Archive for category Pope Francis
Is Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality bound to disappoint–or will it renew the church? / America: The Jesuit Review
An even more fundamental question could draw us into the content of our journeying together. Could we ask, ‘As God’s pilgrim people journeying together, how can we more effectively bring the life-giving power of the gospel to a world so desperately in need of it?’ That question would more closely correspond to the vision of Pope John XXIII and, I believe, of Pope Francis as well.By Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review
“Pope Francis has begun a multi-year process for the entire church, what he has called ‘a synod on synodality.’ In his talks and in the preparatory documents, he has explained the unusual term ‘synodality’ very simply by retrieving its Greek roots. ‘Synodality,’ as he describes it, is being syn-hodos, on the road together. The Holy Father wants this vision of the church being on the road or journey together to come alive.
“When I first heard about synodality, the concept held a strong appeal for me. I saw it moving the church beyond the usual and tired constructs of institution, organization and bureaucracy. I saw it underscoring an experience of church that included a greater sense of community and connection in the unfolding of history. The Second Vatican Council had captured this with its striking image of the church as the pilgrim people of God in ‘Lumen Gentium.’ So far, synodality seemed good, indeed, very good.
“Then I began to have questions and hesitations.”
By Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …
“Pope Francis has given formal approval to a series of updates and modifications that have been made over the years to the norms regarding clerical sexual abuse and other crimes reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“The newest version of the so-called ‘Norms on the delicts reserved to the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith’ does not introduce any new crimes, but it does seek to improve the procedural norms regarding the penal process and to update those canons connected with the recently revised ‘Book VI: Penal Sanctions in the Church’ that was to go into effect Dec. 8.
“The document, published by the Vatican Dec. 7, changes and updates modifications St. John Paul II in 2001 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 made to the list of canonical delicts or crimes reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the procedures for handling such cases.
“Since then, many new measures have been established: Pope Francis’ document ‘As a loving mother’ in 2016 set out procedures for removing church leaders who mishandle abuse; ‘You are the light of the world’ in 2019 established new procedures for reporting abuse and violence, and sought to hold bishops and religious superiors more accountable; a document in 2019 abolished the pontifical secret in cases of sexual violence and the abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy; and another document in 2019 raised the age to 18 of what constitutes a minor in pornographic images.”
Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com — Read more …
There is confidence, too, that the people of God will, over time, hear the call to assemble. And when they do, that they will speak boldly and listen carefully, and that somehow, in spite of all the resistances and obstacles, not another but a different Church will come forth. Adsumus Sancte Spiritus.Commonweal
“At the start of July, in preparation for what has become known as the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ the general secretariat of the synod’s spirituality commission convened a meeting of the heads of religious orders in Rome. In the big aula of the Jesuit Curia on the Borgo Santo Spirito were gathered the superiors general of the Jesuits, the Marists, the Claretians, the Eudists, and the Salesians, along with the master of the Dominicans, the vicar general of the Augustinians, the Benedictine abbot primate general, and so on, together with the presidents of the umbrella bodies of male and female religious across the Catholic world, whether contemplative, apostolic, or charismatic. The point of the gathering? To share experiences from the many different traditions of synodality and collective discernment. Or, in simpler language, to find out how the different orders make decisions, elect leaders, and hear the Holy Spirit nudging them to change.
“While in Rome for the October 9–10 launch of the synod, I heard about this gathering from a number of those who were involved, among them the woman who has become the synod’s face and voice. What the meeting showed, the French Xaverian Sr. Nathalie Becquart told me, was how each of the orders had developed different mechanisms of deliberating as a body and reaching consensus—whether classically, in the form of the “General Chapters” of monasteries and friaries, or as exercises in group discernment as developed, say, by the Jesuits. Many religious institutes had regular assemblies, others engaged in consultations prior to decision-making, while some combined consultative and deliberative practices. The diversity of methods and traditions was tremendous. Yet alongside the clear lines of authority and obedience in most religious orders were two elements they all seemed to have in common.
“The first is that discernment and decision-making are the business of the whole body, not just of the few entrusted with governance. In his landmark October 2015 synod speech, Pope Francis quoted an ancient maxim: Quod omnes tangit, ab omnibus tractari et approbari debet (“what affects everyone should be discussed and approved by all”). And because, as St. Benedict notes in his seventh-century rule, God sometimes speaks through the youngest in the community, enabling participation means paying special attention to the timid edges, to the unlikely places, to those outside.
“The second is that this business of consultation and deliberation is not separate from the life of prayer but intrinsic to it. The habitus of community decision-making is attentive listening to others, straining for the whispers of the Spirit even in the mouths of people we resent or disagree with. It calls, therefore, for giving time to all, in equal measure, for speaking honestly and boldly but not hammering others with our views, for sitting in peaceful, open silence so that we can hear what words do not always say and can often conceal. Synodality requires us to understand that we do not possess the truth, but that sometimes, when we put aside our emotions and agendas, it possesses us, overflowing the narrow channels of our thinking.”
Francis is set to open a worldwide synod process. U.S. dioceses don’t seem prepared. / National Catholic Reporter
Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.National Catholic Reporter
“With about three weeks to go before Catholic prelates around the world are due to open a first-of-its-kind grassroots consultation period as part of an expanded vision for the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, church officials across the U.S. are still figuring out exactly what that process will look like.
“A range of dioceses contacted by NCR in recent weeks said they were still working out the details for the consultation period and would be in a better position to comment on the synod in coming weeks, after Pope Francis formally opens the two-year synod process with a ceremony in Rome on Oct. 9.
“Officials who agreed to interviews described plans that relied on parish listening sessions, online surveys, Zoom meetings and other avenues to get feedback from laity.
“‘It’s a great opportunity for me to learn and for bishops all over the world to develop better habits of consultation with our people,’ Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, told NCR …
“Francis announced in May that he would be expanding the scope of the next synod, originally set for 2022. He postponed the Vatican meeting of bishops, now set for October 2023, to allow first for periods of consultation in every local diocese and at the continental level.
“Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.”
By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Pope Francis wants every Catholic to have a say. Why haven’t US Catholics heard about it? / National Catholic Reporter
Success for bishops not focused on controlling power will be listening and honestly reporting the needs of the people.National Catholic Reporter
“Pope Francis’ plan is for ordinary Catholics to have their say. It begins with the coming synod, which opens in Rome on Oct. 9 and in every diocese in the world on Oct. 17.
“The problem: No one seems to know about it. The bigger problem: U.S. bishops don’t seem to care.
“It’s called ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ While Francis truly wants all Catholics to pray and talk about the needs of today’s church, his plan depends on diocesan participation. As the U.S. bishops fulminate over which Catholic politician can receive Communion, they’ve done little to plan for the worldwide discussion on the needs of the church. They were asked to get organized last May. They haven’t.
“Here’s how things are supposed to work. Last May, Rome asked every bishop for the name of the person managing his diocesan synodal process. The bishop then is to open his local synod Oct. 17, collect input from parishes, and report to his national episcopal conference.
By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
“A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar.”Commonweal
“The most far-reaching event in the Catholic Church in my lifetime officially gets its start next month. It is Pope Francis’s boldest move yet, the historic shake-up that a Church brought low by sex-abuse scandals badly needs, and potentially the most transformative moment in Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council, which it seeks to embed permanently into the life of the Church. The two-year “synod on synodality,” launched in Rome on October 9 and in dioceses worldwide a week later, is set to mark Christianity forever.
“Yet who knows it is even happening? A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar. Bishops briefed by Rome’s synod secretariat back in May have been mostly quiet about it, hiding behind cautious communiqués buried on websites, awaiting details, fearful of unleashing forces and expectations beyond their command.
“So we begin with a paradox. The path to the 2023 Synod in Rome, on the theme “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission,” is designed to engage every diocese, every bishops’ conference, and every continental Church body. It will unleash the biggest popular consultation in history. It will require, as never before, the assembly of the People of God, in mass meetings at parishes and across dioceses around the world, who are being given “the ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received,” in the words of the Preparatory Document released last week.”
By Austen Ivereigh, Commonweal — Read more …
Click here to read the Vatican news release announcing the 2023 Synod and to see list of links to Vatican and Voice of the Faithful resources to help understand the Synod.
Women deacons’ commission to hold first meeting
“Almost two years since Pope Francis announced he would be re-forming a commission on the female diaconate, The Tablet can report it is due to hold its first meeting in Rome in the middle of next month(link is external). The gathering of the commission comes just ahead of the launch of a global synod process which will bring lay people, priests and bishops in local churches together to discern new pastoral priorities. Women deacons are sure to be on the agenda … Pandemic permitting, members are expected in Rome for a week of discussions beginning on 13 September.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet
- New women deacons commission to meet with unclear agenda(link is external), By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter
He blew the whistle on the Catholic Church in 1985. Why didn’t we listen?
“In May 1985, Jason Berry, a Catholic journalist in Louisiana, wrote his first piece on child sexual abuse in the church, for the National Catholic Reporter and the Times of Acadiana. Mr. Berry called himself a ‘reluctant muckraker,’ but his exposé on the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe would prove to be only the first in a series of exhaustive investigations over the years, including his 1992 book, ‘Lead Us Not Into Temptation.’ Mr. Berry appeared on national television programs … so why did it take another decade or more for this scandal to truly break?(link is external)” By Ben Proudfoot, The New York Times
A paradigm-shifting lectionary for the whole church
“Reviewing the Rev. Wil Gafney’s new A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church (Church Publishing) has filled me with gratitude and delight. This long-awaited resource is a rare combination of impeccable scholarship and pastoral usability. A Hebrew and rabbinic scholar and professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School, Gafney also happens to be an Episcopal priest who preaches regularly. In the introduction to the new Lectionary she asks: What does it look like to tell the Good News through the stories of women(link is external) who are often on the margins of scripture and often set up to represent bad news? How would a lectionary centering women’s stories, chosen with womanist and feminist commitments in mind, frame the presentation of the scriptures for proclamation and teaching?” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter
Catholics aren’t disappointed—they’re exasperated
“My ministry focuses on speaking and writing about race and sexuality. Lately, in discussions after online lectures or webinars, I hear the following questions and comments with increasing frequency: “How can I remain a member of the church?”(link is external) “I don’t know how long I can stay.” “Why should I stay in the church?” “My kids/friends/relatives have left, and I don’t know what to tell them.” “Why would a gay or lesbian person stay Catholic?” “If the church doesn’t value or care about Black Catholics, why stay?” By Father Bryan Massingale, U.S. Catholic
Vatican exonerates Brooklyn Bishop accused of sexual abuse
“The Vatican has concluded that allegations of sexual abuse dating back a half century against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn do ‘not have the semblance of truth(link is external),’ but an attorney for the accusers said they will continue to pursue their civil cases. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said Wednesday that the Vatican has closed its investigation into allegations made separately by two men, who accused the Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of abusing them a half century ago when he was a priest in New Jersey.” By Bobby Caina Calvan, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com
Expert says Poland experiencing a sea change on clerical abuse
“In the past year, 10 bishops in Poland have been removed from their positions and sanctioned by the Vatican(link is external), with the papal representative in the country openly acknowledging the reason – in most cases, cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. This quick succession of sanctions comes after decades of denying any wrongdoing on the part of Polish priests and religious regarding clerical sexual abuse, and it reflects a change in mentality among at least some within the bishops’ conference, who requested the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to organize a conference for Church leadership in Central and Eastern Europe in Warsaw.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com
Pope replaces Australian bishop in alleged misconduct probe
“Pope Francis on Saturday (Aug. 29) replaced an Australian bishop who stepped down amid a Vatican investigation into what Australian media have described as allegations of sexual misconduct(link is external). The Vatican said Francis accepted Bishop Christopher Alan Saunders’ resignation as head of the Broome diocese in Western Australia state. Francis appointed another prelate, Bishop Michael Henry Morrissey of the Geraldton diocese, to temporarily administer the sprawling Catholic diocese in Broome.” By Associated Press
Vatican punishes Polish archbishop for sex abuse negligence
“Catholic Church authorities in Poland say the Vatican is punishing a retired Polish archbishop for his alleged negligent response to cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergymen under his authority(link is external). The Archdiocese of Wroclaw said the Vatican had reviewed reports of alleged negligence by the diocese former head, the retired archbishop Marian Golebiewski. The probe covered the years from 1996 to 2004, when Golebiewski was head of the Koszalin diocese, and 2004 to 2013, when he led the Wroclaw archdiocese. As a result, the Vatican has banned Golebiewski, 83, from appearing at any public religious or lay ceremonies and has ordered him to donate from his own pocket to a foundation preventing sexual abuse and supporting its victims. He is also to pray and repent.” By Associated Press
FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION
A radical shift away from a church with inflexible laws
“With the culmination of the Root and Branch Inclusive Synod in Bristol less than a month away, Sept. 5-12, there are early indications that the so-called ‘Bristol Text’ will be both deeply reflective and challenging to the current bishops’ position. The text will include brief, accessible statements on liturgical ministry, diversity, moral theology, and authority, backed by papers giving it historical and theological depth. Four international teams of distinguished theologians, jurists and thinkers, both lay and religious, have been meeting to consider the results of the synod’s year-long ‘journey of discernment(link is external).’” By Jon Rosebank, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter
If US church is to become synodal, we have a lot of work to do
“On Monday (Aug. 23), NCR published an interview with theologian Rafael Luciani, conducted by his Boston College colleague Hosffman Ospino. The two discussed synodality, which has emerged as one of the most important reform efforts that Pope Francis is trying to bring to the universal church. Luciani, who is a theological adviser to the Synod of Bishops, did a fine job explaining what synodality is and why we should all be excited about it. Now for the bad news. There is very nearly nothing about the Catholic Church in the United States that prepares us to engage synodality with the kind of fulsome embrace it requires(link is external). We — the bishops, the clergy, religious, theologians and the lay faithful — all have a lot of work to do.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
CLAR assembly was expression of synodality for thousands of religious from the Americas
“The virtual assembly for the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious was a three-day study in what it means for a modern religious life to be intercongregational, intercultural and itinerant(link is external). It was also a demonstration of those three values in real time. If done in person, the triennial gathering would have included dozens of religious leaders from each country’s religious conference traveling to a Central or South American city to meet in person and share side conversations and laughs between presentations, with a late-night cultural celebration as the weekend’s intermission.” By Soli Salgado, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
A closer look at synodality and its promise for a more inclusive church
“My colleague Rafael Luciani is one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of synodality, the experience of ‘walking together’ rooted in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council(link is external) that Pope Francis has called on the Catholic Church to embrace. Luciani, a native of Venezuela, serves as a theological expert for the regional Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and the Confederation of Latin American Religious (CLAR). He is also one of three Latin American theologians invited as expert advisers for the theological commission of the secretariat for the next Synod of Bishops.” By Hosffman Ospino, National Catholic Reporter
- Francis widens scope of next synod: diocesan, continental phases before Vatican event(link is external), By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
- Q & A with Sr. Nathalie Becquart: Upcoming synod could ‘turn a clerical church into a synodal church,(link is external)‘ By Elisabeth Auvillain, National Catholic Reporter
Pope addresses Vatican reforms aimed at curbing corruption, abuse
“While financial reforms in the Vatican are progressing steadily, cases involving corruption and malfeasance in the Eternal City are ‘a disease that we relapse into,’ Pope Francis said. In a wide-ranging interview broadcast Sept. 1 by COPE, the Spanish radio station owned by the Spanish bishops’ conference, Pope Francis said changes made in the Vatican’s financial laws have allowed prosecutors to ‘become more independent’ in their investigations(link is external). ‘Let’s hope that these steps we are taking … will help to make these events happen less and less,’ he said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis is tearing the Catholic Church apart
“In the summer of 2001, I drove up to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to find what we called ‘the traditional Latin Mass,’ the form of Roman Catholic worship that stretched back centuries and was last authorized in 1962(link is external), before the Second Vatican Council changed everything. Back then, conservative Catholics called people who sought it out ‘schismatics’ and ‘Rad Trads.’ The Mass-goers there weren’t exactly a community; we were a clandestine network of romantics, haters of Pope John Paul II, people who had been jilted by the mainstream church and — I believe — some saints.” By Michael Brendan Dougherty, Pittsburgh Gazette
Church investigation into Libasci allegations underway
“The Boston archbishop has launched a church investigation into allegations that New Hampshire Bishop Peter Libasci groped an altar boy(link is external) decades ago, the archdiocese signaled last week. In an email, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston said the matter has been referred to the Washington-based apostolic nuncio, which is the point of contact between American dioceses and the Vatican. The referral follows a 2019 change in church law that governs how claims of abuse against bishops are handled, according to Terrance Dillon, a spokesman for the archdiocese.” By Mark Hayward, New Hampshire Union Leader
Vatican orders retired Polish archbishop to life of prayer, penance
“A retired Polish archbishop has been ordered to lead a life of prayer and penance, which includes a ban on taking part in any public celebrations(link is external) — both secular and religious, according to Vatican News and international media. The sanctions against Archbishop Marian Golebiewski, 83, the retired archbishop of Wroclaw and a former bishop of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, came after a Vatican investigation looked into alleged negligence in handling allegations of abuse against minors by priests under his authority. The official announcement was published on the archdiocese’s website Aug. 21.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Seminarian immersion program yields a harvest of pastoral experience
“When his alarm buzzes at 3 a.m., Daniel Sanchez prepares for a day in the fields alongside migrants who pick cherries and apples in Yakima, Washington, a central valley community known as the nation’s fruit basket. The 25-year-old isn’t one of the thousands of mostly Mexican workers who labor under an unforgiving sun that earlier this summer scorched this region with temperatures rising above 100 degrees. Sanchez is a seminarian in the Yakima Diocese, where all men studying to be priests are not only expected to study theology, philosophy and biblical exegesis, but also spend part of their summer learning from and ministering to migrants(link is external). Sanchez has done work as varied as pruning grape vines, sorting cherries and helping the migrants’ children learn to read English.” By John Gehring, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis appoints Italian Sister Alessandra Smerilli as interim secretary to the Vatican dicastery for human development
“Pope Francis has made some surprising decisions that could be the prelude to a major shake-up of the Vatican dicastery for integral human development. He has appointed Sister Alessandra Smerilli, 46, an Italian woman religious and economist, as ‘interim secretary’ of this important dicastery, the Vatican announced today (Aug. 26). The appointment makes Sister Smerilli the highest ranking woman in the Roman Curia and the first woman to hold such a senior-level post in the Roman Curia(link is external). The dicastery has been headed by the Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson since Jan. 1, 2016, when it was first established through the merger of four pontifical councils.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
Former priest sentenced to 33 months in prison for stealing nearly $250,000 from Northeast Ohio parishes
“A former priest was sentenced Tuesday (Aug. 31) to 33 months in prison for looting nearly $250,000 from the accounts of three Northeast Ohio parishes(link is external), one of which closed soon after his thefts. Andrey Kovalenko, 53, pleaded guilty in May to 10 counts of mail fraud. Federal investigators said he stole from the churches’ accounts from May 2014 through July 2018, and pocketed the money for himself.” By John Caniglia, Cleveland.com
Court orders Catholic cardinal to face trial for land sales
“Catholic officials in Asia and beyond should pay attention to the court case against Cardinal George Alencherry in Kerala, a tiny state in southern India. Early in August, while upholding the verdicts of two lower courts, the Kerala High Court ordered Cardinal Alencherry to face trial for the sale of various holdings of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese(link is external) four years ago.” By Christopher Joseph, Catholic News Service, in The Tablet
Vatican’s former finance guru resigns from post at Swiss bank
“Just weeks after being indicted by the Vatican on charges of abuse of office over a shady London real estate deal(link is external), Swiss lawyer René Brülhart has resigned from his post on the board of a Swiss bank. However, Brülhart has insisted that his decision has nothing to do with the Vatican trial, but was made for other reasons.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS
German bishop is skeptical about exempting priests from celibacy
“A German bishop who co-chairs the Synodal Path’s forum on priests said he is ‘skeptical’ about exempting Catholic priests from celibacy(link is external). Bishop Felix Genn of Münster said he accepted that people were deciding not to become priests because they did not feel called to celibacy, adding: ‘Perhaps they will then choose another profession in the church.’” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review
FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
Breaking the Spell: What the Church’s critics miss
“Earlier this month, the New York Times devoted the entire Letters to the Editor section of its ‘Sunday Review’ to current controversies in the Catholic Church(link is external) (‘Where Does the Catholic Church Go From Here?’). The letters were all written in response to two columns, one by the Times’s conservative Catholic columnist Ross Douthat (‘The Ungovernable Catholic Church’) and the other by Matthew Walther (This is Why America Needs Catholicism’). Walther is the editor of the Lamp, a new Catholic bimonthly journal, and a contributing editor at the American Conservative.” By Paul Baumann, Commonweal
- Where does the Catholic Church go from here?(link is external) By The New York Times Letters to the Editor
- The Ungovernable Catholic Church(link is external), By Ross Douthat, The New York Times
- This Is Why America Needs Catholicism(link is external), By Matthew Walther, The New York Times
Catholics deserve better homilies. Here are my top 5 tips for fellow preachers.
“‘This semester I’m taking a class on preaching. Out of curiosity, what are some of your pet peeves when hearing someone preach?’ (Tweet from Brother Vince Mary, O.F.M.) … The fact is, Catholics have lots of great advice for their priests. Here, with all the humility you might expect of a Jesuit, is my own list of top five suggestions for Catholic preachers today(link is external), as collated from the online responses to Brother Vince Mary’s tweet and my own life.” By Jim McDermott, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review
We’ve come a long way
“Just as many Catholic traditionalists were lamenting Rome’s new restrictions on the Tridentine Mass, I came across a prescient cri de Coeur written by a Catholic priest and published anonymously in the pages of the Atlantic back in 1928. To read it is to be reminded that some things never seem to change in the Catholic Church, while other things have changed a great deal, thanks be to God … As bleak as things looked to the good father back in 1928, I find his words now inspiring, precisely because they come from an era that today’s reactionaries yearn to return to,(link is external) blind as they are to the deficiencies of the religious formalism they idolize. This contemporaneous account of that era reminds us just how important the reforms of the past hundred years have been to ordinary Catholics.” By John W. Farrell, Commonweal
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Gwen Moore Announce Legislation to Encourage States to End Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse
“Last week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) announced the No Time Limit for Justice Act, a bill that incentivizes states to eliminate their statute of limitations for criminal prosecution and civil suits involving child sexual abuse(link is external). According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every nine minutes a child is sexually abused in the United States, but only twelve percent of these cases are reported to authorities each year. Studies have shown that the discrepancies in underreporting of minor sexual abuse can be largely attributed to the fact that a majority of child victims do not reveal their abuse until later in life, if at all.” By Sierra Sun Times
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
The challenge of sexual abuse: What has happened since the February 2019 Summit
“In February 2019, Pope Francis invited the presidents of every episcopal conference to the Vatican for a Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church to address the issue of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. A similar meeting focusing on the region of Central and Eastern Europe will take place in Warsaw from September 19-22(link is external). In this article, Fr Federico Lombardi puts this regional meeting into the context of the Church journey thus far.” By Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican News
‘No recourse’: Abuse survivors have fewer legal options after Child Victims Act expires
“With the deadline to file lawsuits under New York’s Child Victims Act expiring last Saturday (Aug. 14), attorneys representing some of the survivors of sexual abuse say victims now have fewer paths for their stories to be heard in court(link is external). The Child Victims Act temporarily suspended the state’s time limit on civil lawsuits filed for sexual abuse claims when it was signed into law in 2019. Its deadline was extended by a year in August 2020, largely because of the pandemic.” By Fernando Alb, Press-Republican
Other case against priest charged with sex crimes heads to circuit court
“A former priest accused of sexually abusing boys more than 40 years ago waived his right to a preliminary exam in Southfield’s 50th District Court on Thursday (Aug. 26), which sends the case to Oakland County Court for possible trial. Gary Berthiaume, 80, who served at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Parish in Farmington and elsewhere, is charged with two counts of gross indecency between males – committing/procuring(link is external). He also faces charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct that allegedly happened in Farmington. Berthiaume waived his right to a preliminary exam for those charges last month.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press
Audit finds diocese in full compliance with sex abuse Charter
“An audit conducted in July found the Diocese of Honolulu in full compliance with the U.S. bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,’ the set of procedures the bishops established in 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. A letter dated Aug. 11 to Bishop Larry Silva from StoneBridge Business Partners Inc., the independent third-party organization contracted by the U.S. bishops to conduct diocesan audits, stated that ‘the Diocese has been found compliant with all audited Articles within the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ for the audit period of July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2021(link is external).’” By Patrick Downes, Hawaii Catholic Herald
Christian Brothers order sued by George Brignac victim; says it could have saved kids from sex abuse
“Though serial child molester and former Catholic deacon George Brignac has been dead for more than a year, the legal fallout from how local church officials handled one of the area’s most notorious clerical predators continued to unfold last week(link is external). A man who alleged he was raped as a boy by Brignac decades ago filed a lawsuit for damages against the Christian Brothers order, arguing that the organization should have stopped Brignac from ever becoming a deacon.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas and David Hammer, NOLA.com
Three men face multiple felony charges for child trafficking in Sault Ste. Marie
“Three men face multiple felony charges in Sault Ste. Marie in connection to child trafficking. According to the Chippewa County Sheriff’s department, among the three arrested on Sunday (Aug. 22) during a ‘ghost’ operation was 37-year-old Aaron Nowicki who is a non-practicing catholic priest. Nowicki is from Cheboygan but works in Sault Ste. Marie. According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette, Nowicki resigned and was removed from ministry in 2019 because of allegations of serious, but not criminal, sexual misconduct with a vulnerable adult(link is external).” By Jacqueline Agahigian, WLUC-TV6 News
Camden diocese faces wave of clergy sex-abuse claims
“The Diocese of Camden faces 345 new claims of alleged clergy sex abuse as part of its ongoing bankruptcy case(link is external), according to attorneys involved in the dispute. The claims are currently in the early stage of a mediation process while the two sides also battle in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said lawyers for clergy accusers. ‘An accurate accounting and inventory of all cases will be required before any meaningful settlement discussions can be undertaken,’ said John Baldante, a Haddonfield attorney who filed 70 of the claims.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post
Seeking accountability: Las Cruces woman says she was raped by priest as a child
“Rose Wiseman grew up in the Roman Catholic Church. She’d attend Mass at Our Lady of Health Parish on Mesquite Street with her grandmother, and her mother would take her to bingo night there. The church served as the hub of her community. She no longer believes in God, and no longer trusts those in authority. ‘I was forced to keep a secret for a long time,’ she told the Sun-News last week. ‘And I’m just not going to do it anymore(link is external).’” By Damien D. Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News
Bishop Salvatore Matano issues a Letter to the Faithful
“My dear brothers and sisters in Christ: On September 12th of this year it will be two years since the Diocese filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in order to address in the best and fairest manner possible the now approximately 475 claims(link is external) (this is the number of claims, not the number of persons accused) brought against the Diocese by the survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy, religious and laity.” By Bishop Salvatore Matano in Diocese of Rochester Catholic Courier
Father Varno withdraws from public ministry
“In light of allegations of sexual abuse that were first reported in a Child Victims Act (CVA) case(link is external), Father John ‘Jack’ Varno, a retired priest in the Diocese of Albany who serves as a sacramental minister in several parishes, has voluntarily withdrawn from public ministry while the case moves forward. The decision is effective immediately. While on leave, Father Varno will not publicly officiate at sacraments, wear clerical garb, or present himself as a priest. Father Varno maintains his innocence but has made the decision for the good of the parishes he serves and the Diocese.” By The Evangelist, the official publication of the Diocese of Albany
Former pastor, assistant pastor of St. Thomas accused of sexual abuse of children
“Rev. James Daley, a longtime pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle parish and who oversaw the renovations of the church that stands in the middle of town, was named in a summons of complaint filed in state Supreme Court in Albany County for alleged sexual abuse(link is external). Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger announced today that he has asked the independent Diocesan Review Board to offer advisement on the following clergy, each of whom has an allegation of child sexual abuse filed against him through the Child Victims Act.” By Michael Hallisey, SpotlightNews.com
Priest accused of sex abuse worked in Coxsackie
“A priest accused of sexual abuse under the Child Victims Act(link is external) formerly was assigned to a Coxsackie church, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany said. The diocese released a statement Aug. 21 announcing that the Rev. Gregory Weider, 84, is on administrative leave following an allegation of sexual abuse. Weider had retired from full-time ministry in 2010 but had been working as Sacramental Minister at Sacred Heart in Margaretville and its mission, St. Anne’s in Andes. Weider had worked at St. Mary’s in Coxsackie from October 1977 to March 1982, the diocese said.” By Sam Raudins, Columbia-Greene Media
Another retired priest on leave; served in Schenectady, Amsterdam
“Retired Roman Catholic priest Father Gregory Weider was temporarily removed from public ministry, effective Aug. 14, by Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, prelate of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, according to a statement issued by the diocese Saturday (Aug. 21). Weider, 84, was put on leave due to the filing of a sexual abuse-related allegation against him under the Child Victims Act(link is external), according to the release. The law included a one-year look-back window that allowed victims from 1970 and prior to sue, and was extended through Aug. 14 of this year due to the pandemic. The clergyman has been serving as a sacramental minister at Sacred Heart in Margaretville and its mission church, St. Anne’s in Andes, both in Delaware County.” By The Daily Gazette Staff Report
Buffalo Catholic Diocese substantiates abuse allegations against 7 priests, 1 unsubstantiated
“A Buffalo Catholic priest has been assigned to ‘permanent administrative leave’ and is restricted from practicing priestly duties after the diocese’s Independent Review Board ‘substantiated’ an allegation of abuse(link is external). Fr. Donald J. Lutz was ordained in 1970 and has served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Buffalo and St. Leo the Great in Amherst, according to Horowitz Law, which is representing sexual abuse victims. ‘Reverend Lutz will also be subject to the monitoring program recently implemented by Bishop Fisher for clergy with substantiated abuse claims,’ according to the diocese.” By Marian Hetherly, WBFO-FM 88.7 National Public Radio
- Lawsuits identify 230 priests as molesters, including 8 of WNY’s most-accused abusers,(link is external) By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News
Northeast Ohio man says Catholic diocese apathetic to his sexual abuse claims
“To a 13-year-old Catholic boy, it was a high honor. Especially for the wide-eyed boy named Jim Shackleton. Standing at the St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Parish altar alongside the priest, Jim finally felt special — chest out, chin up, and dressed in his black robe and white smock … ‘He would always have me go downstairs to the bottom part of the church and that’s where the sexual acts would happen(link is external),’ he said. ‘That’s how Father Rupp was able to get his hands on me…because I was working as an altar boy.’” By Phil Trexler and Rachel Polansky, WKYC-TV3 News
Father Drew case returns to court Monday
“The case of a Cincinnati-area priest accused of raping a 10-year-old altar boy(link is external) three decades ago returns court Monday (Aug. 23). This is expected to be the final hearing before Father Geoff Drew’s trial starts Oct. 25. Drew, 59, has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape. He remains at the Hamilton County jail in lieu of $5 million bond and faces life in prison if convicted.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX-TV19 News
Sex abuse case against Portsmouth Abbey, former teacher can move forward, judge rules
“A judge ruled a lawsuit levied by a 24-year-old New Mexico woman against Portsmouth Abbey School and a former teacher there may continue(link is external), despite a motion by the defendants last week to have the case dismissed. The woman, identified in the lawsuit as ‘Jane Doe,’ was a 15-year-old student at the Abbey in 2012 when Michael Bowen Smith, a humanities instructor then in his 40s, began a sexual relationship with her, according to the complaint. She said the school was negligent in failing to protect her ‘from the known or suspected abuse by Bowen Smith.” By Laura Damon and Sean Flynn, The Newport Daily News
Report recommends actions for Gonzaga to move past Catholic Church sexual abuse crisis
“Formalizing protocol to ensure sexually abusive Jesuits are prohibited from missioning at Gonzaga University(link is external) is one of around two dozen formal actions a commission has recommended for the university to move past the Catholic Church’s abuse crisis. The recommendations, outlined in a report released Wednesday, were made to Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh, who formed the 12-member commission in April 2019 as the university faced criticism for allowing sexually abusive priests to live on campus.” By Greg Mason, The Spokesman-Review
Survivors abused by ‘sadistic’ priest win compensation battle, but money ‘won’t change’ impact
“Two men who were abused by a pedophile priest in regional Victoria(link is external) in the 1960s have reached landmark settlement agreements with the Catholic Church. The two abuse survivors were abused by Father Bryan Coffey between 1965 and 1968 while he served as assistant priest in Port Fairy, in south-west Victoria. The ABC understands the settlements are the first to be made in relation to Coffey, but about a dozen other victims have begun legal proceedings to seek compensation for his actions.” By Matt Neal, ABC South West Vic
Book affirms ‘every child needs a fair go’
“A new book designed to teach children about protective behaviours(link is external) will be launched at Perth Archdiocese’s annual safeguarding breakfast next month. Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB will launch I am God’s Marvellous Creation, written for children aged 3 to 8 at the September 9 breakfast, which will coincide with National Child Protection Week, September 1-7. Andrea Musulin Perth Archdiocese’s safeguarding program director and author of the book, said this year’s Child Protection Week theme, ‘Every child in every community needs a fair go,’ was relevant ‘because not all children are receiving equal care and this is making child protection and the mission of safeguarding even more relevant in 2021.’ By CathNews.com
Saskatchewan priest committed to stand trial on sex charges
“A Saskatchewan Catholic priest charged with sexual offences against a minor(link is external) was committed to stand trial after a preliminary hearing in Humboldt last week. The Crown and defence consented to Father Anthony Tei Atter’s committal after the complainant testified on Aug. 9, defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle confirmed. Testimony heard during preliminary hearings is banned from publication to preserve an accused’s right to a fair trial. A trial date will eventually be set in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench.” By Bre McAdam, Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Former Prince George Catholic high school student alleges sexual abuse by teacher in ’90s
“A former student at O’Grady Catholic High School in Prince George has filed a civil suit alleging sexual abuse(link is external) in the early 1990s by a teacher who was a Christian brother. The student, now in his mid-40s and a medical technologist in Victoria, is named only as John Doe in the suit filed Aug. 16 in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George. The student’s alleged abuser is named in the court filing but Postmedia News is choosing not to publish his name as there has been no response in court to the allegations.” By Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun
Ex-Priest Who Operated East Timor Children’s Shelter Indicted for Sexual Abuse of Minors
“A former Catholic priest was indicted this week by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., for the alleged sexual abuse of children at a ‘shelter home’ he founded abroad(link is external). Richard Daschbach, 84, was on Thursday (Aug. 26) charged with seven counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor. Daschbach, a U.S. citizen, was originally from Pennsylvania but has resided in what is now known as Timor-Leste for more than 50 years. He founded the Topu Honis shelter in 1992. Since 2018, at least 15 of his alleged victims have accused him of sexually abusing them while they were children residing at the shelter.” By Aila Slisco, Newsweek
GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES
Tested in the fire – the whistleblower in the case of disgraced Cardinal O’Brien tells his story
“‘My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal.’ The quotation from Ecclesiasticus, which was read out at my ordination, has followed me my entire life. Its shadowy presence never leaves me. It never will. I know that now. And I do. I do aspire to serve the Lord. I might not be very good at it at times – but if ‘serving the Lord’ means living an authentic life and doing my very best then, Yes. That is what I try to do(link is external).” By Brian Devlin, The Tablet
Indian priest charged with rape, murder of nine-year-old girl
“A priest and three other men have been charged with the gang rape and murder of a low-caste nine-year-old girl(link is external), Indian police said, in a case that sparked days of protests in New Delhi. The girl was allegedly assaulted by the priest, 53, and three workers on August 1 after she had gone to a crematorium to fetch water. The four men, who have been in custody since they were detained in early August, face the death penalty.” By Agence France Press
Police chargesheet priest over minor’s molestation
“In a major development to the molestation of a minor allegedly by a priest in East Garo Hills last month(link is external), the district police has now filed a charge sheet against the accused following the completion of the investigation. The priest, Fr. James Parathanathu, had allegedly molested a 14-year-old girl at the latter’s residence while her parents had gone to work in their paddy fields. The parents of the girl had then they filed a police complaint after they came to know about the incident.” By The Shillong Times
Priest in Perugia arrested on charges of child porn, prostitution
“A Sicilian priest who has been serving in the Archdiocese of Perugia for nearly 10 years has been arrested on charges of child pornography and child prostitution(link is external) after allegedly paying for explicit images of minors sent via online chats. A native of Caltavuturo, near Palermo, Father Vincenzo Esposito, 63, has overseen a parish in the San Feliciano neighborhood of Magione, in the regional province of Perugia, since his appointment there in 2013.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
The General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops presents the base text and ‘vademecum’ – or handbook – to guide the journey of the Synod on Synodality. Listening without prejudice; speaking out with courage and parrhesia; dialoguing with the Church, with society, and with the other Christian confessions.Vatican News
“The General Secretariat for the Synod has published the Preparatory Document, along with a Vademecum (or handbook) to indicate the guiding principles that will direct the path of the Synod on Synodality. The solemn opening of the Synod will take place in Rome on October 9-10, and in the particular Churches on October 17; and will conclude in the Vatican in 2023 with the assembly of bishops from around the world.
“The Preparatory Document, released on Tuesday, is intended above all to be an instrument facilitating the first phase of listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular Churches, which will take place from October 2021 to April 2022.
“‘In other words,’ as the document says, ‘it constitutes a sort of construction site or pilot experience that makes it possible to immediately begin reaping the fruits of the dynamic that progressive synodal conversion introduces into the Christian community.'”
By Vatican News — Read more …
Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the once-powerful prelate who was expelled from the priesthood for sexual abuse, is due in court Friday to face accusations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception in Massachusetts nearly 50 years ago.
McCarrick, 91, is scheduled to be arraigned and is expected to enter a plea in suburban Boston’s Dedham District Court more than a month after he was charged. McCarrick is the only U.S. Catholic cardinal, current or former, ever to be criminally charged with child sex crimes.
McCarrick’s attorney, Barry Coburn, said after the charges were filed in July that they “look forward to addressing the case in the courtroom.”
McCarrick, who now lives in Dittmer, Missouri, faces three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, according to court documents. He can still face charges because he wasn’t a Massachusetts resident and had left the state, stopping the clock on the statute of limitations.
By Associate Press on Cruxnow.com — Read more …
In February 2019, Pope Francis invited the presidents of every episcopal conference to the Vatican for a Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church to address the issue of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. A similar meeting focusing on the region of Central and Eastern Europe will take place in Warsaw from September 19-22. In this article, Fr Federico Lombardi puts this regional meeting into the context of the Church journey thus far —
“The Church must confront the challenges present in today’s world, the most fundamental being the faith and the proclamation of the God of Jesus Christ, with all the grandiose cultural and anthropological transformations present. There are also specific challenges, however, that profoundly influence the life of the Church and its evangelizing mission. One of the most critical challenges that has emerged in the last few decades, is that of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. This has undermined the Church’s credibility and, therefore, its authority and its capacity of proclaiming the Gospel credibly. It has cast the shadow of inconsistency and insincerity over the Church as an institution, and on the entire community of the Church as a whole. This is indeed extremely serious.
“Over time and with experience, beginning with the sexual abuse of minors – which is the most serious – we have learned to broaden the perspective to include various aspects. Thus, today, we often speak of abuse suffered by ‘vulnerable’ persons. And we know the abuses sustained are not only sexual, but also abuse of power and conscience, as Pope Francis has often stated.”
By Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., Vatican News — Read more …