Archive for category Focus news roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 20, 2021

Pope asks U.S. bishop to resign after cover-up investigation
“Pope Francis asked a bishop in the U.S. state of Minnesota to resign after he was investigated by the Vatican for allegedly interfering with past investigations into clergy sexual abuse(link is external), officials said Tuesday (Apr. 13). The Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner on Tuesday and named a temporary replacement to run the diocese. Hoeppner is 71, four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.” By Associated Press

Woelki calls for stronger law on clerical sex abuse
“The Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki has called for a tightening up of Canon law on clerical sex abuse(link is external). ‘Canon law on how to deal with priestly sexual abuse must be changed. It needs tightening, that is, the rulings must be made clearer and more explicit,’ he said. For example, the statute of limitations for sexualized violence must be extended and the ‘contradictions in canon law and in the German bishops’ conference’s guidelines on priestly sexual abuse must be eliminated,’ he added.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

A bird’s nest and healing: Vatican sponsors event on preventing sexual abuse
“The Vatican is teaming up with Harvard University to host a virtual Symposium on preventing and healing child sexual abuse(link is external), an event which grew out of a bird’s nest presented to Pope Francis, according to Jennifer Wortham, Ph.D., of Harvard. A bird’s nest can carry a powerful message: ‘All children deserve a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow.’ That simple, yet important, aim lies at the heart of this global symposium entitled ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse.’ Dr. Wortham says she hopes April 8 will become the World Day for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Healing, and Justice, a proposal which she is launching at the United Nations in September.” By Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Dominicans in Poland launch investigation of abusive priest
“The Dominican province in Poland has started an independent, lay-led investigation of a sect-like youth ministry ran by Dominican Father ‘Paweł M.’ between 1996-2000 in Wrocław. The Dominican friary in Wrocław released a statement on March 7 apologizing for the abuse(link is external). ‘We turn to you with great pain and shame. We stand before you in the truth that, despite the passage of years, is revealing its terrifying face more and more clearly,’ the statement said.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Legal lessons: Past sexual abuse cases help train canon lawyers, according to Pope Francis
“When Pope Francis abolished the ‘pontifical secret’ covering the church’s judicial handling of cases of the sexual abuse of minors, it was hailed as a major step forward in promoting greater transparency and accountability(link is external). At first glance, it means victims and witnesses are free to discuss a case … But an additional consequence of this landmark change, enacted in mid-December 2019, will be its potential to provide much-needed practical training and multidisciplinary studies for those involved in the handling of abuse cases.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on TheDialog.org

ACCOUNTABILITY

French high court clears cardinal of abuse cover-up
“France’s highest court confirmed on Wednesday (Apr. 14) that the former archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, did not cover up the sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by a predator priest. The ruling by the Court of Cassation closes a long, emotional drama that brought angst to the Roman Catholic Church, under scrutiny around the world for hiding abuse by its clergy.” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press in Star-Tribune

At online symposium, Pope Francis says religions can eradicate sexual abuse together
“After decades of child sexual abuse scandals, the Catholic Church is ready to share its successes — and failures — with other religious and lay institutions. At an April 8-10 online symposium with religious representatives from around the world, Pope Francis expressed his hope that together, religions can fight ‘this profound evil(link is external).’ ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse,’ organized by the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, brought together 73 speakers from different religious, cultural and professional backgrounds last weekend to address the phenomenon that has touched nearly every major religious group in the world.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Accountability, transparency, due process still needed, abuse experts say
“To help foster a wider discussion on work that still must be done to safeguard minors and vulnerable people in the Catholic Church(link is external), a canon law journal published a series of talks by experts regarding accountability, transparency and confidentiality in the handling of abuse allegations.mThe talks were part of a seminar in December 2019 sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to address the topics as well as the seal of confession and the pontifical secret.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Disgraced Palmerston North bishop’s future lies with the Vatican
“The disgraced bishop of Palmerston North, Charles Drennan, still retains his title, but must follow conditions imposed on him by the Vatican, a commission has heard(link is external). Cardinal John Dew apologised to victims of abuse from the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on Friday (Apr. 2) and he also discussed Drennan’s resignation. Drennan resigned as Palmerston North bishop in October 2019 after allegations involving an inappropriate relationship and harm of a young woman who was not a minor.” By George Heagney, Stuff.co.nz

CARDINALS

Cupich: 30 years ago Cardinal Bernardin developed plan to address abuse
“When Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago developed a comprehensive plan over a two-year period, in 1991 and 1992, to address clerical sexual abuse issues(link is external) in the Illinois archdiocese, he provided a copy of those procedures to all his fellow U.S. bishops at their annual meeting. ‘Their response was decidedly mixed,’ Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Chicago’s current cardinal-archbishop, said in recounting these efforts by the late prelate. ‘Imagine if all the bishops had taken those documents home and fully implemented them in their dioceses, how much further ahead we would be … how many children might have been spared,’ he said.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

BISHOPS

‘We are outraged’: Parents object to new assignment for Cincinnati bishop who failed to report Father Drew allegations
“Parents of young children at a private Catholic school say they are infuriated and may withdraw their students after the Archdiocese of Cincinnati assigned a former high-ranking bishop who resigned in the fallout over a priest charged with raping an altar boy to be the pastor at two churches affiliated with their school(link is external). ‘We are outraged. We are being ignored and our children’s safety is not being considered at all,’ said Kim McRoberts, whose 11-year-old daughter is in the fifth grade at St. John The Baptist School on Dry Ridge Road in Colerain Township.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

The cultural disarmament of progressive Catholic bishops
“Archbishop Chaput and many of his views need to be challenged. But most liberal and progressive Catholics are just ignoring him. They do so at their own peril(link is external). It is striking that Chaput seems to be the only US bishop in the 21st century who seems capable or willing to offer to the wider public — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — his vision in a format that leaves an impression and a deeper effect than the occasional interview or speech.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

Msgr. John Tracy Ellis on selecting bishops in the US
“The title ‘On the Selection of Bishops for the United States’(link is external) did not indicate if this was a lecture or the draft of a magazine article. I asked Purcell if he knew to what purpose the monograph had been put, and he checked with a priest in San Francisco who instructed me to reach out to Fr. Tom Shelley, a priest of the New York Archdiocese, who is working on a biography of Ellis. I did so, and Shelley let me know that Ellis had published two articles on the subject, one for Commonweal and the other for The Critic. I took a photograph of the first page and sent it to Shelley. He replied that the monograph was identical to the opening of the article in the July, 1969 issue of The Critic.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Vatican plans major conference on priesthood
“Increasing vocations to the priesthood, improving the way lay people and priests work together and ensuring that service, not power, motivates ordination(link is external) are all possible outcomes of a major Vatican symposium planned for 2022. ‘A theological symposium does not claim to offer practical solutions to all the pastoral and missionary problems of the church, but it can help us deepen the foundation of the church’s mission,’ said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the chief organizer of the symposium planned for February 17-19, 2022.” By CathNews.com

VATICAN

Vatican event on priesthood to explore topic of celibacy
“A top Vatican official in charge of organizing a major symposium on the priesthood next year has said the discussion will touch on several controversial hot-button issues such as priestly celibacy, the women’s diaconate, clericalism, and the clerical sexual abuse crisis(link is external). Speaking to journalists during the April 12 presentation of the event, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said, ‘the question of celibacy is important.’ ‘We have all spoken about it, and it will be discussed, but it will not be the central theme of the symposium,’ he said. ‘It is not a symposium on celibacy, like it needs to be taken up deeply. It’s a broader perspective.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Italian prosecutors request arrest warrant for Italian financier named in Vatican scandals”
“Italian prosecutors have asked a judge for an arrest warrant for Gianluigi Torzi, accusing the financier of money laundering and tax evasion(link is external). Torzi is already embroiled in a legal battle with the Vatican’s judiciary for his alleged role in the controversial purchase of a London apartment complex using Catholic Church funds. The document, signed March 29 and seen by Religion News Service, cites ‘serious indications of guilt related to self-laundering and tax violations.’ The Italian authorities also charged him with requesting false payments and fraudulently filing for bankruptcy.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

VOICES

Can the Catholic Church agree to change anything?
“Sometimes you need to catch your breath when a Vatican official’s speaking echoes a theologian’s writings. Which way is this going to go? Not long ago, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, echoed a 50-year-old passage from a book by … wait for it … Swiss theologian Hans Küng. Speaking on Spain’s church-owned COPE radio network, Parolin underscored the Good Friday theme of Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher for the papal household, and (perhaps unknowingly) brought forth a concept delineated by Küng 50 years ago: Some things can change, but internal church divisions are dangerous(link is external).” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Overdue reckoning at hand for archdiocese
“Completing a settlement between victims of clergy sexual abuse and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is crucial for Roman Catholics in New Mexico. First, the people injured by an institution that allowed its priests to harm children are owed reparations. The damage to these victims is incalculable; money is the least the church can do to compensate for the sins of the past. As many New Mexicans know too well, the church that nurtured their faith and fed their souls also turned a blind eye to repeated reports that its clergy were molesting children(link is external). Preserving the church’s reputation was all that mattered.” By The Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial Board

Barron’s ‘beige Catholicism’ erases years of racial, social justice activism
“Bishop Robert Barron’s recent piece detailing the ‘evangelical path’ of his organization Word on Fire has provoked heated debate over his use of the term ‘beige Catholicism’ to refer to the faith of liberal or progressive Catholics(link is external). It’s not the first time he’s used the term. He coined the phrase 25 years ago, to critique modern or liberal Catholicism as ‘a faith that had become culturally accommodating, hand-wringing, unsure of itself.’ Barron has long combated post-Vatican II trends that he sees as anthropocentric rather than Christocentric. He connects these trends with the loss of the beauty and splendor of the Catholic cultural tradition. But he has now become concerned with what he sees as liberal Catholicism’s dangerous opposite extreme: the radical traditionalist movement in the church.” By Rebecca Bratten Weiss, national Catholic Reporter

Wealthy conservative Catholics are the new U.S. magisterium
“Sean Fieler was once asked to name ‘the thinkers or donors’ who have influenced how he practices his considerable philanthropy. ‘There’s a good network I’ve gotten to know over the last decade or so, through boards or shared charitable interests, who have had a big effect on me — Frank Hanna, Tim Busch, and Leonard Leo, for sure,’ he answered. Fieler is not a household name in Catholic circles, but anyone interested in the future of the church in the United States should keep tabs on what he and his ‘good network’ are up to(link is external).” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Saying sorry not enough
“A day late and a dollar short. That was the phrase used by Dr. Tom Doyle, a non-practicing Catholic priest, to describe the church’s apology, at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care(link is external) last month, to those damaged by clergy sexual abuse. Dr. Doyle has been researching this issue since the 1980s when, as a canon lawyer stationed at the Vatican embassy in Washington, he was one of the authors of a 1985 confidential report on clergy sexual abuse of minors written for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.” By Otago Daily Times Editorial Board

American Catholicism: Headed Towards a Dead End
“Although ‘nearly one-third of American adults (31.7%) say they were raised Catholic, only about one in five (20.8%) identified as Catholic’ in a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. ‘The share of adults who identify as Christians fell from 78% to just under 71%’ between 2007 and 2014. But ‘within Christianity the greatest net losses, by far, have been experienced by Catholics(link is external),’ according to the ‘America’s Changing Religious Landscape’ study. The survey also showed that – since 34% of Catholics were Latino and 8% Black, Asian or other – the number of white Catholics had fallen to less than 12% of the population.” By Betty Clermont, OpenTabernacle.wordpress.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child sex abuse lawsuit bill faces long odds in House vote
“The Pennsylvania General Assembly is again discussing legislation to aid survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external), which faces an uphill battle to be passed. The goal of several different proposed measures is to create a two-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers, most notably Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania. The original measure, a constitutional amendment question that would have been posed to voters during the May 2021 primary election, has faced multiple setbacks.” By Harri Leigh, FOX43-TV News

Colorado Lawmaker Shares Story Of Rape As Legislature Eliminates Statute of Limitations Ending 30 Year Battle
“ he state legislature passed a bill which allows survivors of sexual assault to sue their perpetrators no matter how much time has passed(link is external). The bill eliminates the statute of limitations in civil cases. Survivors have been trying to pass the bill for 30 years, telling their stories year after year. This year, a state lawmaker was among them.” By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

Is this the year Minnesota gets rid of the statute of limitations on sexual assault?
“People who commit sexual assault will be at risk of criminal charges for the rest of their lives(link is external) if a bill to eliminate Minnesota’s statute of limitations on rape and other sex crimes gets enough support in the Legislature. William Dinkel, a survivor of child sexual abuse and a Long Prairie native, has advocated for the policy. A law change will send a message to victims that the justice system and the government care about them and want justice, Dinkel said Tuesday (Mar. 30).” By Nora G. Hertel, St. Cloud Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Site aims to help abuse survivors
“Jeff Anderson & Associates on Tuesday (Apr. 6) launched a database they hope will aid child abuse survivors, law enforcement and fellow attorneys(link is external) in their efforts to seek justice from the Catholic Church in New York State. The virtual event featured a breakdown of statistics for all dioceses in the state, including the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Anderson said the purpose of the report was, in part, “to identify those institutions and Catholic bishops across this country who have been complicit in allowing children to have been abused and to do what we can with each survivor, one at a time, to make sure that we are doing something today to protect kids tomorrow.” By Cara Chapman, Press-Republican

CALIFORNIA

Newport psychologist arrested on charges of sexually abusing children as a priest in California
“A former Roman Catholic priest who has worked as a clinical psychologist in Newport is facing charges of sexually abusing boys at parishes in California more than 20 years ago(link is external). The former Rev. Christopher J. Cunningham was arrested early Wednesday at his home on Sylvan Terrace by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Cunningham, 58, was sought by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department on a dozen charges of lewd acts upon boys under 14 years old, during incidents from 1995 through 1997. He was arraigned at Kent County Superior Court in Warwick and held for extradition to face the charges in Los Angeles County.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe

MASSACHUSETTS

A progress report on diocese’s abuse response task force
“Last fall, in my capacity as chair of the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield, I wrote an op-ed providing an overview of the work the task force was undertaking with emphasis on the stakeholder input that we would be seeking. I write now to affirm that the task force has been actively engaged and has made excellent progress in our data collection endeavor and in other phases of our work(link is external).” By Daniel Ford, Berkshire Eagle

MISSOURI

Survivors of church abuse laud Missouri Supreme Court ruling on evidence in lawsuits
“Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests lauded a Missouri Supreme Court decision that will allow some circumstantial evidence to be presented in lawsuits(link is external). A small group of volunteers with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered Wednesday (Apr. 7) outside the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in downtown Kansas City. ‘The Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling yesterday, essentially made it somewhat easier for victims to expose predators and protect kids through civil lawsuits,’ said SNAP member David Clohessy. ‘Let’s be clear — Missouri has always been and remains a very tough state for victims to get justice in, but yesterday was progress.’” By Katie Moore, The Kansas City Star

Missouri Supreme Court keeps Chaminade clergy sex abuse case alive
“The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday(Apr. 6) affirmed a decision by a lower court that First Amendment protections shield religious employers from some lawsuits in certain cases of clergy abuse(link is external). But the court also overturned part of the lower court’s decision, saying it erred in not allowing plaintiff John Doe to bring expert testimony backing his claims of intentional failure to supervise clergy before a jury.” By Maria Benevento, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW JERSEY

Newark Archdiocese let priest work after one sex abuse allegation. Now there are 2 more
“A newly filed lawsuit alleges that Kevin Gugliotta, a priest in the Newark Archdiocese, sexually abused a boy at a Union County parish(link is external) in 2006, a few years after church officials decided he could not be punished for alleged abuse from decades earlier when he was a Boy Scout leader. Newark Archdiocese officials have said they had no authority to punish Gugliotta after first hearing about allegations against him in 2003 because he was not yet a priest at the time of the alleged abuse, which the accuser said occurred in the 1980s.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW MEXICO

Silent no more: Victim says abuse left her life a shambles
“For decades, Leigh-Anne just wanted someone, anyone, to listen. Instead, she said, she was placed in a mental hospital, silenced and ignored(link is external) until she fell into a years-long spiral of drug addiction, self-doubt and destruction. The 39-year-old was finally going to get her chance to confront Sabine Griego – the former priest who she says raped her repeatedly from ages 7 to 9.” By Matthew Reisen, Albuquerque Journal

Priest sex abuse survivor sues NMAG for allegedly withholding public records
“A survivor of alleged sexual abuse when he was a child is suing the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office for allegedly withholding public records related to credibly accused Catholic priests within the Diocese of Las Cruces(link is external). ‘For decades the national Catholic Church used New Mexico as a destination to hide pedophile priests, taking advantage of the unique cultural makeup of our communities, including their devoutness,’ attorney Paul Linnenburger said in a news release … Fr. David Holley victim Phil Saviano who was abused by Holley in Douglas, Massachusetts, in the Worcester Diocese in the 1960s.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News, in New Hampshire Union Leader

NEW YORK.

Head of elite Catholic school is fired over sexual misconduct charges
“Regis High School, one of the most prominent Catholic schools in the country, said it planned to fire the Jesuit priest who serves as its president after an investigation found he had engaged in sexual misconduct involving several adults(link is external), including school employees. The Rev. Daniel Lahart, who has been president of Regis, a prestigious all-boys school in Manhattan, since 2016, has been on administrative leave since late February, the school said in a statement. His firing will be effective April 21, the school said.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits filed against Brooklyn Jiocese under Child Victims Act
“Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) have been filed against the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Brooklyn since the passage of the state’s Child Victims Act in 2019 through the end of 2020, according to a recent analysis. The 571 complaints filed against the Diocese, which covers Brooklyn and Queens, during the first 17 months of the act includes filings against 532 institutions under control of the religious district and 301 alleged abusers. Of those alleged abusers are 230 members of the clergy.” By Kevin Duggan, The Brooklyn Paper

More than 300 sex abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is facing more than 300 lawsuits tied to accusations of sexual abuse(link is external). The lawsuits stem from the New York’s Child Victims Act, which took effect in August 2019. It allowed victims who claim that they were sexually abused by members of the diocese to file civil lawsuits anonymously. It also stiffened penalties for their perpetrators. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2019 a month after the Child Victims Act took effect.” By James Brown, WXXI-FM Public Radio News

Ogdensburg Catholic diocese named in 80 child abuse cases
“Between September 2019 and December 2020 cases were filed under New York’s Child Victims Act that accused 39 clergy and a lay teacher in the diocese of abuse(link is external). Analysis of the cases in New York state was conducted by a law firm representing some of the child abuse survivors. The oldest alleged incidents were from 1959 ending with the most recent ones occurring in 1995.” By Celia Clarke, North Country Public Radio

Catholic Church Faces Wave Of Sex Abuse Cases Across State
“The New York State Child Victims Act has wiped away decades of silence in the Catholic Church, with thousands of sexual abuse survivors coming forward(link is external) and creating a surge of sexual abuse cases against the papistry. This past summer, it was revealed that priests in Oswego were included in a list of new lawsuits against the Diocese of Syracuse under the Child Victims Act.” By Shea O’Malley, Oswego County Today

NORTH DAKOTA

Catholic Confessions Part 1: A history of clergy abuse in North Dakota
“In January, the Attorney General’s office released the results of an 18-month long investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses(link is external). This investigation was prompted after the Bismarck and Fargo Dioceses released a list of 53 individuals with allegations of child sexual abuse in 2019. Of the 53 named individuals, all but two had died by the time the investigation commenced.” By Hayley Boland, KFYR-TV FOX News

OHIO

Cincinnati bishop who quit in fallout over priest charged with raping altar boy will be pastor over two churches
“The second-highest ranking bishop at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who resigned in the fallout over a West Side priest charged with raping an altar boy three decades ago will be the pastor of two Hamilton County churches starting July 1(link is external). Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Joseph Binzer was assigned to oversee the ‘pastoral territory’ of Corpus Christi Catholic Church off Springdale Road in Mt. Healthy and St. John Neumann Catholic Church located on Mill Road in Springfield Township, according to one of the church’s websites.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

PENNSYLVANIA

State House OKs plan to allow sex abuse victims to sue despite statute of limitations
“The state House on Wednesday (Apr. 7) passed legislation that would open a window for lawsuits by survivors of childhood sex abuse without first seeking to change the Constitution(link is external). The measure isn’t likely to move in the state Senate, where Republicans have said they think that the change to allow lawsuits can only be legally provided by amending the Constitution, a process that will take until 2023 at the earliest … This legislation would allow survivors of abuse to sue public schools in addition to private schools and other private organizations.” By John Finnerty, New Castle News

VERMONT

Former residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage recount horrific abuse, want day in court
“Several former residents of the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington spoke of the abuse they suffered there and urged the Legislature to eliminate the statute of limitations(link is external) for civil claims of childhood physical abuse. They would also like to see the legislation go further and allow civil claims of childhood emotional abuse. Linda Crossman, a member of Voices of St. Joseph’s, was among the former residents who urged expanding the legislation to include emotional abuse.” By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger.org

WISCONSIN

St. Norbert Abbey identifies two more Norbertine priests who abused minors, including former abbot
“St. Norbert Abbey, under pressure to deal with a history of abusive clergy(link is external), has identified two more Norbertine priests who sexually abused minors in the 1960s and ’80s. The newly named priests include former Abbot Benjamin Mackin, who led the Catholic order in De Pere from 1982 to 1994. A review by an independent board substantiated claims that Mackin sexually assaulted minors in the 1980s while abuse by Arnold Schinkten occurred in 1962, according to a news release from the abbey Thursday (Apr. 8). Both men are dead.” By Benita Mathew and Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

WYOMING

Police, DA’s office clashed amid Bishop Hart investigation, documents show
“Wyoming police and prosecutors were repeatedly at odds over the sexual abuse investigation into retired Catholic Bishop Joseph Hart(link is external), police and prosecutor documents show, with police claiming that prosecutors hadn’t read basic case documents and prosecutors complaining about media attention and their problems with the work by police. For 10 months between 2019 and 2020, prosecutors in Wyoming were considering whether to charge Hart, now 89. At least eight men told police that they or a relative had been the victim of sexual misconduct by him.” By Seth Klamann, Denver Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Bishops’ Conference achieves strong result in audit
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has fully implemented or substantially progressed the implementation of 97 per cent of relevant safeguarding indicators(link is external), an external audit has found. Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd last week published its findings after selective interviews with Conference staff, interaction with the Conference’s leadership and Safeguarding Committee, and a review of policies and procedures. Trudy Dantis, the director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research and the chair of the Bishops Conference’s Safeguarding Committee, said the audit process helped the organization strengthen its policies and procedures.” By CathNews.com

Vatican ruling on Bishop of Broome looms as tension builds in outback diocese
“Tensions are building over whether the Vatican will allow a bishop accused of sexual misconduct and bullying(link is external) to return to his outback parish, with a former priest warning it is a critical crossroads for the Catholic Church that could set an international precedent. Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders was sent on a six-month sabbatical in November to give the Vatican time to assess the findings of an internal investigation into his running of the remote northern diocese.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley

CANADA

Former Vancouver Catholic Archbishop ordered to give evidence in old sex-abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver has been ordered by a judge to give evidence in old sex-abuse case(link is external), the second time he will have given evidence in such a case. The case involves a man named Mark O’Neill alleging that he was physically and sexually abused when he was a student at the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission. He claims that several former Benedictine priests abused him while he was between the ages of 13 and 17, with the alleged incidents occurring between 1974 and 1978.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

Former Hanover priest sentenced for sexual abuse
“A priest who lived in Hanover was sentenced Wednesday (Mar. 31) to 21 months in jail in the Superior Court of Justice in Walkerton for sexually abusing a child(link is external). Mervin Perera, 73, was found guilty Jan. 30 of touching a girl for a sexual purpose, after a trial in Walkerton. He appeared in person in a Walkerton courtroom but the sentencing was conducted by videoconference. Perera has appealed the court’s decision and was released immediately after he was sentenced, his lawyer, Scott Cowan said after the hearing. Perera is governed by release terms which include non-association with the victim.” By Scott Dunn, The Sun Times

EAST TIMOR

Defrocked US priest revered in East Timor accused of abuse
“It was the same every night. A list of names was posted on the Rev. Richard Daschbach’s bedroom door. The child at the top of the roster knew it was her turn to share the lower bunk with the elderly priest and another elementary school-aged girl. Daschbach was idolized in the remote enclave of East Timor where he lived … So, the girls never spoke about the abuse they suffered(link is external). They said they were afraid they would be banished from the shelter the 84-year-old from Pennsylvania established decades ago for abused women, orphans, and other destitute children.” By Margie Mason and Robin McDowell, Associated Press

INDONESIA

Indonesian Catholic schools move to tackle sexual abuse
“A high-profile sexual abuse case in which altar boys in Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta were assaulted by a church worker was a wake-up call for Indonesia’s Catholic schools to look at ways to better protect students from such predators, according to educators. The case — the first involving sexual abuse within the Indonesian Catholic Church brought to a civil court(link is external) — saw the perpetrator, Syahril Marbun, jailed for 15 years for raping two altar boys.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

POLAND

Sanctions against Polish bishops cautiously welcomed by abuse survivors
“After the Vatican sanctioned two retired bishops in Poland, abuse victims say it’s a good start, but may be too little, too late(link is external). On Tuesday (Mar. 30), the Vatican imposed sanctions on emeritus Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdańsk. The two had been featured in the ground-breaking documentaries ‘Hide and Seek’ (2020) and ‘Tell No One’ (2019) by the Sekielski Brothers.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 2, 2021

TOP STORIES

USCCB: Church must build culture of transparency on abuse
“Members of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People have agreed with the National Review Board’s call that the Catholic Church must continue to build a culture of accountability and transparency regarding clergy sexual abuse(link is external). Bishop James V. Johnson Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, committee chairman, said in a statement that the members also agree with the all-lay review board ‘on the need to identify, address and correct systemic failures which hinder the best response to allegations.’’ By Catholic News Service in Florida Catholic Media

Cologne Catholic Church Failed in Handling Sex Abuse Claims, Report Finds
“A Roman Catholic archbishop in Germany offered his resignation and two other high-ranking officials were suspended in the wake of a report that found decades of ‘systematic cover-up’ in the church’s handling of accusations of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members(link is external). The 800-page report, examining the years 1975 to 2018 at the Archdiocese of Cologne, was released on Thursday after five months of intense investigation. It was critical of the actions of Stefan Hesse, who had worked at the Archdiocese of Cologne and is now the archbishop of Hamburg.” By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times

Pope names prominent Chilean clerical abuse survivor to Vatican panel
“Pope Francis has appointed a prominent Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse to a Vatican commission(link is external) which focuses on education to prevent abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Juan Carlos Cruz, an international advocate for abuse victims, was abused as a teenager in his native Chile by a notorious paedophile, Father Fernando Karadima.” By KFGO-AM News

Former Albany bishop will be investigated under ‘Vos estis’ norms
“An anonymous plaintiff last week filed a lawsuit against former Albany bishop Howard Hubbard, alleging that Hubbard molested him in 1977, soon after his installation as bishop(link is external). The diocese of Albany confirmed to CNA on Wednesday (Mar. 24) that Hubbard will be investigated according to Vos estis lux mundi, the procedure for investigating abuse accusations against bishops that Pope Francis promulgated in May 2019. Also named in the suit are the diocese of Albany and St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Clifton Park, New York, north of the city.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

Is Synodal Path in Germany a road to schism?
“In 2019, the German Catholic Church envisioned a ‘Synodal Path’ to try to address the institutional clerical sexual abuse scandal(link is external). Bishops, laity, priests, religious and experts were all summoned to find solutions and set forth a reform path that has expanded its scope to question Catholic Church teaching on areas of sexuality. (This is part two of a two part series looking into Germany’s Synodal Path, a process launched by the bishops’ conference in 2019 in an attempt to respond to the clerical sexual abuse crisis. Part one can be found here(link is external).) By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Vatican sanctions two Polish bishops after ‘Vos estis’ investigations
“The apostolic nunciature in Poland announced Monday (Mar. 29) that the Vatican has sanctioned two Polish bishops at the conclusion of canonical inquiries into accusations they were negligent in their handling of sexual abuse of minors by clergy(link is external). According to March 29 statements on the website of the Polish Catholic bishops’ conference, Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź and Bishop Edward Janiak have been ordered by the Holy See to live outside their former dioceses, and told they cannot participate in public liturgies or non-religious gatherings within the territory of the dioceses.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

ACCOUNTABILITY

Sanctions against Polish bishops cautiously welcomed by abuse survivors
“After the Vatican sanctioned two retired bishops in Poland, abuse victims say it’s a good start, but may be too little, too late(link is external). On Tuesday (Mar. 30), the Vatican imposed sanctions on emeritus Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdańsk. The two had been featured in the ground-breaking documentaries ‘Hide and Seek’ (2020) and ‘Tell No One’ (2019) by the Sekielski Brothers. The filmmakers documented how, for years the bishops ignored sexual abuse by the clergy in their dioceses, refusing to help victims or even properly investigate accusations.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Effort to eliminate clergy-penitent privilege dies amid anti-Catholic fears
“An effort to eliminate clergy privilege and force religious leaders to report child abuse to legal authorities was unable to get enough votes(link is external) to make it out of committee Tuesday (Mar. 23) after days of backroom drama. Currently, only Guam, New Hampshire and West Virginia consider clergy mandated reporters and clergy-penitent privilege is waived in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect in those states. In Arizona (and everywhere else), clergy are not mandated reporters and suspected child abuse or neglect isn’t exempted from that, even if it is ongoing. And religious leaders cannot be forced to testify in court about abuse a parishoner confessed to committing.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror

German Catholic Church ‘covered up’ cases of sexual abuse by clergy
“A system of ‘silence, secrecy and lack of oversight’ led to a lack of compassion for the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy(link is external), a German cardinal has announced. Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki said he bore some responsibility for the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the German Catholic Church and that there was an effort in the Cologne diocese to cover up cases of sexual abuse. He did not, however, offer to resign, saying such a move would be a short-lived symbolic step. He instead vowed to do ‘everything humanly possible’ to prevent sexual abuse in the Church.” By Deutsche Welle

German cardinal sees own mistakes over past abuse cases
“The Roman Catholic archbishop of the German city of Cologne said Tuesday (Mar. 23) that he made mistakes in past cases involving sexual abuse allegations against priests(link is external), although a report has cleared him of wrongdoing, but made clear he has no intention of resigning. Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki was speaking after the release last week of a report he commissioned on church officials’ response to past abuse allegations. The findings have prompted the current archbishop of Hamburg to offer his resignation to Pope Francis, while three Cologne church officials, including two auxiliary bishops, were suspended.” By Associated Press

POPE FRANCIS

Francis says the Church is ‘never wrong’ when it listens to the faithful
“An estimated 100,000 Argentines sent messages to Pope Francis March 13, sharing their opinions regarding the first eight years of his pontificate, and he responded with a video made public Thursday (Apr. 1), arguing that the Church is ‘never wrong’ when listening to the ‘holy faithful people of God(link is external).’ ‘In theological terms, they call it synodality,’ Francis said. ‘It might have many names, but it’s the holy faithful people of God that carries the faith forward and in its own dialect.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Leading cardinals feel push toward schism
“The Vatican is now in crisis management mode with German bishops. In January, two Vatican cardinals wanted to summon the president of the German bishops’ conference to Rome and correct him about a media interview in which he expressed his dissent from Church teaching in a number of areas. Such a meeting, which some believe should have been used to give the Vatican’s formal opposition to the Synodal Path, never happened and now the German bishops are blazing ahead unfettered, drawing grave concerns of possible schism(link is external).” By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register

Brazilian cardinal accused of downplaying priest’s alleged abuse of teen
“When he was 17-year-old, Elissandro Nazare de Siqueira was trying to make a living for himself in São Paulo when he met Father Bartolomeu da Silva Paz, a priest known for his lively Masses and his charitable enterprises … At first, he saw Paz as a savior, since the priest found him a small room in the house of one of his parishioners, and he became the handyman of the parish of Nossa Senhora de Monte Serrat. Yet soon Siqueira claims an abusive relationship began: He said that in a secluded house owned by the parish, the priest got him drunk and raped him(link is external).” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Pope grants German archbishop faulted over abuse ‘time out’
“Pope Francis has granted a ‘time out’ to a German archbishop who offered his resignation after being faulted for his handling of allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) in his previous diocese, church authorities said Monday (Mar. 29). Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hesse’s offer on March 18 followed the release of a report commissioned by his counterpart in Cologne which found 75 cases in which high-ranking officials neglected their duties in such cases. They were criticized, for example, for failing to follow up on or report cases of abuse, not sanctioning perpetrators or not caring for victims.” By Associated Press

Italian bishops plan synodal path to overcome ‘stale’ structures
“This week the Italian bishops set to work on the initial preparations of their upcoming ‘synodal journey,’ which was explicitly asked for by Pope Francis. At the close of their spring plenary assembly, the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) said the coronavirus pandemic is an ideal time to hold their own national synod, assessing not only the challenges the country faces in the current crisis, but the state of the Church. ‘For the bishops, it is time to abandon those superstructures known to be stale and repetitive(link is external) … sometimes breaking with, or, in any case, not in line with the ‘it’s always been done like this’ mentality,’ read a March 25 communique issued by the bishops at the close of their assembly.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

‘Synodality’ and women’s empowerment go together, leading sisters say
“Over the eight-plus years of the Francis papacy, perhaps no single term has captured the essence of this maverick pope’s vision better than ‘synodality.’ The only thing about the word more striking than the frequency of its use, perhaps, is the near-impossibility of specifying exactly what it means. A Vatican official, and a woman much-cited recently as proof of Pope Francis’s commitment to hearing the voices of women, now says whatever the precise definition of ‘synodality,’ in practice it implies an almost Copernican shift in perspective and operating style(link is external).” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow

Priests and lay women work together every day. The church is finally starting to train them together, too.
“Integrated formation models—which most often take the form of men preparing for the priesthood sharing classrooms and even degree programs with men and women pursuing vocations in lay ministry—are one way to foster such encounters. Part of the larger trend of greater lay involvement and leadership in the church following the Second Vatican Council(link is external), such programming is not new in the United States.” By America: The Jesuit Review

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Some church things shouldn’t return to ‘normal’ after the pandemic
“When it comes to our communal ecclesial life, I think a major lesson of the pandemic has been that more involvement and leadership on the part of the laity and non-ordained ministers is an absolute necessity(link is external). I have participated in several dozen Zoom liturgies — some Eucharistic celebrations streamed live, others centered on the celebration of the Word that allowed for greater inclusion in who presided or preached — and each of them was spiritually nourishing in its own right. I know many others who have likewise “shopped” around online, sampling the liturgical life of communities physically distanced but spiritually united, and it was life giving.” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH REFORM

Former Priest Calls to Reform the Catholic Church
“The battle to reform the Catholic Church has been plagued by a long-running sexual abuse crisis. Author, historian and journalist James Carroll argues that male dominance is the root cause of the church’s issues(link is external). His new memoir, “The Truth at the Heart of the Lie,” links his own crisis of faith as a priest to the history of the church itself. He joins Michel Martin to discuss his call for reform.” James Carroll on Amanpour & Co., PBSLocal.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Further measures needed to combat financial crime at Vatican, pope says
“Signaling further reforms of the Vatican City State penal code, particularly when it comes to financial crimes(link is external), Pope Francis said the laws must reflect ‘the equality of all members of the church’ by doing away with ‘privileges that go back in time and are no longer in keeping with the responsibility of each for building up of the church.’ Meeting March 27 with the judges, prosecutors, investigators and other members of the Vatican’s state tribunal, the pope also encouraged efforts to facilitate international cooperation in investigations to ensure an accurate exchange of information in a timely manner.” By Catholic News Service in The Catholic Sun

British judge: Vatican made ‘appalling’ claims in UK probe
“A British judge has blasted Vatican prosecutors for making ‘appalling’ misrepresentations to the court about their investigation into the Holy See’s investment in a London real estate deal(link is external), determining they don’t have much of a case against their key suspect. In a remarkable ruling made public this week, Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court reversed another judge’s decision to seize the British-based bank accounts of broker Gianluigi Torzi and awarded Torzi legal fees.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The Church’s demagogues: Can synodality rebalance the charismatic celebrities?
“Pope Francis’ push for synodality inside the Church coincides chronologically with the rise of populist leaders and the crisis of democracy on the outside(link is external). Synodality, therefore, has an ad extra dimension. It is an ecclesial response to populist leaders who ‘hijack’ religion by sowing division and exploiting the anger of those who feel excluded, as Vatican Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle noted recently. Of course, synodality has specific ad intra dimensions, too. In an interesting article published a few months ago in Vida Nueva, Spanish Jesuit Alejandro Labajos pointed out that, according to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, four percent of these religious communities had undergone an apostolic visitation (basically a Vatican investigation).” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church facing biggest mass walkout since child sex abuse scandal, priest claims
“James Martin, a priest who advocates for LGBT+ inclusion within the Catholic Church, made his comments after the Vatican released an explanatory note insisting that clergy must not bless same-sex unions because God ‘cannot bless sin.’ ‘Not since the anger over sex abuse in 2002 and 2018 have I seen so many people so demoralized, and ready to leave the church(link is external), as I have this week,’ Martin wrote. He added: ‘And not simply LGBT+ people, but their families and friends, a large part of the church.’” By Patrick Kelleher, YahooNews.com

VOICES

Critics charge German ‘synodal path’ exploits suffering of abuse victims
“Many of those taking part in the process believe it will bring reform and help restore credibility in the Catholic Church, particularly seeing that according to a poll by German Catholic news agency KNA, the over 200,000 people who left the Church between 2018 and 2019 did so motivated primarily by the abuse scandals. In addition, a recent survey showed almost 30 percent of the German Catholics are now considering leaving the Church. However, some believe that the Synodal Path is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In reality, they charge, the purpose of the Synodal Path is not to bring the sexual abuse crisis to a close, but to use the actual crisis to justify profound changes in the Church(link is external), concerning Catholic teaching, identity, and tradition.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill would eliminate statute of limitations for civil claims of childhood physical abuse
“Proposed legislation would eliminate the statute of limitations in Vermont for a victim of childhood physical abuse(link is external) to bring a civil action against those responsible. The bill, S.99, which was presented Friday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, follows legislation enacted two years ago that repealed the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to bring civil lawsuits. Both pieces of legislation also come in light of claims of physical and sexual abuse decades ago at the Vermont Catholic Diocese’s former St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington.” By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger.org

Church, insurers oppose new effort to extend deadline for sex-abuse lawsuits
“The Rhode Island Catholic church and the state’s insurance lobby are once again leading the charge against legislative efforts to extend the deadline for lawsuits by victims of childhood sex abuse(link is external). This year, the effort focuses on removing a barrier to the filing of lawsuits against people and institutions who enabled and protected abusers by looking the other way or concealing their crimes. On Wednesday (Mar. 24) night, one speaker after another recounted for the House Judiciary Committee the number of churches their abusers worked before and after, they said, their childhoods were taken away from them.” By Katherine Gregg, The Providence Journal

Child sex abuse lawsuit ‘window’ amendment clears Pa. House
“Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday (Mar. 24) finished a new first round of approvals for a constitutional amendment giving victims of child sexual abuse the power to file what would otherwise be outdated claims(link is external), but it will be 2023 at the earliest before it takes effect. The House voted 188 to 13 to approve the proposed constitutional amendment, which must pass both chambers in two consecutive two-year legislative sessions before going before voters as a referendum.” By Mark Scolforo, Cruxnow.com

Stop the bickering: Pennsylvania lawmakers must help victims of clergy sex abuse
“Lawmakers are scrambling to resurrect a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would open a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse(link is external) to retroactively sue their attackers, along with organizations that covered up the abuse, such as the Catholic church. The effort was driven by a scathing 2018 grand jury report. It disclosed accusations of more than 1,000 Pennsylvania children being sexually abused by hundreds of priests over seven decades.” By Paul Muschick, The Morning Call

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Journalists accuse Cologne archdiocese of violating freedom of the press
“The German Journalists’ Association (DJV) and the Association of German Catholic Publicists (GKP) have sharply criticized the Cologne archdiocese’s stipulations for journalists who want to read the first abuse report(link is external). On 25 March, under strict stipulations, the archdiocese allowed a first select group of ten journalists to inspect the Munich law firm’s report, which Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki commissioned but refused to publish.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

Legionaries of Christ publish latest abuse report for the congregation
“On Monday (Mar. 22), the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ religious order published its latest report detailing what they have done and what they still need to do to repair the damage done and guarantee safe spaces for minors(link is external), from third-party investigations to mandatory formation seminars and revealing the names of priests found guilty of abuse. The religious congregation continues to claim it is cleaning house, after a report released last year showed that the late Father Marcial Maciel Degolaldo, founder of the Legionaries, was far from being the only abusive priest in the movement.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

ARIZONA

Lawsuit accuses Tucson priests of sexually abusing minors decades ago in southern Arizona
“A third victim has come forward in a federal lawsuit accusing Catholic priests of sexual abuse of minors across southern Arizona(link is external) in the 1970s and 1980s. Initially filed in December, the lawsuit claims that the Tucson Diocese and Los Angeles Archdiocese covered up abuse and moved priests around instead of reporting them to law enforcement.” By Audrey Jensen, Arizona Republic

ILLINOIS

Amid ongoing investigation, Chicago priest says he will ‘seek other ways and opportunities’ to work in the community
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger intends to find other ways to work in the Auburn Gresham community as the Chicago Archdiocese continues to investigate allegations that he molested two brothers(link is external) in the 1970s, Pfleger wrote in a recent letter to the community. ‘I know that I cannot emotionally or spiritually continue to remain isolated in an apartment waiting for this board to do its job,’ Pfleger, the pastor at St. Sabina Church, wrote. ‘While I hope and pray that the Review Board will work a little harder and more promptly to conclude their investigation, I will no longer wait in silence.’” By Sarah Freishtat and Christy Gutowski, Chicago Tribune

LOUISIANA

Slidell priest charged with molesting a juvenile
“Patrick Wattigny, a former priest at a Slidell church, has been formally charged with molestation of juvenile(link is external), District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced on Thursday, March 18. Wattigny, 63, the former pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church and chaplain at Pope John Paul II High School, both in Slidell, is accused of molesting a teenager, then 15, between June 1, 2013, and August 31, 2014. Wattigny was arrested in October of 2020.” By Mykal Vincent, Fox-TV News

MICHIGAN

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw removes priest from list of clergy accused of sexual misconduct
“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw is no longer featuring the name of a local priest on its website’s list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). Bishop Robert D. Gruss on Friday, March 26, announced he had removed the Rev. Dennis H. Kucharczyk’s name from subsection of the diocesan website titled ‘Names of Clergy Accused of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.’ The page lists 26 other names.” By Cole Waterman, MLive.com

Brighton-Area Priest Under Investigation By Michigan AG
“A priest at a Brighton-area church has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation(link is external) by the Michigan Office of the Attorney General. In an email to parishioners Friday (Mar. 19), it was announced that Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing had placed the Reverend Shaun Lowery, Pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Church in Brighton Township, on ministerial leave. The Diocese of Lansing says they are fully cooperating with the Attorney General’s investigation.” By Jon King, WHMI-FM Radio News

MISSISSIPPI

Catholic sex abuse claim: State Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Hattiesburg case
“A Forrest County judge erred when he dismissed a case of alleged sexual abuse by a Catholic priest(link is external), one attorney argued Tuesday (Mar. 30) before a three-judge panel of the Mississippi Supreme Court. Attorney John Hawkins said state law provides for a case to proceed if it was brought within three years of the discovery of an injury even if the statute of limitations for when the crime occurred had already expired. Hawkins is representing Robert McGowen, who claims he was sexually abused by former Sacred Heart Catholic Church priest Father John Scanlon in 1984 and 1985, when McGowen was 12 and 13 years old.” By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American

MISSOURI

Vatican defrocked former KC priest over sexual abuse claims four days before he died
“Four days before Michael Tierney died, the Vatican confirmed a decision to defrock the former Kansas City-area priest after finding him guilty of sexually abusing minors(link is external). Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. has been notified that an appeal by Tierney to reverse the penalty of dismissal from the priesthood was resolved on Dec. 11, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph announced on its website this month. Tierney died on Dec. 15 at age 76.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW MEXICO

Clergy abuse bankruptcy moves toward resolution
“Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester is living out of two rooms at an Albuquerque parish these days, his formal diocesan home sold to help pay for the sins of his predecessors and the damage done by priests and other clergy members who molested children(link is external). The archdiocese reported selling the four-bedroom, tri-level house near its Catholic Center on Albuquerque’s West Side for about $425,000 as part of a stepped up liquidation of assets in its ongoing Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization, which appears closer than ever to settlement.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

Long Island’s Catholic Diocese sells headquarters for $5.2M amid bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre has sold its headquarters for $5.2 million in a move that was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court, church officials said Friday (Mar. 26) … The diocese, home to 1.4 million Catholics in the Long Island region, declared bankruptcy in October as it faced more than 200 lawsuits under New York State’s Child Victims Act(link is external). It became the largest diocese in the United States to declare bankruptcy.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

Newly filed lawsuit alleges abuse by former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard
“Howard Hubbard, the former Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Albany, was accused of sexual abuse in a Child Victims Act lawsuit filed last week — the seventh such action containing allegations against him(link is external). The lawsuit was filed anonymously on a male plaintiff’s behalf by Herman Law, a large firm that specializes in abuse cases. The defendants are the Diocese of Albany and St. Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church in Clifton Park. The complaint alleges that in 1977 — the year Hubbard was appointed bishop — he approached an 11-year-old boy at a carnival put on by St. Edward the Confessor, told the boy to accompany him to the rectory and molested him there.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times-Union

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic priest who groped girl, sent her nude photos deserves to do penance in prison, Pa. court says
“A Roman Catholic priest who groped a teenage girl and sent her nude photos and a video of himself(link is external) wasn’t punished too harshly with a 1- to 2-year prison sentence, a state Superior Court panel has decided. That ruling, outlined in an opinion by Judge Megan King, comes little more than a year after Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos told Father Kevin Lonergan, ‘You have made families feel that church is no longer a safe place.’” By Matt Miller, PennLive.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy almost 50 years ago told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’, court hears
“A former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy at a remote parish(link is external) almost 50 years ago told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’, a court has heard. Neville Joseph Creen, 80, denies indecently abusing the teenager in Mount Isa, northwest Queensland, where he served as a priest in the 1970s. Asked about the allegations in 2018, Creen told officers he had ‘never, ever touched the boy’, calling it a ‘gross injustice’ that he had been accused.” By Australian Associated Press in Daily Mail

CANADA

St. John’s, N.L., diocese to sell property to settle Mount Cashel abuse claims
“Roman Catholic parishes in the St. John’s area will be undergoing significant restructuring in the months ahead as the archdiocese works to resolve the harm caused to victims of abuse(link is external) at Mount Cashel orphanage, parishioners learned on the weekend. ‘Over the coming weeks you may expect to see some properties listed on the real estate market,’ read an email update from St. John’s Archbishop Peter Hundt.” By Staff, The Canadian Press

EAST TIMOR

Trial of ex-priest accused of child abuse in Timor postponed to May
“The trial of a former US priest accused of child abuse in Timor-Leste(link is external) due to resume tomorrow at the Oecusse Court has been postponed until May 24, according to judicial sources. The president of the Court of Appeal, Deolindo dos Santos, confirmed the postponement to Lusa news agency, explaining that he was asked by the lawyers for the defendant, Richard Daschbach. He was concerned with the current conditions due to the covid-19 sanitary lockdown in the Timorese capital.” By Asia Pacific Report

FRANCE

French Catholic Church to propose ‘financial contribution’ to child sex victims
“The French Catholic Church will offer a ‘financial contribution’ to the thousands of victims of child sex abuse by priests(link is external) since the 1950s, bishops have agreed. The Church wants to “recognise its responsibility to society by asking forgiveness for these crimes and shortcomings,” the bishops announced after a gathering in the southern city of Lourdes. The Bishops’ Conference of France agreed in November 2018 to set up an investigative commission after huge and repeated child abuse scandals shook the Catholic Church at home and abroad.” By Michael Fitzpsatrick, RFI.fr

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady’s ‘pain’ over role in pervert priest inquiry
“Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady has expressed his ‘sadness’ and ‘pain’ over his role in an internal Church inquiry into pedophile priest Brendan Smyth, which involved swearing a 14-year-old victim to secrecy(link is external). Cardinal Brady said he was ‘too focused’ on getting a statement from the boy and acknowledged it was a ‘horrendous’ situation for the child. In a new book about Catholicism in Ireland Cardinal Brady told author Derek Scally: ‘Hauled into a room with three fellows there, his father wasn’t there, it was horrendous, really. That is only dawning on me now, really… his double victimization.’” By Maeve Sheehan, Belfast Telegaph

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic priest sexually abuses school boy, tells God would punish him if he told anyone about abuse
“A priest from a prestigious Auckland school in New Zealand is accused of sexually assaulting a boy inside the school’s Chapel(link is external). The Priest later instilled fear in the mind of the boy by saying that God would punish him if he told anyone else about the abuse. Father John Goodwin, who is now at the King’s School, has been ‘sent on leave’ by the school authorities after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced and now faces a police enquiry into the matter.” By Vinod D’Souza, International Business Times

New Zealand’s Catholic Church apologizes to survivors of abuse
“New Zealand’s Catholic Church formally apologized on Friday (Mar. 26) to the survivors of abuse within the church and said its systems and culture must change(link is external). Cardinal John Dew, who is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan of New Zealand, made the apology at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders in New Zealand. ‘Today, recognising the importance of this moment, I apologize to you, on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand,’ said Cardinal Dew, who is also the president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.” By Reuters

Catholic Church structure to blame for abuse in care, priest tells inquiry
A theologian has pointed the blame directly at the hierarchy and structure of the Catholic Church for abuse by priests(link is external). Dr. Tom Doyle, who is a priest, canon lawyer and addictions therapist, has given evidence to the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care in Auckland. He said the so-called mystic aura of a priest had given him super human status. Dr. Doyle, who beamed in via an audio visual link from the United States, told the inquiry priests suffered from what he called clerical narcissism.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

Catholic Church on abuse: ‘We are ashamed and saddened’
“The Catholic Church says it’s shamed and saddened by abuse in the church(link is external). The church opened its evidence on its handling of complaints at the Inquiry into abuse in care on Monday (Mar. 22). It said its response to redress has at times been ahead of Vatican guidelines. The number of cases of abuse within the Catholic Church in New Zealand is in excess of 1100, but the Royal Commission said that is just a preliminary figure. Counsel for the Commission Katherine Anderson said failure in record keeping from the 1950s impacts on the accuracy of the figures. Cardinal John Dew told the Commission the church was saddened and ashamed by what has happened.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand, on Stuff.co.nz

POLAND

Poland: 4 churchmen allegedly didn’t report sex abuse claims
“Polish prosecutors say they have received allegations that four senior churchmen broke the law by failing to report a complaint that a priest allegedly sexually abused a minor(link is external). National Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Ewa Bialik confirmed to The Associated Press Wednesday (Mar. 17) that the formal notification was received this month from a new state commission that reviews whether reports of pedophilia should be reported to prosecutors.” By Associated Press

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

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March 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

Cardinal Tobin joins Cupich on Vatican’s influential Congregation for Bishops
“On March 4, Pope Francis named Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops(link is external), making him the second American now serving on the group tasked with advising the pontiff on which Catholic priests to appoint as bishops across the world. Tobin effectively replaces retired Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, whose appointment to the congregation ended in November on Wuerl’s 80th birthday. Tobin now joins Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, whom Francis appointed to the group in 2016.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The Vatican is pushing forward on synodality; the U.S. Bishops should follow suit
“Pope Francis’ appointment of Xavière Sister Nathalie Becquart and now-bishop-elect Luis Marín de San Martín to the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops is only the latest step in his efforts to push the global church toward a synodal model of leadership(link is external). That is, a model in which bishops and lay people speak freely together about the issues affecting them and where they believe the Spirit is calling them, and, through discussion and voting, reach decisions together.” By Colleen Dulle, SacredHeartUniversity.typepad.com

Cologne diocese abuse scandal: Investigators identify suspects
“A German law firm published an independent report Thursday (Mar. 18) following accusations of efforts to cover up sexual violence in Germany’s most powerful Roman Catholic diocese, Cologne. The report identified around 243 abusers of minors — priests or laypeople working for the church — and at least 386 victims between 1946 and 2018, but some of these did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Cologne diocese. Some 55% of cases referred to children under the age of 14 and around half dealt with sexual violence. The rest of the cases had to do with verbal or physical abuse. Almost two-thirds of abuses were carried out by members of the clergy, the rest by laypeople. The report also indicated a clear rise in reported abuse between 2004 and 2018.” By Deutsche Welle

‘It’s not just lip service’: Jesuits announce new commission on the role of women in the order
“On March 8—International Women’s Day—Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the Jesuits, announced the creation of the Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus(link is external). Father Sosa explained in a statement that the commission is the next step in the Society’s efforts to more fully include and collaborate with women, following previous decrees from General Congregations. A task force assembled by Father Sosa in 2020 also recommended the formation of a commission of this nature. The Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus is made up of 10 members: six women, three Jesuits and one lay man.” By Molly Cahill, America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Retired Buffalo bishops must pay for lawyers in defending against AG’s lawsuit
“Two retired bishops from the Buffalo Diocese will have to pay for their own defense against a state Attorney General’s Office lawsuit that accuses them of protecting priests accused of child sex abuse(link is external). “U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Carl L. Bucki rejected the diocese’s request to retain a Buffalo law firm to represent retired Bishop Richard J. Malone and retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, both of whom are individually named, along with the diocese, in a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Letitia James in November. In a ruling late Tuesday (Mar. 2), Bucki said the diocese has “no obligation” to retain the Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman law firm on behalf of the two bishops, who retired prior to the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2020.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Washington account of $2m Cardinal Wuerl fund raises transparency questions
“The Archdiocese of Washington on Thursday (Mar. 4) said that more than $2 million allocated for the ‘continuing ministry activities’ of emeritus archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl was given by donors to cover Wuerl’s living and travel expenses, and to allow the cardinal to give charitable gifts at his discretion. But while the archdiocese now says the money was given by donors for the express purpose of funding Wuerl’s ‘expenses and ministerial needs,’ its audited financial statements tell a different story, stating the archdiocese designated $2 million of its own ‘net assets without donor restrictions’ for Wuerl’s use(link is external).” By The Pillar, on PillarCatholic.com

Panelists call for reckoning on abuse of Native American children at Catholic boarding schools
“In its attempts to address sex abuse crises, the Catholic Church has issued apologies, conducted investigations and paid reparations, but the Vatican has never publicly apologized for abuse inflicted on Indigenous Americans at Catholic-run boarding schools(link is external) in the United States and Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries, according to presenters at a Feb. 25 online panel event, ‘Native American Communities and the Clerical Abuse Crisis,’ hosted by Fordham University’s Taking Responsibility project.” By Lucy Grindon, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Pressure eases on Cardinal Woelki
“German bishops have backtracked after sharp criticism of the turmoil in the archdiocese of Cologne in recent weeks caused by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s decision not to publish the abuse report he had commissioned(link is external). At their plenary in the last week of February, they publicly emphasised that they were all responsible for the situation of the German Church. ‘A number of things in the Cologne archdiocese certainly need clearing up, but it would be all too hasty a conclusion to put the focus solely on the Archbishop of Cologne,’ conference president, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, underlined in his final report after the online plenary.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

BISHOPS

German bishop orders new look at US claims against Schonstatt founder
“Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier has ordered a reexamination of abuse allegations against Fr. Joseph Kentenich(link is external), the founder of the international Schonstatt movement, from his time in exile in the U.S. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported Ackermann referred to allegations made by an American man who accused Kentenich of sexually abusing him between 1958 and 1962. The bishop told the diocesan newspaper Paulinus that the accusations had been examined at the time, but that such suspected cases were treated differently today.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Top German bishop laments ‘scandalous’ image of church
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference said Thursday (Mar. 4) that the country’s Roman Catholic church is suffering from a ‘scandalous image’ amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue. The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse.” By Associated Press

WOMEN’S VOICES

Dear Pope Francis: Thank you for 8 years of challenging and healing the church. But women still deserve more.
“Dear Pope Francis, I remember that last year you personally recommended us to be brave like Mary Magdalene even when addressing the Pope. That is why I allow myself to tell you, with all respect, trust and affection, that as a woman I feel that something is owed to us(link is external). You fight against machismo and clericalism, but I think that not enough progress has been made in taking advantage of the wealth of women who make up a large part of the People of God.” By María Lía Zervino, America: The Jesuit Review

Ambassador: Progress for women leaders at Vatican
“International Women’s Day was celebrated yesterday (Mar. 8) with the global theme ‘Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’ In terms of the Church, Pope Francis is making small but significant steps towards greater inclusion of women in decision making and leadership(link is external). He has amended Canon Law so that women may be officially recognized as exercising the ministries of Lector and Acolyte. And he has appointed a woman as Under-Secretary to the Synod of Bishops – with the right to vote. Chiara Porro, the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See has told Vatican News that Pope Francis is an active promotor of gender equality:” By CathNews.com

Mary Grace Gallagher: Man shares why Maryland should end statute of limitations on child abuse claims
“It is a paradox of ‘social movements’ that they rely on lone voices, sharing stories of impact and pain. Whether chanting ‘Me Too’ or ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it is easy to stand in a crowd and demand change and much harder to stand alone, as one Bowie resident did last month, when he shared with strangers the most horrifying and vulnerable experience of his(link is external) life in a recorded Zoom session for the Maryland General Assembly. The legislators tuning into the hearing had been given a 200-page stack of testimony from survivors of childhood sexual abuse, all of it urging them to strengthen a law called the Hidden Predator Act that had passed with great fanfare in 2017.” Commentary by Mary Grace Gallagher, Capital Gazette

Catholic women invited to national consultation
“Catholic women are being invited to participate in a national consultation with two bishops later this month and to mark their diaries for a national gathering in September. The national consultation, which will take place on 27 March via Zoom, invites women to articulate and celebrate their contribution to and vision for the mission of the Catholic Church in Australia(link is external). Bishop Michael Morrissey, the Bishop Delegate for Women, said he is looking forward to hearing from Catholic women from across the country.” By Catholic Outlook

VATICAN

Ex-Vatican altar boy testifies in seminary sex abuse trial
“A former Vatican altar boy has testified that an older seminarian would come into his bed at night to perform a sexual act on him(link is external) in the Vatican’s youth seminary, saying his initial shock gave way to resignation because he feared being sent home. Accuser L.G. testified for the first time Wednesday (Mar. 17) in the Vatican’s criminal courtroom, in the first-ever case to go to trial alleging sexual abuse within the Vatican walls — among the altar boys who serve at papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli is accused of abusing his authority as a more senior seminarian to force L.G. into ‘carnal acts’ of sodomy and masturbation, using violence and threats, from 2007-2012.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

The Vatican restricts Traditional Latin Mass and suppresses private Masses at St. Peter’s Basilica
“The Vatican’s Secretariat of State has issued an instruction regarding the celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, suppressing Masses said by a priest by himself, and restricting the celebration of the extraordinary form of Mass in the Latin rite to one altar(link is external) in the crypt of the basilica. The instruction comes from the First Section of the Secretariat of State, which deals with the general affairs of the church and is headed by Venezuelan-born Archbishop Peña Parra. He is the third-highest ranking official in the Roman Curia and is known as the “substitute” (or chief of staff).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Curial speculation follows papal meetings with bishops
“Sources have told CNA that Pope Francis may choose two US-born prelates as prefects of congregations in the Roman Curia.(link is external) The two are Blase Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and Bishop Robert Prevost of Chiclayo. Pope Francis had a private audience with Cardinal Cupich Jan. 30, while he met Bishop Prevost March 1. The two audiences may be part of a series of meetings Pope Francis has in view of a general reshuffle of the top Curia officials. After the retirement of Robert Cardinal Sarah as prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, there are five congregations whose prefects have already reached and surpassed the retirement age of 75.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

CHURCH FINANCES

Celebrity priest creates financial storm at Long Island parish
“The gist of a meeting on a late February weeknight at St. Joseph Parish in Babylon, New York, is probably familiar to many Catholic churches across the country, as Fr. Jason Grisafi, the pastor, discussed how St. Joseph could meet its expenses in light of steadily declining contributions, a drop exacerbated during the last year by COVID-19. The meeting, however, was remarkable, given St. Joseph’s recent history(link is external). For one, it was livestreamed and a video of it was posted on the parish’s website, which also contained St. Joseph’s latest financial report. That transparency stands in stark contrast to the alleged opacity that marked the tenure of the previous pastor, Fr. Charles Mangano, who has moved on to a new assignment but has left behind unanswered questions about his financial stewardship at St. Joseph.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis signs off on Vatican budget with a multimillion-dollar deficit
“The Holy See’s budget for 2021 is significantly different from those of previous years both because of the financial difficulties related to the Covid-19 pandemic and the new methodology involved in its preparation—a ‘zero-based budget’—that sought to ensure maximum accountability. It envisages a deficit of $59 million (U.S. dollars), but the deficit would have been $95 million if the Peter’s Pence donations had not been included as income(link is external).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

CHILD PROTECTION

Poland’s Catholic bishops work with religious orders to strengthen child protection system
“Poland’s Catholic bishops strengthened their child protection system(link is external) on Thursday (Mar. 11) with an agreement with the country’s male religious orders. During the bishops’ plenary meeting in Warsaw on March 11, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki and Fr. Janusz Sok, C.Ss.R., signed a declaration committing men’s religious orders to cooperation with the St. Joseph Foundation, which the bishops established in 2019 to support abuse survivors.” By Catholic News Service

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German Catholics and Protestants Pursue Intercommunion Despite Vatican Objections
Catholics and Protestants in Germany announced on Tuesday (Mar. 16) that they would press ahead with intercommunion at an event in May despite Vatican objections(link is external). In a March 16 press release, organizers of the third Ecumenical Church Congress (ÖKT) in Frankfurt said that they planned to invite Christians to attend celebrations ‘in many churches’ in the city and across Germany on May 15. According to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, they said: ‘Christians of all denominations have the opportunity on this evening to come and enter, to get to know different traditions and — following their own conscience — to celebrate the living memory of Jesus Christ.’” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

VOICES

Honor the ‘mothers’ of early Christianity during Women’s History Month
“Women’s History Month is a great time to celebrate the ‘mothers’ of our Christian church. Until recently, few realized that early female believers shaped our church’s future no less than their better-known brothers (aka the ‘fathers of the church’(link is external)). On Feb. 14, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI made the rather remarkable statement that ‘without the generous contribution of many women, the history of Christianity would have developed very differently,’ and that the female presence was not ‘in any way secondary.’ Some early church mothers are relatively well-known while others are all but forgotten. Early writings and funerary inscriptions testify that women served as prophets, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, deacons, presbyters, enrolled widows, and heads of house churches and monasteries.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

How Big Money Is Dividing American Catholicism
“A schism in the faith between liberals and conservatives is being exacerbated by a group of plutocrats. The hardening schism in American Catholicism is shaping up to be a test of the influence of liberal Catholicism and the liberal left more broadly(link is external). It pits a loosely organized cultural and theological movement against a well-oiled and well-funded political movement on the right—the latter a testament to conservative Catholicism’s commitment to a politics of money and power.” By Katherine Stewart, The New Republic

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Catholic group opposes Colorado bill that would give child sex abuse survivors the ability to sue their abuser at any time
“For decades, survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their advocates have urged states to let them hold abusers accountable in civil court, no matter how long it’s been since the abuse. A bipartisan bill in the Colorado Legislature to do just that so far appears to have widespread approval, but it’s not without opposition from the Colorado Catholic Conference — a church embroiled in a sex abuse scandal in Colorado, the U.S. and around the world(link is external). There is no expiration date in Colorado to bring criminal charges against a person accused of child sex abuse, but the statute of limitations to sue an individual is only six years after a victim turns 18. Last year’s effort to change the latter failed.” By Saja Hini, The Denver Post

Lawmakers want to use emergency powers to pass sexual abuse reform. Can they find the votes to pull it off?
“Six weeks after the Wolf administration revealed that a clerical error had derailed a years-long effort to help survivors of child sex abuse, Pennsylvania state lawmakers are invoking a seldom-used legislative power to salvage it. If the plan that lawmakers put in motion on Monday (Mar. 15) succeeds, Pennsylvania voters will be asked during the May 18 primary election to ratify an emergency amendment to the state constitution allowing child sex abuse victims to sue perpetrators in decades-old cases(link is external). If it fails, voters will have to wait at least two years before they can weigh in.” By Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Cologne Archdiocese awaits potentially explosive report on abuse
“A potentially explosive report about sexual abuse in Germany’s Cologne Archdiocese is set to be released March 18(link is external). The fate of the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, could be profoundly affected. He has offered to resign if he is implicated in a cover-up. The upper echelon of the archdiocese will be targeted in the currently secret report, according to Joachim Frank, chief correspondent of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the city’s largest newspaper.” By Donald Snyder, National Catholic Reporter

This trauma counselor helps heal the wounds of abuse
“It was the early 2000s. The stories of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy were making headlines everywhere(link is external) and over and over again. Horrifying stories of the abuse perpetrated on children by adults they had been taught to trust. It had happened in parishes across the country, and even those who hadn’t personally experienced that sort of trauma were triggered by the news stories. Sharon Froom, a licensed mental health professional, was witnessing a great deal of emotional turmoil.” By Ann Christenson, U.S. Catholic

Sipe documentary prompts memories of early sex abuse activist
“I watched the documentary, ‘Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood,’ with a mix of very powerful emotions: profound admiration and gratitude for all that A.W. Richard Sipe had done and all that he continues to do, and very painful sadness. Richard and I go back to the earliest years of the clergy abuse phenomenon(link is external) … The documentary accurately showed Richard as a loving and gentle person who attracted people to him, especially people who were troubled, precisely because the empathy he shared was real, and because it was real it transcended the barriers of fear so many have when they seek help.” By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

ILLINOIS

Lapeer teen sues Catholic church and school, claiming a priest raped him 10 years ago
“A former student of Bishop Kelley Catholic School in Lapeer has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming a priest raped him in a teacher’s lounge(link is external) 10 years ago. The student, who was 8 years old at the time, said he attended a one-on-one counseling session in October 2010 with the priest in a teachers lounge. The student claims the priest raped him during the spiritual formation session. The student, who is now 18 years old, says he did not immediately report the assault because the priest allegedly told him that he had “power with the devil” and would have the student’s mother killed if he talked about the incident.” By ABC-TV12 News

3rd man accuses a Chicago activist pries of sexual abuse
“A third man has come forward with sexual abuse allegations against a Chicago priest who has gained widespread acclaim for his activism(link is external), saying he felt he owes it to two brothers who have faced criticism for accusing the priest of abusing them decades ago when they were teens. The 59-year-old man alleges in an affidavit shared late  Mar. 2) with church officials that the Rev. Michael Pfleger once grabbed his crotch over his clothes in the priest’s bedroom area at St. Sabina Church in the summer of 1979 as the then 18-year-old accuser pretended to sleep.” By Associated Press

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese estimates 400 sexual abuse claims filed by March 1 deadline
“Roughly 400 people, who allege that they were sexually preyed upon by local priests and deacons(link is external), went to bankruptcy court and sought compensation from the Archdiocese of New Orleans before last week’s deadline for victims of clerical abuse to file such claims, church officials said Thursday. The announcement provides some clarity about the number and potential value of remaining clerical abuse cases that the archdiocese will have to settle or litigate before it can reorganize its finances, a process that started when the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last May.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

Metairie deacon arrested on child molestation charges
“An ordained Catholic deacon from Metairie was arrested Monday (Mar. 8) and charged with sexually molesting a 10-11-year-old boy(link is external) two decades ago, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed. Virgil Maxey ‘V.M.’ Wheeler III, 62, was booked into Jefferson Parish jail Monday on one count each of sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile, Capt. Jason Rivarde said. Rivarde told The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate that Wheeler is suspected of performing oral sex on the boy in question and showering with him.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

MISSOURI

Deceased priest added to archdiocese’s list of clergy with substantiated claims of abuse of minors
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis has added the name of a deceased priest to its list of clergy who have had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). Father Vincent Duggan was added to the list of clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Because Father Duggan was accused after his death, his name will be added to that section of the list. The updated list of clergy with substantiated claims of abuse is available online at archstl.org/list. Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski sent a letter to parishes in the archdiocese where Father Duggan had served in ministry, and an announcement will be made in those parish bulletins.” By Archdiocese of St. Louis

NEW MEXICO

Ex-Las Cruces pastor accused of molesting teenage girl in 1970s
“A civil complaint filed in Albuquerque alleges a former Las Cruces Catholic priest sexually abused a teenage girl(link is external) in the 1970s. The Rev. Jesus Goni was a pastor at St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church at the time of the alleged incident. The plaintiff, who is identified as Jane Doe 43 in the lawsuit, accuses Goni of ordering her into his office in approximately May 1970 and inappropriately touching her. She was about 14 years old at the time.” By Leah Romero, Las Cruces Sun-News, in Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK

Deadline for filing sex abuse claims against Syracuse Catholic Diocese is approaching
“Anyone who wants to file a claim seeking damages for clergy sex abuse against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse must do so by midnight on April 15(link is external). The diocese issued a reminder of that deadline, known as the “bar date,” in a news release Sunday. The deadline was initially set in November 2020 by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Margaret Cangilos- Ruiz.” By Don Cazentre, Syracuse.com

WISCONSIN

Advocates push for a clergy abuse investigation in memory of Notre Dame graduate who died one year ago
“Supporters of a man who accused priests at St. Norbert Abbey of sexually abusing him(link is external) gathered outside a Green Bay Catholic high school Sunday (Mar. 7) to call on state officials to pull back the curtain on clergy abuse in Wisconsin. The rally near Notre Dame Academy came two days before the family and friends of Nate Lindstrom will mark one year since he died by suicide on March 9, 2020. Lindstrom, a Notre Dame alumnus, said he endured abuse by three Norbertine priests in the 1980s while he worked for clergymen who often took him to the abbey swimming pool.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

ARGENTINA

Argentine court clears former priest in sexual abuse case
“A court on Tuesday (Mar. 9) cleared a retired priest of sexual abuse charges on grounds the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes had expired(link is external). Former priest Carlos Eduardo José, 62, had spent more than a year in custody during the legal process and the ruling by a three-judge panel in the city of San Martin means he can go free. Attorneys for his accuser, Mailin Gobbo, said they would appeal.” By Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest denies historical abuse
“A former Catholic priest has denied sexually abusing a teenage schoolboy(link is external) almost 50 years ago while stationed at a remote northwest Queensland parish. Neville Joseph Creen, 80, pleaded not guilty to four historical counts of indecent and sexual abuse of the teenager in Mt Isa, where he served as a priest in the 1970s. The alleged victim, who cannot be identified, had just lost his father in a mining accident when he first met Father Creen, crown prosecutor Katrina Overell said in her opening in Brisbane District Court.” By Robyn Wuth, Guardian News

‘I was walking into an ambush’: Former Wallaby Tony Daly speaks out about childhood sexual abuse
“‘I can acknowledge it and I accept the ramification. But I won’t accept that I was a 10, 11-year-old boy and I was walking into an ambush. It shouldn’t have happened.’ There are small moments around which our lives turn. A chance encounter, a diagnosis, a shared connection. The defining moment in Tony Daly’s life happened when he was just 11. The man who he claims sexually abused him was a Catholic brother at his new boarding school(link is external).” By David Mark, ABC News

CANADA

Saskatoon Catholic officials promise to name sexually abusive priests in spring report
“Roman Catholic Church officials in Saskatoon are promising to publish a report this spring naming all abusive priests and staff going back to 1933(link is external). Saskatoon would be just the second jurisdiction in Canada to release names of abusive priests. A partial list was published by the Vancouver diocese in 2019. In the U.S., the vast majority of churches chose—or were forced by the courts—to make their lists public more than a decade ago. The Saskatoon report will list the priests involved in public court cases, but also the ones contained in the church’s internal records, said Brenda Fitzgerald, a member of the historical review committee for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

Class action against archdiocese for alleged negligence in abuse by priests ‘proceeding’
“A class action by dozens of Nova Scotians who say they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests(link is external) dating back to 1960 ‘is proceeding,’ says the lawyer representing the plaintiffs. The class action was filed on behalf of Douglas Champagne and other sexual abuse survivors. Champagne, according to the court filing, suffered lasting and permanent effects from sexual abuse at the hands of Father George Epoch while Epoch worked as a priest at the Canadian Martyrs Church in Halifax.” By Francis Campbell, The Chronicle Herald

COSTA RICA

Costa Rican bishops respond to alleged cover-up of sex abuse by students at Catholic school
“The National Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference released a statement in response to the alleged cover up of the sexual abuse of a former student at the Calasanz Catholic school(link is external). According to the local newspaper La Nación, a 21-year-old woman surnamed Cruz Carrillo made the accusation on social media that two of her male classmates sexually abused her in 2016.” By Catholic News Agency

FRANCE

France faces hard-hitting report on clerical sexual abuse
France faces a hard-hitting report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) this autumn after the head of an independent inquiry into such crimes since 1950 said it could reach a total of at least 10,000 cases. The commission, headed by retired judge Jean-Marc Sauvé, has been analysing self-reported cases and combing through diocesan archives for the past two years and expects to issue its report in October.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

GERMANY

Cardinal Marx’s Handling of Abuse Cases Under Scrutiny
“German Cardinal Reinhard Marx has rejected as ‘baseless’ accusations he prevented a full disclosure of information regarding clergy sex-abuse cases(link is external) in his diocese a decade ago — similar to accusations he himself has made against Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne. The charges were made against Cardinal Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, by German criminologist Christian Pfeiffer, whom the German bishops commissioned in 2011 to investigate a major study of abuse in the Church in Germany. That study was published in 2018.” By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Ampleforth College: Catholic school in child abuse scandal fails new inspection
“Ampleforth College, the Catholic school that is banned from taking new pupils after a child sex abuse scandal, has failed another Ofsted inspection(link is external). The school said that the latest findings related to ‘procedural’ issues rather than ‘horrific abuse.’ Ampleforth initially challenged the findings of an inspection in September before dropping its appeal. In November Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, ordered the North Yorkshire school not to take new pupils.” By Nicola Woolcock, The Times

INDONESIA

Amid sex abuse trial of ex-priest, Timor-Leste confronts its demons
“Images and short videos of people holding posters containing statements against sexual abuse adorn the timeline of a new Facebook campaign page. The campaign is called ‘Hapára Abuzu Seksuál hasoru Labarik,’ which means ‘Stop sexual abuse against children(link is external)’ in Timor-Leste’s Tetun language. Created on March 3, it aims to strengthen public awareness of sexual abuse amid the trial of ex-priest Richard Daschbach, according to Ariel Mota Alves, one of its administrators.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Notorious clerical abuser Oliver O’Grady back on the streets after release from prison
“Former priest and infamous pedophile Oliver O’Grady has been released from prison this week after serving his latest sentence for a sex-offence. Now 75-years-old, O’Grady had been jailed for 22 months last October for possessing ‘child pornography’, his ninth conviction(link is external). He had served time in California for the abuse of two boys where he served as a Catholic priest before being deported back to Ireland in the 1990s.” By Emon Dillon, Sunday World

MALTA

Clerical sex abuse case to be heard behind closed doors
“The case against two Xagħra priests charged with sexually abusing an altar boy(link is external) will be heard behind closed doors, a Gozitan court ruled on Monday (Mar. 8). Magistrate Bridgette Sultana issued a decree ordering the proceedings to be held behind closed doors ‘in the interest of full justice.’ She also barred the press from further reporting on the alleged perpetrators before the proceedings end. The priests, aged 70, and 84, have both denied sexual abuse charges.” By The Times of Malta

Chihuahua priest sentenced to 34 years for sexual assault of altar girl, 8
“A Chihuahua priest who was convicted in February of aggravated sexual assault against an 8-year-old who served as an altar girl(link is external) at his church was sentenced Tuesday (Mar. 2) to more than 34 years in prison. Aristeo Trinidad Baca, 78, a suspended priest at the Santa María de la Montaña Parish Church in Ciudad Juárez, assaulted the girl between 2015–2018, the court found on February 22. The priest received multiple sentences, totaling 34 years, five months and 10 days, reflecting the fact that he had sexually assaulted the girl on at least three occasions.” By Mexico News Daily

NEW ZEALAND

Faith-based Institutions To Front Royal Commission On Redress For Abuse
“Witnesses for faith-based institutions, including Archbishops and a Cardinal, will give evidence before the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry this month, on their processes for resolving historic and current abuse claims(link is external). Phase 2 of the Faith-based Redress hearing runs from 15 to 29 March. Phase 1 of the hearing was held late last year and focussed on the experience of survivors in seeking redress (such as compensation, counselling, an apology etc) for abuse and/or neglect in the care of faith-based institutions.” By Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry on Scoop.co.nz

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

January 25, 2021

TOP STORIES

Francis changes Catholic Church law: women explicitly allowed as lectors, altar servers
“Pope Francis has changed Catholic Church law to make explicit that laywomen can act as readers and altar servers in liturgical celebrations(link is external), effectively removing a previous option for individual bishops to restrict those ministries only to men. In an unexpected apostolic letter published Jan. 11, the pontiff says he is making the change to recognize a ‘doctrinal development’ that has occurred in recent years. That change, the pope says, ‘shines a light on how some ministries instituted by the church have as their foundation that common condition of baptism and the royal priesthood received in the Sacrament of Baptism.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Indictment of fundraising priest exposes lack of diocesan oversight
“Fr. Lenin Vargas’ request for money seemed more fitting for a spam email than from a Catholic priest. From 2014 until 2018, Vargas allegedly solicited funds from parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Starkville, Mississippi, where he was the pastor(link is external), for what he claimed were expenses for his cancer treatment and for charities in his native country of Mexico. … Furthermore, the Diocese of Jackson failed to divulge the fraud, allowing Vargas to pilfer money for years, according to a report from the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, which cites an affidavit filed in federal court by Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative arm of the U.S Department of Homeland Security.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

North Dakota bill would force priests to violate confession seal in abuse cases
“Three North Dakota state legislators introduced a bill this week that would oblige Catholic priests to violate the seal of confession in cases of confirmed or suspected child abuse, on penalty of imprisonment or heavy fines(link is external). The current mandatory reporting law in North Dakota states that clergy are considered mandatory reporters of known or suspected child abuse, except in cases when “the knowledge or suspicion is derived from information received in the capacity of spiritual adviser”, such as in the confessional.” By Mary Farrow, Catholic News Agency

Journalists reject Cologne’s confidentiality agreement
“Signing the agreement ‘would have meant that one could not report anything one had obtained from other sources(link is external) as one would have had to prove that one had not obtained it from the background discussion,’ Joachim Frank, chairman of the German Catholic Publicists and chief correspondent of the DuMont media group, who was one of the eight journalists, told Deutschlandfunk.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

ACCOUNTABILITY

Record payment ordered in Church abuse case
The Church will make a $2.45 million payout to a clergy sexual abuse survivor in Western Australia, in what is believed to be a record payout(link is external). The survivor will receive $2.45 million-plus legal costs to compensate him for abuse by teacher and priest Bertram Adderley, who groomed and raped him between 1977 and 1980 when he was aged 10 to 12. Lawyers involved in seeking restitution for victims of sexual abuse say they believe the settlement is up to $1 million higher than any payout previously awarded to someone suing the Catholic Church.” By CathNews.com

Buffalo’s new Catholic bishop says he will remove abusers and their enablers
“Having lived most of his life in the Baltimore-Washington area, we asked Buffalo’s new Catholic bishop, Michael Fisher, if he knew anyone in Western New York. Bishop Mike, as he prefers to be called, thought for a moment and answered, ‘No.’ To his knowledge, there are no familiar names or faces for him in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese. That may prove to be an asset because after Fisher is installed on Friday (Jan. 15) afternoon, he faces a number of tough decisions. He says he’s willing to toss out clergy and others involved in the sex abuse scandal that rocked the diocese(link is external).” By Steve Brown and Joseph O’Rourke, WGRZ-TV2 News

Probe highlights Vatican legal system’s limited protections
“A criminal investigation into a Vatican real estate investment is exposing weaknesses in the city state’s judicial system and a lack of some basic protections for those accused — highlighting the incompatibility of the Holy See’s procedures with European norms. The Vatican has never been a democracy, but the incongruity of a government that is a moral authority on the global stage and yet an absolute monarchy is becoming increasingly evident(link is external). The pope is supreme judge, legislator and executive, who holds the ultimate power to hire and fire officials, judges and prosecutors and make and waive laws and regulations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Factbox: Reports into abuses in the Irish Catholic Church
“Thousands of infants died in Irish homes for unmarried mothers and their offspring run by the Catholic Church from the 1920s to the 1990s, an inquiry found on Tuesday (Jan. 12), an ‘appalling’ mortality rate that reflected brutal living conditions. There have been a series of reports into allegations of abuse and mistreatment by priests and members of religious orders(link is external). Here are some details of their findings …” By Reuters

BISHOPS

New Buffalo bishop seeks to ‘listen’ as he takes over troubled diocese
“When Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fisher of Washington is installed as the 15th bishop of Buffalo on Friday, he’ll be entering a diocese in the throes of controversy(link is external). In November, New York State attorney general Letitia James sued the diocese, former Bishop Richard Malone and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Edward Grosz for failing to protect minors and inadequately investigating and reporting claims against diocesan priests that went back decades.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Pope accepts resignation of French archbishop amid financial challenges
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz of Avignon, a month after the archbishop celebrated his 75th birthday, amid ongoing questions about his management style and handling of archdiocesan finances(link is external) … As early as 2019, about 200 faithful belonging to a group called Christians in Vaucluse had requested the archbishop’s early retirement because of what they saw as a style of governance that created ‘real suffering’ for local Catholics. Among the contentious issues were that of personnel management, concern for the poor, people feeling unwelcomed, the lack of ecumenical and interreligious initiatives and diocesan finances.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

Diaconal ministries link women religious to restoration of women deacons
“In May 2016, Pope Francis responded to a question posed at the triennial assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG): If women religious are already performing the many ministries of deacons, why not form a commission to study the restoration of women to the diaconate?(link is external) The pope responded immediately, naming 12 scholars the following August to the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women who met in Rome four times and returned a report by June 2018. The pope gave a portion of the report to the UISG leadership at their May 2019 assembly. It has not been published.” First in a Series of Five by Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Parish leaders: Review of Catholic cathedral funds finds $117,000 in unauthorized transactions
“An internal review by the Diocese of Nashville found about $117,000 in unauthorized transactions from the Cathedral of the Incarnation’s financial accounts(link is external). The transactions in question were discovered during a scheduled review of the cathedral’s funds, according to a letter church leaders sent Tuesday (Jan. 12) to parishioners. An accountant in the diocese’s finance office helped with the investigation, which determined the misappropriated parish funds had been used for personal benefit since 2015 … The review of parish funds followed Fowlkes’ recent appointment as pastor.” By Holly Meyer, Nashville Tennessean

Vatican, AUSTRAC seek data clarification
“Australia’s financial watchdog is reviewing its calculation that transfers worth $US1.8 billion ($A2.3 billion) had been sent to the country from the Vatican since 2014, after Vatican and Australian Church calls for clarification. A senior Vatican official and an Australian bishop told Reuters last week they had no knowledge of the transfers and would be seeking clarification(link is external). The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) cited the amount in response to a parliamentary question by Australian Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in Canberra Times

VOICES

The pope’s latest decree is a victory for Catholic women
“A lot of American Catholics might not see the importance of Pope Francis’ declaration that women can take part in the formal ministries of acolyte and lector. After all, there have been ‘altar girls’ in many American parishes for years. But ‘many’ is not ‘all.’(link is external) Some parishes and dioceses allow only boys to assist the priest at the Mass and other ceremonies. The pope’s decree doesn’t focus on children and adolescents or require that girls be allowed to serve Mass. It says that church law will be changed to say that “lay persons” of either sex may be formally installed in the ministries of acolyte (a priest’s assistant) and lector (a reader of Scripture during the liturgy).” By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

Victims of child sexual abuse need more time to confront their abusers
Sexual abuse of children is extremely difficult to prosecute. It often takes years(link is external) — and even decades — before a person who was abused as a child is prepared to confront the abuser in a court of law. That seldom happens, because of the difficulty of presenting evidence and because of the sense of shame that all too often keeps this horrible crime hidden in secrecy, allowing the abusers to remain untouched by the law.” By The Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Should alleged victims of child sex abuse have more time to sue? Soon voters may decide
“Voters may soon decide if alleged victims of child sexual abuse will have more time to file civil lawsuits(link is external) against the people or organizations they are accusing. However, critics voiced concern the proposal could tip the scales of justice towards the accuser while taking away rights of the accused. House Bill 14 is a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would establish a 2-year-long window in which civil claims arising from child sexual abuse could then be asserted even if they had previously been barred by a statute of limitations.” By Jamie Bittner, FOX43-TV News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Priest accused of abetting alleged sex abuse ring is hired by diocesan charity
“On a scorching day in August 2015, the mother of a teenage girl walked into the confessional of a small church near the Sicilian city of Catania, in southern Italy. She believed that the leader of her lay Catholic group, a man known as the Archangel, had repeatedly raped her underage daughter and possibly others(link is external). She trusted the priest, the Rev. Orazio Caputo, who had worked closely with the Archangel’s Catholic Culture and Environment Association or ACCA, to listen to her fears.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Malta archdiocese condemns charismatic group accused of abuse
“Following a 5-month investigation into the charismatic Community of Jesus the Savior, the Archdiocese of Malta has issued a decree forbidding participation in the group after finding what it described as abusive tendencies causing harm to members(link is external). In a Jan. 8 communique, the bishops’ conference of Malta, consisting of the Malta and Gozo dioceses, said they ‘reaffirm the decision to disassociate themselves from Komunità Ġesù Salvatur,’ referring to the group by its Maltese name.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CONNECTICUT

Norwich Diocese Likely To Shell Out More Apart From $9.5 Million, After Facing 35 New Sexual Assault Lawsuits
“More trouble’s in store for the Diocese of Norwich and former Bishop Daniel Reilly, as he now faces 35 lawsuits pertaining to accusations made by men who alleged that they were sexually abused as children and teens by Christian Brother K. Paul McGlade, who ran the former Academy at Mount Saint John in Deep River in the 1990s … Recent reports also suggest that McGlade has had a history of inflicting abuse on assaulting young boys in Australia before he came to Norwich.” By Pooja Prabbhan, Latin Times

LOUISIANA

Alleged church sex abuse victim says George Brignac raped him in 1977
Brian Manix held on to a secret for 43 years and says it took its toll. ‘These people don’t realize what they’ve done to all of us. I’ve gone to drugs, I’ve gone to alcohol, I’ve tried to commit suicide three times,’ said Manix. Manix was an altar boy at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in New Orleans when George Brignac was a deacon. He says he was just 10-years-old in 1977, when Brignac raped him in City Park(link is external).” By Kimberly Kurth, FOX8News Live

MASSACHUSETTS

Catholic priest pleads not guilty to rape, assault charges on minor
“The Catholic priest charged with multiple counts of rape pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday during his arraignment in Barnstable Superior Court. Mark Hession was arraigned on charges including two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery on a child less than 14(link is external) and one count of intimidation of a witness. He was released after posting $2,500 cash bail.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times

Catholic diocese releases names of credibly accused priests
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River in Massachusetts has released a list of 75 clergy credibly or publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). The diocese in a statement Thursday Jan. 7) said more than three-quarters of the names released by the diocese have already been made public through previous announcements from the church, media reports, or other means. There are currently no priests in ministry who have been credibly accused. Bishop Edgar da Cunha said he was profoundly sorry for any abuse perpetrated by priests within this diocese and is working to make sure it never happens again.” By Associated Press, on WBNG-TV12 News

‘The list has triggered emotions’: Victims’ attorney digs deeper into priests accused of abuse
“The sheer number of names on the Diocese of Fall River’s list of clergy credibly or publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor is shocking on its own, but the list provided little information about when and where the abuse occurred, how many victims there were, and who knew about it(link is external). Additionally although the lists contain 75 names, an attorney for victims of sexual abuse believes it is incomplete.” By Kiernan Dunlog, Fall River Standard-Times

MINNESOTA

Carlton County priest listed as ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Duluth has added a former Carlton County priest to its list of clergy deemed ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse(link is external). The Rev. David Tushar had served as a priest in Northeastern Minnesota for nearly 35 years when he was placed on leave in July 2019 pending an investigation into allegations of abuse. The allegations were related to his earlier service as a Holy Cross Father and Catholic school teacher in Niles, Illinois, from 1978-79.” By Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune

NEW JERSEY

Rumson Priest Named In Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Trenton Diocese
“A priest who served for seven years at Holy Cross Church in Rumson was recently named in a sexual abuse complaint filed Tuesday (Jan. 19) against the Diocese of Trenton. Fr. Thomas A. Rittenhouse was ordained in 1976 in the Diocese of Trenton and is accused of sexually abusing a minor while assigned to the Rumson church from 1981 to 1982(link is external). He served at Holy Cross from 1981 to 1988.” By Nicole Rosenthal, Rumson Patch

Suit Alleges Sexual Abuse at Point Retreat
“For over 50 years, the Marianist Family Retreat Center, on the corner of Yale and Cape avenues, in Cape May Point, has been the site of contemplation, celebration and prayer for the faithful. One woman alleges that in summer 1974, it was a site of horror and violation that still hurts decades later … Identified in the court documents as Jane Doe RP, she filed a suit against the center and the Marianist Province of the United States, alleging that she faced repeated sexual abuse from two clergy members(link is external).” By Bill Barlow, Cape May County Herald

N.J. Catholic diocese has a plan to compensate victims of abuse. Advocates aren’t happy.
Advocates for people sexually abused by clergy are opposing a plan from a New Jersey Catholic diocese to compensate victims(link is external). The Diocese of Camden announced a proposal on Dec. 31 to speed up the process of setting aside millions of dollars for abuse claims, after the church filed for bankruptcy in October. ‘The Diocese wants to continue to pay survivors rather than lawyers and other professional advisers,’ the church said in a statement.” By Blake Nelson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Law firm files 5 more suits alleging past child sex abuse by dead Catholic priests
“A law firm specializing in representing abuse victims has filed five additional lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Newark alleging priests sexuallly molested children going back decades(link is external). Three of the priests have been credibly accused of abuse in the past, their names and allegations made public by Catholic dioceses in New Jersey. All five are deceased. The suits were filed by Jeff Anderson & Associates, along with New Jersey attorney Greg Gianforcaro. They have filed numerous similar lawsuits in the Garden State since late 2019, when a new state law relaxed statute of limitations on such cases, opening a two-year lookback window for victims to file suit.” By Kevin Shea, NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Clergy sex abuse advocates criticize method of picking new Buffalo bishop
“While wishing new Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Michael Fisher success in his new role, a former priest turned advocate for clergy sex abuse victims says Fisher’s selection is clouded by the involvement of a former superior, who stepped down from a powerful position within the US Catholic Church amid his own accusations of covering up abuse cases(link is external). Fisher, before coming to Buffalo, served as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC under Cardinal Donald Wuerl.” By Michael Mroziak, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

EXCLUSIVE: Leaked transcript shows NY church’s attempt to block Child Victims Act
“When Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the longtime leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, introduced the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program(link is external) to the public in Oct. 2016, he expressed his hope that offering financial settlements to the victims of sexual abuse by clergy would both “promote healing” and “bring closure” after more than a decade of constant scandal.” By Pete Madden, ABC-TV News

Father Bill Lombardy accused of sexual abuse by former altar boys: suit
“One-time priest and chess grandmaster Father Bill Lombardy — who was portrayed by actor Peter Sarsgaard in a movie about famed chess player Bobby Fischer — has been accused of sexually abusing two altar boys in a new lawsuit(link is external). The now-deceased Lombardy — whose training of Fischer was depicted in the 2014 movie called “Pawn Sacrifice” — is accused in a Bronx Supreme Court lawsuit from last week of sexually assaulting two students in the 1960s, when he taught at St. Mary’s School in the Bronx.” By Priscilla DeGregory, New York Post

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota clergy sex abuse survivors say Catholic reforms too little, too late
“For decades, Ted Becker frequently woke up in the dead of night, gagging. Sometimes a pungent, familiar smell would force him from bed to search the house for a repressed memory that took him years to find. Not until he saw a psychiatrist in the late 1980s did he understand why the recurring sensations affected him so deeply. Memories of sexual abuse involving a Catholic priest(link is external) from the early 1950s, beginning when he was 9 years old, flooded back.” By C.S. Hagen and April Baumgarten, Mitchell Republic

OHIO

Police not investigating Catholic priest placed on leave after allegation surfaces
“Three area police departments said they have not been asked to investigate allegations against a local priest who was put on leave by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati(link is external). Father Anthony Cutcher of St. Peter Catholic Church in Huber Heights was placed on leave Monday after an allegation surfaced against him, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati said Thursday (Jan. 14). Police in Huber Heights, Montgomery and Miami counties told the Dayton Daily News they have not been asked to investigate the allegation involving Cutcher.” By Eileen McClory, Dayton Daily News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Diocese of Charleston faces second lawsuit in a week
“A lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Charleston alleges abuse dating back decades. The new suit is the second filed against the diocese in a week’s time. The lawsuit was filed by a man who claims a priest sexually abused him over span of two years(link is external) in the mid-1970s while the defendant was a student at St. John’s Catholic Church and Cathedral School. The victim says in the suit he was 13 when he he started to be abused on a weekly basis. He said Frederick Hopwood, a priest, would put his hands down the victim’s pants and molest him.” By WCSC-TV5 News

WASHINGTON

Catholic church pays $2 million to settle local abuse cases
“The Archdiocese of Seattle has reached over $2 million in settlements in the past six months due to credible allegations of sexual abuse against four Catholic priests(link is external) in Western Washington, including two former leaders of a parish in Snohomish and one in Everett. The Rev. Michael C. OBrien led St. Michael Parish from 1974 to 1979. He was succeeded by the Rev. Dennis Champagne from 1979 to 1999, who then became the priest of St. John Bosco Church in Lakewood. Church leaders put Champagne on leave in 2002, after someone accused him of sexual misconduct.” By Caleb Hutton, HeraldNet.com

CANADA

Three decades after Mount Cashel orphanage abuse scandal, victims are still fighting for justice
“For most people, it’s just another shopping plaza … But John Doe No. 26 will never forget what used to be here. The 80-year-old grandfather can still vividly see the notorious Mount Cashel orphanage that stood at this St. John’s site until it was demolished in 1992. He was a resident there for seven years, until he was 15 years old, and suffered unspeakable violence and abuse at the hands of men who were supposed to care for him(link is external).” By Greg Mercer, The Globe & Mail

GERMANY

Confidentiality dispute piles pressure on cardinal accused of mishandling abuse cases
“German media have criticized the Archdiocese of Cologne for offering to provide a ‘background briefing’ to journalists about an unpublished report into clerical sex abuse on condition that they signed a confidentiality form(link is external). Journalists from several media organizations reported that they had refused to sign the form and walked out of the meeting on Jan. 5, which was called to explain issues regarding the report’s methodology.” By Catholic News Agency

Bishop: Making up the Duty of Abuse for Years
Processing the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Germany will remain a task for years(link is external), according to Bishop Stephan Ackermann. ‘That will be a painful process,’ said the representative of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) for questions about sexual abuse in Trier from the German news agency. Over the next five years, all 27 dioceses nationwide would face an independent review by specially formed committees dealing with ‘responsibilities’ – how people dealt with perpetrators and victims in the past.” By The Courier

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Priest, 63, who sexually abused boys as young as 10 on church youth club trips in the 1970s and 80s and tricked them into sex acts using a card game is jailed for five years
“Last November Hardwicke was found guilty on five counts of historic indecent assault(link is external), following a nine day trial. In one incident a victim was made to take part in sexual activity as part of a card game, prosecutors said. Hardwicke carried out the abuse by taking ‘special interest’ in his victims and made them feel as if they had nowhere else to turn, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).” By Luke May, Daily Mail

GUAM

Firms cut legal fees by $2K in church bankruptcy ahead of hearing
Two law firms in the Archdiocese of Agana’s two-year-old bankruptcy case reduced their legal fees by $2,162.50, ahead of a court hearing(link is external) on the latest interim fee applications. The fourth interim fee applications from law firms now amount to about $478,400. The archdiocese’s bankruptcy marks its second year this month. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is aimed at reorganizing the church’s finances, and compensating nearly 300 Guam clergy sex abuse survivors while also keeping all Catholic schools and parishes open.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

INDONESIA

Indonesian church worker jailed for molesting altar boys
“A church worker in Indonesia has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting altar boys(link is external) following the first-ever sexual abuse trial in a civil court involving the Indonesian Catholic Church. Depok District Court in West Java convicted Syahril Marbun on Jan. 6 for abusing two altar boys at St. Herkulanus Parish in Depok in Bogor Diocese, where he served as liturgical coordinator.” By Ryan Dagur, Jakarta, UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes
“The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters was established by the Irish Government in February 2015 to provide a full account of what happened to vulnerable women and children in Mother and Baby Homes during the period 1922 to 1998(link is external). It submitted its final report to the Minister on 30 October 2020. Each element of the Report can be accessed through the links below …” From Ireland’s Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

MALTA

Pope Francis Defrocks Maltese Priest Who Sexually Abused 13-Year-Old
“Pope Francis has accepted the Conventual Franciscans Order’s request to dismiss Donald Bellizzi, the Maltese priest convicted of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy(link is external), iNews Malta reported. Last November, Bellizzi, a former Burmarrad Franciscan, was sentenced to three years in prison. Bellizzi’s offences first began in 2010, when he would invite youths interested in becoming priests on retreats to the Franciscan convent in Burmarrad. Investigations into the case were kicked off after the Curia received reports of the abuse.” By Benjamin Abela, LovinMalta.com

NEW ZEALAND

Abuse inquiry: we all know the outcome
“We must already know what the New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care will reveal about the Catholic Church in New Zealand. That’s because it has been said before, time and time again, across the globe, by many other inquiries into the exact same issue. Independent inquiries worldwide have already looked into what happened to children(link is external), young people and adults at risk in the care of the Catholic Church over past decades.” By Matthew Epsom, The Gisborne Herald

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

January 10, 2021

TOP STORIES

Event series’ proposals aim to raise women’s voices in San Diego Diocese
“The 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse sent shock waves through the U.S. Catholic Church. For Bridget Gramme, the moment felt like a ‘call to women’ to improve the church(link is external). ‘I’m a cradle Catholic, it’s my community and my identity and my kids go to Catholic schools,’ Gramme said. ‘It’s something we really believe in and the community is so important to us. Maybe it’s time we step it up and not just sit around and let these things happen.’ Gramme is an attorney and member of the advisory board of the Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of San Diego.” By Sophie Vodvarka, National Catholic Reporter

Podcast: How 2020 changed the Vatican
“The coronavirus pandemic upended everyone’s plans for 2020—including the Vatican’s. From the first weeks of the pandemic when Pope Francis prayed in the rain in St. Peter’s Square to the London finance scandal to the new standards of transparency ushered in by the McCarrick report, it has been an unprecedented year in every way(link is external). On ‘Inside the Vatican,’ host Colleen Dulle and Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell recap the biggest Vatican moments of 2020. The hosts focus on three areas of change in the Vatican: transparency, missionary work and solidarity with the poor.” By Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

Australia’s Catholic bishops seek answers about mystery billions linked to Vatican
“Australia’s Catholic bishops are considering raising questions with the country’s financial watchdog authority about whether any Catholic organizations were among the recipients of billions of Australian dollars in transfers reputedly from the Vatican(link is external). AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, revealed in December that the equivalent of around US$1.8 billion had been sent to Australia from the Vatican or Vatican-related entities since 2014.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Looking ahead to 2021 in the life of the church in the U.S.
What will the new year bring in the life of the church in the United States?(link is external) As we learned last year, we never know what unforeseen events will enlighten or becloud all else. We can discern three major themes that will largely shape the year ahead: the relationship between the United States bishops and the Biden administration, the Year of the Family,(link is external) the appointments of new bishops in some significant sees, and how the church will continue to cope with COVID-19. Then, just before the end of the year, a new major theme emerged, arguably the most explosive: significant upheaval at EWTN.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican reforms finances following London property scandal
“Pope Francis has stripped the Vatican’s powerful central administration office of an investment portfolio worth hundreds of millions of euros(link is external) following a scandal linked to luxury London real estate development in Chelsea. The Vatican said that all of the financial assets of the Secretariat of State, the Holy See’s state bureaucracy, would be placed under the control of APSA, the Vatican’s existing centralized asset manager, from the start of the new year.” By Miles Johnson, Financial Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Crisis Episode 10: Bishops’ Accountability
“This podcast series keeps coming back to the question of bishops’ accountability(link is external). Are the reforms of Vos estis lux mundi being applied in the US Church? This episode features Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, reporters Harriet Ryan of the L.A. Times and Christopher Altieri of the UK Catholic Herlald, and canon lawyer Tom Doyle.” By The Catholic Project

McCarrick report shows a church infected with unchecked clericalism
“The Vatican’s report on defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick revealed sexual abuse of adults and minors by a Catholic cleric and its cover-up by church officials — more of the same pattern we’ve seen so often in the church, reaching to the highest levels … What’s the disease? Clericalism, sure, but other denominations have clericalism but don’t seem to have the problem of recurrent and widespread abuses of power. Rather, unchecked clericalism is at the root of the Catholic Church’s affliction. A tight-knit clerical culture defends itself, first by defining priests as uniquely Christ-like — different and better than the unanointed laity(link is external).” By Lisa Fullam, National Catholic Reporter

Germany: Catholic officials ask reporters for ‘silence’ on child abuse report
“With the Catholic Church shaken by the child abuse scandal in Germany, journalists walked out of a press event organized by church representatives on Tuesday (Jan. 5). The Archdiocese of Cologne had called for a press conference to discuss an unpublished child abuse report. Specifically, church officials were to explain issues regarding the report’s methodology. These issues, at least according to Cologne Archbishop Reiner Maria Woelki, were the reason for withholding the document from the public in its current form(link is external).” By Deutsche Welle

WOMEN DEACONS

Next archbishop of Dublin would like to see women deacons in Church
Dublin’s Catholic archbishop-elect Dermot Farrell has said he would like to see women becoming deacons in the Church(link is external). He said the biggest barrier to female priests in the Catholic Church ‘is probably tradition, not the scriptures.’ ‘Women have almost preserved the faith in the church, certainly in this country and probably beyond,’ he said in an interview before he assumes the role on February 2nd. But he expressed concern that the introduction of female priests could split the church as it had the Church of England.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Former comptroller of Catholic Diocese of Steubenville sentenced to prison for tax crimes, embezzlement
“The former comptroller of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville was sentenced in federal court in Columbus this month for failing to pay payroll taxes(link is external) withheld from the paychecks of diocesan employees, filing false tax returns and embezzling $299,500 in diocesan funds between 2008 and 2017. David A. Franklin, 67, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in July 2020 to one count of willful failure to account for and pay over employment tax, one count of making a false income tax return and one count of wire fraud. Franklin was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and two years of supervised release and was also ordered to pay $1,332,885.04 in restitution.” By Highland County Press

Vatican denies knowledge of $1.8 billion transferred to Australia
“The Vatican and the Australian Catholic Church have both denied knowledge of transfers worth US$1.8 billion which Australia’s financial watchdog says have been sent from Rome to Australia in the past seven years(link is external). ‘That amount of money and that number of transfers did not leave the Vatican City,’ a senior Vatican official with knowledge of the city-state’s finances said on Wednesday (Dec. 30). The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Vatican would be seeking details from Australian authorities on the specific origin and destination of the money.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Archdiocese considers mergers, closures of Niles, Morton Grove, Skokie Catholic churches
“Five north suburban Catholic parishes are waiting to hear on Jan. 21 if they will merge with another parish, close, or stay as they are(link is external). Those parishes are St. Lambert and St. Peter in Skokie; St. Isaac Jogues and St. John Brebeuf in Niles, and St. Martha in Morton Grove. The possible consolidation is part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s ‘Renew My Church’ initiative, which the archdiocese defines on its website as a way to ‘address the challenges of our time.’” By Myrna Petlick, Pioneer Press, Chicago Tribune

VOICES

Our Views: New Orleans archdiocese owes Catholics acknowledgment, promise not to fail again
“We knew things had been bad with the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ handling of the case of George Brignac some time ago. But new reporting by Ramon Antonio Vargas of The Times-Picayune and The Advocate and David Hammer of WWL-TV shows that the diocese has — for more than a generation — been negligent at least and intentionally evasive at worst(link is external).” By The Advocate Editorial Board

Our hearts go out to victims of sexual abuse who are suffering in silence
“A teen’s allegations that she was raped and subjected to other forms of sexual abuse by someone known to her will no longer proceed in the court system(link is external). And somewhere on Guam, a 25-year-old man, Austin Joseph Palacios Quitugua, who is known to the girl, is a free man. He once stood accused of sexually assaulting the girl – who was 12 at the time – on multiple occasions, between Christmas break 2018 to July the next year, according to court documents.” By The Guam Daily Post Editorial Board

Head of German bishops, self-described conservative, calls for change
“In a wide-ranging interview, the head of the German bishops’ conference called for far-reaching changes to the Catholic Church(link is external) and criticized the Vatican’s treatment of the church in his country. ‘I would describe myself as conservative because I love this church and enjoy devoting my life and my strength to it. But I want it to change,’ Limburg Bishop Georg Bätzing told the magazine Herder Korrespondenz. His remarks were reported by the German Catholic news agency KNA.’” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Reporters storm out of press conference after Catholic officials ask for silence on child abuse report
“Journalists have stormed out of a press conference in Germany after Catholic Church officials asked for their ‘absolute silence’ on a long-awaited report into child sex abuse(link is external). A vast and comprehensive report investigating decades of alleged sexual abuse of young people at the hands of clerics and the resulting institutional cover-up in the Archdiocese of Cologne – the world’s wealthiest Catholic diocese, and Germany’s largest – had been pledged back in 2018 by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki.” By Andy Gregory, The Independent

ARIZONA

As deadline nears, adults flood Arizona courts with lawsuits alleging childhood sex abuse
“Hundreds of civil lawsuits by people who allege they suffered abuse as children(link is external) are being filed in Arizona’s courts as a year-end deadline looms for them to seek justice. Many of those filing are listed in court documents simply as ‘John Doe’ or ‘Jane Doe.’” By Lauren Castle, Arizona Republic

FLORIDA

Diocese of St. Augustine investigating abuse allegations against retired priest
“The Diocese of St. Augustine is investigating abuse allegations against retired priest Father David Terrence Morgan(link is external), according to a bulletin by the diocese to parishioners. The diocese said the Church reached out to law enforcement to investigate the allegations, in addition to conducting its own investigation, which the bulletin states found ‘the allegations have a semblance of truth based on an initial review, but guilt has not been determined.’” By Matthew Copeland and Haley Harrison, WTLV-TV News

Investigation: Florida was dumping ground for priests accused of sex abuse
“Investigators in the Florida Attorney General’s office have completed a two-year investigation into sexual abuse inside Florida Catholic churches(link is external). Using 267 tips to a tip line, investigators found 97 Florida priests accused of sexual abuse in Florida. The investigation did not uncover current, ongoing or unreported sexual abuse by Florida priests. Investigators found 81 priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse in other states, then transferred, relocated or retired to Florida, sometimes without the knowledge of the Florida churches they were being moved to.” By Jeff Butera, ABC-TV7 News

ILLINOIS

Chicago’s activist priest Rev. Michael Pfleger steps aside amid past child abuse allegation
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger has temporarily stepped down from his ministry leading the Roman Catholic Faith Community of St. Sabina amid allegations of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago(link is external). Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, shared the news in a letter Tuesday (Jan. 5) to members of the Faith Community of St. Sabina and St. Sabina Academy, a predominantly Black parish on the city’s South Side.” By Emily McFarlan Miller, Religion News Service

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese of New Orleans, SNAP meet for first time in attempts to unify for abuse victims
“For the first time, two organizations who have been at odds amid a growing list of victims of sexual assault at the hands of Catholic clergy have come together(link is external). The Archdiocese of New Orleans and New Orleans-area advocate SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) have had a strained relationship ever since the list of accused priests started. Both organizations issued the following statement saying that first steps were taken to work together for victims …” By WDSU-TV6 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Former Cape pastor indicted on rape, assault and battery charges
“A grand jury returned indictments against a former Cape pastor on Friday, with multiple counts of rape and assault and battery(link is external). The Rev. Mark Hession was indicted out of Barnstable Superior Court on two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery on a child less than 14 and one count of intimidation of a witness, a superior court official confirmed Monday.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times

NEW JERSEY

Priest accused of sexually assaulting parishioner denies claims but admits to having affair
“A New Jersey priest has acknowledged he had an affair with a woman who recently filed a lawsuit alleging he sexually assaulted her(link is external). The Rev. Robert L. Sinatra, of St. Padre Pio Parish in Vineland, admitted the affair in a Jan. 2 letter to parishioners, but denied that he assaulted the woman. ‘With a deep sense of embarrassment and shame, I write to let you know that in late 2018 I had a two-month affair with an unmarried woman,’ Sinatra wrote.” By Matt Gray, NJ Advance Media, on NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Diocese to hire another law firm in defending against AG’s lawsuit
“The Buffalo Diocese, which already is paying six law firms for work in bankruptcy proceedings, is looking to hire another firm to defend against a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Letitia James in November(link is external). The diocese wants to retain the Jones Day firm as ‘special counsel’ for the lawsuit, which alleges that diocese leaders protected more than two dozen priests accused of child sexual abuse by not referring their cases to the Vatican for potential removal from the priesthood.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Child abuse allegations against Troy church divide family, friends, community
“‘No matter what people say negatively, it’s painful, it’s hurtful, it’s discouraging, it’s angering and it can defame the Lord’s bride, the church, most of all,’ Pastor Phil Smith, of Victorious Life Christian Church, said. His message — only God is the source of ultimate judgment and forgiveness — was typical for a sermon. But the apparent inspiration for the message on that Sunday was atypical, and it was not the enemy harming the church’s reputation, but a young woman suing them for allegedly abetting and harboring a Sunday school teacher who she says sexually abused her as a girl(link is external).” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times-Union

New sex abuse and ‘grooming’ allegations target former Staten Island priest
“Former priest Ralph LaBelle has again been accused of sexually abusing a young male parishioner on Staten Island(link is external). According to a civil complaint filed last week in Richmond County state Supreme Court, St. George, the victim was “groomed” and sexually abused between the ages of 13 and 16-years-old. At the time, LaBelle was assigned to St. Clare’s R.C. Church in Great Kills. He was there from 1979 to 1985.” By Kyle Lawson, SILive.com

NORTH DAKOTA

Investigation into clergy sex abuse in Catholic Church concludes in North Dakota
“Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Monday (Dec. 5) that the investigation by his office into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the two catholic dioceses(link is external) in the state has concluded. The 18-month criminal investigation began around the time the two North Dakota Catholic Dioceses, in Fargo and Bismarck, released a list of 53 people for whom they felt allegations of child sexual abuse had been substantiated.” By Paul Jurgens, KFGO-AM 790 News

OHIO

Trial of former St. Helen’s seminarian now scheduled for May
“The trial of a Strongsville priest with Geauga County ties is now scheduled for late May, federal court records show. The priest, Robert McWilliams, 40, is facing charges of 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 Andrew Cass, News-Herald

PENNSYLVANIA

After abuse, addiction, and recovery, Mike McDonnell works to help others
Mike McDonnell understands how victims can lose their way. He was abused by two Catholic priests, one of whom was later convicted, a dark secret that traumatized him(link is external) so much he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, two of his three marriages failed, and he stole about $100,000 from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia — a crime for which he served nearly a year in jail. But through recovery, and maintaining his Catholic faith, McDonnell, 52, has rebuilt himself as a victims advocate as he tries to help others. He’s now a local leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).” By Isabella Simonetti, Philadelphia Inquirer

Lawmakers could let voters decide whether to allow lawsuits for abuse survivors in 2021
“The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee says that moving a bill to amend the Constitution to create a window of time for lawsuits by adult survivors of child abuse will be a top priority when lawmakers return to the Capitol next month(link is external). The bill has already passed once, but because it’s a proposed constitutional amendment, it must pass unchanged a second time before it goes on the ballot for voters statewide.” By John Finnerty, The Tribune-Democrat

SOUTH CAROLINA

Catholic Diocese of Charleston facing new lawsuit
“The Catholic Diocese of Charleston is facing a new lawsuit. Court documents filed late Monday (Jan. 4) afternoon accuse a member of the church of sexual abuse and a systematic cover up of that abuse(link is external). The charges were filed by a woman referred to as Mary Roe 1818. She alleges one of the priests, Frederick Austin McLean, repeatedly abused her and her sister when they were kids. According to the suit, the abuse took place during the victim’s formative years as a child between 1961 and 1966. Roe was part of the St. John Catholic Church and School where McLean was a priest and teacher with regular contact with children.” By Nick Reagan, WCSC-TV5 News

TEXAS

Texas Diocese Asks Court to Toss Libel Suit Over List of Accused Abusers
“The Catholic Diocese of Lubbock urged the Texas Supreme Court on Wednesday (Jan. 6) to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by a former deacon who claims it falsely outed him as a child molester(link is external). Texas Catholic bishops say the case threatens to uproot tenets of church autonomy enshrined in the First Amendment and open churches up to crippling liability simply for following their principles. Jesus Guerrero said he was ‘shocked, confused, hurt and I knew that it wasn’t true’ when the diocese published a list of clergy it said had been ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor’ in January 2019 and his name was on it, according to his brief with the state high court.” By Cameron Langford, Courthouse News

VERMONT

St. Joseph’s Orphanage abuse survivors disappointed in task force report conclusions
“Abuse survivors with the group Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage, shared stories Wednesday (Dec. 16) of what they experienced at the orphanage decades ago. Some of the group of more than 30 is sticking to their claims that children were murdered while they were being cared for. In a nearly 300 page report(link is external) released on Monday (Dec. 14), Attorney General T.J. Donovan says evidence of abuse exists, but there isn’t enough evidence to substantiate murder. Donovan also says law enforcement and the state should have investigated when the claims were first made.” By Dom Amato, WCAX-TV3 News

WASHINGTON

Seattle archbishop is stonewalling push for more transparency of church sex-abuse cases, group contends
“Their ranks include ex-federal prosecutors, a retired judge, a one-time assistant police chief, even a former priest. But a group of prominent Catholics say they still can’t get an audience with Seattle’s new archbishop in their push to address the fallout of a lingering scandal(link is external). Members of Heal Our Church, a Seattle-based alliance of practicing Catholics who seek a public review of how the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide sexual abuse scandal secretly festered within the parishes of Western Washington, contend they’re being stonewalled by Archbishop Paul Etienne.” By Lewis Kamb, Seattle Times

WISCONSIN

A Notre Dame Academy graduate alleged abuse by priests, then died by suicide. Over 400 alumni demand answers.
“Graduates of four Catholic high schools are demanding action from St. Norbert Abbey after its leader disputed allegations of sexual abuse lodged by a fellow alumnus(link is external) who died by suicide in March. The call for change came after the Green Bay Press-Gazette published an investigation detailing the story of Nate Lindstrom, who said three Norbertine priests abused him as a teenager in Green Bay in the late 1980s. Lindstrom received $420,000 in secret payments from the Catholic order over 10 years until the abbey stopped sending checks in 2019.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Report documents steady, meaningful progress on safeguarding
“The presidents of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia say their annual report to the National Office for Child Safety outlines comprehensive and sustained work across Church settings(link is external). The provision of an annual report on progress in child protection and safeguarding was one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Bishops Conference and CRA adopted that recommendation. They have published the Church’s third such report today (Dec. 17).” By CathNews.com

BRAZIL

Brazil archbishop investigated for sex abuse
“Police in Brazil said on Monday (Dec. 4) they were investigating the archbishop of the city of Belem for alleged sexual abuse against underage seminary students(link is external). Confirmation of the investigation came after four alleged victims of Archbishop Alberto Taveira Correa accused him of years of abuse in a sweeping investigative report aired Sunday night on Brazil’s biggest broadcaster, TV Globo. The alleged victims, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused the 70-year-old archbishop of abusing them from 2014 to 2018, when they were between 15 and 18 years old.” By Agence France-Presse, Rio de Janeiro

Father Marcelo Rossi and Fabio de Mela defend archbishop accused of sexual assault
“In Fantasy this Sunday (Jan. 3), it was revealed that four former seminarians were accusing the House of Albert Taveira Correa, Archbishop of Belen do Par, of sexual violence. The archbishop was defended by the religious. Among them are Father Marcello Rossi and Fabio de Mello. ‘At this hour of battle we are together in prayer,’ Father Marcelo Rossi said. ‘Don Alberta has supported me many times. I would like my prayers and my commitment to do the same for him right now,’ Melo said.” By VarietyInfo.com

CANADA

Edmonton Catholic priest removed under allegations of historic sexual abuse of minor
“An Edmonton Catholic priest has been removed from public ministry in the region after an allegation of historic sexual abuse of a minor surfaced(link is external). The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton said in a statement Christmas Eve it removed Rev. Sylvio Lacar after he was identified by the archdiocese of Los Angeles. It says Lacar was the subject of a credible accusation of sexual assault of a minor in the Los Angeles area during the 1980s.” By Lauren Boothby, The Edmonton Journal

Vancouver Catholic Church names another three priests who abused minors
“The Archdiocese of Vancouver has named another three priests who sexually abused minors(link is external). All three men — John Edward Kilty, Johannes Holzapfel and Armand Frechette — served in at least one parish in the Archdiocese of Vancouver between the mid-1940s and early 1980s, and all three are now dead. The men were identified in a follow-up report about historical cases of clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese, published this week.” By Glenda Luymes, Vancouver Sun

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest facing sex abuse charges against boys dating back 40 years
“Father Patrick Smythe entered not guilty pleas to four charges of indecent assault when he appeared before Leeds Magistrates’ Court this week. The 77-year-old is alleged to have committed the offences against four different boys aged under the age of 16(link is external) between 1978 and 1983. Smythe, a priest with the Diocese of Leeds, appeared in court for a brief hearing and spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and address.” By Tony Gardner, Wakefield Express

NEW ZEALAND

Abuse survivors speak at redress hearing
“As the first phase of the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care’s hearing into the redress processes of faith-based institutions was about to begin on November 30 in Auckland, Catholic Church leaders made statements that they would take the opportunity to listen, learn and reflect on the experience of survivors. The first week of the two-week public hearing saw 10 survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church in New Zealand or their family members speak at the royal commission(link is external). There was one closed session in the first week. The second week was scheduled to see 14 survivors of abuse in the Anglican Church or Salvation Army institutions give their testimony. Many of the testimonies were live-streamed.” By New Zealand Catholic

PHILIPPINES

Philippines: Pedophilia and the Church
“The Philippines, despite being one of the most Catholic countries in the world, has never convicted a member of the clergy for sex abuse(link is external). And yet there are survivors who say that the abuse has been going on for years. At the end of 2018, an American priest who had officiated for forty years was arrested for pedophilia by the Philippine police and the American federal authorities.” By Arte.tv

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 17, 2020

TOP STORIES

The People Should Choose Their Bishops Again
“There are a number of conclusions one could draw from reading the Vatican report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. For example: that the clerical sex-abuse crisis in the Church is worse than we thought and extends to vulnerable adults. Also, that position and influence in our Church are easily bought, and that bishops lie, even to the pope, to protect other bishops. But the conclusion that encompasses all of the above is that the way we choose our bishops is deeply flawed, producing bishops who are, in turn, deeply flawed(link is external). How did things get this way, and what can be done about it?” By Nicholas P. Cafardi, Commonweal

Action plan missing from McCarrick Report can be found Down Under
“The entire Church should take seriously the proposals for ecclesial reform coming from Catholics in Australia(link is external). The solution to the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church hangs in the balance between these two questions: What happened? and What needs to happen? The so-called ‘McCarrick Report,’ which was compiled by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and published on November 10, is an example of unprecedented transparency under pressure. It represents a fundamental step towards a better comprehension of what happened … But other parts of the global Catholic Church are addressing this problem with concrete proposals. The Church in Australia is one of the best examples.” By Massimo Faggioli, Catholic Outlook

Annual Report: Some U.S. dioceses improve financial transparency, others remain secretive
More U.S. dioceses published audited financial documents in 2020 than before(link is external), but more than a quarter still did not publish any audited financial reports, according to an annual financial transparency report by the lay organization Voice of the Faithful(link is external). About 70% of dioceses posted audited financial reports on their websites in 2020, up from 65% in 2019 and from 56% in 2017, according to the review. Margaret Roylance, chair of the organization’s finance working group, said she was heartened to see that many dioceses published these reports on time despite delays due to COVID-19.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Inter-American Human Rights Commission to look into clerical sexual abuse
“For the first time in its history, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission promised to defend victims of clerical sexual abuse(link is external), with cases being reported in at least 19 countries in Latin America … The Washington, D.C.-based commission is an autonomous part of the Organization of American States and is the main human rights body in the Americas. Thursday’s (Dec. 3) hearing was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission said it was committed to using its power to demand information on cases that are not being resolved by member states.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

DOJ probe of Catholic church abuse goes quiet 2 years later
“Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints. The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports(link is external) that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims. U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, in The Charlotte Observer

ACCOUNTABILITY

Keeping Quiet: The downside to ‘voluntary laicization’
“Pope Francis quietly laicized a priest accused of grave immorality and serious canonical crimes in 2017, rather than have him stay in the priesthood long enough to face trial. The former cleric, Peter Mitchell, was a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, when he was accused. Before joining the Green Bay diocese, he had been a priest of the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese. The case of this former cleric is closed, but the way Church authorities dealt with this man bears significant resemblance to the way in which Churchmen attempted to manage priests accused of abusing minors in the days before the crisis of leadership and governance(link is external) in the Church became a worldwide scandal.” By Christopher Altieri, Catholic Herald

POPE FRANCIS

Big business gets its wings as leaders from major U.S. companies partner with Pope Francis
“The Pope means business. Capitalism met Catholicism on Tuesday (Dec. 8), as some of the world’s biggest business leaders announced a new partnership with Pope Francis(link is external). The alliance, known as the Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican, aims to create a more inclusive, fair and sustainable economic landscape by taking pledges toward sustainable development goals focused on areas such as climate action, peace and justice, quality education and gender equality.” By Haley Messenger, NBC News

Radical truths
“A friend of mine told me that after reading Fratelli tutti he wondered how a document that is so full of obvious truisms could also be so radical. Pope Francis’s latest encyclical breaks little new ground, but the ground upon which we all stand has shifted to such an extent that talk of ‘fraternal love’ sounds both outdated and revolutionary(link is external). Part of the reason it sounds outdated is the use of gender-specific language. Would it have killed the Vatican to be more inclusive? But the encyclical also sounds utopian—in a shocking and, I think, necessary way—when set against the divisiveness and hopelessness we are currently experiencing.” By William T. Cavanaugh, Commonweal

CARDINALS

German cardinal accused of abuse cover-up turns to pope
“The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, has been accused of not informing the Vatican about sex abuse allegations against a priest(link is external). He’s now asked Pope Francis to review his conduct. Facing accusations of covering up an alleged sexual abuse case, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki asked Pope Francis on Friday (Dec. 11) to investigate. ‘In order to clarify the canonical accusations against me, I am asking the Holy Father [Pope Francis] to examine this matter,’ Woelki said in a statement issued by the archdiocese of Cologne.” By Deutsche Welle

McCARRICK REPORT

After McCarrick Report, Here’s How to Extend Safe Environment to Adults
“Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was finally brought down by credible allegations that he had sexually abused children — but as the McCarrick report reveals Church leaders could have stopped the powerful cleric’s career, and saved the lives of children, seminarians, and young priests, had they acted on allegations McCarrick had abused his power to sexually exploit young men under his pastoral care or authority(link is external). But stopping the present and future McCarricks in the Church’s midst means the People of God need to take proactive steps to educate and inform themselves about adult sexual abuse in the Church, recognizing that every adult can be vulnerable to the abuse of power for sex by clergy and lay leaders, and that protecting adults from abuse in the Church strengthens also the protection of children.” By Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register

McCarrick report shows former cardinal’s character: ambitious, brazen, untouchable
“Seventeen! That’s the most shocking number in the Vatican’s 449-page report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick appears to have molested 17 ‘postpubescent boys or young men’ over the course of his career(link is external) (Page 440). Some victims were as young as 12 years old. Some he molested repeatedly. Many were children in families that he knew well and visited frequently. He was trusted as a ‘member of the family.’ The Vatican report does not reveal names or discuss the individual cases. However, it does lay out his typical pattern of grooming and molesting his victims.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Bishops respond to governance review report
“A review of governance will help shape the way the Church in Australia understands co-responsibility in its life and mission and puts it into practice, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has said. The Australia bishops reviewed and discussed the final version of the governance review report The Light from the Southern Cross: Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia(link is external) during their recent plenary meeting. The bishops finalized their initial response to the report, which they have published today (Dec. 17). ‘A report that contains dozens of recommendations and was prepared over more than a year takes time to consider and absorb,’ Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.” By CathNews.com

Archbishop accused of failing to act on abuse appeals to Vatican
“Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg has asked the Congregation for Bishops in Rome to judge whether he is guilty of having hushed up abuse. Hesse has been accused of covering up abuse and violating canon law(link is external) by failing to report abuse to the Vatican authorities during his time as head of personnel in the Cologne archdiocese from 2006-2011. Last week the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, accused his two predecessors, cardinals Joseph Höffner and Joachim Meisner, both deceased, of failing to notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the abuse committed by a priest referred to as ‘Fr. A.’” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

South Carolina bishop says Vatican has cleared him of sexual abuse allegation
“South Carolina’s top Roman Catholic priest says the Vatican has cleared him of wrongdoing after he was accused of sexually abusing a boy(link is external) as the pastor of a New York church in the late 1970s. In a message to fellow S.C. priests ahead of Sunday’s mass, Charleston Bishop Robert Guglielmone wrote that he received a letter ‘stating that the Vatican has determined that the sexual abuse allegation against me has no semblance of truth and is thus unfounded.’” By Avery G. Wilks, The Post and Courier

American Viganò: Archbishop Chaput divides episcopacy even in retirement
“His Excellency, the Most Reverend Charles Chaput, emeritus archbishop of Philadelphia, has come out of retirement to explain to the rest of his benighted brothers in the episcopacy — and to the rest of us — that an impending scandal looms for the Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Faith: President-elect Joe Biden might be given Communion(link is external). The horror! Chaput set forth his reasonings, such as they are, in an article at First Things, the magazine of record for culture warrior conservative Catholicism.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Polish priest apologizes for defense of disgraced priest
“A popular Polish priest apologized Tuesday (Dec. 8) for a sermon in which he defended a bishop accused of covering up for pedophile priests(link is external). His sermon, delivered to a congregation including the justice minister and other top politicians, was later condemned by government officials. Father Tadeusz Rydzyk insisted that he had not intended to hurt victims or downplay the church’s role in the ‘sin and crime of pedophilia.’” By Associated Press

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

UISG, LCWR leaders discuss connections in pandemic, women in diaconate, vocations in Africa
Global Sisters Report recently held a discussion(link is external) with Sr. Jolanta Kafka, president of the International Union of Superiors General and general superior of the Claretian Missionary Sisters; Sr. Pat Murray, executive secretary of UISG and member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Sr. Elise  García, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and who serves on the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters; and Sr. Carol Zinn, executive director of LCWR and a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia. This is an edited transcript of that discussion.” By Global Sisters Report Staff, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese gets A+ in financial transparency for 2020
“Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) — a national grassroots movement of Catholics responding since 2002 to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church — has given the Diocese of Erie a 100 percent financial transparency score for 2020, the second year in a row(link is external). Erie was one of only five dioceses in the country with a perfect score …The Massachusetts-based organization conducts a survey annually of all U.S. dioceses. Financial transparency, according to the VOTF, is one key element of an open response by the Catholic Church to survivors of clerical sexual abuse and guards against fraudulent diversion of donated funds by clergy or laity.” By Mary Solberg and Anne-Marie Welsh

Pope updates Vatican financial authority following scandals
“Pope Francis has revamped the Holy See’s financial intelligence and anti-money-laundering unit(link is external) following financial scandals, including an ongoing in-house corruption probe, Vatican officials said Saturday (Dec. 5). The changes involve the governance and organization of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency, which has been renamed the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority, or ASIF, the Vatican said. Until Saturday, the agency was known as AIF, or Financial Information Authority.” By Associated Press

CLERICALISM

Post-McCarrick report dialogue zeroes in on ‘hyperclerical culture’
“One month to the day that the Vatican released its report on since-laicized cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a panel of academics took a close look at what one called a ‘hyperclerical culture’ that allowed McCarrick’s sexual misconduct to go unchecked(link is external). ‘Silence is dangerous,’ said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, a co-sponsor of the Dec 10 dialogue, ‘The McCarrick Report: Findings, Lessons and Directions,’ and who himself had been subject to sexual abuse when he was a seminarian. ‘Hyperclerical culture can be horrific — and their decisions reflect that.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on CatholicSF.org

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Detroit Archdiocese announces major reorganization of 216 Catholic parishes
“In one of its biggest restructurings in years, the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit announced Wednesday (Dec. 9) it is grouping its 216 parishes in southeastern Michigan into 51 families — each made up of three to eight parishes sharing priests. The changes have been approved by Archbishop Allen Vigneron, according to a statement released Wednesday morning … A noted Catholic expert, Rocco Palmo, said the new Detroit plan to create 51 families ‘is drastic, quite possibly the most drastic I’ve seen(link is external)’ among dioceses in the U.S. who are doing similar reorganizations.” By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

What does a consolidation of sisters’ communities look like?
“When seven congregations of Sisters of St. Joseph completed their consolidation into one new community in 2007, the sisters thought the work of the merger was largely finished(link is external). After all, it had taken nearly a decade to get to that point. ‘I remember when we did this, thinking, ‘We’re done! We did it!’ But we were not done,’ said Sr. Kathleen Brazda, part of the current leadership team for the Congregation of St. Joseph. ‘We’re still evolving, still looking at structures.’” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

The McCarrick case and some disturbing conclusions
“In a couple of sleepless nights, I read the 449 pages and 1,410 notes (the devil, as they say, is in the detail) of the Vatican report on former US cardinal Theodore McCarrick. I had anticipated that it would be depressing reading, yet we must read the worst circumstances of the time in which we live and fully carry the weight and feel the responsibility. I write under an interior impulse. I feel that the Catholic Church, starting with its leaders, can no longer wait. Either structural changes are promoted (beyond those at the level of conscience, as is obvious) or this crisis will not be overcome(link is external). Already too many have distanced themselves from ecclesial life and the practice of faith.” By Gianni Criveller, UCA.com

Opinion: Archdiocese must be held accountable for priest abuse
“After a two-year investigation, the Vatican recently released a 450-plus-page report about now-defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and how the Catholic Church hierarchy failed to stop his predatory sexual behavior. Now, local Catholics are owed a similar in-depth investigation into the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and its complicity in failing to protect children from predatory sexual behaviors of local priests, such as Geoffrey Drew. Although the Drew story is a microcosm of McCarrick’s, the system that allowed both men to go unpunished for decades, in spite of countless complaints, exists in every Catholic diocese(link is external), including our own. Drew, former pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, was arraigned on nine counts of rape in July 2019, finally halting his access to children.” By Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrman, Jan Seidel, Dan Frondorf and Kathy Weyer, Cincinnati.com

Time for a reckoning: Church must confront, change old boys’ network exposed in Vatican’s McCarrick report
“The report refers to her simply as ‘Mother 1.’ A Manhattan woman with a large brood of mostly boys and an Irish husband, she had become suspicious of then-New York Monsignor Theodore McCarrick(link is external), who snaked his way into her family and had her children call him ‘Uncle Ted.’

Her husband thought it an honor to have a clergyman take an interest in his children. Mother 1, not so. Her antennae went up when she learned he gave her sons alcohol when he took them on trips.” By Rev. Alexander Santora for the Jersey Journal, on NJ.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Local View: Add racism to church’s sex-abuse scandals
‘Too often the Catholic Church uses Native American communities to hide pedophile priests,’ Phoenix attorney Robert Pastor said. Environmental racism was a term coined to describe historical tendencies in the U.S. to store toxic waste on Native American reservations or build pollution-spewing incinerators in Latino or African-American neighborhoods. An analogous term may now be required for the Catholic Church’s systematic dumping of sexually abusive priests into minority communities: Racist diocesan exile(link is external)? Clergy abuse racism? That’s because, as more information has been extracted through recent lawsuits against dioceses and investigations of abusive priests, it has become clear that the church often banished sex offenders to minority parishes as a way of burying them.” By David McGrath, Duluth News Tribune

McCarrick report shows need to focus on survivors, panel says
“In the aftermath of the Holy See’s report on laicized ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a clergy sex abuse survivor from Chile wants matters of clergy abuse to focus more on the survivors and less so on the episcopacy itself(link is external). ‘For me, we’re discussing here how the bishops behave, how we elect them, how we make them better, how they serve us better. Where are the survivors? The men and women survivors have to be the center of our topics,’ said Juan Carlos Cruz. ‘There are so many questions and we feel that yes, we have a McCarrick report, which is a great step for sure. But the suffering and the horror that is still going for so many people in our church is real and it’s now and we need to address it immediately.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

CALIFORNIA

Oakland diocese settles sex-misconduct suit for $3.5 million
“A civil lawsuit anonymously filed last year against the Diocese of Oakland by a former seminarian over alleged sexual misconduct by an East Bay pastor(link is external) reached a settlement late last month, authorities said. In a statement last week, the diocese said the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office did not file charges despite a Livermore police investigation. Church officials added that Father Van Dinh, the former pastor of Livermore’s St. Michael’s Catholic Parish, was not a defendant in last month’s settlement of the suit ‘which had no finding or admission of liability by Dinh or by the diocese.’” By George Kelly, East Bay Times, Bay Area News Group

COLORADO

Colorado’s review of Catholic Church sex abuse named priests, but not those who covered up their crimes
“A pair of explosive reports on decades of child sex abuse in Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses named 52 priests but kept confidential the identities of numerous church officials — from administrators to bishops — who covered up or ignored allegations of misconduct and transferred known child abusers to work in other parishes(link is external). The Colorado Sun counted 37 priests in the two investigative documents—one released last year and another earlier this month—whose abuse was hidden by the church, either because officials ignored victims’ stories, chose not to investigate or did not report suspected abuse to law enforcement. In many cases, the church allowed an abusive priest to continue working as clergy despite warnings about their behavior.” By Jesse Paul and Jennifer Brown, The Colorado Sun

Colorado report names nine more priests accused of abusing minors decades ago
“New findings in an investigation into clergy sex abuse in Colorado’s Catholic dioceses show substantiated claims that an additional nine Catholic priests abused minors decades ago(link is external). Released Dec. 1, the findings are in a supplemental report from the lead investigator, former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, who continued to look into cases as more survivors came forward after the release of his initial report in October 2019.” By Julie Asher, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Denver Archbishop Aquila appears to downplay new Catholic Church abuse cases
“Following the release of a report this week on the history of child sexual abuse at the hands of Colorado Catholic priests that identified dozens of new survivors and nine new perpetrators, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila seemed to once again downplay the severity of the abuse(link is external). The supplemental report released Tuesday (Dec. 1) by the Colorado Attorney General’s office was a follow up to a report on clergy sexual abuse released last year. Tuesday’s report, which concludes a 22-month investigation into how Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses sheltered abusers over seven decades, identified an additional 46 abuse survivors and nine priests that came to light since the release of the first report.” By Madeleine Schmidt, Colorado Times Recorder

Investigator says Pueblo Diocese has system in place that could improve handling of child sex abuse cases
“An investigator of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests says the Pueblo Diocese has set up systems that would significantly improve its handling of reports of misconduct(link is external). Investigator Bob Troyer, a former federal prosecutor, also says the systems—which are new—are yet untested. Troyer worked this year and last for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to delve into hundreds of cases of sexual assaults by priests in the state’s three dioceses: Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver.” By Robert Boczkiewicz, The Pueblo Citizen

Catholic priest names as a child abuser in new report was a counselor at church camp
“A Catholic priest who was named as a child sex abuser in a new report was a counselor at a church camp(link is external) in 1958 when a 10-year-old deaf boy disappeared before his skeletal remains were discovered a year later. Jerry Repola worked at the Catholic Camp St. Malo in Colorado in August 1958, when Bobby Bizup vanished in mysterious circumstances after a day of fishing in the mountains.” By Rachel Sharp, Daily Mail

CONNECTICUT

Victim advocate charged with distributing child pornography
“A victim advocate for the Connecticut court system was charged Friday (Dec. 11) with distributing child pornography over a cellphone app(link is external). Federal prosecutors and the FBI said Robert Eccleston, 56, of Canton, used the app Kik in August and September to distribute numerous pictures and videos of child porn, including images depicting the sexual abuse of toddlers and prepubescent children.” By Associated Press

DELAWARE

Priest indicted, faces federal child pornography charges
“A Catholic priest from Wilmington, Delaware, who served as an advisor to Monoco’s royal family now faces federal child pornography charges. Reverend William McCandless is accused of collecting thousands of child pornography images(link is external) while serving overseas, then returning home with them. The 56-year-old was placed on home confinement and ordered to surrender his passport. McCandless also once served as principal of the Salesianum School in Wilmington and held a post at DeSales University.” By ABC-TV6 News

ILLINOIS

Chicago archdiocese to pay $1.5 million in sexual abuse suit
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who says he was sexually abused as a child by a defrocked priest who was convicted of sexually abusing several boys(link is external), the man’s attorney said Thursday (Dec. 3). The settlement agreement announced in a news release by attorney Lyndsay Markley is the latest dark chapter in the story of Daniel McCormack, one of the most notorious pedophiles in the history of the archdiocese.” By Don Babwin, Associated Press

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese Adds Deceased Fr. Robert Cooper to Clergy Abuse Report
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans has concluded an investigation into newly received information regarding allegations of abuse of minors lodged against the late Fr. Robert K. Cooper. With moral certitude, today, December 2, 2020, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has added Cooper’s name to the Archdiocese of New Orleans Report Regarding Clergy Abuse(link is external) found online at nolacatholic.org. This deceased Fr. Cooper should not be confused with the Fr. Cooper who is an active pastor in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.” By Archdiocese of New Orleans

MASSACHUSETTS

Priest who gave Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral homily charged in sex assault case
“A Catholic priest who delivered the funeral homily for Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 2009 has been indicted on charges alleging rape and indecent assault of a minor(link is external). A Barnstable Superior Court grand jury on Friday (Dec. 11) indicted the Rev. Mark R. Hession, 62, on two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery of a person under 14, and one count of witness intimidation, court records show. An arraignment date will be set in January, a spokesperson for the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office said.” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe

In shift, Springfield Diocese will name all credibly accused priests
“The Springfield Diocese will expand its list of credibly accused priests to include those who died before survivors brought accusations of sexual abuse.(link is external) The exclusion of such priests long has prevented some victims from seeing their abusers face a public accounting. The change is a new bishop’s first step in reckoning with a history of clergy abuse in the Catholic diocese that includes Berkshire County. It comes as an independent task force led by a retired Pittsfield judge continues to shape recommendations on how the diocese can improve policies to protect children.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Five takeaways from Bishop-elect William Byrne’s interview with the Republican
“Bishop-designate William Byrne, who will be ordained Dec. 14 as the 10th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, is the author of the recently published ‘5 Things with Father Bill,’ that tackles diverse topics and offers brief insights on each. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston will be the principal celebrant and consecrator for the invitation-only Episcopal Ordination and Installation Mass at 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Cathedral … Here are five takeaways from his recent interview with The Republican.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Three men accuse prominent Michigan priest, Polish seminary leader of sexual abuse
“The call came one warm night in June 2019. A young Polish priest referred to as ‘John Doe 1’ in a federal lawsuit filed Monday (Dec. 14) knew it was his boss, Rev. Miroslaw Krol, and he knew that Krol was drunk. But he didn’t know the night would end with him driving an intoxicated Krol and another visiting priest to a motel to meet a male sex worker, and then, according to the suit, withdrawing cash from an ATM so Krol could pay him(link is external). Krol is the chancellor and CEO of Orchard Lake Schools, an Oakland County campus that includes a private prep school, St. Mary’s; a seminary, and a Polish cultural center.” By Kate Wells, Michigan Public Radio

Judge denies accused priest’s request to throw out confession in sex crimes case
“A Michigan judge recently denied a request to throw out a confession from a priest accused of sex crimes(link is external). Gary Jacobs, a former Catholic priest in the Upper Peninsula’s Ontonagon and Dickinson counties, is charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct in five cases. His confession will stand in court. Jacobs, 75, was in court on Friday, Dec. 4, for a Walker Hearing during which the Ontonagon County Circuit Court judge denied Jacobs’ request to throw out his confession.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MINNESOTA

St. Cloud Diocese bankruptcy plan approved to settle abuse claims
“A bankruptcy court has approved a reorganization plan for the Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud to settle legal claims of clergy abuse survivors(link is external). Two years ago, the St. Cloud diocese announced that it planned to file for bankruptcy after receiving 74 claims of sexual abuse of minors. Those claims were filed during a three-year window that lifted the statute of limitations on allegations of clergy abuse in Minnesota.” By Minnesota Public Radio

NEW MEXICO

Lawyer: Victims seek to eliminate archdiocese
“An attorney for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe said Monday (Dec. 7) that his clients are dedicated to a ‘compassionate and generous’ settlement for victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external), but he accused victims’ attorneys of seeking to eliminate the ‘physical presence’ of the archdiocese in New Mexico by inquiring into church holdings. The assertion by Albuquerque lawyer Tom Walker was disputed by victims’ attorney James Stang during a hearing Monday in the archdiocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

Judge asked to halt abuse victims’ church properties lawsuit
“The lawsuits allege that more than an estimated $245 million in property owned by the archdiocese was fraudulently transferred to its parishes or their trusts and should be available to help pay claims filed by nearly 380 victims of clergy sexual ab(link is external)use. Lawyers for the archdiocese and its 94 parishes deny any fraud and argue in one court filing that the litigation is intended to strip parishes of assets that have ‘always been beneficially or legally owned by the Parishes.’” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

Former priest again accused of abuse in lawsuit
“A former priest previously accused of sexual assault has again been identified in a Child Victims Act lawsuit(link is external). The suit was filed last week in New York State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County. It alleges abuse by the Rev. John D. Lewandowski, who had previously been accused of abuse according to a list released by the Diocese of Buffalo. The plantiff is identified in the suit as ‘M.L.’ The male victim was about 14 years old in 1960 when the alleged sexual assault took place during after-school activities at the Boys and Girls Club in Jamestown.” By Eric Tichy, The Post-Journal

‘I’m tired of being quiet’: Child Victims Act suit retraumatizes and empowers Schenectady woman
“Colleen Garbarini has to make a plan before entering a grocery store: the mask can’t stay on too long. She knows the mask is there to protect her and others, but the feeling of it covering her face stirs deep emotions four decades in the making. The mask takes her back to when she was a little girl and her abuser tried to quiet her(link is external) when other people were nearby.” By Zachary Matson, Schenectady Daily Gazette

Buffalo Diocese has new bishop, but controversial attorneys, aides remain
“Terrence M. Connors has had so much influence at the Diocese of Buffalo chancery for the past 25 years that some employees privately called him ‘Bishop Terry.’ But the smooth-talking criminal defense attorney was the subject of criticism in a blistering report by State Attorney General Letitia James that accused the diocese of a ‘systemic’ cover-up of sex abuse allegations. Diocese lawyers were cited 46 times in the highly critical lawsuit filed by New York’s top prosecutor.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Prominent New York priest is investigated over sexual assault accusation
“A nationally prominent Catholic priest is under criminal investigation(link is external) after a security guard assigned to his church accused him of sexually assaulting her on Election Day, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said on Friday (Dec. 4). The priest, the Rev. George William Rutler, 75, is accused of watching pornography and masturbating in front of the guard, Ashley Gonzalez, 22, without her consent in his office at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. He then attacked her physically and sexually when she tried to flee from the room, Ms. Gonzalez told the police.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Catholic Church shielded priest who sexually abused NY man as a kid
“A New York man says the Catholic Church shielded a priest who sexually abused him for years(link is external) beginning when he was 13 and homeless in Queens in the 1970s, new court papers show. Evan Manderson, 63, says the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn failed to report the Rev. Coleman Costello to law enforcement — and even allowed him to retire with a clean slate despite the church’s knowledge of his alleged sexual abuse of children, a new Queens Supreme Court lawsuit alleges.” By Priscilla DeGregory, New York Post

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic church abuse probe goes quiet
“Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints. The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports(link is external) that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims. U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.” By Associated Press in Altoona Mirror

Ex-DeSales University priest’s child porn included torture of young children, feds say
“A former DeSales University priest and advisor to the royal family of Monaco is accused of possessing thousands of images of child pornography, including some described as the torture of very young children(link is external), according to federal authorities. William McCandless, 56, of Wilmington, Delaware, was charged by indictment Thursday with three counts of child pornography offenses, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced.” By Sarah Cassi, LeighValleyLive.com

Pittsburgh Catholic diocese pays $19.2 million to abuse survivors
“The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh paid out $19,237,000 to victims of sexual abuse by its clergy members(link is external) through a compensation fund launched after the release of a grand jury report in 2018. That report found widespread child sexual abuse in Catholic churches across Pennsylvania. The settlements were paid out by the Kenneth Feinberg Group, an independent mediator hired by the diocese in 2019, to 244 claims, according to a statement from the diocese Thursday (Dec. 3).” By Kiley Koscinski, WESA-FM90.5 News, National Public Radio

TEXAS

Former Conroe priest Manuel La Rosa-Lopez heading to prison for child indecency
“A Catholic priest is heading to Texas state prison after his formal sentencing on Wednesday (Dec. 16) for committing indecency with two underage parishioners(link is external) 20 years ago. Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez will serve 10 years in prison on two charges of second-degree felony indecency with a child. The maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years in prison.” By Shelly Childers, WTRK-TV13 News

Ex-Catholic church worker in The Woodlands accused of sexual assault of child faces more felony charges
“A former IT employee at the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and School in The Woodlands accused of sexually assaulting a child is now facing additional felony charges(link is external). According to court documents Ronald M. See, 53, was originally charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14. Now, the charges include a second count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual performance by a child, both first-degree felonies, and online solicitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, according to court records.” By Click2Houston.com

VERMONT

Orphanage report: Investigators say authorities failed to pursue abuse claims
“No evidence of murder but an acknowledgment of abuse: Those are the main findings of a more than two-year investigation into claims at a former orphanage in Burlington. Our Dom Amato explains how the state came up with the findings. The old building on North Ave. is now part of a new housing complex, but it was once the St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Attorney General T.J. Donovan says the state investigation uncovered evidence of abuse over several decades(link is external), and blames police and prosecutors for failing to investigate the allegations when they were first made.” By Dom Amato, WCAX-TV3 News

VIRGINIA

Individual retracts child sexual abuse claim against priest, Richmond Catholic Diocese says
“An individual who said they had been sexually abused as a child by a priest in Norfolk, Va., has retracted their claim(link is external), the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Tuesday (Dec. 15). The allegations were made earlier this year against retired diocesan priest William Dinga Jr. Dinga has been accused of abuse while serving at Christ the King Catholic Church in 1986. He retired in 1990 and was not permitted to exercise public priestly duties before these allegations, which Dinga denies, were made.” By Keyris Manzanares, WRIC-TV8 News

WASHINGTON

Lawsuit claiming abuse by Catholic priests dismissed
“A lawsuit claiming sexual abuse committed by four Catholic priests formerly of an Ellensburg church was dismissed(link is external) Thursday (Dec. 10). The suit was filed in April 2019 by a man identified only as John Doe against the Catholic Diocese of Yakima and four priests, including Father Seamus Kerr, a senior priest at Holy Apostles Parish in East Wenatchee. John Doe claimed he was abused in the late 1970s and early 1980s at St. Andrew Catholic Church, when he was between the ages of 10 and 18.” By Pete O’Cain, The Wenatchee World

WISCONSIN

First came sex abuse allegations at the abbey. Then secret payments. Then a suicide.
“According to interviews and documents, the Norbertines quietly sent Lindstrom monthly checks totaling more than $400,000 over 10 years after his parents complained to the Catholic order’s leaders about the harm their son suffered from being sexually abused by at least one priest(link is external) in the late 1980s. Lindstrom spent years in therapy and taking medication, and he eventually settled in suburban Minneapolis with his wife and three children. But in 2018, his life changed when the order’s abbot told him the monthly payments would end.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Post-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Church defends ‘modest’ payout to abused altar boy in landmark case appeal
“A $32,500 settlement paid by the Catholic Church to a former altar boy after he was repeatedly sexually abused by a priest was adequate and reflected the legal landscape at the time, a court has heard. The Catholic Church is seeking to overturn a landmark court ruling that paved the way for sex abuse victims to seek more compensation(link is external) even if they had already signed away their rights to sue. In October, the Supreme Court overturned a deed of release signed by a former altar boy known as ‘WCB’ in 1996 after he was repeatedly sexually abused by Warragul priest Daniel Hourigan.” By Tom Cowie, The Age

New national Catholic safeguarding agency established
“The Catholic Church has established a new company to oversee all safeguarding, child protection and professional standards in Australia(link is external), creating a more focused and streamlined model. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and the Association of Ministerial PJPs yesterday launched Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited. ‘We have discerned what was working well and what needed to change, and we are convinced this new national agency will make the Church’s work more coordinated, accountable and best prepared to ensure the safety of people in Catholic settings,’ CRA president Br Peter Carroll FMS said.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Humboldt RCMP arrest Catholic priest on sexual assault charges
“The Humboldt RCMP arrested a 45-year-old Saskatchewan priest after receiving multiple reports of incidents of a sexual nature(link is external). RCMP charged Fr. Anthony Atter of Lake Lenore with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation. RCMP say the incidents allegedly occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 4, 2020. Fr. Atter is responsible for the parishes of St Gregory, St Ann and St Anthony.” By YahooNews.com

Chilliwack Catholic church pastor fired for alleged ‘sexual misconduct’
“Parishioners of St. Mary’s Church in Chilliwack are left with questions after the departure of a long-serving pastor accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). In a letter sent to parishioners of St. Mary’s and Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta on Dec. 4, Archbishop J. Michael Miller said an internal investigation ‘confirmed that a number of accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult by Father [Nelson] Santos were with an adult were well-founded, along with related inappropriate behavior and comments.” By Paul Henderson, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

Catholic church names more sexually abusive priests, more victims come forward
More victims of sexual assault by members of the Roman Catholic clergy have come forward in B.C.(link is external) after the release of a report in 2019 on cases of abuse going back decades. And the Archdiocese of Vancouver has named three more priests. ‘We again want to acknowledge the deep suffering of the victims and their loved ones and I apologize to each of them for the trauma caused by the abuse by a priest,’ Archbishop J. Michael Miller said in a new archdiocese publication. ‘They are in my prayers.’” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier

B.C. priest accused of sexual misconduct: Vancouver Archdiocese
“An investigation into a B.C. priest has concluded accusations of sexual misconduct were ‘well-founded(link is external),’ according to the Vancouver Archdiocese. In a letter from Archbishop Michael Miller, he addressed the recent departure of Father Nelson Santos, who had been serving as an assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta. Miller writes that a number of accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult by Santos were ‘well-founded’ as were ‘related inappropriate behaviour and comments.’” By Kathryn Tindale and Tim James, CityNews1130.com

FRANCE

Ex-Vatican envoy to France gets 8-month suspended sentence for sexual harassment
“A French court has found former Vatican ambassador to France Luigi Ventura guilty of sexual harassment against five men(link is external) in 2018 and 2019 and given him an eight-month suspended sentence, AFP reported on its Twitter feed on Wednesday (Dec. 16). Prosecutors had opened an investigation after a junior official at Paris City Hall accused the papal nuncio, then 74, of molestation in January 2019, and city authorities filed a complaint. Other men later came forward with similar allegations.” By Reuters Staff

GERMANY

German nuns accused of enabling child sex abuse by priests
“Nuns in the city of Speyer ‘dragged’ children to be sexually abused by priests and politicians, a survivor told a German court(link is external). His explosive testimony is the latest abuse scandal to rock the German Catholic Church. Catholic nuns who ran a former children’s home in the German city of Speyer allegedly aided in the sexual abuse of the children who were under their care, according to a newly-surfaced court decision. The latest scandal came to light after a victim filed a case to claim compensation from the Catholic church, prompting the Darmstadt Social Welfare Court to investigate.” By Deutsche Welle

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

‘Horror’ that abusive priest allowed back into schools
“Devastated head teachers, teachers and other education experts have spoken of their anger regarding the Catholic Church’s handling of the case of Fr Joseph Quigley, an authority and adviser to bishops on Catholic education, who has been convicted of child sex abuse(link is external). Quigley, 56, was found guilty on December 3 at Warwick Crown Court of physical and sexual abuse – but 12 years after Birmingham archdiocese, when it was led by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, first learned of his abuse and did not immediately report Quigley to the police.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Scots abuse survivor handed 100K in damages after horror childhood in care
“An abuse survivor has secured £100,000 in damages after being molested and beaten while in care. The man – known as Victim N – was locked in cupboards, beaten with a stick and sexually abused when he was being looked after as a child by the Sisters of Nazareth Catholic order(link is external). He was then moved to council-run Auldhouse Care Home in Glasgow, only to be subjected to worse violence. Victim N, now 58 and living in England, raised a legal action after spending decades coming to terms with what happened.” By Jenny Morrison, Daily Record

‘Sexual sadist’ priest abused boy and locked him in church crypt
“A ‘sexual sadist’ priest who worked as a private tutor sexually and physically abused a boy and locked him in a church crypt(link is external). Father Joseph Quigly – who held various ‘presitigious’ roles including as national education advisor for Roman Catholic schools – sexually and physically abused a boy while he was a parish priest in Warwickshire. The priest – described as a ‘sexual sadist’ – rubbed the teenager’s inner thigh after making him wear gym kit, take showers with the door open, and inflicted ‘sado-masochistic’ punishments on him such as locking him in the church’s crypt.” By Birmingham Mail

The U.K. is reckoning with a clerical sex abuse crisis. Again.
“Ms. (Sue) Cox is one of the abuse survivors who provided evidence to a government inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. The inquiry has identified significant and ongoing failings in the church’s safeguarding of children and in decision-making among its highest leaders(link is external). Published on Nov. 10, the same day the Vatican released its internal report into decades-long sexual abuse by Theodore McCarrick, a former U.S. cardinal, the U.K. inquiry reports that the church’s ‘moral purpose was betrayed over decades by those in the Church who perpetrated this abuse and those who turned a blind eye to it.’” By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

When a Catholic lawyer fights sexual abuse in Indonesian Church
“Almost every Monday since September, Catholic lawyer Azas Tigor Nainggolan accompanies the altar boys who were sexually abused and their families appearing at the Depok District Court in West Java(link is external). He accompanies them against the defendant, Syahril Marbun, former altar boys’ trainer at St Herkulanus parish, Bogor diocese, the first recorded case of sexual abuse in a church brought before a civil court.” By Ryan Dagur, Jakarta, USANews.com

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand child abuse inquiry finds quarter of a million harmed in state and faith-based care
“Up to a quarter of a million children, young people and vulnerable adults were physically and sexually abused in New Zealand’s faith-based and state care institutions from the 1960s to early 2000s(link is external), a public inquiry revealed on Wednesday (Dec. 16). An interim report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry found children, some from as young as nine months old, suffered years of abuse, which included rape and electric shock treatment, by staff at psychiatric and state care facilities, clergy and foster guardians. The report estimated that up to 256,000 people were abused, accounting for almost 40% of the 655,000 people in care during the period, with most abuse occurring in the 1970s and 1980s.” By Praveen Menon, Reuters

SPAIN

A parish priest has been jailed for 20 years for sexually abusing young girls
“A parish priest has been jailed for 20 years for sexually abusing young girls in his care(link is external) during a six month period back in 2014, according to newly released court documents. The priest, practicing in the city of Cordoba, was accused of sexually groping six individuals between the ages of eight and 12 who were visiting during religious camps during the school summer holidays. An investigation began when one of the victims, who has not been named for her protection, spoke of the abuse in front of a Policia Local officer five years after the events.” By James Warren, The Olive Press

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Duluth Bishop-elect Michel Mulloy after abuse allegation
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Bishop-elect of Duluth, Minnesota, Michel J. Mulloy, after an accusation that he abused a minor(link is external) in the 1980s surfaced in early August. Mulloy, 66, was appointed to lead the Minnesota diocese on June 19, and his consecration and installation as bishop were scheduled to take place Oct. 1. According to a statement from the Diocese of Rapid City, where Mulloy had been administrator since August 2019, the diocese on Aug. 7 ‘received notification of an allegation against Father Mulloy of sexual abuse of a minor in the early 1980s.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Report abuse learned in confession or go to jail, says Australian state
“A new law requires priests in the state of Queensland to break the seal of confession to report child sex abuse to police or face three years in jail. The law was passed by Queensland Parliament Sept. 8. It had support from both major parties and was opposed by the Catholic Church. One Queensland prelate, Bishop Tim Harris of Townsville, tweeted a link to a story on the passage of the new law and said, ‘Catholic priests cannot break the seal of confession.’” By Catholic News Service on Catholic-SF.org

Former West Virginia bishop should reexamine his conscience
“Repentance is something that Catholics usually understand. That is one reason why former Bishop Michael Bransfield’s response to the charges leveled against him is so egregious(link is external). Bransfield formerly led the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. There he proceeded to, according to a church investigation, embezzle $792,000 while sexually harassing seminarians. Bransfield, according to the diocese, has paid back $441,000, and will retire with benefits, including a $2,250 monthly pension. That’s far less than the normal $6,200 for a retired bishop, but not a bad deal for Bransfield considering the circumstances.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

New survey of German religious orders finds decades of abuse accusations
“A new survey of heads of German Catholic religious orders found abuse allegations against at least 654 members over a period of decades(link is external), reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. The survey of 392 orders found at least 1,412 children, adolescents or wards were the victims of sexual abuse. Of the victims, around 80% were male and around 20% female, KNA reported. Franciscan Sister Katharina Kluitmann, president of the German Conference of Catholic Superiors, said there was an unquantifiable additional number of unreported cases. She said the victims had suffered additional pain from the way they were treated by leaders and other members of orders.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Philly native and ex-Bishop Michael Bransfield apologizes for financial and sexual impropriety — yet still says he did nothing wrong
“The Rev. Michael Bransfield — the Philadelphia-raised priest and former West Virginia bishop who resigned in 2018 amid a scandal over his lavish spending and sexual misconduct allegations(link is external) — issued a tepid apology Thursday (Aug. 20), his first to Roman Catholic faithful in his former diocese and one made under orders from the Vatican. Despite saying he was ‘profoundly sorry’ if anything he said or did made priests of seminarians uncomfortable during his 13-year tenure at the helm of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bransfield continued to defend himself and took no responsibility for the millions he spent on pricey personal accommodations in one of the country’s poorest states.” By Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer

Catholic leaders shine light on Church governance
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have published an ‘important and substantial’ document on the review of diocesan and parish governance and management(link is external). The review was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Church’s Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) oversaw the development of the report, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia. The IAG engaged the Governance Review Project Team (GRPT) to research and study Church governance and to prepare the report, which runs to 208 pages and includes 86 recommendations.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

O.C.’s bishop, a $12-million problem and a secret fight stretching to the Vatican
“The FedEx envelopes landed at dawn on the doorsteps of some of Orange County’s most influential Catholic philanthropists … who had raised tens of millions of dollars over the years for the local diocese. Inside were letters from Bishop Kevin Van that boiled down to two words: You’re fired(link is external). Those June missives ignited a revolt inside the Orange County church that has burned all the way to the Vatican while remaining largely hidden from the diocese’s 1.3 million rank-and-file Catholics.” By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times

Vatican tells Australian Church that seal of confession not up for debate
“Although reaffirming the principle that the seal of confession can never be violated(link is external), the Vatican has told Church leaders in Australia that victims of sexual abuse should be encouraged to report abuse to the proper authorities. Recognizing the question of the seal of confession ‘is one of great delicacy and that it is related intimately with a most sacred treasure of the Church’s life, that is to say, with the sacraments,’ the Vatican said ‘the confessional provides an opportunity – perhaps the only one – for those who have committed sexual abuse to admit to the fact.’” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope preaches on need to correct others privately, a policy some say allows abuse to fester
“Pope Francis said Sunday (Sept. 6) that gossiping was a ‘plague worse than COVID’(link is external) that was seeking to divide the Catholic Church. Francis strayed from his prepared text to double down on his frequent complaint about gossiping within church communities and even within the Vatican bureaucracy. Francis didn’t give specifics during his weekly blessing but went on at some length to say the devil was the ‘biggest gossiper’ who was seeking to divide the church with his lies.” By Associated Press in Los Angeles Times

Pope says synod used ‘parliamentary logic’ when debating married priests
“When it comes to the private notes of a pontiff, the world usually has to wait until they’ve died to have access to them, but Pope Francis this week made some of his personal notes public. They were about last October’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon region and the debate over the ordination of married men into the priesthood, the so called viri probati(link is external). ‘There was a discussion…a rich discussion…a well-founded discussion, but no discernment, which is something other than arriving at a good and justified consent or relative majorities,’ he wrote.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Bishop Bransfield offers ‘apology,’ repays $400k to W Virginia diocese
“Bishop Michael Bransfield has repaid more than $400,000 to his former diocese and issued a narrowly-worded apology to the faithful(link is external). The apology comes nearly two years after Pope Francis accepted his resignation amid accusations of personal and financial misconduct. The letter from Bransfield, dated August 15, was released by his former diocese on Thursday (Aug. 20), along with a letter from his successor, Bishop Mark Brennan, outlining how Bransfield will ‘make amends’ following an investigation into his conduct by the Vatican.” By Catholic News Agency

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

New advocacy group shows different faces of Catholic ‘feminism’
“Seven French women who recently ‘applied’ for ecclesial jobs traditionally open only to men last have quickly become icons for the Catholic ‘feminist’ movement, among other things illustrating there’s no single vision for how to achieve the more welcoming and inclusive Church they envision(link is external). That diversity was on clear display during a recent online event featuring the French activists.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Catholic women still don’t have suffrage in their church
“Tomorrow (Aug. 26) marks the 100th anniversary of the day that women’s right to vote was enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The passage of the 19th amendment was the result of more than 80 years of women agitating, picketing and lobbying; some endured jail time and force-feedings when they went on strike to protest their arrests. The moment celebrated as the official ‘start”’of the suffrage movement was the first ever women’s rights convention held 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York … Even in those earliest days of the fight for suffrage, women realized, and spoke openly about, the need for equality not only in the government, but also in the church(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

The Scriptural case for women deacons
“The synod on the Pan-Amazonian region re-opened the question of whether women can be deacons in the church. But we can return to the beginning as we contemplate the future. The New Testament not only gives us women deacons, but we know one of their names:(link is external) Phoebe. This is her hour. Because Jesus never refers to priests, deacons or ordination in any direct way, our discussion should take us to the earliest literature in the New Testament: the letters and ministerial practice of the Apostle Paul.” By Micah D. Kiel, America: The Jesuit Review

Will the Catholic Church soon allow ordained women deacons?
“This month marked the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States. Seventy years of protest and consciousness-raising made it happen in 1920. The Catholic church moves even slower, if at all, but the time seems ripe to ordain women as deacons soon(link is external). Women deacons served the church up until the 12th century, but the church’s desire to control finances and require celibacy stigmatized women even more for the last 900 years. Pope Francis has now formed two commissions, which include women, to determine if the church can ordain them as deacons once again.” By Rev. Alexander Santoro, NJ.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Laity called to share responsibility for church, say experts
“The laity are called to take greater responsibility for church life(link is external), as parish boundaries expand into what the Vatican calls ‘existential territory.’ That shift was the focus of an Aug. 25 discussion of “Co-Responsibility for the Church’s Being and Action in Parish Life” at this year’s Cardinals’ Forum at St. Charles Borromeo. The annual event advances seminarians’ academic formation while educating lay faithful about contemporary concerns in the church … ‘Co-responsibility is an idea easy enough to understand,’ said Father Dailey, ‘since by virtue of our baptism, we are all in this church thing together.’” By Gina Christian, CatholicPhilly.com

German bishops say talks with Rome on parishes must include laity
“The German bishops plan to seek talks with the Vatican about its instruction on parish reforms in the Catholic Church. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops said they want lay Catholics to be involved in the discussion(link is external). The bishops’ conference made the announcement after a meeting of its 27-member Permanent Council. The announcement said the president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, would accept an offer for talks recently conveyed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, head of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

VATICAN

Australia: Holy See responds to Royal Commission recommendations
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has looked into the Holy See’s response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. A media release, published on their website, explains ‘the Royal Commission proposed that the Bishops Conference engage with the Holy See on those recommendations because they relate to universal Church law or practice.’ Of the 80 recommendations proposed by the Royal Commission, 47 were accepted, 1 was not accepted, 13 were passed on to the Holy See, 1 is being taken into further consideration, 5 were accepted in principle, 12 are supported, and 1 is supported in principle.” By Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Since the Amazon synod, what has happened to talk of synodality?
“Lest we forget, the church is not a democracy. In a democracy, theoretically at least, everyone has a voice and a vote. But the church is controlled by less than 1% of its members. The church — at every level — is controlled by its clerics. So what is all this talk about ‘synodality?’(link is external) How can the talk become the walk when it comes to women in the church? On one level, synodality means collegiality, which brings us back to where we started from.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Catholic priest says he was silenced by the church for speaking out on abuse
“This spring, I received a letter from my boss ordering me to take down my blog or lose my job. Workers all over the country have found themselves in this kind of situation. But I may yet become the first Catholic priest removed for blogging(link is external). Until recently, I was the pastor of two parishes in southwest Virginia, one in Martinsville and the other in Rocky Mount. I love my work and my community of some 800 families. I began blogging in 2008 as an additional way of reaching the faithful.” By Mark White, NJ.com

The Newcastle Herald’s Opinion, Thursday, August 20, 2020: The Altar Boys will reopen wounds for some, and provide vindication and salvation for others
“Sadly, one of the worst indictments of our society has been the terrible and insidious prevalence of child sexual abuse(link is external) across a range of once trusted institutions. Julia Gillard – who as prime minister ordered the Royal Commission that did so much to calibrate the extent of the problem – thanked the Newcastle Herald’s Joanne McCarthy for convincing her of the need for an investigation.” By Editorial Board, Newcastle Herald

Pull back the curtain of secrecy on abuse by priests
“St. Peter in Chains Cathedral is now a ‘minor basilica.’ It is clear that Archbishop Dennis Schnurr is excited and proud, and it is clear that he welcomed members of the news media into the cathedral (now basilica) space on Aug. 15 so he could talk about ceremonial bells and special privileges. This openness to the press is a dramatic shift. Two years ago, Archbishop Schnurr was considerably less welcoming of the media(link is external) into St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrated its first Mass for Healing for the Church and for Victims of Abuse.” By Kathy Weyer, Cincinnati Enquirer

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Pennsylvania court to review diocese lawsuit
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear arguments in October on an Altoona woman’s attempt to redefine the statute of limitations as it applies to her 2016 sexual abuse lawsuit(link is external) against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Renee Rice, 52, has sued the diocese, contending she was a child victim of sexual abuse committed by a priest at the former St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Altoona.” By Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Bigger picture: Media can showcase overlooked sex-abuse survivors
“In reporting historical and recent abuse of minors, the media should broaden its focus to include portrayals of survivors as active agents of reform(link is external), one survivor said. Interviewing survivors about their abuse and the emotional impact of it brings an important ‘human face’ to the crimes, said Mark Vincent Healy, an advocate in Ireland for safe spaces, care and services for survivors of child sexual abuse. But reporters also should be asking them ‘the bigger questions’ about ongoing injustices, unnecessary hurdles and the kind of response and care that would truly help, he said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Poland struggles to deal with pedophilia in the Catholic Church
“A few days after receiving her first communion in May last year, nine-year-old Julia told her mother she was sick and refused to go to church for further ceremonies planned in relation to this key moment in a Catholic family’s life. ‘When I asked her why she didn’t want to go, she said she didn’t like the priest. When I asked her why, she said the priest was touching her(link is external),’ Magda, Julia’s mother, told BIRN, speaking on the phone from Ruszow, a village of about 2,000 people in south-west Poland where the family lives.” By Claudia Ciobanu, BalkanInsight.com

ARIZONA

Diocese of Phoenix sued for alleged child sex abuse by former priest
“Two lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Phoenix and one of its churches Wednesday (Aug. 26) for alleged sexual abuse from a former priest(link is external). Father John P. Doran allegedly abused two boys while they attended the St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in the 1970s, according to the suit filed by the now-adult victims. ‘The two men who have come forward today have waited decades for the Bishop of Phoenix to be fully transparent about the pedophile priests working in this Diocese,’ said attorney Robert Pastor.” By NBC-TV12 News

ARKANSAS

Little Rock diocese adds priest to list of accused sex abusers
“The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock announced Wednesday (Aug. 26) that it has added another priest to its list of clergy that have been ‘credibly’ accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). Father Edward Simpson, who died in 1988, was a priest in Arkansas from the time of his ordination in 1954 until his retirement in 1986. Simpson’s record shows that he served at Catholic churches in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Blytheville, North Little Rock, Jonesboro, Searcy, Eureka Springs, Malvern and Texarkana.” By Francisca Jones, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

CALIFORNIA

Judge denies request by prosecutor in case against priest facing rape charge
“The prosecutor on the case against a Catholic pastor accused of a decades-old rape of a child(link is external) was denied a request in court Monday (Aug. 24) to have certain witnesses stricken from the upcoming trial. The request, made by Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark, was denied by Wayne County Circuit Judge Bridget Mary Hathaway, court records show.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press

LOUISIANA

Group demands local diocese add new name to list of credibly accused abusers
“A group that advocates for Catholic Church sex abuse victims is asking the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux to add a new name to its list of ‘credibly accused’ priests(link is external). On Aug. 18, Archbishop Gregory P. Aymond added the Rev. Henry Brian Highfill to the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ list of priests with credible accusations of child sexual abuse.” By Dan Copp, The Courier

Abuse victims challenge legitimacy of archdiocese bankruptcy claim
“Sex abuse victims and others with claims against the Archdiocese of New Orleans argued the local church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection ‘in bad faith’(link is external) and the case should be thrown out during a virtual U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing Thursday (Aug. 27). Their claims appeared to be bolstered by a letter written to the Vatican by New Orleans Archbishop Greg Aymond on April 28, just two days before the May 1 bankruptcy filing. In the letter, Aymond assures his bosses in Rome, ‘The archdiocese is not insolvent. We have sufficient cash, cash equivalents and investments to cover 100 percent of our liabilities.’” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Sexual assault victims speak
“Two women who were sexually abused by the Rev. John J. Gallagher(link is external) in the 1970s are speaking publicly — for the first time — about their childhood trauma with the hope of empowering other survivors and themselves. The women, one who chooses to be named and another who does not, are among 11 people — 10 women and a man — represented by Boston Attorney Mitchell Garabedian in a joint lawsuit against the Catholic Church resolved earlier this year with a $1.4 million settlement.” By Breanna Edelstein, Andover Townsman

Lee Bartlett, former priest in Worcester, Leominster and Southbridge, accused of abusing teen in 70s, loses status
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a man when he was a teenager in the 1970s has been laicized at his request(link is external), Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Worcester Diocese announced Wednesday (Aug. 26). Lee F. Bartlett III, 74, was dispensed from the clerical state by Pope Francis and, as a result, may not function in any capacity as a priest or be referred to as a priest or as ‘Father’ in writing such as in event announcements or obituaries.” By Cyrus Moulton, Worcester Telegram

Church settles sex abuse cases for $1.4M: Case involves 10 women, 1 man who attended St. Mary’s School in Lawrence
“The Catholic church has agreed to pay $1.4 million to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse against 11 children(link is external) who attended St. Mary’s School in Lawrence, according to the victims’ joint attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. Garabedian, who is well known for representing victims of clergy sexual abuse, said the clients in this case were all victims of the Rev. John J. Gallagher between 1974 and 1978, when Gallagher was assigned to St. Mary’s Church and taught at the parish school.” By Breanna Edelstein, Lawrence Eagle Tribune

MINNESOTA

Priest accused of child sex abuse was allowed at Minnesota Catholic music camp
“Isaac Henson was monitoring recent reports of sexual misconduct by Twin Cities Catholic music composer David Haas when he ran across disturbing information about an adult leader at the summer music program run by Haas at St. Catherine University. A retired priest who was a regular at the weeklong program, George DeCosta, had been sued by at least six men for alleged child sexual abuse(link is external) in his home state of Hawaii, Henson learned, with the first lawsuit filed in 2012. An attorney for the men said five of the cases have been settled.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

MISSISSIPPI

Former Catholic brother returned to face Mississippi charges
“A former Catholic brother has been extradited from his home state of Wisconsin to Mississippi, where he faces sexual battery charges in a case involving two impoverished Black boys who say they were pressured as men into accepting paltry payouts to settle their abuse claims(link is external). The men have accused Paul A. West, once a Franciscan Friar and fourth-grade teacher, of molesting them in Mississippi, Wisconsin and New York while they were elementary school students.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press, on NewsPressNow.com

MISSOURI

Lawsuit says St. Louis priest abused boy in 1980s
“A federal lawsuit says the Archdiocese of St. Louis has failed to remove a De Soto priest who has had four accusations of sexual abuse against him. A man identified in the suit only as John Doe contends the Rev. Alexander R. Anderson sexually abused him as a boy(link is external) in the late 1980s at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in St. Louis, where Doe was living at the time and Anderson was chaplain.” By Robert Patrick, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Ex-priest is accused of abusing 4 kids. Monett woman says church ignored her pleas
“For at least the past 16 years, Elizabeth Mangler has kept a file saved on her computer: ‘FatherGaryCarr.doc.’ Mangler, 59, had a feeling that someday a man would come forward and accuse Father Gary Carr of child sexual abuse(link is external). And she wanted people to know that in Monett, they tried to stop him. ‘We did follow the best chain of command the Catholic Church has to offer,’ Mangler said. And she’s got the receipts.” By Harrison Keegan, Springfield News-Leader

NEW JERSEY

Priest abuse lawsuit: Former student sues Red Bank Catholic, St. James Church
“A former student at Red Bank Catholic High School was sexually abused in the early 1980s by a priest who has faced accusations of abuse at other assignments(link is external), according to a lawsuit recently filed in state Superior Court. The lawsuit says Francis McGrath abused the student, who is identified only by the initials B.T., in 1982 and 1983, causing permanent emotional and mental anguish. McGrath, now 70, was removed from ministry and left the priesthood in 1995.” By Michael L. Diamond, Asbury Park Press

Lawsuits accuse three Camden diocese priests of clergy sex abuse
“A lawsuit accuses a former principal at two Catholic high schools of sexually abusing a child(link is external) while serving at a Camden County parish. The Rev. Kenneth L. Johnston was among three priests, all now dead, who were named in four suits filed Thursday (Aug. 20) against the Diocese of Camden. The allegations of sexual misconduct were the first to be brought against Johnston, a former principal at Gloucester Catholic and St. James high schools. Johnston, also a pastor at three South Jersey parishes, was described as a ‘kindly, gentlemanly priest’ in a June 2018 obituary.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

NEW MEXICO

Two more sex abuse suits filed against ABQ orphanage
“Two more former students of the now-closed St. Anthony Home for Boys came forward Monday (Aug. 24) to file childhood sexual abuse lawsuits against nuns(link is external) who ran the orphanage after a top superior at the religious order recently stated she didn’t believe children had been molested there, their attorneys say. The two men ‘are not motivated by compensation, as the sexual abuse happened many decades ago, but primarily want the truth to be known, and are asking the Court to put into public archives all documents that point to the need for accountability and transparency,’ said their attorneys Brad D. Hall and Levi Monagle in a statement on Monday.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEVADA

Las Vegas diocese adds name to list of credibly accused clergy
“Church officials in Nevada said Friday (Aug. 21) they’re following their counterparts in Louisiana in adding a Roman Catholic priest who was suspended in 2018 to a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). The Diocese of Las Vegas said it suspended Henry Brian Highfill in August 2018 after learning he had been accused of abusing a now-deceased relative while Highfill was a priest in New Orleans from 1974 to 1981.” By Associated Press, on NBC-TV3 News

OHIO

Case settled for $1 million after claims Columbus priest sexually abused student
“The Catholic Diocese of Columbus announced a $1 million settlement to a former Saint Charles Preparatory School student after claims Monsignor Thomas Bennett abused the student(link is external). A complaint by the student, who attended the school in the early 2000s, was filed in 2018 claiming he was abused by Bennett. Bennett was a priest for more than 40 years and a teacher at the school. He died in 2008. Bennett is not on the list of credibly abused clergy and the Diocese notes, ‘This litigation matter has now concluded and a determination of credibility has not yet been made.’” By WTOL-TV11 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Fayette County priest charged with sexual assault
“Authorities on Wednesday (Aug. 26) arrested a Roman Catholic priest from the Diocese of Greensburg on charges that he sexually assaulted an altar boy on multiple occasions(link is external) from 2004 to 2007, beginning when the alleged victim was 11. The Rev. Andrew Kawecki surrendered to agents of the office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro in Fayette County, where the alleged offenses occurred, according to the office.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

47 names of clergy abuse victims part of accidental email leak
“A clergy abuse victim who participated in the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s independent compensation program for survivors is alleging that the confidentiality of nearly 50 other victims was compromised(link is external) when the program administrator mistakenly sent the individual an email in 2019 with the names of participants from another diocese’s program … The email included the names of 45 individuals who had been deemed eligible to participate in the program and two others whose abuse was perpetrated by religious order members, not priests of the Pittsburgh Diocese.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Erie diocese puts number of abuse lawsuits at 31: A total of 21 suits filed in Erie County
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie’s potential legal problems over the clergy abuse crisis extend beyond Erie County(link is external). Though the diocese is facing 21 lawsuits filed at the Erie County Courthouse, it must also deal with another 10 suits filed elsewhere in the 13-county diocese and statewide, including in Philadelphia. The suits concern claims of a cover-up and fraud by the diocese, with the plaintiffs saying clergy within the diocese abused them as minors.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Greensburg Diocese reveals ‘credible’ sex abuse claims against priest convicted of theft
“A priest convicted of stealing money from a South Huntingdon church has been added to a list of suspected sex abusers(link is external), according to the Diocese of Greensburg. Bishop Edward C. Malesic on Wednesday (Aug. 26) issued an update on the diocese’s handling of sex abuse allegations as he prepares to depart for Cleveland, revealing previously undisclosed allegations against the Rev. Emil Payer.” By Jacob Tierney, TribLive.com

VIRGINIA

Diocese of Alexandria frequently moved priest accused of sexual abuse
“A lawsuit filed this month in Alexandria calls a Catholic priest a ‘diseased pedophile who raped and sexually assaulted many young boys(link is external).’ The priest, the Rev. Leo Van Hoorn, was among 27 named in a February 2019 letter from Bishop David P. Talley as having credible accusations of sexual abuse against minors. The lawsuit claims Van Hoorn, who died in 2006 at age 74 in Baton Rouge, was ‘moved frequently throughout the various parishes of the Diocese of Alexandria.’” By Melissa Gregory, Alexandria Town Talk

WEST VIRGINIA

Ex-bishop Michael Bransfield’s ‘creepy’ behavior detailed
“With Michael Bransfield issuing a six-sentence letter of apology to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston last weekend for years of sexual and financial abuse, the church hopes to consider the matter closed. The marks from his tumultuous term of office, however, remain. Bransfield issued his statement in a letter dated Aug. 15 claiming that he did not mean to make those under his power feel sexually harassed, as well as denying that a pattern of excessive and lavish spending was inappropriate(link is external). Nevertheless, he agreed to comply with a demand from The Vatican to pay back $441,000 and to take a reduced retirement package, in what one canon lawyer described as an ‘unprecedented’ show of accountability from the church.” By Alan Olson, The Weirton Daily Times

AUSTRALIA

Canberra’s Damian De Marco has helped expose years of sexual abuses by Catholic Church pedophiles
“It was purely coincidence but the timing of National Child Protection Week and a warm spring day couldn’t be more appropriate for tireless campaigner Damian De Marco to be conferred with his Member of the Order of Australia. The AM award presented on Tuesday by Governor General David Hurley is the latest of many which have been delivered to Mr. De Marco for his unstinting efforts over decades to expose the sexual abuse of children under the care of the Catholic Church(link is external).” By Peter Brewer, The Canberra Times

CANADA

Class-action lawsuit claims systemic negligence by archdiocese
“A proposed class-action lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Vancouver claims the archdiocese was ‘systematically negligent’ in protecting parishioners from abuse by clergy(link is external). The Archdiocese was aware of the abuse and allowed the abuse to continue. The Archdiocese was also complicit in silencing survivors, who were required to take oaths of secrecy when making complaints to the Archdiocese, the claim states.” By Agnieszka Ruck, the B.C. Catholic

Catholic priest sex abuse victim awarded $844,140
“The Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese will pay a priest’s sexual abuse victim $844,140 in damages(link is external), a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Aug. 25. Rosemary Anderson, now 70, alleged in a Dec. 22, 2016, notice of civil claim that sexual abuse at the hands of Erlindo Molon, now 88, started when she was 26. She names Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole, in the claim.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Syndicated, North Shore News

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Victims of sexual abuse urged to come forward following former Middleton priest’s death
“Executors of the estate of a former Middleton priest are looking for individuals who may have suffered sexual abuse at his hands to come forward(link is external). Michael Studdert worked in Langley, Middleton, during the 1960s and is believed to have abused children in England, Wales, Poland, Denmark and Italy. Following his death, Studdert’s estate was frozen to allow his victims a chance to file claims for compensation.” By RochdaleOnline.co.uk

Appeal shows London diocese not ready to ‘do the right thing,’ sex abuse survivor says
“Once again, the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, as Irene Deschenes said, isn’t ready to ‘do the right thing(link is external).’ You could set your watch this week for when the diocese would drop its application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, hoping to overturn a lower court decision allowing the sexual abuse survivor to reopen her two-decades-old civil case.” By Jane Sims, The London Free Press

MALTA

Priest accused of sex with teen suspended from his duties
“A priest who appeared in court last Thursday (Sept. 3) over a sexual relationship he was allegedly having with a teenage girl(link is external) has been suspended from his duties, according to a spokesman for the church. The priest must refrain from public ministry while criminal process against him is ongoing, the spokesman for the church’s Safeguarding Commission told Times of Malta. This means that he cannot celebrate Mass or administer any of the sacraments in the community.” By Matthew Xuereb, Malta Times

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