files related to pedophile priests over the years. (Springfield Republican)

A soon-to-be-released report nearly a year in the making could shed light on decades of sexual abuse by clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and forever change how one of its most influential bishops is viewed.

“Last July, retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis was asked by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon dating back to the early 1960s. The report is expected to be released before Rozanski is installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25.

“The findings will impact not only the alleged victim — who reiterated to Rozanski a year ago his claim that he was sexually abused as a boy by Weldon and two diocesan priests — but also questions that continue to linger around how early in time the diocesan hierarchy may have participated in, covered up and enabled clergy sexual abuse of minors. It could either encourage or discourage other alleged survivors of clergy sex abuse to continue to come forward.”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican on MassLive.com — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Australian bishops’ report advocates major changes to church governance / National Catholic Reporter

Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed “the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion” and “give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.” (National Catholic Reporter)

 A new report commissioned by Australia’s bishops and religious orders recommends a series of radical changes to the way the Catholic Church operates across the country, tackling issues as far-ranging as women’s inclusion in decision-making roles and the Vatican’s opaque process for making episcopal appointments.

“The overarching theme for the report — written as part of the local church’s response to a five-year government inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse — is how governance in the church can be more ‘co-responsible,’ or better shared among bishops, clergy and laypeople.

“Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed ‘the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion’ and ‘give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.’

“The report, which encompasses seven chapters, four indices and a bibliography over its 208 pages, had originally been delivered to the Australian bishops in early May and kept confidential to allow the prelates time to digest its contents.”

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

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolearance’ / Cruxnow.com

“To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” (cruxnow.com)

“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way.

“In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

“In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.

In part, such perceptions are rooted in memory. When the abuse scandals broke out in the United States in 2002, several Vatican officials initially dismissed them as a uniquely ‘American problem’ and described the ‘zero tolerance’ policy as a legalistic and Puritanical American overreaction.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops / National Catholic Reporter

“You would think by now the church would have learned the lesson that secrecy in these matters does not work,” said (civil and canon lawyer Nicholas) Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. “What is done in the darkness will be seen in the light. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” (National Catholic Reporter)

It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.

“They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.

“Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are The Light Of The World’): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.

“Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point …”

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

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

New Australian report may help church find its way out of abuse crisis / National Catholic Reporter

The new phase in the abuse crisis has shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance. (Massimo Faggioli in National Catholic Reporter)

There are signs that the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis is now getting at deeper, institutional questions. In particular, how local churches — parishes and dioceses — are governed.

“In the last few years, a unique example that could bring encouraging news has come from the Australian church.

“Since 2017-18, the abuse crisis has taken on a new dimension, thanks to the unveiling of cases (such as disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and of extensive cover-ups identified and published in the reports of nationwide and regional investigations (such as in Australia, Chile and Pennsylvania).

“The new phase of the crisis has focused on the direct involvement of bishops, cardinals and the Vatican. It has also identified that the crisis is not restricted to children and also involves women religious and other vulnerable persons — and has become a global crisis with huge repercussions on the relations between church and state in various countries.

“The new phase in the abuse crisis has also shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance.”

By Massimo Faggiolo, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment