Archive for category VOTF Focus News Roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

October 20, 2021

TOP STORIES

Probe: Catholic Church in France had 3,000 child abusers
“An independent commission examining sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in France believes 3,000 child abusers — two-thirds of them priests — have worked in the church over the past 70 years(link is external). The estimate was given by the commission president, Jean-Marc Sauvé, in an interview published Sunday (Oct. 3) in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche. The commission has been investigating for 2 1/2 years. Its full findings are scheduled to be released on Tuesday. In the interview, Sauvé did not give a figure on the number of sex abuse victims but said the report does include a new estimate.” By Associated Press in The Boston Globe

The Catholic Church’s prayers for victims of sexual abuse are beginning to ring hollow.
“Early Tuesday (Oct. 5) morning, I opened my laptop to work. But first, I meandered over to Twitter, expecting to read a few comments on Krysten Sinema before diving into my Persian presentation. Instead, I started crying. I don’t cry easily. And these were not tears borne of sadness but of frustration(link is external). On Tuesday morning, an independent commission reported that priests and church workers in France have abused over 330,000 children over the past seven decades. As usual, the church too often turned a blind eye to the molestation.” By Valerie Pavilonis, America: The Jesuit Review

Australia’s grand experiment in synodality opens amid hopes, challenges
“Long before ‘synodality’ became the buzzword of this pontificate, and long before a world-wide summit on the topic was called for by Pope Francis that’s being described as his legacy, the Catholic Church in Australia was getting ready to launch its own major synodal moment. Called a ‘Plenary Council(link is external),’ it’s the first such gathering in Australia since 1937, and it will be celebrated across nine months, bookended by assemblies from October 3-10 and in July 2022.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

The Guardian view on sexual abuse and the Catholic church: contrition is not enough
“An investigation into pedophile priests in France reveals an institution in desperate need of reform – The findings of an inquiry into sexual abuse and pedophilia in the French Catholic church, published last week, are difficult to read and painful to contemplate. Over the past 70 years, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church found that at least 216,000 children were subjected to abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and members of religious orders. Sexual exploitation within the church and associated institutions, the commission stated, had been a ‘massive phenomenon.’ Beyond immediate family and friends, the prevalence of sexual violence in the church outstripped that in any other social environment(link is external).” By The Guardian Editorial Board

Catholic priests in France ‘must report abuse allegations heard in confession
Catholic priests must report all child sexual abuse allegations to police, including if they hear about it in the secrecy of the confession box, the French interior minister has said after reprimanding France’s top bishop for claiming that the secrecy of the Catholic confessional was ‘above the laws of the Republic.’ France is reeling from the publication last week of a devastating independent report which found that at least 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and lay members of church institutions over the past 70 years, and that the crimes were covered up in a ‘systemic way’ by the church.” By Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian

ACCOUNTABILITY

Philippine clerical child abusers must face civil courts
“The most important legislation needed worldwide is to cancel and revoke the legislation on the statute of limitations for crimes against children(link is external) and actively pursue legal action to bring the abusers to justice. The accused abusers can then hear the testimony of their victims and confess, repent, atone and accept penance in jail for abusing children.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, CathNews.com

As Catholic order fought sex abuse claims, secret trusts devoted to it poured millions into American rental properties
“Leaked files reveal nearly $300 million stashed overseas for the Legion of Christ in wake of Vatican investigation. Millions were invested with a corporate landlord that evicted struggling U.S. tenants during pandemic. – Soon after the Vatican announced in 2010 that it would seize the operations of the troubled order and launch a new investigation, high-profile Legion of Christ operatives began quietly setting up one of a trio of New Zealand trusts designed to hold money for the Legion. … These two trusts would come to hold nearly $300 million in assets devoted to the Legion of Christ at a time when victims of sexual abuse by its priests were seeking financial compensation(link is external) from the order through lawsuits and through a commission overseen by the Vatican.” By Spencer Woodman, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Judge: Newark Archdiocese can be held liable for McCarrick’s misconduct
“A New Jersey federal judge ruled this week that the Archdiocese of Newark can be held financially responsible for the abuse committed by Theodore McCarrick(link is external), a disgraced former cardinal. According to a report from the New York Post, District Court Judge Madeline Arleo found that the Newark archdiocese is ‘vicariously liable’ for McCarrick’s actions. According to the Legal Information Institute, ‘vicarious liability’ refers to liability that a supervisory party, such as an employer, bears for the actionable conduct of a subordinate or associate, such as an employee, based on the relationship between the two parties.” By Jonah McKeown, The Catholic Herald

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Explainer: So, what exactly is a synod?
“The global synodal process on ‘Communion, Participation, and Mission’ that the Catholic Church is undertaking over the next two years will formally kick off on Sunday, Oct. 10, with a Mass at the Vatican. It has been nicknamed the ‘synod on synodality’—a term that, despite Pope Francis’ efforts to popularize it, may still leave some scratching their heads. So what is ‘synodality,’ and why does the pope think it’s such a big deal?(link is external)” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Experts see synod as ‘biggest consultation exercise in human history’
“Though probably unbeknownst to most Catholics around the world, on Saturday (Oct. 9) Pope Francis officially opened a two-year global consultation process, all part of a Synod of Bishops on Synodality, which participants hope will help radically change the way the Catholic Church takes decisions. ‘My expectation is that a new way of doing things, which will allow us to see synodality being lived at every level of the Church, is now underway(link is external),’ Spaniard Carmen Peña Garcia, a synod participant, told Crux.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

In union with Pope Francis, Rochester Diocese opens Synod
“In union with Pope Francis, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano opened the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops Oct. 10(link is external) during the regularly scheduled 11:15 a.m. Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Pope Francis is convening the worldwide Synod under the theme ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ At the beginning of his homily, Bishop Matano explained that the Synod, which has three phases — diocesan, continental and universal — will conclude with the assembly of the Synod Bishops in Rome in October 2023.” By Gina Capellazzi, Catholic Courier

Pope Francis opens synod, encouraging church to master the ‘art of encounter’
Pope Francis on Oct. 10 officially launched the Vatican’s high-stakes, two-year synod process(link is external) in an opening Mass where he urged the global Catholic Church to master the ‘art of encounter’ … The Synod of Bishops, which emerged out of the Second Vatican Council, was designed in part to provide a mechanism for global church leaders to come to Rome to confront certain challenges in church life. Now its newly retooled model adds another component that begins with a listening stage with local churches at the diocesan level.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Utah Catholics ready to answer ‘revolutionary’ survey that will include church members on the fringes
Pope Francis wants to know what you think about the Catholic Church(link is external) — what it’s doing well, how it’s falling down, and where it should go in the future. By ‘you,’ the pontiff means people in the pews, people not in the pews, Christmas and Easter Catholics, former Catholics, priests, nuns, the laity, younger members, older members, non-Catholics and outside observers. Starting next week, the Vatican is launching a three-year synod on ‘communion, participation and mission’ — a program of ‘listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular churches.’” By Peggy fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune

How do we prepare for a synodal process? Start with the documents of Vatican II
“Nine days from now, Pope Francis will officially open a synodal process. As my colleague Brian Fraga reported on Wednesday (Sept. 29), you wouldn’t know much about it if you relied on the U.S. bishops’ conference(link is external). They have sent no directives to the nation’s bishops, no historical or theological reflections, no guidance, nada, niente. They have not amended their strategic priorities to reflect the start of this synodal process. And their last meeting was dedicated to figuring out how to justify a document on eucharistic coherence that no one needs and that Rome has indicated it does not want.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope to begin synodal process with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica
“The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will formally launch the process of the Synod of Bishops with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica(link is external). The Oct. 10 Mass, which officially open the synodal process, will be preceded by a day of reflection in the synod hall, the Vatican said in a statement published Oct. 1. The Oct. 9 day of reflection, the statement said, will include ‘representatives of the people God, including delegates of the bishops’ conferences and related bodies, members of the Roman Curia, fraternal delegates, delegates of consecrated life and ecclesial lay movements, the youth council, etc.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Italian cardinal becomes first red hat to stand trial at Vatican
“When the Vatican’s megatrial for financial crimes begins next week, one of the star figures will be Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former power-player in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State who is the first cardinal to be indicted by the small city-state(link is external). Set to open Oct. 5 after being postponed during an initial hearing over the summer, the trial involves a list of 10 people facing a variety of charges ranging from abuse of office to embezzlement, fraud, and corruption, among other things.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

High hopes for Synod of Bishops
“Participants in the two-year global consultation process for the Synod of Bishops on synodality hope the process will help radically change the way the Church takes decisions(link is external). ‘My expectation is that a new way of doing things, which will allow us to see synodality being lived at every level of the Church, is now underway,’ Spaniard Carmen Peña Garcia, a synod participant, said. ‘The Synod should not be reduced to this moment, these two years, because synodality is a call for co-responsibility and co-participation of the entire people of God in the life and mission of the Church, with baptism being the entry card,’ she said.” By CathNews.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Vatican: Theological Commission welcomes first-ever African woman
“Pope Francis has appointed 61-yesr-old Sister Dr. Josée Ngalula of the Democratic Republic of Congo as the first-ever African woman to be a member of the International Theological Commission(link is external). She is a member of the Sisters of Saint Andrew. Sister Ngalula will be part of a 28-member theological Commission that comprises theologians from all over the world.” By Muando Babualo and Vatican News English Africa Service

The Vatican still has a ‘patriarchal mindset’ — but women are challenging it.
“Women are rising to new heights in the Vatican, but there is still a long way to go before women’s voices and leadership are satisfactorily integrated in the Vatican(link is external). In this deep dive episode based on Colleen Dulle’s cover story in America Magazine’s October issue, Colleen and producer Maggi Van Dorn take a look inside the corporate culture of the Vatican to examine how things have been changing for women—and why it’s difficult to have conversations about women’s empowerment there.” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

VATICAN

Vatican-backed sex abuse research institute expands mandate
“The Catholic Church’s foremost research institute studying sexual abuse of minors is expanding its mandate to also include the sexual and spiritual abuse of adults(link is external), evidence of the Vatican’s increasing awareness that children aren’t the only victims of clergy who abuse their power and authority. The Rev. Hans Zollner, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers on abuse, said the institute’s broader scope reflects lessons from the #MeToo movement, the pope’s own recognition that nuns and seminarians can be abused by their superiors, and evidence that systemic and structural problems in the church have allowed abuse to fester.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Religion News Service

Europe court rejects case seeking to blame Vatican for abuse
“A European court agreed Tuesday (Oct. 12) that the Vatican couldn’t be sued in a local court for sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests, affirming that it enjoys sovereign immunity and that the misconduct of priests and their superiors can’t be attributed to the Holy See(link is external). The European Court of Human Rights dismissed a case brought by two dozen people who said they were victims of abusive priests in Belgium. The 24 had argued the Holy See was liable because of the ‘structurally deficient’ way the Catholic hierarchy had handled cases of priests who raped and molested children, covering up the crimes rather than reporting them.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Vatican Issues Acquittals in Sexual Abuse Case Involving Former Altar Boys
“A Vatican court on Wednesday (Oct. 6) acquitted a priest on sexual abuse charges(link is external) dating to when he and his accuser were teenage altar boys at a seminary within the Vatican walls. A second priest, the rector of the seminary at the time, was cleared of charges that he covered up the alleged abuses. Prosecutors claimed that the abuse began when the priest, the Rev. Gabriele Martinelli, now 29, and his accuser, who was identified only by his initials, L.G., were young teenagers, less than a year apart, living at a seminary and that it continued for five years. Father Martinelli was not a priest at the time, but he was ordained years later.” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

CHURCH REFORM

The quiet revolution of German Catholics
“Marcus Wolf is the pastor St. Gangolf Parish in the small, northern Bavarian city of Bamberg. The priest takes out the parish registry and turns to the section marked ‘Kirchenaustritt,’ a procedure to have one’s name struck from the baptismal rolls. It indicates that 32 parishioners left the Church in 2019. And it shows that 21 others have already done so this year. ‘I myself thought of leaving the Church(link is external),’ Wolf says, nonchalantly. ‘But I stayed. Partly to look after my parishioners.’” By Youna Rivallain, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

First Australian Catholic Church plenary council opens
“The first Australian Catholic Church Plenary Council since 1937 opened on Sunday (Oct. 3), with COVID-19 restrictions forcing the original Adelaide meeting – delayed by 12 months – largely online. The national meeting, involving 278 members across the country – including bishops, members of religious congregations and laypeople – is discussing a range of issues, including matters relating to the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse, euthanasia laws and women’s roles within the church.” By Peta McCartney, Sight Magazine

‘Change is difficult’: Cincinnati Archdiocese launches shakeup that reaches almost every parish
“The Archdiocese of Cincinnati on Friday launched one of the most ambitious reorganizations in its 200-year history, potentially changing when and where almost a half-million Catholics attend Mass, school and other activities connected to their faith(link is external). Known as Beacons of Light, the restructuring process will combine the archdiocese’s 208 parishes into 60 ‘families of parishes,’ which will begin sharing priests and resources as early as next year.” By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

VOICES

The hard truth of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is demoralizing. But we must confront it
“When Pope Francis met with the Archbishop of Paris and other French bishops at the end of September, he observed on the matter of the then-forthcoming report on sex abuse in the church of France: ‘Look the truth in the face.’ It is not only the hierarchy that is now doing so, but all of France, Catholic and otherwise(link is external). Indeed, the world has taken shocked notice. The Sauvé Report, an investigation commissioned by the French bishops in 2018 in the wake of a series of clerical sex abuse scandals, was issued on Oct. 5. The tremors of disbelief, outrage and horror continue to reverberate.” By Michael W. Higgins, The Globe and Mail

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

How does NC’s lookback window for child sex abuse compare to measures in other states?
“In 2019, North Carolina legislators unanimously passed the SAFE Child Act. The law included provisions intended to prevent child sexual abuse and to increase consequences for perpetrators and the institutions that shield them when children are harmed(link is external). One element of the legislation was a ‘lookback window,’ a two-year period where time-related restrictions on civil lawsuits brought by child sex abuse survivors would be lifted.” By Carli Brosseau, The News & Observer

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

CALIFORNIA

Diocese reveals more accusations of sexual abuse by former Northstate Catholic priests
“The Sacramento Diocese has revealed new allegations of sexual abuse by priests(link is external). The list includes six new allegations against five former priests, some of whom were assigned to churches in the Northstate in the past. These latest claims name five priests who had been previously accused of sexual misconduct against minors. Since the diocese revealed a list of accused priests in 2019, new victims have come forward alleging six additional instances of abuse involving five former priests.” By Kelli Saam, KRCR-TV7 News

COLORADO

Former Aspen priest accused of sexual abuse; archdiocese, local police open investigation
“Parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church were notified Saturday (Sept. 25) that a former priest has been accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) between 2004 and 2008, according to the Archdiocese of Denver. Rev. Michael O’Brien — who left St. Mary in mid-2011 — was immediately placed on administrative leave from his duties as pastor in the eastern Colorado towns of Julesburg and Crook, according to a letter to St. Mary’s parishioners dated Saturday, and an archdiocese spokesman said Wednesday (Sept. 29).” By Jason Auslander, The Aspen Times

INDIANA

Former Columbia City pastor charged
“A criminal investigation into charges of sexual misconduct with a minor by Father David Huneck(link is external), pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Columbia City, has resulted in the following charges being filed by the Whitley County Prosecuting Attorney Friday, Oct. 8 … Father Huneck, a priest of the diocese for three years, resigned from his position at the parish and from his role as co-chaplain of Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne after the allegation of misconduct received Sept. 19.” By Todays Catholic, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

KANSAS

Catholic Clergy Task Force continues investigation into Topeka priest child sexual abuse allegations
“A task force created in 2019 to fight reports of alleged abuse in the Kansas Catholic Clergy is continuing the investigation into a Topeka priest for allegations of the sexual abuse of a child(link is external). The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says its Catholic Clergy Task Force is currently investigating the allegations against the Topeka priest. Father John Pilcher, of Topeka’s Mater Dei Parish, has been accused of sexual abuse against a minor. The KBI said it formed the task force in 2019 after Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked it to investigate reports of abuse in the Kansas Catholic Clergy.” By Sarah Motter, WIBW-TV13 News

KENTUCKY

Louisville priest convicted of child abuse released from prison
“A Louisville priest convicted of abusing children(link is external) has been released from prison. Father Joseph Hemmerle was sentenced to nine years in prison for sexual abuse that happened in the 1970s. The Louisville priest was denied parole several times but Friday (Oct. 1), became eligible to be released into mandatory re-entry supervision. He will be monitored by a parole officer but he isn’t required to register as a sex offender. Hemmerle remains a priest.” By WDRB.com

LOUISIANA

Victim of alleged sexual abuse by a priest speaks out
“Three Acadiana men are speaking publicly for the first time about being repeatedly sexually abused, allegedly, by a local priest(link is external) when they were only 10 and 11 years old. And now in their 50’s, the men are coming forward with the allegations, hoping to find closure through a new law that went into effect earlier this summer, allowing adults who were victims as minors up to three years to file suit against accused offenders.” By Darla Montgomery, KLFY-TV10 News

NEW JERSEY

Camden diocese plan would offer $26 million for clergy sex abuse survivors
“The Diocese of Camden wants a federal bankruptcy judge to approve a plan that offers at least $26 million to about 300 victims of alleged clergy sex abuse(link is external). But attorneys for sex-abuse survivors say they’ll fight the proposal, arguing the diocese and a committee representing sex-abuse claimants remain far apart on financial and other issues.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

TENNESSEE

Lawsuit Alleges Catholic Diocese Of Nashville Missed Signs Of Sexual Abuse At Murfreesboro Church
“A lawsuit filed this week alleges the Catholic Diocese of Nashville and St. Rose of Lima Church failed to protect a child from a staff member’s sexual abuse(link is external). The suit claims that concerns about sexual misconduct were raised to the bishop of the diocese, the pastor of St. Rose and other officials for years, but no meaningful action was taken. The alleged perpetrator, Michael D. Lewis, was indicted in June 2020 on felony sex crime charges. He will be facing trial for those charges in February. Lewis had been the church’s director of religions education.” By Juliana Kim, WPLN-FM Nashville National Public Radio News

CANADA

Sask. court file reveals new details of Catholic Church compensation for residential school survivors
“A Saskatchewan judge has released files detailing the Roman Catholic Church’s controversial $79-million compensation deal for residential school survivors following a successful court application by CBC News and the Globe and Mail. This cache of documents, along with other internal papers obtained by CBC News in recent weeks, illustrates how Catholic officials, aided by a team of veteran lawyers, successfully fought years of federal government efforts to make them pay(link is external) the full amounts promised in the landmark 2005 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

FRANCE

An inquiry exposed sexual abuse within French Catholic Church — now what?
“‘The father took me to his tent and closed it,’ said the victim. ‘He kissed me on the lips, with his tongue. It was disgusting. He caressed me. I was petrified,’ the victim continued. ‘He taught me words I didn’t know — like masturbation and fellatio. I thought I need to respect him, he’s a priest. Plus, my parents really appreciate him.’ This was just one experience of many shared in a recent report that revealed the scale of abuse within the French Catholic Church(link is external). At least 216,000 children were abused by Catholic clerics in France since the 1950s, according to the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (CIASE).” By Deutsche Welle

GERMANY

German Catholic Bishop Suggests ‘Synodal Way’ is Using Abuse Crisis to Reshape Church
“A German Catholic bishop suggested this week that the country’s ‘Synodal Way’ is using the abuse crisis to reshape the Church on Protestant lines(link is external). Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg questioned why the German Catholic Church’s progress in tackling abuse was seldom acknowledged, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. He said: ‘The fact that interested parties now continue to pretend that nothing has actually happened so far … the peculiarities of the Catholic Church are systemically blamed for it, feeds my suspicion that the sexual abuse is being instrumentalized here in an attempt to reshape the Catholic Church along the lines of Protestant church orders, where ‘synod’ means something different than in the Catholic Church, namely a kind of church parliament.’” By Catholic News Agency Staff

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Sheffield bishop Ralph Heskett ‘failed to report priest who sexually abused altar boys’
“Bishop of Hallam Ralph Heskett is claimed to have known about a priest who preyed on altar boys in Liverpool but failed to report him to the police(link is external), with the culprit instead sent away to Scotland. It is alleged that Bishop Heskett, formerly parish priest at Bishop Eton in Childwall, Liverpool, was told about sex abuse by a priest at a Liverpool monastery but did not report him to the police.” By Neil Docking, The Star

Catholic Church in Scotland sets up abuse watchdog
“The Catholic Church in Scotland is setting up an independent watchdog to deal with abuse complaints against members of the clergy(link is external). The move follows a number of sex scandals where the church was accused of failing to respond to concerns. The church said the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (SCSSA) would produce ‘consistency, transparency and accountability.’ It will operate as an independent private company.” By BBC News

Scots priest abused boys in Liverpool but was sent home after parent spoke out
“A Scots priest abused young altar boys in Liverpool – but was simply sent back home to Scotland after a parent made a complaint about him(link is external). Father Thomas MacCarte allowed the boys to smoke cannabis and drink alcohol so he could sexually abuse them. One of MaCarte’s victims thought the priest was ‘cool’ for letting them hang out in his room, reports Liverpool Echo. However, there was ‘another side’ to MacCarte, from Glasgow, who preyed on children at Bishop Eton Monastery in Woolton Road, Liverpool. Liverpool Crown Court heard how the pervert made one teenage boy watch gay porn, before performing a sex act on him twice.” By Neil Docking and Chloe Burrell, Daily Record

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Irish diocese’s plan to redress abuse criticized for payment caps
“Clerical abuse survivors and their advocates are criticizing a new redress scheme in a Northern Irish diocese that has placed a cap on payments for victims(link is external). They say that while the scheme offers to pay about $106,000 to individual survivors, from a total purse of some $3.4 million, limiting the compensation was insensitive and unjust. Some suggest the scheme from the Dromore Diocese would likely suit victims of potential grooming, but are advising other survivors to avoid using it.” By Sahm Venter, National Catholic Reporter

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church knew of previous complaint against teen-grooming priest
“A priest convicted of grooming a teenage girl to send him nude photos(link is external) was the subject of a previous complaint that was covered up by the Tongan Catholic Church. The victim’s aunt and an abuse survivors’ group said it showed the church should have prevented Sosefo Sateki Raass’ offending. The Tongan church gave Raass a good character reference before he moved to Auckland, where he was convicted in 2019 of indecent communication with a person under 16 and subsequently quit the priesthood.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff.co.nz

PHILIPPINES

No more impunity for child rapists in the Philippines
“The historic bill providing for a life sentence for a convicted child abuser will serve as a powerful deterrent(link is external). The Philippine Senate has finally approved the final draft of a law that is vital to the protection of children and the prosecution of child rapists who were committing the crime with impunity.” By UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 6, 2021

TOP STORIES

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

BISHOPS

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

PRIESTS

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

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

VOICES

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

CALIFORNIA

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

HAWAII

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

LOUISIANA

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

MICHIGAN

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

NEW JERSEY

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

NEW MEXICO

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

NEW YORK.

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

OHIO

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

RHODE ISLAND

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

WASHINGTON, D.C.

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

AUSTRALIA

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

CANADA

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

EAST TIMOR

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

INDIA

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

ITALY

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

August 23, 2021

TOP STORIES

Overdue Justice for Sexual Abuse Survivors: States Repeal Statutes of Limitations Throughout the Country
“For the first time in history, one in five victims of child sexual abuse victims in the U.S. have a chance to file civil lawsuits to seek justice and publicly expose those who committed or concealed the crimes against them(link is external). ‘Never before have so many suffering survivors had an opportunity to protect others by naming child molesters and uncovering cover ups of these horrors in court,’ said survivor and advocate Joelle Casteix of Orange County, Calif. For decades, what advocates call ‘archaic, arbitrary and predator-friendly’ statutes of limitations have prevented such litigation, because victims have been required to step forward usually in their 20s—far sooner than most are capable of, according to most research.” By David Clohessy, MsMagazine.com

More Clergy Abuse Is Finally Being Prosecuted, No Thanks To The Church, A Lawyer Says
“At the height of his career, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was one of the most influential leaders of the Catholic Church in the U.S., heading the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. Last week, he became the first U.S. Cardinal to be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, making the 91-year-old the highest-ranking Catholic Church official in the country to face criminal charges for clergy sexual abuse … Mitchell Garabedian spoke to All Things Considered’s Mary Louise Kelly about whether he’s seen progress in the way the U.S. justice system has prosecuted these cases, if there’s difficulty in building a defense against allegations that may be decades old and if the Church itself has begun to take meaningful action to end systemic abuse(link is external).” By Mary Louise Kelly, National Public Radio

Report shows that Catholic Church Spent Millions Meant For Residential School Survivors
“The Roman Catholic Church has spent millions of dollars intended to compensate residential school survivors on lawyers(link is external), administration and private fundraising, according to documents obtained by CBC News. The other churches involved in the landmark 2005 residential schools compensation agreement — Anglican, United and Presbyterian — paid the full amount of compensation owed without any issues.” By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News

NY let childhood sex abuse victims sue; 9,000 went to court
“For two years, New York temporarily set aside its usual time limit on civil lawsuits in order to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue churches, hospitals, schools, camps, scout groups and other institutions and people they hold responsible for enabling pedophiles or turning a blind eye to wrongdoing. That window closes Saturday (Aug. 14), after more than 9,000 lawsuits were filed, a deluge whose impact may be felt for many years(link is external). Four of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy partly as a result of litigation unleashed by the state’s Child Victims Act. Thousands of new allegations against priests, teachers, scout leaders and other authorities have intensified the already harsh light on institutions entrusted with caring for children.” By Michael Hill, Religion News Service

Church Meets World from America: The Jesuit Review
This is where the Catholic Church meets the most interesting and consequential issues of our time. Each episode explores a different topic through immersive stories told by America’s editors. “Church Meets World” is the best of our award-winning magazine content reimagined in podcast form. It’s not only what you read in our pages but how you hear it. Presented by Maggi Van Dorn and Sebastian Gomes. In this episode: What Catholics still don’t understand about the clergy sexual abuse crisis(link is external).

  • Deliver Us(link is external) – The ‘Deliver Us’ podcast asks: Will the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis ever end? By America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Brazilian bishop resigns after inappropriate video goes viral
“Bishop Tomé Ferreira da Silva of São José do Rio Preto resigned after a video of him exposing himself on an internet call went viral on social media Aug. 13. The resignation was accepted by Pope Francis and the Brazilian bishops’ conference Aug. 18. Archbishop Moacir Silva of Ribeirão Preto was appointed apostolic administrator of the diocese. A local paper, Diário da Região, reported that the bishop confirmed that he was the one who appears on the video but declined to comment on the case.” By Lise Alves, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania still looking for justice 3 years after report
“Saturday (Aug. 140 marks the third anniversary of a landmark grand jury report that found Catholic church leaders in Pennsylvania covered up rampant sexual abuse involving hundreds of priests and at least 1,000 victims. Thirteen states and Washington D.C. have since made it easier for victims to file civil suits. But in Pennsylvania, many are still waiting for their day in court(link is external) … In a statement to CBS News, Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said the state’s constitution differs from others, and that legal experts suggest a statutory window there may be unconstitutional.” By Nikki Battiste, CBS News

Detention in church houses proposed for abuser priests
Voluntary lifelong detention in church-run houses could be the best way of dealing with priest abusers(link is external), according to Fr Hans Zollner SJ, president of the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) at the Gregorian University. It was all-important to control and guide sex abusers and “to define exactly what they may and may not do, whom they may and may not meet and how they use the internet”, Zollner explained in an interview with ORF religion, the religious affairs program of the Austrian state broadcasting corporation on 31 July.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

New Mexico diocese to sell off properties in online auction
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe will be auctioning nearly 140 parcels of property next month as it seeks to settle a raft of sex abuse claims(link is external). Church officials announced Tuesday (Aug. 10) that an online auction will begin Sept. 21. Opening bids will start as low as $500 for vacant pieces of property that are spread throughout three counties in central New Mexico. Another auction is planned for November.” By Associated Press

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis called for unity: Will we hear him?
“Pope Francis’ motu proprio was promulgated after consultation with bishops throughout the world. Granting that the reformed rites are often celebrated without appropriate reverence, Pope Francis nonetheless determined that the experiment of Pope Benedict XVI did not work. Rather than lead to unity in the church, the presence of the two forms has only led to a fracturing of communion(link is external). Communities that celebrate the extraordinary form, according to Pope Francis, are likely to deny the validity of Vatican II, including the reformed rites. The solution of two forms of the Roman liturgy was not working.” By Timothy P. O’Malley, U.S. Catholic

BISHOPS

Argentine prelate, friend of Pope Francis faces trial for sexual abuse
“Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a veteran prelate who once boasted of his friendship with the pope, will be tried criminally in October in his former diocese on allegations of sexual abuse against seminarians(link is external). A hearing in the case against the former bishop of Oran, in Argentina’s northern Salta region, will take place Oct. 12-15 of this year, as announced by the local public ministry, for what are known as ‘family and gender violence and crimes against sexual integrity.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

Franciscan Sister Appointed to General Secretariat of Synod of Bishops
“Cardinal Mario Grech has appointed Sr. Marie Kolbe Zamora, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, to serve as an official for the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops(link is external). Zamora’s appointment commences at the Vatican on Sept. 1, 2021. Zamora will work with Cardinal Grech (General Secretary for the Synod of Bishops), Bishop Luis Marín de San Martín and Sister Nathalie Becquart (Undersecretaries for the General Secretariat), and the other members of the Secretariat team in its preparation for and implementation of Synod Assemblies.” By Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity

Editorial: On racism, the chasm between Catholic sisters and bishops is vast
“While creating space for the future, it is heartening that congregations are also reckoning with their past. As a recent Global Sisters Report article pointed out, congregations such as the Adrian Dominicans, Religious of the Sacred Heart, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, the Sisters of Loretto and others are examining their complicity in excluding Blacks from their membership, participating in the enslavement of people and perpetuating systemic racism(link is external). This painful but necessary process is an implementation of the resolution adopted during the 2020 assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, in which members were invited to participate in a ‘five-year commitment to work on dismantling racism.’” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

CLERICALISM

New official at Vatican’s Latin America office warns against clericalism
“(Gustavo) Guerra López will soon take up his role as the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and could potentially help shape the continental Church for years to come. Crux spoke with Guerra López at length, discussing what Latin America can offer to the global  Church, the role of the laity, the synodality experienced in the mystery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and his fears of becoming ‘clericalized’(link is external) by the machinery that is the central government of the Catholic Church.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Catholic belief has ‘vanished’ in Ireland and church is in ‘crisis’, Dublin Archbishop admits
“The archbishop of Dublin has warned that Catholicism has ‘vanished’ in Ireland and the church is in the midst of a crisis(link is external). Archbishop Dermot Farrell was interviewed by Maynooth seminary for their journal Síolta, where he warned that an ‘aging clergy’ and ‘a major decline in the number of people who actively practice and live their faith’ could spell the end for Catholicism in Ireland if major changes are not implemented within the church. The child sex abuse revelations had irreparably damaged the church’s reputation in Ireland, he said, and the visibility of the Catholic faith has ‘vanished.’” By Rachael O’Connor, The Irish Post

My how the Irish Catholic Church has changed
“No week passes that I don’t drop into a quiet chapel here in Killaloe in Clare and elsewhere on my journeys through the west. I always select a late afternoon for my visits. At that time the chapels are virtually deserted and one does not encounter any clergy at all. That situation is a nearly incredible change from the past realities for the Irish people(link is external) when the Catholic hierarchy ruled about every aspect of our lives far more totally and harshly indeed than whatever government we’d established in Leinster House in Dublin at the last election.” Cormac MacConnell, Irish Central

Global liturgy commission director criticizes Francis over Latin Mass restrictions
“The priest who heads a Catholic Church commission that prepares English translations of liturgical texts has attacked Pope Francis’ recent decision to reimpose restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass(link is external) ‘as full of errors and generalizations’ in a series of new social media posts. Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, has shared articles, essays and videos critical of Francis on his Facebook page and has ‘liked’ comments from people angry about Traditionis Custodes, the apostolic letter the pope issued on July 16 that curtails use of the pre-Vatican II liturgy.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Our Opinion: Springfield Diocese’s failures underscore retraumatizing effects of clergy abuse scandal
“When institutions like the Catholic Church try to reckon with histories of systemic abuse, survivors often relate how the difficult but necessary process of unearthing the truth is deeply retraumatizing for them. They must relive horrors no one should endure(link is external). Their most vulnerable personal history is exposed. Character, motives, credibility are questioned — all of this not because they’ve done something, but because a powerful person did something to them when they were powerless.” By The Berkshire Eagle Editorial Board

A Tale of Two States and the Roads Taken and Blocked to Child Protection
“New York is striding into the future of child protection while Pennsylvania is mired in toxic politics that endanger children … Two years ago, to the day, the New York Child Victims Act window opened. Within days, over 4,000 cases had been filed. Then, when the pandemic shut courthouses, New York added a second year to the window, and by the time it closed nearly 10,000 complaints had been filed … While Pennsylvania lawmakers have tortured survivors with dashed hopes, Pennsylvania’s perpetrators and institutions have been given ample time to prey on more children and avoid truly effective child protection policies … As New York’s two-year window confirms, when victims get access to justice, the public and the state receive information that can only improve child protection in the future(link is external).” By Marci A. Hamilton, Verdict.Justia.com

Opinion: NY Must Overhaul Statute of Limitations Laws for Childhood Sexual Abuse
“The opportunity to hold child sexual abuse perpetrators—and the institutions that enabled them—accountable is about to expire for many suffering survivors who were assaulted in New York. On Aug. 14, the New York Child Victims Act’s two-year civil sexual abuse statute of limitations ‘window’ will close, and older victims whose claims had previously been time-barred will be foreclosed from seeking justice(link is external). This legislation also extends the statute of limitations to age 55 for child sex abuse survivors whose claims have not previously been time-barred. We urge our leaders to take immediate action to reform the current law to ensure that victims, no matter their age, have continuing access to the courts.” By Andrew Shubin and Debra Greenberger, CityLimits.org

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child safety advocates launch billboard campaign against Sen. Kim Ward
“Child sexual abuse prevention advocates are making good on their promise to keep the heat on state Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward for her refusal to advance a bill giving adult survivors of child sexual abuse their day in court(link is external). This week, they took their battle to the Hempfield Republican’s backyard. Child USAdvocacy placed two full-size highway billboards — one on Route 119 in Hempfield and a second on Route 30.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

New York’s Child Victims Act helps bring justice and peace for victims of abuse in Rochester
“With the deadline for the New York’s Child Victims Act coming up Friday (Aug. 13), one local man has said the ability to file a lawsuit has changed his life for the better(link is external). Brian Delafranier filed his lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester two years ago claiming he was sexually abused for over a year by his parish priest, Reverend Robert Gaudio. Delafranier even inspired another person struggling with the abuse from the same priest to step forward and file a claim before the deadline.” By FingerLakes1.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Survivors’ Voices: What Has Helped Me Heal, Part 2
“I returned yesterday from a beautiful weekend retreat with a group of five dear friends who are survivors of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). We talked, laughed, cried, prayed, and experienced so much love and healing together. Thank you to all who covered us in prayer over these last few days – We certainly felt God’s grace surrounding us.” By Sara Larson, InSpiritAndTruth.subscript.com

Tired of the drip, drip, drip of Catholic sexual abuse reports? Let’s try this.
“Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of a then-secret crime: Fr. Gilbert Gauthe molested a boy in Louisiana in 1972. Over a decade later, that crime — and dozens of others Gauthe committed — became national news. Thus began an unprecedented and at times overwhelming deluge of abuse and cover up reports which eventually led to over 7,000 U.S. priests being publicly accused of sexually violating children(link is external). If you’re a Catholic, chances are you’re tired of this seemingly endless stream of allegations of clerical corruption (though the flow of abuse reports has slowed in recent years). And at least a few times over the past two decades, you have likely worried, ‘I wonder if kids in my parish are safe?’” By David Clohessy, National Catholic Reporter

CALIFORNIA

Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno ‘credible’ list of abusers includes late Visalia priest
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno on Friday (Aug. 6) posted a list of priests who it says have faced ‘a credible accusation of sexual abuse.’ The list included Rev. Eric Swearingen, a Tulare County native who rose through the church’s hierarchy to lead Visalia’s Catholics despite an allegation of sexual abuse(link is external). He died in 2020 after a long illness.” By James Ward, Visalia Times-Delta

Fresno Catholic leaders list credible claims of sex assault by clergy
“The Diocese of Fresno has finished a lengthy investigation reviewing claims of sexual assault involving clergy members within the Diocese(link is external). The investigation began in May of 2019, reviewing more than 2,800 files to identify any priest, deacon, or other member of the church facing allegations of sexual abuse involving a minor within the Diocese. The files listed accusations that went back as early as the 1900s to the present. By KFSN-TV30 News

LOUISIANA

Parole unanimously denied for priest
“The state parole board today unanimously rejected Fr. Michael Guidry’s request for early release. Guidry, 78, who was pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Morrow, pleaded guilty to the molestation of a 16-year-old boy(link is external). He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released for appeals because of COVID. After his sentencing appeals were denied he was sent back to prison. His victim was an altar server, as his brothers had been.” By KATC-TV3 News

MAINE

His Old Town priest abused him as a child. Soon, he’ll be able to sue over it.
“Robert Dupuis was part of a group of five boys who did chores around St. Joseph Catholic Church in Old Town in 1961, when he was 12. The boys mowed the lawn, shoveled snow and helped out at church banquets and suppers, working under the supervision of the Rev. John J. Curran. But when Dupuis was alone with Curran, the priest sexually abused him(link is external), he said. It began with hugs, then progressed to fondling.” By Judy Harrison, The Bangor Daily News

MASSACHUSETTS

How a Pittsfield parishioner exposed a molester, 25 years before another survivor reported her clergy abuse
“This is the story of a girl’s courage and a parishioner’s resolve. The details all came back to Russell G. Powell last weekend, 44 years after his confrontation with a priest in a Pittsfield basement. ‘I’m willing to say we were the first ones to discover [and report] he was a molester(link is external). I believe nothing was done except to transfer him to Springfield.’ — Russell G. Powell, speaking of his efforts, in 1977, to remove the Rev. Daniel L. Gill from service in a Pittsfield church.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

‘Like it was yesterday.’ Sheri Biasin recalls priest’s abuse, in her own words
“I grew up in a really strict Catholic family. I mean, we did rosary before we went to bed — that sort of whole deal. That was very prominent in our life, and to go against it was like, ‘You’re going to burn in hell’ and ‘Wait to see what’s going to happen to you.’ The people in my family basically bowed to this man, Father Daniel Gill. When I look back now, I think, ‘Oh, my God, good thing I’m not there now, because I wouldn’t have been able to take it(link is external).’” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MICHIGAN

Former Jackson Catholic school teacher sentenced in abuse case
“A former Catholic school music teacher in Jackson will serve more than a decade in prison as the fourth person convicted in the Michigan attorney general’s ongoing clergy abuse investigation(link is external).

Joseph Comperchio, 67, of Fort Myers, Florida, was charged last September for sexually abusing two children. In those cases, he faced two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.” By Chris Lewis, FOX-TV47 News

NEW YORK.

Message from Cardinal Dolan: Updates on COVID-19 and Child Victims Act
“Dear Family of the Archdiocese of New York; I apologize for intruding during these final weeks of what I hope has been a blessed and relaxing Summer, but allow me to update you on two important items that continue to affect the Archdiocese of New York: the coronavirus pandemic, particularly as it relates to our schools, and the Child Victims Act(link is external).” By Communications Department, Archdiocese of New York

Buffalo Diocese hit with 900 abuse claims in bankruptcy court, more than any diocese
More than 900 child sex abuse claims were filed against the Buffalo Diocese in federal bankruptcy court by Saturday (Aug. 14), the deadline for abuse victims to come forward if they want part of a potential settlement that could cost the diocese tens of millions of dollars. The number of claims was double the largest number ever filed in the more than 20 prior diocese bankruptcies in the U.S. since 2004.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

As NY Child Victims Act window closes, what was revealed in Binghamton sex abuse lawsuits?
“The boy was 6 years old when his family began attending church at St. Vincent de Paul in 1980. That’s where he met Fr. Robert Ours, who served at the parish during a four-year stretch of his two-decades-long career in the priesthood. Inside a confessional booth at the Vestal church, Ours allegedly fondled the boy multiple times over the course of a year, until 1983(link is external) … The nearly 40-year-old sex abuse accusations were revealed for the first time in an Aug. 2 lawsuit against Ours and the Vestal church, part of a wave of lawsuits that flowed into Broome County’s Supreme Court during the final months of New York state’s Child Victims Act.” By Anthony Borrelli, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Rotterdam pastor under investigation for child sex abuse allegations
“A Rotterdam pastor is voluntarily stepping back from public ministry as he is investigated for allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). ‘In light of a single allegation of sexual abuse that was first reported in a Child Victims Act case, Father Vincent Ciotoli, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Schenectady and St. Margaret of Cortona in Rotterdam, has voluntarily withdrawn from public ministry while the independent Diocesan Review Board investigates the claim,’ states a Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany release issued Saturday.” By Shenandoah Briere, The Rotterdam Daily Gazette

Sex abuse victims’ lawsuits continue to pour in as NY’s Child Victims Act nears its deadline to file
“The window to file lawsuits under New York State’s Child Victims Act will come to a close later this month, but until a few weeks ago, David Ferrick didn’t know that the law enabling victims of sexual assault to sue even existed. Ferrick, 52, learned about it last month in Fresno, California — thousands of miles away from his childhood home in Brooklyn, where he attended St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church in Greenpoint and where he says in a newly filed lawsuit that a priest there molested him when he was just a 10-year-old altar boy(link is external)By Michael Gartland and Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

Man admits he sent death threats to Buffalo reporter who covered Catholic Church sex scandals
“A Western New York man pleaded guilty this week after being accused of sending death threats to a Buffalo television reporter who covered Catholic Church sex scandals(link is external), federal prosecutors said. Paul E. Lubienecki, 63, of Hamburg, admitted Tuesday to leaving as many as six threatening voicemails for the reporter between Aug. 20, 2019 and Feb. 4, 2020, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.” By James McClendon, Syracuse.com

NY cathedral rector denies ‘without reservation’ 50-year-old abuse claim
“Msgr. Robert T. Richie, rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, told cathedral parishioners in an Aug. 3 letter he has been named in a civil lawsuit alleging he ‘sexually abused a child on one occasion’ nearly 50 years ago. ‘I completely and without reservation deny this allegation(link is external),’ he wrote. ‘Nothing like this has ever occurred during my 50 years as a priest, or at any other time in my life. I am confident that once this matter is litigated in court, the allegation will be found to be absolutely false.’” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

PENNSYLVANIA

Victims of child sex abuse continue to be denied justice in Pennsylvania
“With each passing day, Pennsylvania kids become more at risk of abuse while just across the state line, kids in New Jersey and New York are becoming dramatically safer. This may sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. A recent state Supreme Court ruling illustrates the problem and shows why. In July, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit from a woman seeking to recover damages from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown for allegedly facilitating sexual abuse she said she experienced at the hands of a priest in the late 1970s. The court’s ruling that her claim was too late under the state’s statute of limitations illustrates the problem with Pennsylvania law(link is external).” By David Clohessy and Jillian Ruck, The Philadelphia Inquirer

SOUTH CAROLINA

Pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church on leave after lawsuit is filed
“A Greenville pastor is on temporary leave while the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston reviews a lawsuit filed against him that alleges he had a sexual relationship with a married parishioner(link is external). The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston said they are reviewing the lawsuit filed which names the Diocese of Charleston and Father Wilbroad Mwape, pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Greenville. ‘We have received a copy of the lawsuit and are currently reviewing it. We will respond to the pleading in due time,’ Maria Aselage, spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, said.” By WYFF-TV4 News

WISCONSIN

With two cases in Brown County and 100 statewide, Wisconsin clergy abuse review shows power of independent inquiry
“Four months into an independent investigation launched by the state’s top attorney, two cases of alleged clergy abuse have been reported and turned over to the Brown County district attorney’s office(link is external). The two cases are among more than 100 reports statewide alleging abuse by faith leaders made possible by Attorney General Josh Kaul’s independent review, which began in April. One of the Brown County cases is ‘current,’ said Holli Fisher, program manager of the Sexual Assault Center of Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, who was unable to disclose further details. The other one was from decades ago.” By Natalie Eilbert, Green Bay Press-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Students who reported abuse by pedophile priest Anthony Caruana labelled liars, court hears
“The victims of a pedophile priest have told a court they were called liars when they told their parents about being abused by their teacher(link is external) 30 years ago. Last month, Anthony Peter William Caruana was convicted of sexually abusing 12 students at a Catholic college for boys in the NSW Southern Highlands in the 1980s. A District Court jury found the 79-year-old guilty of 26 offences including 22 counts of indecent assault and four counts of sexual intercourse with a pupil.” By Tim Fernandez, ABC Illawarra

Adults face jail for not reporting sexual abuse
“New laws in Queensland that could jail adults for not telling police about the sexual abuse of a child(link is external) have raised criticism from legal and academic circles about potential ethical dilemmas and how they will be enforced. The laws, introduced last month, require all adults to report known or suspected sexual offences against a person under the age of 16, or a person with an impairment. The laws were designed to force Catholic priests to break the seal of confession and implement recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Concerns have been raised as to how they could be applied to other professions.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Judge hearing details of sex assault allegations against rural priest at prelim in Humboldt
“A provincial court judge in Humboldt, Sask., will hear the evidence today (Aug. 9) against a local Catholic priest charged with sexual assault(link is external). The preliminary hearing will determine whether Father Anthony Atter will stand trial on the allegations. The 45-year-old faces charges of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and sexual interference. The assaults allegedly took place from September to November 2020 and involved one complainant.” By Dan Zakreski, CBC News

Catholic Priest Accuses Residential School Survivors of Lying About Abuse
“A Catholic priest has been banned from preaching following a series of inflammatory comments about Indigenous residential school survivors(link is external) during sermons at St. Emile Catholic Church, according to CBC News. The priest, Father Rhéal Forest, claimed residential school survivors lied about sexual abuse to get more money from court settlements in comments that were livestreamed on Facebook for weeks before being taken down after they were flagged by CBC Manitoba, according to CBC News.” By Andrew Kennard, Native News Online

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Fort Augustus Abbey school was ‘haven for pedophiles’
“A Catholic boarding school in the Highlands was a ‘haven for pedophiles’, a report from the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has said(link is external). It said that sexual abuse by monks at Fort Augustus Abbey, which closed in 1993, was a ‘desecration of their vows.’ The report came after the inquiry heard evidence of physical, emotional and sexual abuse over many years. It praised the BBC for bringing the issue into the public domain. It was a BBC Scotland documentary in 2013 that first raised the issues of abuse perpetrated by Benedictine monks in Scotland.” By Mark Daly, BBC News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Irish Jesuits admit failure on abuser fueled trauma
“The head of the Jesuits in Ireland has said the order must take full responsibility for the wrongdoing of Fr Joseph Marmion, whom a number of former students say sexually, physically and psychologically abused them(link is external) in the 1970s when he taught at Belvedere College in Dublin. In a 50-page report, Joseph Marmion – The Jesuit Response, Fr Leonard Moloney SJ says that while Marmion’s actions inflicted severe trauma on individual pupils, this was ‘magnified by the failure of the Jesuits to recognize the danger he posed to schoolboys in our care and in later ministries or to understand and respond to your needs as his victims.’ He said that the Jesuits did not grasp the destructive effects of his abuse.” By Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet

Two Donegal sisters abused by same priest reveal they had no idea the other was also suffering as they speak out
“Two sisters abused by the same priest have said it was ‘heartbreaking’ to discover the other had gone through the same thing(link is external). Former priest Con Cunningham pleaded guilty to eight counts of indecent assaults between 1971 and 1975. Now 86, he abused sisters Paula and Margaret Martin, who were between nine and 12, and 11 and 13 years old when it happened. The abuse took place at a number of locations in Donegal, including at the girls’ home, at the parochial house in Fanavolty in Fanad and also at the Loreto College buildings in Letterkenny.” By Nicola Bardon, The Irish Sun

NEW ZEALAND

Pasifika abuse survivor calls for change in Catholic church
“A survivor of abuse in a faith-based institution is appalled at what she calls the Catholic church’s mishandling of victims’ stories of abuse(link is external). Frances Tagaloa has called out the Catholic church to change their processes when dealing with survivors, following the recent Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Pacific investigation hearing. This comes after a couple of Pacific survivors gave their testimony at the recent Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Pacific investigation hearing in South Auckland, including from a spokesperson named Ms CU.” By Sela Jane Hopgood, RNZ Pacific Journalist

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

August 9, 2021

TOP STORIES

Bishop: Albany diocese covered up priest abuse for decades
“The longtime former head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany says the diocese covered up sexual abuse by priests for decades and protected clergy by sending them to private treatment instead of calling police(link is external). Bishop Howard Hubbard, who ran the diocese in New York’s Capital District from 1977 to 2014 and has himself been accused of sexual abuse, made the admission in a statement issued through his lawyer to the Albany Times-Union in response to questions from the newspaper.” By Associated Press

Defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teenager in 1970s
“Defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged Wednesday (Jul. 28) with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College(link is external) in the 1970s, making him the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the United States to face criminal charges in the clergy sexual abuse scandal. McCarrick, 91, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who fraternized with popes and presidents before he was expelled from the priesthood over sexual abuse allegations, is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 in a criminal complaint filed by Wellesley Police in Dedham District Court.” By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe

Vatican trial opens into financial scandal rocking papacy
“A cardinal who allegedly induced an underling to lie to prosecutors. Brokers and lawyers who pulled a fast one over the Vatican No. 2 to get him to approve a disastrous real estate deal. A self-styled intelligence analyst who bought Prada and Louis Vuitton items with the Vatican money that she was supposed to send to rebels holding a Catholic nun hostage. Vatican prosecutors have alleged a jaw-dropping series of scandals in the biggest criminal trial in the Vatican’s modern history(link is external), which opens Tuesday (Jul. 27) in a modified courtroom in the Vatican Museums. The once-powerful cardinal and nine other people are accused of bleeding the Holy See of tens of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers and apparent favors to friends and family. They face prison sentences, fines or both if convicted.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

The Vatican revealed its real estate portfolio for the first time – and it includes over 5,000 properties
“On the eve of a trial for financial malfeasance connected to the Vatican’s purchase of a property in London, the office that handles most of the Vatican’s investment portfolio, including real estate, made public a summary of its annual budget for the first time. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, known by its Italian initials APSA, released its budget synthesis July 24, and its president, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, described it as ‘a step forward in the direction of transparency and sharing.’ APSA directly administers 4,051 properties in Italy and entrusts to outside companies the administration of some 1,200 properties in London, Paris, Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland(link is external), the report said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

ACCOUNTABILITY

Catholic Church approved legal fees from fund meant for residential school survivors: documents
“New details have emerged about the Roman Catholic Church’s controversial multimillion-dollar legal bill paid from a fund intended for residential school survivors(link is external). In documents obtained Friday (Jul. 30) by CBC News, one of the church’s lawyers admits that the money came from that fund and said everything was done with full approval of all 50 Canadian ‘Catholic entities’ contributing to the fund. Legal and ethics experts interviewed Friday (Jul. 30) say they’re horrified, calling it another example of the Catholic Church’s betrayal of survivors.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

Canadian priest banned after downplaying residential school abuse
“A Catholic priest in Canada has been banned from speaking publicly by the Archdiocese, after accusing Indigenous residential school survivors of physical and sexual abuse, of lying to get money in federal court settlements(link is external). Father Rheal Forest made the comments on July 10 during a sermon in St Emile Roman Catholic Church in Winnipeg where he was reportedly filling in for the church’s regular pastor. ‘If they wanted extra money, from the money that was given to them, they had to lie sometimes – lie that they were abused sexually and, oop, another $50,000,’ Forest said, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC). ‘It’s kind of hard if you’re poor not to lie,’ he reportedly said.” By Aljazeera.com

Millions meant for residential school survivors spent on Catholic Church lawyers, administration: documents
“The Roman Catholic Church spent millions of dollars that were supposed to go to residential school survivors on lawyers, administration, a private fundraising company and unapproved loans(link is external), according to documents obtained by CBC News. The documents include a host of other revelations. They appear to contradict the Catholic Church’s public claims about money paid to survivors. ‘There are also a large number of serious accounting discrepancies that are alarming to Canada,’ states one document, a 53-page federal government ‘factum’ summarizing the evidence in a 2015 court matter.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

As Cardinal Becciu goes to court, Francis’ financial reforms also on trial
“The Vatican is opening criminal proceedings on July 27 against Giovanni Angelo Becciu, a once-powerful cardinal demoted by Pope Francis last fall, and nine other defendants. They are charged with embezzlement and other crimes linked to a 2013 investment of a purported $240 million in a London real estate venture that kept swallowing money until it went bust, leaving an approximate $415 million Vatican loss. The trial marks an emboldened turn in Francis’ papacy, likely to surpass other forensic dramas in the chain of scandals since ‘Vatileaks’(link is external) … In the current trial, the prosecution’s web work of links among defendants has attacked the leaders of both the Vatican bank (formally, the Institute for the Works of Religion) and the Vatican’s wider financial watchdog apparatus.” By Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. churches reckon with traumatic legacy of Native schools
“The discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada have prompted renewed calls for a reckoning over the traumatic legacy of similar schools in the United States(link is external) — and in particular by the churches that operated many of them. U.S. Catholic and Protestant denominations operated more than 150 boarding schools between the 19th and 20th centuries, according to researchers. Native American and Alaskan Native children were regularly severed from their tribal families, customs, language and religion and brought to the schools in a push to assimilate and Christianize them.” By Peter Smith, Associated Press, in Longview News-Journal

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis agrees: Equal pay for women is long (long) overdue
“For modern interpreters of Catholic social teaching, there is little question that women deserve equal pay and a chance to build prosperous careers that align with their desires for family and home life. It has not always been so(link is external). ‘Rerum Novarum,’ the seminal 1891 papal encyclical on the dignity of work, explicitly said that women should be working primarily in the home, but Catholic thinking has evolved, Kate Ward, a professor of theology at Marquette University, told me. ‘Pope Francis even talks about how it can be O.K. for women to work and men to stay home,’ she said.” By John W. Miller, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis’ Reforms to Canon Law On Sexual Abuse: True Change Or Wishful Thinking?
“‘Every time there is a single incident of abuse in the Catholic Church it is a scandal. And I’m glad it is a scandal’ – Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ response to questions on the Catholic Church’s continued association with rape and abuse of children was, in many ways, an understatement(link is external) … Against this background, the latest changes in canon law on sexual abuse, enacted by Pope Francis, represent a conscious and significant drive to remedy the ills that have marred the history of the Church. The reforms make some key changes: it is now a crime under canon law to omit the reporting of abuse; furthermore, the Church now recognizes that vulnerable adults are susceptible to abuse from members of the clergy, and that laypeople who hold church office can now be sanctioned for similar sex crimes.” By Raef Murphy, The Oxford Student

CARDINALS

Cardinal urges religious to join local preparation for Synod of Bishops
“Consecrated virgins, hermits and members of religious orders, individually and as communities, should take part in the consultations for the Synod of Bishops, because ‘to ensure that the synodal church is not a mirage, but rather a dream to be realized, it is necessary to dream together, to pray together and to work together(link is external),’ said Cardinal João Braz de Aviz. The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, asked consecrated men and women to participate in the diocesan-level listening sessions scheduled to begin in October as the first step of preparation for the 2023 assembly of the Synod of Bishops, discussing the theme, ‘For a synodal church: communion, participation and mission.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Prosecution of Cardinal Becciu shows Francis’ reforms will be hard to reverse
“Cardinals are not called ‘princes of the Church’ for nothing, and (Cardinal Giovanni Angelo) Becciu had acquired more power than most(link is external): In his previous role as sostituto at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, he functioned somewhat like a White House chief of staff. On paper, both roles do not appear as consequential as they are, but in practice, both serve at critical choke points for virtually all decision-making. In previous pontificates, Becciu’s cardinal’s hat would have been enough to shield him from prosecution. If, before Francis, Becciu had been caught doing something illegal or even terribly wrong, he might have been posted to a different job, and given a sinecure, the way Cardinal Bernard Law was named archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore after he resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Libasci allegations part of a wave in New York brought on by temporary elimination of statute of limitations
“A lawsuit alleging the bishop of Manchester abused an altar boy(link is external) in the early 1980s is part of a wave of clergy abuse suits in New York, where a law passed in 2019 opened a temporary exemption from the statute of limitations. The exemption allows survivors of abuse decades ago to come forward with their claims, and seek recompense. The look-back window will close Aug. 14. Thousands of survivors of abuse in New York have come forward, including more than 200 lawsuits against the Diocese of Rockville Centre, where Bishop Peter A. Libasci served as a priest in the 1980s. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in September 2020.” By Josie Albertson-Grove, New Hampshire Union Leader

PRIESTS

Remembering why I became a priest
“The priesthood of the Catholic Church has always lived with the trappings of a kind of mystique, perhaps because of the celibacy. When the sexual abuse crisis in the church arose, that mystique was tarnished or even eroded. Parishioners no longer put priests on pedestals, and there may be something very good in that. I keep reminding myself that we’ve been called to walk with the people rather than to lead from on high(link is external). The result has become remembering why it was that I became a priest.” By Joe Juknialis, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Historic Vatican trial may change Catholic Church’s finances forever
“Ten Catholic clergymen and laypeople will answer charges of corruption and fraud from Vatican judges on Tuesday (July 27) in preparation for the largest trial ever held in the city-state and the first in memory to put a cardinal in the dock. But the trial is in many ways as much a test of Pope Francis’ ambitious effort to overhaul the Vatican’s financial and judicial system(link is external). For the first time ever, the Vatican released on Saturday (July 24) the annual report outlining the expenditures of its bureaucracy, known as the Curia, and its real estate and financial operations, known by its Italian acronym, APSA.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

CHURCH REFORM

McCarrick Case Could Begin ‘A New Era’ For Going After Church Leaders, Says Lawyer
“Defrocked ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick last week became the highest-ranking Catholic church official to be criminally charged for sexual abuse, for assault and battery on a 16-year-old boy in Wellesley in the 1970s. Meanwhile, in unrelated cases, the archdiocese of Boston settled six lawsuits last week with former leaders accused of assaults across the state ranging from 1966 to 1990. Jim Braude was joined on Greater Boston by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of victims of church abuse to talk about the church’s longstanding problem with sexual abuse in its ranks. Garabedian said the McCarrick case could represent ‘a new era’ for going after powerful leaders in the church, as more victims keep coming forward(link is external).” By WGBH-TV News, Boston

New survey shows most Catholics have no idea who Cardinal McCarrick is. That’s a problem.
“When the news broke on Thursday (July 29) that the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been criminally charged with sexual abuse of a minor, many Catholics likely felt justice was one step closer to being served. Others may have wondered anew how the former archbishop of Washington had been allowed to abuse seminarians and minors for decades. But a new survey shows that perhaps the likeliest response to the McCarrick news among Catholics was: Who?(link is external)” By Kerry Weber, Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

N.J. Catholic diocese sets up line to gather tips about suspected theft, fraud in parishes
“Two months after one of its priests admitted in court to pocketing $516,000 in parish funds, a New Jersey Catholic diocese is introducing a multi-step system that will allow people to anonymously report financial misconduct in their parishes(link is external). The Diocese of Metuchen — which includes churches in Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties — is partnering with an ethics consulting company to set up a telephone and online system to gather reports of ethics violations in its parishes, schools and cemeteries, church officials said.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

How limiting the Latin Mass may become the defining moment for Pope Francis
“People have wondered whether Francis will cause a permanent division in the church with his new ruling. That seems like the wrong question. The divisions were already there. — Pope Francis took sudden steps on July 16, 2021, to curtail the traditional Latin Mass, in an abrupt reversal of his predecessor’s policy(link is external). To non-Catholics — and many Catholics — the decision may seem on first glance to be a technical, even obscure action not worth very much attention. But it sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic Church. As a scholar who studies the Catholic Church’s relationship to the world, I believe the move may be the most important action Francis has taken in an eventful papacy.” Commentary by Steven P. Millies, Chicago Sun-Times

Tabloids, scandal and spying: The U.S. Catholic Church has hit a new, dangerous low point.
“On July 20, a Catholic online news commentary site, The Pillar, published a report alleging that Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill of the USCCB ‘engaged in serial sexual misconduct, while he held a critical oversight role in the Catholic Church’s response to the recent spate of sexual abuse and misconduct scandals’ … Rare is the story that manages to be so depressing in so many ways(link is external). Unpacking and analyzing Monsignor Burrill’s story, and how it came to light, is difficult because so many complicated issues are involved, each with distinct troubling threads with unclear implications. But when the story is broken down, as I have tried to do here in five points, it suggests a troubling thesis: The U.S. Catholic Church has entered a dangerous new reality.” By Zac Davis, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Former Cardinal Could Encourage Victims To Seek Help
“Next month, a former Catholic Cardinal will face criminal charges in Massachusetts for alleged sexual molestation. Theodore McCarrick is the highest ranking member of the U.S. Catholic clergy to be criminally charged with sex abuse. The charges stem from an alleged incident involving a teenage boy that happened more than 45 years ago. Many of the sex abuse cases involving boys and young men are not reported until the victims are adults(link is external), and in the past many such reports have been disbelieved.” By Harrison Patiño and Maureen Cavanaugh, WPBS-FM Public Media

A living Catholic tradition
“July 16, 2021 was a great day for the Roman Rite and for the legacy of the Second Vatican Council. Finally, after years of accommodating those who dislike or actually reject the liturgical reforms of the Council, the Catholic Church’s highest authority took a definitive step to re-establish the reformed rites as normative for the whole Latin Rite Church(link is external), without exception. Pope Francis, in his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, not only firmly abrogated Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum pontificum (2007) which had ‘freed’ the older rites, allowing them to be celebrated by any priest at any time, he also declared and established that the reformed liturgy is ‘the unique lex orandi [law of prayer]’ of the Church today.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

Editorial: Another big step in Johnstown man’s mission on behalf of abuse victims
“Shaun Dougherty’s quest to support victims of child sexual abuse has reached a new level(link is external) with his appointment as board president for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The Westmont man is the face of the push for justice on behalf of adult victims in Pennsylvania, and now takes his knowledge, energy and passion to the national and international levels with his SNAP appointment, where his fierce lobbying efforts can have an even greater impact.” By Dave Sutor, The Tribune-Democrat

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Two suits filed under new law that expands time for sex abuse claims
“Two lawsuits have been filed under a new Louisiana law that gives child abuse victims a chance to file suits for old claims(link is external). The bill took effect Sunday (Aug. 1), and allows victims of sex abuse to file suits against anyone involved for the next three years. If someone was convicted in connection with the abuse, there is no limit on filing suits. Previous law allowed people to file suit for ten years after their 18th birthday.” By KATC-TV3 News

PA Supreme Court ruling sets back victims, spares Erie diocese from slew of lawsuits
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit that sought to create a way for child sexual assault claimants to sue in old cases(link is external), further hindering victims’ search for justice while sparing Roman Catholic dioceses statewide millions of dollars in potential claims involving abusive clergy. In northwestern Pennsylvania, the ruling in the case, issued Wednesday (Jul. 21), severely erodes the legal efforts of as many as 30 sexual abuse claimants who were seeking compensation from the Catholic Diocese of Erie.” By Ed Palattella, Erie Times-News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Lists of abusive priests remain obscure and incomplete. That much change.
“The Catholic Church’s attempt to repair the damage caused by decades of priestly abuse would be vastly improved by a full, transparent, easy-to-use national list of abusive clerics(link is external). And no, that still doesn’t exist. Two years ago, many dioceses — but not all — began publishing lists of priests ‘credibly accused’ of abusive behavior. But these are too often incomplete, as well as difficult to find and use.” By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

Male survivors of sexual abuse struggle to find treatment
“The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 men have been sexually victimized at some point. It’s a largely silent epidemic despite revelations of abuse by Catholic priests and Boy Scout leaders(link is external). Not confronting this issue only makes recovery harder. Rachel Rock brings us one man’s search for support. Jim Holland says he was raped by a priest when he was 13 years old. He locked his trauma away for 30 years, held it at bay with drinking, drugs and promiscuity. The 2003 Boston Globe Spotlight investigation of priest sexual abuse triggered Holland’s memories.” By Ari Shapiro and Rachel Rock, National Public Radio WWNO-FM New Orleans

Catholics weigh in on abuse scandal 3 years after McCarrick and Pennsylvania report
“Although many Catholics’ memories of the clergy sex abuse scandals that rocked the U.S. church in 2018 have dimmed, a majority of those who recalled the scandals said in a survey they felt more positive about the church’s progress in confronting the issue. Overall, 76% of respondents in the survey, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, said sexual abuse of minors by clergy has hurt the church’s reputation ‘at least somewhat(link is external).’ The report, commissioned by America Media, the Jesuit ministry, was released July 19.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

ILLINOIS

Former Oakland County priest faces trial in sex abuse case
“A former priest in Oakland County charged with sexually assaulting a youth(link is external) decades ago is heading to trial, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday (Jul. 21). Gary Berthiaume was bound over on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony, after a ruling by 47th District Court Judge James Brady, state officials said.” By Mark Hicks, The Detroit News

LOUISIANA

‘Justice will prevail:’ Man alleging sexual abuse at Holy Cross camp sues after filing restrictions lift
“After he says he was molested by a religious brother at a Holy Cross School summer camp(link is external) decades ago, John Losteau needed medication to control his anxiety and manage what he calls his ‘dumpster fire, train wreck’ of a life. He thought for years that he had forever lost the chance to file a lawsuit seeking damages for his alleged abuse when he turned 28. But a new law went into effect Sunday (Aug. 1) opening a three-year ‘lookback window’ in which survivors could come forward with child molestation claims no matter how old they were, and Lousteau was among the first in line.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4News

MASSACHUSETTS

Catholic priest at Norwood church, school accused of fondling 11-year-old girl
“The Boston archdiocese has settled a Norton man’s claim that higher-ups in the institution failed to protect him when he was 11 years old and sexually abused by a priest in Norwood(link is external). Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, well-known for representing sexual abuse victims in claims against the archdiocese, said in a news release Wednesday (Jul. 28) that a settlement in the ‘high five figures’ was reached last month.” By Mary Whitfill, The Patriot Ledger

MICHIGAN

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw removes priest from ministry due to sexual misconduct allegations
“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has permanently removed one of its priests from duty, years after the priest was accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). On Friday, July 23, Bishop Robert Gruss removed the Rev. Ronald J. Dombrowski from ministry, the diocese said in a statement. The diocese had suspended Dombrowski in March 2018 as a ‘precautionary measure’ after someone reported to the agency that Dombrowski sexually abused them as a minor. No criminal charges have been filed against Dombrowski.” By Cole Waterman, MLive.com

Former Michigan priest to face trial for alleged sex abuse of 14-year-old boy
“A former Catholic priest will go to trial for sexual abuse against a minor(link is external), officials announced today. An Oakland County judge ruled today, July 21, that there is enough evidence against Gary Berthiaume, 80, to bound him over to circuit court for trial on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC), a 15-year felony.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MISSISSIPPI

Man alleging sexual abuse as a child in Mississippi sues Franklin-based Catholic order
“A 32-year-old man who alleges he was sexually abused by a Franciscan brother(link is external) while in elementary school in Mississippi has sued the Wisconsin-based religious order. In the federal lawsuit filed Monday (Jul. 26), Raphael Love’s attorneys argue the abuse and a campaign to silence him have caused ‘permanent and debilitating damage’ and have negatively influenced the course of his life. ‘It’s typical with abuse victims, and I’ve represented many of them, that the trajectory of a victim’s life is changed completely by the abuse,’ Love’s Seattle-based attorney, Phillip Aaron, told the Journal Sentinel.” By Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

NEW JERSEY

Howell ex-pastor acquitted in sexual abuse case: ‘I pray for the accuser’
“Under the cloud of sexual abuse allegations for almost three years, the former longtime pastor of St. Veronica R.C. Church in Howell walked out of the Monmouth County Courthouse(link is external) Friday (Jul.23) after a judge acquitted him of the charges, and said he will continue to pray for his accuser. After Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor found the 80-year-old priest not guilty of three counts of sexual assault on a child more than two decades ago, the Rev. Henry Brendan Williams said he was ‘certainly very relieved’’ by the verdict.” By Kathleen Hopkins, Asbury Park Press

NEW YORK.

Bishop acknowledges child predators were sent for ‘treatment’
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany engaged in a decades-long cover-up of chronic child sexual abuse committed by its priests(link is external) by employing practices described in a recent statement from former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who ran the diocese from 1977 to 2014. Hubbard’s statement, issued through his attorney in response to a series of questions from the Times Union, confirmed that the diocese shielded priests and others facing sexual abuse allegations — sending them into private treatment programs rather than contacting law enforcement officials or alerting parishioners. Some of those priests allegedly emerged from treatment and committed more crimes.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times Union

Ogdensburg Catholic diocese named in another child sex abuse case
New accusations of child sexual abuse have been made public(link is external) against the Ogdensburg Catholic Diocese under New York’s Child Victims Act. The deadline for people to file a claim of abuse is August 13. An attorney representing victims in New York State says 43 people from priests, teachers, and lay members of Diocese of Ogdensburg have been named in one or more public claims of child sex abuse.” By Celia Clarke, North County Public Radio

Clergy accused of sex abuse made public
“A New York City law firm introduced an updated public database Thursday (Jul. 22) with 13 new alleged perpetrators accused of child sexual abuse(link is external) in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, filed under the Child Victims Act this year as the law’s lookback window nears it closing deadline.” By Kate Lisa, Hudson Valley 360, Johnson Newspaper Corp.

PENNSYLVANIA

Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg releases following statement regarding Rev. David Danneker
“Today, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg released the following statement regarding Rev. David Danneker. Rev. Danneker most recently served in the role of vicar general and moderator of the curia. ‘The Diocese of Harrisburg has received allegations of adult misconduct(link is external) made against Rev. Danneker. While this matter does not involve a child, we are taking the accusations seriously. Accordingly, a full investigation, conducted by an outside third party, has been launched to review the matter.’” By Diocese of Harrisburg

RHODE ISLAND

A R.I. priest was charged with sexual assault, but the case remains in limbo
“State authorities are quietly prosecuting a sexual assault case against a former Diocese of Providence priest(link is external). Edward Kelley, 79, had relocated to South Carolina, where he was arrested in mid-May on a warrant out of Rhode Island, according to court records. He was later brought to Rhode Island, where he faces an indictment on three counts of first-degree sexual assault dating to 1983 in North Smithfield.” By Brian Amaral, The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON

Abuse claims involving Sister Delores Crosby settled; she also worked at Edmonds’ Holy Rosary School
“The Archdiocese of Seattle on Friday announced final settlements totaling $165,000 for two separate cases involving allegations of sexual abuse by Sister Dolores Crosby(link is external) in the 1980s, when she served as principal at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School in Seattle from 1979 to 1992. Crosby also taught at Edmonds’ Holy Rosary School from 1973 to 1978. Crosby, who died in 2007, was also principal at Immaculate Conception School in Everett from 1992 to 1999. In 1999, Crosby surrendered her credentials for teaching and administration when an individual brought forward an allegation of inappropriate contact that took place in the 1980s.” By MyEdmondsNews.com

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin clergy abuse inquiry: AG Kaul provides update
“Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on Tuesday, July 27, provided an update on the statewide inquiry into clergy and faith leader abuse(link is external). The review of such abuse cases was announced in April as the first statewide independent review. Since then, Kaul said the state has received dozens of reports. ‘What we are doing is encouraging survivors to report,’ Kaul said. ‘We have received over 100 reports through this reporting system, many of who are reporting previously reported, but some of the people are reporting for the first time.’” By Christina Van Zeist, FOX-TV6 News Milwaukee

AUSTRALIA

Abuse survivors of now-deceased priest line up to seek compensation
“The first in a series of civil cases seeking compensation for abuse survivors and victims of a now-deceased pedophile priest(link is external) is expected to begin in the Supreme Court on Monday (Jul. 26). Bryan Coffey was found guilty in 1999 of 14 charges relating to indecent assaults on seven boys and one girl that took place across four Victorian parishes between 1960 and 1975. The complainants are seeking compensation for loss of income, pain and suffering, and medical expenses, and include children who were allegedly abused by Coffey in the south-west Victorian towns of Port Fairy, Terang and Yambuk, as well as Ouyen in the Mallee.” By Matt Neal, ABC South West Victoria

Legal payout brings hope for other victims of pedophile priest
“As the first of Kevin O’Donnell’s victims to report the pedophile priest to police(link is external), he paved a courageous path for other abuse survivors to follow. Now, he hopes the $1.375 million he will receive from the Catholic Church will stand as a landmark settlement that assists O’Donnell’s other victims who are seeking compensation. ‘I never let go of the bone. I just kept fighting it. I thought, ‘this is not right,” said BTZ, as he is known in legal files.” By Adam Cooper, The Age

CANADA

Quebec priest sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for sex crimes against minors
“A Quebec priest has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing minors at a Catholic boarding school(link is external) more than three decades ago. Jean Pilon, 79, was then sentenced to three and a half years in prison for his crimes. Before that, he heard victim impact statements from nine of his victims, including Brian Ford. Ford has been waiting a long time to see Pilon brought to justice.” By Global News

Roman Catholic Church to begin selling off properties to settle abuse claims
“Two properties belonging to the Archdiocese of St. John’s will be going up for sale in the coming weeks, the first of many properties to be put on the market. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s says it is continuing to work to address the abuse at Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s(link is external), for which the NL Court of Appeal held the Church responsible earlier this year. Archbishop Peter Hundt shared a statement on Sunday which was read aloud at masses throughout the diocese.” By VOCM.com

Saskatoon Catholic Diocese releases details on nine sexual assault and misconduct cases
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has released details about nine historical cases involving sexual abuse and misconduct(link is external) that were investigated as part of the Safer Churches, Safer communities Safeguarding Action Plan. The March 2020 commitment by the diocese involves reviewing historical cases of serious misconduct reported over the last 60 years in the diocese. The review released in July only involved complaints for which the investigation of the report had concluded.” By Kelly Skjerven, Global News

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Former priest speaks out over Cardinal Keith O’Brien abuse
“Brian Devlin was one of four whistleblowers who detailed a litany of allegations against the man who was the Catholic Church’s most senior cleric in Britain, prompting his resignation and admission of sexual misconduct(link is external). Eight years on, Devlin has spoken out for the first time about the man he considered a friend, mentor, and teacher, and outlined suggestions for reforms he believes could help end the “silence, secrets and omertà” in the church.” By Martyn McLaughlin, The Scotsman

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Sisters ‘released from shame that had haunted them’ as ex-priest who abused them as children is jailed
“Two sisters have said they have been ‘released from the shame which has haunted  then after a former Donegal priest was jailed for 15 months for the horrific sexual abuse he inflicted upon them when they were children(link is external). Con Cunningham, now aged 86, pleaded guilty before Letterkenny Circuit Court today to eight counts of indecent assault between 1971 and 1975. Passing sentence Judge John Aylmer said the abuse had had an appalling impact on the lives of victims Margaret and Paula Martin.” By Stephen Maguire, The Independent

Irish Jesuit Order statement regarding Joseph Marmion
“A statement from the Irish Jesuit Order following the publication of some of the contents of an inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) against Father Joseph Marmion during his time as a teacher at Belvedere College in Dublin during the 1970s … ‘After the naming in public of Joseph Marmion SJ last March the Jesuits in Ireland appealed for anyone who had any complaints, concerns or questions to contact our Safeguarding Office.’” By The Irish Times

NEW ZEALAND

Priest accused of abusing a child had links to two Wellington schools
“A priest accused of sexually abusing a child had historic links to two Wellington Anglican schools(link is external), with parents at one – Chilton Saint James in Lower Hutt – informed of the links on Monday (Aug. 2). During her testimony to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care two weeks ago, Joanna Oldham accused Reverend Ray Oppenheim of sexually abusing her when she was a young girl. She said that, when she was nine years old, Oppenheim molested her and took indecent photos of her three times before an uncle found out and put a stop to it.” By Tom Hunt, Stuff

Brave witness shares underwhelming experience with the Catholic church
“A brave witness at the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Pacific Investigation has shared her experience of coming forward to the Catholic Church and police about the abuse her relative suffered by a Catholic priest(link is external). The witness known as Ms. CU spoke on behalf of her niece, who was 15-years-old at the time of the abuse. She explained the Tongan society is very hierarchical, saying that ministers, priests and nuns elevate in both status and authority because of the godly factor.” By Sela Jane Hopgood, RNZ Pacific Journalist

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Vatican finances lead the news

As worldwide debate regarding the efficacy of Pope Francis’ financial reforms continues amid Vatican financial scandals, the Roman Catholic Church’s patrimony is leading the news. Here are just two recent stories:

Vatican trial opens into financial scandal rocking papacy
“A cardinal who allegedly induced an underling to lie to prosecutors. Brokers and lawyers who pulled a fast one over the Vatican No. 2 to get him to approve a disastrous real estate deal. A self-styled intelligence analyst who bought Prada and Louis Vuitton items with the Vatican money that she was supposed to send to rebels holding a Catholic nun hostage. Vatican prosecutors have alleged a jaw-dropping series of scandals in the biggest criminal trial in the Vatican’s modern history, which opens Tuesday (Jul. 27) in a modified courtroom in the Vatican Museums. The once-powerful cardinal and nine other people are accused of bleeding the Holy See of tens of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers and apparent favors to friends and family. They face prison sentences, fines or both if convicted.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

The Vatican revealed its real estate portfolio for the first time – and it includes over 5,000 properties
“On the eve of a trial for financial malfeasance connected to the Vatican’s purchase of a property in London, the office that handles most of the Vatican’s investment portfolio, including real estate, made public a summary of its annual budget for the first time. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, known by its Italian initials APSA, released its budget synthesis July 24, and its president, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, described it as ‘a step forward in the direction of transparency and sharing.’ APSA directly administers 4,051 properties in Italy and entrusts to outside companies the administration of some 1,200 properties in London, Paris, Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland, the report said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

July 26, 2021

TOP STORIES

Multimillion-dollar maze: Vatican trial to test finance reforms
“The alleged mishandling of millions of dollars of church funds will bring several high-profile individuals to a makeshift Vatican courtroom(link is external) set up in a multifunction room of the Vatican Museums. The surprise announcement July 3 that Vatican prosecutors indicted 10 individuals and entities, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, former prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, on a slew of charges related to financial mismanagement and malfeasance was the latest twist in the seemingly unending saga of the Vatican’s controversial investment in a property in London’s Chelsea district.” By Catholic News Service in The Catholic Sun

Three years after the 2018 ‘summer of shame,’ what do American Catholics think about the sex abuse crisis?
“Nearly three years after a searing report issued by a Pennsylvania grand jury detailed the sexual abuse by clergy of thousands of children and the extensive cover-up by church leaders that followed, America asked the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University to survey Catholics nationwide about their understanding of the crisis, its emotional impact and how it has affected their faith(link is external).” By Mark M. Gray and Thomas P. Gaunt, America: The Jesuit Review

Connecticut diocese files for bankruptcy amid abuse claims
“A Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut filed for federal bankruptcy protection on Thursday (Jul. 15) to resolve dozens of lawsuits alleging the abuse of teenage students(link is external) decades ago at the former Academy at Mount Saint John School, a residential treatment center for troubled youth in Deep River. Documents filed by the Diocese of Norwich, which oversaw the facility, indicate it has $50 million to $100 million in estimated liabilities owed to 50 to 99 creditors. To date, nearly 60 former residents of the school have sued the diocese and a former bishop for damages, exceeding the diocese’s current financial ability to pay, according a statement issued by the diocese.” By Susan Haigh, Associated Press

Synod theologian says laity must make decisions, not just implement them
“Looking ahead to a looming Synod of Bishops on the concept of ‘synodality,’ a lay Venezuelan theologian says the time has come for bishops to grasp one key point: Lay people aren’t just called to implement decisions in the Church made by others, but to make those decisions themselves(link is external). Layman Rafael Luciani, who divides his year between Venezuela and Boston, where he works at Boston College, is one of three Latin American theologians who were chosen as consultants for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the matter of Synodality, to which he hopes to contribute ‘from a non-clerical vision.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

LatAm webinar says in anti-abuse fight, buck stops on the bishop’s desk
“Some 165 bishops from across Latin America are taking part this week in an on-line seminar on abuse prevention that includes top-level experts from both the region and Rome, based on the premise that although fighting abuse requires various forms of commitment and expertise, as far as the Catholic Church goes, the buck still stops on the bishop’s desk(link is external). ‘Following the crisis that became public in the Church with regard to abuse, in recent years much emphasis has been placed on the role and responsibility of bishops, not only for the correct treatment of cases that come to their attention, but also with regard to the prevention of these situations,’ said Argentine laywoman Maria Ines Franck, a bioethics and canon law expert who helped organize the seminar.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Justices deal blow to outdated claims of child sexual abuse
“Pennsylvania’s high court on Wednesday (Jul. 21) dealt a blow to victims of child sexual abuse(link is external), throwing out a lawsuit by a woman whose lower court victory had given hope to others with similarly outdated claims who’d sued following a landmark report that documented decades of child molestation within the Catholic church in Pennsylvania. The 5-2 decision ended plaintiff Renee Rice’s legal effort to recover damages from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown for allegedly covering up and facilitating sexual abuse she said had been inflicted on her by a priest in the late 1970s.” By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

DOJ: ‘Uneven’ response from Catholic dioceses in statewide inquiry of clergy abuse
“The head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice says the state’s five Catholic dioceses are not all cooperating in a statewide inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy and other faith leaders(link is external). Attorney General Josh Kaul held a press conference Tuesday (Jul. 20) to provide an update on his office’s review of clergy and faith leader abuse. Kaul said they’ve received more than 100 reports of either sexual assault or how faith organizations have responded to abuse since launching the investigation in April.” By Hope Kirwan, Wisconsin Public Radio

NDAs Kept These Christians Silent. Now They’re Speaking Out Against Them.
“A growing number of ministers, missionaries, Christian workers, abuse victims, and victims’ advocates are publicly objecting to the non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses used by major religious organizations(link is external). They say the legal tools that were designed to protect tech industry ‘trade secrets’ are widely misused to conceal abuse, preserve secrets, and protect powerful reputations without regard for the human cost.” By Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today

BISHOPS

Canadian Bishops convey commitment to healing and reconciliation
“The Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) released a statement on Friday (Jul. 16) noting its support to Bishops of Saskatchewan who have issued an ‘Appeal for Support of Healing and Reconciliation’ in favor of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada(link is external). The project aims to generate fundraising to promote healing and reconciliation. It also foresees cemeteries on the sites of former residential schools, as well as educational and cultural support. The goal of the campaign, according to the Bishops of Saskatchewan, is to ‘support Indian Residential School survivors and their communities, and to engage more deeply in our own ongoing commitment and response to the Truth and Reconciliation process.’” By Vatican News

Abuse allegations against the late Bishop Sullivan deemed ‘credible’
“The Diocese of Lansing has deemed as credible two allegations of sexual abuse leveled against the late Bishop James Sullivan(link is external) (1929 – 2006). Bishop Sullivan was Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing from 1972 to 1985 before becoming Bishop of Fargo in North Dakota from 1985 to 2002. Both accusations stem from the mid-1960’s when then-Father Sullivan was living in residence at a parish in Lansing. Both victims were boys who were subject to sexual grooming and inappropriate contact by Sullivan.” By Diocese of Lansing Michigan

Buffalo Auxiliary Bishop Grosz accused of molesting child at confirmation
“Retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, who for many years played a key role in the handling of sex abuse complaints against priests in the Buffalo Diocese, is accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy(link is external) after a confirmation service in 1990. A Genesee County man told The News on Monday (Jul. 12) that Grosz repeatedly groped him at a gathering in a church hall following the confirmation ceremony inside St. Brigid Church in Bergen. Grosz is the highest-ranking clergyman in the Buffalo Diocese to be accused of child sex abuse.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

With looming retirements, Francis can pick up the pace on naming U.S. bishops
“If personnel is policy, then a vote last month by the U.S. bishops to draft a controversial document on Communion that the Vatican had cautioned against reveals Pope Francis may have considerable work ahead of him in his efforts to get the American Catholic hierarchy to embrace his priorities(link is external) … Yet if Francis, who turned 84 in December and was hospitalized last week for the first major health scare of his papacy, is seeking to pick up the pace of episcopal appointments with bishops more aligned with his agenda, he does have a number of opportunities on the horizon. To date, three dioceses in the U.S. are currently vacant, another nine bishops have already passed the age of 75, when bishops are required to submit their resignation to the pope, and there are several other dioceses that will soon open.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Catholic priest who has spoken out about clergy abuse faces removal as Richmond Bishop with petition to the Vatican
“A Virginia priest could be removed from the priesthood. He continued to blog about the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals(link is external) even after the Catholic Diocese of Richmond Bishop ordered him to keep quiet. Father Mark White at first obeyed an order to stop blogging. However, he restarted the online conversation once COVID hit and in-person church services halted. That has now prompted Bishop Barry Knestout to take their battle to Pope Francis.” By Kerri O’Brien, ABC-TV8 News

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women believers changed the Roman Empire — now we must change the Roman Church
“On the feast day of the ‘apostle to the apostles,’ St. Mary of Magdala, I want to reflect on something I suspect this first witness to the Resurrection and foremost leader in the early Jesus movement might find puzzling. Namely, what is the big deal about recognizing women’s leadership in today’s Catholic faith communities?(link is external) We live in a very different cultural context than did Mary of Magdala and other early Christian women, but our own times are no less in need of Christ’s healing energy than the ones in which they lived. The Jesus movement spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire because of the initiative of female prophets, evangelists, missionaries, heads of house churches and widows, and financial support from Christian businesswomen such as Mary of Magdala and Joanna (Luke 8:1-3(link is external)) as well as Lydia (Acts 16:11-40(link is external)), Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2(link is external)), Olympias,(link is external) a fourth-century deacon (whose feast day is July 25) and others.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Plans for next synod continue at Vatican
“The Vatican released the names of members of two commissions charged with assisting the leaders of the Synod of Bishops’ general secretariat in reviewing documents, drafting resources and developing best practices. According to the synod website, the theological commission and the methodology commission will include religious and lay experts from around the world(link is external). The theme chosen by the pope for the next synod is: ‘For a synodal church: communion, participation and mission.’” By CatholicPhilly.com

Prosecutor seeks sentences in Vatican youth seminary sex abuse trial
“A prosecutor on Thursday (Jul. 15) asked a Vatican court to sentence a man who is now a priest to six years in prison for alleged sexual abuse committed in a youth seminary in the Vatican(link is external) before he was ordained. Father Gabriele Martinelli, now 28, is accused of having forced a person known only as L.G. to have sex, mostly while they were both minors between 2007 and 2012. The alleged abuse took place in the Pius X Pre-Seminary, which houses altar boys who serve Mass in St. Peter’s, including for popes, and are thinking of becoming priests.” By Reuters on KFGO-AM 790 Radio News

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican financial watchdog reports on its 2020 activities
“The Vatican’s financial watchdog agency said that in 2020 more financial transactions were flagged as suspicious by Vatican offices, but after investigation it did not have to suspend any transactions or freeze any accounts(link is external). The 2020 annual report of the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority, published July 15, said it received 89 suspicious activity reports, 85 of which came from the Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly called the Vatican bank. In 2019, 64 suspicious activity reports were filed.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Lessons from Pope Francis’ financial reform efforts
“Cleaning up the Vatican’s finances has been a long, complex and personally costly process for Pope Francis. Despite many obstacles, he has persevered, and that determination is starting to pay off. On July 3, the Vatican announced it would prosecute 10 individuals, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, for alleged financial crimes. This is an unprecedented moment and marks a potentially decisive chapter in Francis’ reform efforts(link is external) … Church sources have often told me that a root cause of the difficulties is an outdated system in which multi-million-dollar investments are overseen or managed by prelates who have not been financially trained.” By Christopher Lamb, Chicago Catholic

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Authority in a wounded church: Leaders see ‘synodality’ as way forward
“Since his election in March 2013, Pope Francis has called for a true conversion within the Catholic Church(link is external), one in which all the baptized become ‘missionary disciples,’ where ordination — as a priest or bishop — means service and not power, and where anyone who is suffering finds a listening ear, a merciful heart and a helping hand. In many countries, hundreds or thousands of cases of clerical sexual abuse have made the need for conversion painfully obvious and have led to a reckoning with how power is viewed, exercised and protected within the church.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

The church in the West is in decline―and nationalism won’t save it
“I was 17 years old when I heard the Lord’s Prayer spoken in public for the first time. It was in November 1989 during the Velvet Revolution, which brought freedom to Communist Czechoslovakia. The crowd of almost 500,000 people chanted and cheered while the dissidents spoke. But when the Rev. Václav Malý started praying the Our Father, it grew quiet. After two generations of religious suppression and intense Communist indoctrination, few people could recite the prayer by heart(link is external). Many had never heard of it. But everyone understood it was a solemn moment.” By Kamila Valenta, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Bankruptcy adds to sad legacy of Catholic Church scandal
“The past moral bankruptcy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich has led inevitably to its financial bankruptcy(link is external). Last week the diocese serving the Connecticut counties of New London, Middlesex, Windham and Tolland, as well as Fishers Island, N.Y., filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal Bankruptcy Code. Along with Catholic dioceses across the nation and the world, the Norwich Diocese shares a shameful legacy of placing the protection of the church’s reputation above protecting children, above acting lawfully, and above the Great Commandment to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” By The Day Editorial Board

Time to put the ‘catholic’ back into the Catholic Church
“What does the reaction to Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis’ motu proprio restoring the restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass that existed before 2007, tell us about the necessity of the document? And what about the prospects for ecclesial unity that Francis cited as his rationale for taking this decision?(link is external) It is important to distinguish between those who simply found the antiquity of the old rite a comfort in a fast-changing world, or those for whom the traditional Latin Mass offered an aesthetic that served to mediate the divine, and those for whom the Tridentine liturgy was a kind of ideological statement displaying their opposition to the Second Vatican Council.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: How you see the sexual abuse crisis
“The Catholic Church still has a trust problem, as shown by the results of a comprehensive survey of U.S. Catholics commissioned by America Media and featured in this issue. (Look for more results in our September issue.) Seventy-six percent of respondents to the survey, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in May and June, said that the sexual abuse of minors by clergy has hurt the reputation of the church at least somewhat(link is external), and about one-third said they were ‘embarrassed’ to tell others that they were Catholic because of the crisis.” By Editors at America: The Jesuit Review

Sexual Abuse by Clergy: The evil of and in the Church
“The alarming reports of sexual abuse by Catholic priests of minors and vulnerable adults(link is external) in most parts of the world is a shocking truth about the rot that exists within the religious institution. Sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults happens in most institutions in the world – religious or non-religious including families and is not a vile habit of some priests in the Catholic Churches alone.” By Savio Rodrigues, The Goa Chronicle

Bishops’ meetings won’t heal the U.S. church. We need a Fourth Plenary Council involving all Catholics.
“The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore concluded in December 1884. Among its results was the standardized catechism known to generations of Catholics as the Baltimore Catechism. This meeting was the last of 13 councils of different kinds that took place in Baltimore between 1829 and 1884. These 13 councils made the United States one of the most conciliar places in the Catholic Church during that time—rooted, in part, in the country’s own democratic experiment. Given all the challenges facing the Catholic Church in our country, we are far overdue for a moment in which the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of our country can discern together how to be the people of God in our time and place(link is external). It is time that we as a church” By Brian P. Flanagan, America” The Jesuit Review

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Colorado law allows sex abuse victims to collect restitution inn civil court from public and private institutions
“On Tuesday (Jul. 6), Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law Senate Bill 88, which allows victims of sexual abuse to file for restitution from public and private entities in civil court(link is external). The law adopted July 6 permits victims of abuse from 1960 to January 2022 retroactively to collect restitution from employers who knew about or who should have known about the abuse taking place, as long as claims are filed by January 2025.” By Autumn Jones, Catholic News Association, in National Catholic Register

An uncertain future for the Adult Survivors Act
“The Adult Survivors Act unanimously passed the New York State Senate during this year’s legislative session, but its future in the Assembly remains unclear(link is external). New York’s legislative session ended nearly one month ago, but not without criticism from advocacy groups. The Adult Survivors Act would create a one-year look back window for cases of adult sexual abuse. That’s similar to the Child Victims Act, legislation passed in 2019 targeted at victims of child sex abuse.” By Darrell Camp, WSKG-FM National Public Radio

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

A Widow’s Hunt for the Priest Who Preyed on Her Husband
“Instead of driving to Burlington for that meeting, Peter met his death by suicide(link is external) in the foaming, churning waters funneling through steep rock formations … Twenty-three years later, on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at 3:36 p.m., an email arrived from one Edward Mechmann with the heading, ‘Complaint against Fr. Malone.’ ‘I am the Safe Environment Coordinator for the Archdiocese of New York. As such, I oversee the child protection programs of the Archdiocese… First of all, on behalf of the Archdiocese, please permit me to express my deep regret and sorrow that your husband was abused by one of our priests.’” By Jenny Grosvenor, The Daily Beast

Anti-gay Catholic priest accused of having sex with men to ‘heal’ their homosexuality
“A French priest with a history of campaigning against gay rights faces a Catholic Church trial over allegations that he sexually assaulted men to ‘heal’ their homosexuality(link is external). Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a Vatican adviser and psychotherapist, will stand trial in church court after multiple allegations of abuse and inappropriate sexual relationships with his male clients. No details have yet been made public about when Anatrella will face trial, but the Paris Archdiocese previously reprimanded Anatrella in 2018 due to the allegations against him, preventing him from practicing therapy or hearing confession.” By Rhuaridh Mass, Metro Weekly

CALIFORNIA

Former student sues Providence High School in Burbank, alleges sexual abuse of minor by then track coach
“Providence High School, a private Catholic school in Burbank, was sued by a former student who alleges her track and field coach sexually molested her as a minor(link is external) in 2019, and then warned her not to tell anyone what he’d done. The lawsuit, brought Wednesday (Jul. 7) in Los Angeles Superior Court, identifies 27-year-old Mohamed Haddada as the former coach. The now 18-year-old plaintiff is listed only as Jane Doe.” By CBS-TV9 News Los Angeles

CONNECTICUT

Lawyer for sex abuse victims: Norwich Diocese bankruptcy filing could deny full compensation
“A bankruptcy filing by the Norwich Diocese to shield its finances as it faces lawsuits over scores of sexual abuse claims may deny full compensation to the victims(link is external), one of their lawyers said Friday (July 16). New London attorney Kelly E. Reardon, who represents six men who accused the church of sexual abuse decades ago, said insurance coverage is ‘fairly limited’ and may not result in full compensation.” By Stephen Singer, Hartford Courant

MASSACHUSETTS

Examining priest abuse after closure of Croteau case
“New details Monday (Jul. 12) night surrounding a defrocked priest who authorities said was responsible for the murder of altar boy Danny Croteau nearly 50 years ago. Western Mass News learned of new allegations against former priest Richard Lavigne(link is external), who died days before the Hampden DA could bring murder charges against him. Danny Croteau is one of those names that never left the heart of the western Mass. community.” By Audrey Russo and Amanda Callahan, FOX-TV6 News

MICHIGAN

Former U.P. Priest sentenced in Dickinson County
“Eight to 15 years in prison, that’s the sentence given to Gary Jacobs a former Upper Peninsula Priest, facing criminal sexual conduct charges(link is external). Jacobs appeared in Dickinson County court Tuesday (Ju;. 13) afternoon for sentencing. His attorney stated Jacobs wrestled with his sexuality as a gay man and alcohol abuse when he committed the criminal sexual conduct. In May, the 75-year-old Jacobs pleaded guilty to one count of second degree CSC in Dickinson County.” By Jerry Tudor, FOX-TV6 News

‘A wicked problem’: Advocacy center expands to deal with increase in child abuse allegations
“Child sexual abuse sometimes takes place under the blankets while a child sits with their abuser on the sofa, watching TV in a room full of people. ‘It’s a wicked problem that happens in the shadows,’ said Ginger Kadlec, executive director of the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, which recently added 2,200 square feet of space to deal with the rise in reports of sexual and physical abuse(link is external).” By Patti Brandt Burgess, Travers City Record Eagle

NEW MEXICO

Las Cruces diocese says abuse records disclosed voluntarily, despite New Mexico attorney general’s claims
“While New Mexico’s attorney general has taken credit for securing Catholic Church documents on sex abuse by clergy, saying they will be released to the public soon, a spokesperson for the Las Cruces diocese said it provided the documents voluntarily(link is external) out of a desire to address the “abhorrent crime” of sex abuse, not because of a search warrant or legal obligation.” By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency

NEW YORK.

3 adults, including priest, sexually abused young Mount Loretto resident, suit alleges
“Three adults, including a priest, sexually abused him over the course of six years(link is external) when he lived at the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto three decades ago, a former resident alleges in an explosive lawsuit. His assailants also threatened the plaintiff, who was in his early teens, with physical violence if he revealed what they did to him, alleges a civil complaint against the New York Archdiocese.” By Frank Donnelly, SILive.com

Bankruptcy judge rejects jury-trial motion, insurance settlement
“The U.S. Bankruptcy Court July 9 denied a motion by the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors that would have allowed 21 sexual-abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Rochester to proceed in state court(link is external). The motion was filed June 8 by attorneys representing the Committee, which was appointed by the Office of the United State Trustee and comprises several survivors of childhood sexual abuse who had filed claims against the diocese under New York state’s Child Victims Act. Also during the hearing, the court denied the diocese’s motion for approval of a $35 million settlement with several insurers involved in its bankruptcy case, which began in September 2019.” By Jennifer Burke, Catholic Courier

Retired priest placed on administrative leave following child abuse complaint
“The Diocese of Buffalo announced Friday (Jul. 9) that a retired priest who continues to assist in the ministry of St. Matthew’s parish in Buffalo has been placed on administrative leave in the wake of a child abuse complaint against him(link is external). A statement released by the diocese said it recently became aware of an action brought pursuant to the Child Victims Act by a woman who alleges she was abused as a child in the early 1980s by Monsignor Leo McCarthy, 88.” By Harold McNeil, The Buffalo News

NORTH CAROLINA

Former ministry leader at NC university sexually abused student for years, lawsuit says
“A former Catholic ministry leader at Western Carolina University in the North Carolina mountains sexually abused a student for years in the 1980s(link is external), according to a lawsuit the former student filed on Tuesday (Jul. 6) against his alleged abuser and the Charlotte Catholic Diocese. On Friday, the diocese issued a statement that it ‘has zero tolerance for child sexual abuse, and we continue to encourage anyone who has been the victim of abuse to seek help and report to authorities.’” By Joe Marusak, The Charlotte Observer

OHIO

Strongsville priest pleads guilty to sex trafficking, child pornography charges; diocese plans to ‘defrock’ him
“A Strongsville Catholic priest pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday (Jul. 16) to several charges, including sex trafficking of a minor and possession of child pornography(link is external). According to the Department of Justice, Rev. Robert D. ‘Bob’ McWilliams decided to plead guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, and one count each of transportation of child pornography, receipt and distribution of visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and possession of child pornography.” By Dave ‘Dino’ DeNatale, Tyler Carey, Marisa Saenz, WYKC-TV3 News

Former Steubenville teacher sentenced for sex abuse of 15-year-old
“A former Steubenville Catholic Central High School teacher was sentenced after accepting a plea agreement to one count of sexual battery(link is external). Corissa A. McCalister, 22, of Steubenville was sentenced to two years of probation, community service and must register as a sex offender. McCalister originally pled not guilty. McCalister was the head cross country coach and assistant track coach at Steubenville Catholic Central High School, where she reportedly was driving a 15-year-old student home from a track meet at Edison High School when she made a stop at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Cadiz and engaged in sex with the teen.” By John Lynch, WKBN-TV27 News

TEXAS

$10M lawsuit filed against Vatican, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston after priest accused of child sexual abuse
“A $10 million lawsuit has been filed against Holy See and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and its Cardinal, Daniel N. DiNardo, on behalf of the parents of a child they say was sexually abused by Rev. Phi Thanh Nguyen(link is external) in November 2018, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states that Nguyen sexually abused the child when she was 10 years old while attending the Nazareth Academy in Victoria, Texas. The lawsuit names Holy See because ‘Nguyen would not have been able to ingratiate himself at Nazareth Academy,’ according to the lawsuit.” By Click2Houston.com

VERMONT

Former South Burlington priest accused of child sexual abuse
“A former South Burlington priest has been accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1960s. The victim, who is remaining anonymous, is now in his 60s. He says Father Roger W. Carlin molested him when he was nine in 1966 and 1967 at St. John Vianney church in South Burlington. ‘He wants to try to heal, he wants to try to help other victims, and he wants to make the world a safer place for children,’ said Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney representing the alleged victim. Garabedian has represented thousands of other sex abuse cases and says coming forward can be cathartic for victims.” By Katherine Huntley, WCAX-TV3 News

VIRGINIA

Area Catholic diocese adds four priests to list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse
“The Richmond Catholic Diocese has added four names to its list of clergy who have credible, substantiated claims of sexual abuse involving a minor against them(link is external). Three of the priests — Robert Beattie, Leo Creamer and Patrick Quinn — are dead. The fourth, Joseph Slowik, hasn’t actively served in the ministry since 2006. They join the list, which was first made public in 2019, of 23 other priests with sexual abuse allegations in the diocese, which includes the Charlottesville area.” By Colbi Edmonds, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Former Christendom College professor arrested on charges of soliciting a child
“A longtime economics and political science professor at Christendom College in Virginia has been charged with solicitation of a minor younger than 16 years old and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. William R. Luckey, 72, who taught for about 30 years at the Catholic institution, which touts being one of only 15 colleges recommended by the conservative Cardinal Newman Society, was arrested on June 25 and released on a secured $50,000 bond on July 12.” By Jenn Morson, National Catholic Reporter

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin DOJ encourages survivors to report clergy and faith leader abuse
“Wisconsin’s attorney general is encouraging survivors of clergy or faith leader abuse to report it to the state’s Department of Justice(link is external). Attorney General Josh Kaul says the state’s victim services specialists can help survivors in a safe and confidential way. ‘We want to get to the bottom of this, both so we can connect survivors to services, but also so we can help get some measure of accountability,’ Kaul says. ‘Hopefully by working with the dioceses to update their lists of credibly accused priests as the facts dictate … we can work to prevent this from ever happening again.’” By Leah Rivard, News8000.com

More than 100 church-related abuse claims filed with DOJ
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice has received more than 100 reports of abuse by clergy and faith leaders across the state(link is external) since announcing a statewide investigation in April, the law enforcement agency said Tuesday (Jul. 13). The reports received by the agency to date include allegations of abuse and also relate to how churches and religious organizations responded to abuse, the justice department said.” By Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

Priest guilty of 25 sexual abuse charges
“A Catholic priest has been found guilty of numerous historical abuse charges including three counts of having homosexual sex with young boys(link is external). Anthony William Peter Caruana, 79, was convicted of 25 charges relating to 12 victims after jurors in his Sydney trial were deliberating for nearly 10 days. They will return to the NSW District Court on Wednesday to continue deciding on a majority verdict for the remaining two counts.’ By Australian Associated Press on YahooNews.com

EAST TIMOR

East Timor: Defrocked priest’s trial must be swift – NGO
“An East Timorese NGO has called for more respect and support for victims of sexual abuse in the country(link is external), calling for a speedy trial of a defrocked priest accused of sexually abusing several children over a period of years. ‘Sexual violations against women and girls are serious crimes, and everyone must unite to oppose these acts. Activists, journalists, the state, human rights institutions and our entire population need to act more purposefully to fight for the physical safety, privacy and freedom of women and girls,’ said La’o Hamutuk, a Timorese non-governmental organisation (NGO).” By Lusa, MacauBusiness.com

FRANCE

Anti-LGBTQ+ Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse to Cure Homosexuality
“A French Catholic priest, Tony Anatrella, who once served as a Vatican adviser regarding sexuality, is facing a church trial over alleged sexual relationships with his male clients(link is external). The priest, 80, has a history of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ rights initiatives including authoring an article that supported a ban on queer people serving in the priesthood, according to Queerty. The website also reported that he claimed gay men raised violent children.” By Alex Cooper, The Advocate

PHILIPPINES

Legislators must end Philippines’ child sex shame
“The greatest shame of the Philippines is the fact that it is legal under the 1930 Penal Code for a 50-year-old man to have sex with a pre-pubescent 12-year-old child(link is external) and get away with it if the man can convince a court that the child ‘gave consent.’ Soon that will change and justice will be done for thousands of child victims. At present many children, under pressure from parents and abusers, are forced to stay silent when sexually abused or to say to government officials or in court that ‘He is my boyfriend,’ or that ‘I loved him.” By Shay Cullen, Manila, UCANews.com

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Synod theologian says laity must make decisions, not just implement them / Cruxnow.com

Lay people aren’t just called to implement decisions in the Church made by others, but to make those decisions themselves.

Cruxnow.com

“Looking ahead to a looming Synod of Bishops on the concept of ‘synodality,’ a lay Venezuelan theologian says the time has come for bishops to grasp one key point: Lay people aren’t just called to implement decisions in the Church made by others, but to make those decisions themselves.

“Layman Rafael Luciani, who divides his year between Venezuela and Boston, where he works at Boston College, is one of three Latin American theologians who were chosen as consultants for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the matter of Synodality, to which he hopes to contribute “from a non-clerical vision.”

“‘If there is no co-governance, there is no understanding of the Church that involves all the baptized,’ Luciani told Crux. ‘Co-governance does not mean that one person makes the final decision and brings it to the table, where others have to understand why I made a decision. It means that a discernment has to be done together, and decisions have to be made together, not explained from the top down.'”

By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

July 13, 2021

TOP STORIES

Vatican indicts 10, including a cardinal, in London deal
“A Vatican judge on Saturday (Jul. 3) indicted 10 people, including a once-powerful cardinal, on charges including embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion and fraud(link is external) in connection with the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro investment in a London real estate venture. The president of the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, though lawyers for some defendants questioned how they could prepare for trial so soon given they hadn’t yet formally received the indictment.” By Nicole Winfield Associated Press

The German synodal way explained
“Some Catholics in the United States are deeply concerned about the German church’s ‘synodal way.’ A quick YouTube search returns titles like, ‘What is going on in Germany!?!?!’ ‘English Bishop WARNS Vatican ‘Stop German Bishops, We’re Heading to Schism!’ and ‘Vatican in Crisis Management Mode Over Catholic Bishops in Germany.’ Is any of this true? Not really(link is external). For this week’s special episode of America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast, I spoke with four German Catholics who understand the synodal way well: A bishop involved in the synod’s forum on power, a theologian involved in the forum on women’s roles, one of the synodal way’s spiritual guides, and a critic of the process.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Review board chair urges bishops to focus on healing for abuse survivors
“Although major steps have been taken to help achieve healing and reconciliation with survivors of clergy sexual abuse, much work remains ahead for the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external), the chairwoman of the National Review Board told the spring assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Citing the progress that has occurred since 2002 when the abuse scandal exploded, Suzanne Healy said in a prerecorded address to the bishops that the church’s outreach efforts must continue to evolve as the needs of survivors are better understood. ‘We must focus on the areas of healing and reconciliation, accountability, transparency and ongoing education for all involved in child and youth protection,’ said Healy, who has chaired the NRB since June 2020.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Polish church reports recent clergy abuse of 368 children
“In its latest report on the sexual abuse of minors, Poland’s Catholic Church says 292 clergymen allegedly abused 368 boys and girls from 2018 through 2020. The report, released June 28, comes at a time when the Vatican is investigating reports of abuse and of a lack of reaction by church leaders in Poland(link is external), a predominantly Catholic nation where the clergy enjoy special esteem. The Vatican recently punished a few Polish bishops and archbishops for negligence and barred them from church and lay ceremonies. The Holy See is also investigating reports of negligence by retired Krakow archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who before that served as personal secretary to the late pope, St. John Paul II.” By Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press

French priest, former Vatican adviser, to face church trial on abuse claims
“A prominent French priest and psychotherapist who was once an influential Vatican adviser on matters regarding human sexuality is going to face trial in a church court over accusations of inappropriate sexual relationships with male clients(link is external), the Paris Archdiocese has confirmed. The charges against Msgr. Tony Anatrella have not been announced.” By Elisabeth Auvillain, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

New law forces priests to report child abuse
“A new Queensland law requires priests to report to police any information about child sexual offences heard during confession(link is external). According to the law, all adults will have a legal duty to report to police sexual offending against children, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so. The law came into force on Monday (Jul.5). It passed through the state’s Parliament with support from both major parties last September, despite the Church defending the seal of confession. In a formal submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge explained that stripping Catholics of the seal of confession made priests ‘less a servant of God than an agent of the state.’” By CathNews.com

Why criminal charges for deaths at residential schools would be unprecedented — and enormously complex
“Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme said he is treating the site of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School ‘like a crime scene.’ Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said the deaths of children at the school was ‘a crime against humanity.’ And yet, after the second discovery in less than a month of hundreds of previously unknown burials at former residential schools, there is no indication that criminal charges of any kind will be laid in connection to those deaths(link is external).” By Nick Boisvert, CBC News

Catholics must know how Peter’s Pence is spent, Vatican official says
“The head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said he hopes efforts at financial transparency and reform will foster Catholics’ trust ahead of the annual Peter’s Pence collection(link is external). In an interview with Vatican News June 25, Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said Catholics ‘have the right to know how we spend the money given to us.’ ‘Sometimes contradictions arise from a lack of knowledge, which, in turn, comes from a lack of transparency,’ Guerrero said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope agrees to meet with Indigenous groups from Canada about schools
“Pope Francis will meet with Indigenous leaders later this year to discuss coming to Canada to apologize for the church’s role in operating schools(link is external) that abused and forcibly assimilated generations of Indigenous children, a step toward resolving the grievances of survivors and Indigenous communities, the head of Canada’s largest Indigenous organization said on Wednesday (Jun. 30).” By Ian Austen and Vjosa Isai, the New York Times

BISHOPS

Sex abuse claims against late Fargo bishop dating to ’60s found credible
“The Diocese of Fargo said July 2 it has added the late Bishop James S. Sullivan, sixth bishop of Fargo, to its list of clergy with credible accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor(link is external). The diocese said it took this action after it was informed by the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, that an investigation of accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor from decades ago made against the late bishop were deemed credible. Sullivan was ordained as a priest for the Lansing Diocese in 1955.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

N.J. Catholic diocese sells archbishop’s controversial ‘luxury’ retirement house for $910K
“A sprawling retirement house used by former Newark Archbishop John J. Myers — that drew protests from some parishioners for being too lavish for a Catholic priest(link is external) — has been sold, church officials said. The Hunterdon County residential house, which included two elevators, indoor and outdoor pools and a three-story addition, sold last month for $910,000 to an undisclosed buyer, the Archdiocese of Newark said in a statement.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com

US bishops’ latest display of desperation has roots in years of dysfunction
“The recent vote by this country’s Catholic bishops, the equivalent of a corporate tantrum, was cringe-inducing but should not have been a surprise. The move to produce a document designed to render a severe and public judgment of President Joe Biden was engineered by men who, ensconced in a culture capable of stunning depravity and cover-up, have been searching for any means to reestablish their authority(link is external). The vote by three-quarters of the bishops was the latest in a series of tawdry displays of desperation cloaked in the language of piety and gestures of moral superiority. The irony is as subtle as a Wile E. Coyote anvil. Their cause even further off target. The subsequent protestations — that any new document will not be a political statement — is a transparent reaction to public outcry. The damage has been done.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops respond to Interior Department investigation of Native American boarding schools
“Responding to the announcement of a Department of Interior initiative that will look at the history of Native American boarding schools and seek to identify the possible grave sites of a still-unknown number of Indigenous children(link is external), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, through its spokesperson Chieko Noguchi, issued a cautious statement on June 28, noting that the conference would ‘look for ways to be of assistance’ to the Interior Department’s investigation: ‘We are deeply saddened by the information coming out of two former residential boarding school sites in Canada,’ Ms. Noguchi said. ‘We cannot even begin to imagine the deep sorrow these discoveries are causing in Native communities across North America.’” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Bishop’s ‘heartfelt’ apology over Catholic college abuse
“Men who were sexually abused as boys at a training school for Roman Catholic priests have welcomed a bishop’s ‘momentous’ apology(link is external). The group were pupils at St Peter Claver College in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, when they were molested in the 1960s and 70s. At a meeting with the men, the Bishop of Leeds said their abusers were people they should have been able to trust. One victim said the apology marked a changing attitude from the church.” By BBC News

PRIESTS

Vermont Catholic priest numbers plummet to historic lows
“Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne stepped onto the altar of St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington this month to announce what, at first glance, appeared to be good news. ‘We have arrived at a place where things can return to normal,’ he said. Coyne was speaking of the state lifting Covid-19 restrictions, allowing Vermont’s largest religious denomination to reopen its 68 parishes at full pre-pandemic capacity. But he was saying so at an annual clergy ordination that, as in too many past years, was welcoming just one new priest(link is external).” By Kevin O’Connor, VTDigger.com

Grace abounds at Association of US Catholic Priests’ meeting
“When giving a talk, it is necessary to scan the audience every few minutes, to make sure you are not losing them. But every time I scanned this audience, once I assured myself they were still very attentive, different thoughts entered my mind(link is external). How many dying souls had been comforted in their last hours by the men in this room? How many children had received their first Communion from these hands? How many grieving families had been comforted at a funeral presided over by one of these priests? How many sermons had stirred an individual to a moment of personal growth or conversion, or stirred an entire congregation?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

No surprise: Nuns are taking the lead in putting ‘Laudato Si’’ into action
“In December 2019, students from the Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore joined members of the Atlantic-Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame at a grocery store for a giveaway of reusable bags. The reusable bags were handmade by Sisters Virginia Brien and Clara Beall, aged 94 and 85. Other sisters, many long retired, attached information about plastic pollution and climate change. It was one of the many ways that the School Sisters of Notre Dame exemplify what it means to promote ‘the dignity of life and the care of all creation(link is external),’ as their directional statement ‘Love Gives Everything’ exhorts.” By Kathleen Bonnette, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH REFORM

Momentum for Catholic Church reform builds in Australia
“As Australian Catholics prepare for an historic plenary council assembly in October, a leading churchman says there’s ‘unprecedented momentum for deep reform(link is external).’ The Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long, a Vietnamese-born former boat refugee and a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, has called for the elimination of clericalism and for more women to be given roles in church governance and decision-making.” By Mark Bowling, The Tablet

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholics must know how Peter’s Pence is spent, Vatican official says
“The head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said he hopes efforts at financial transparency and reform will foster Catholics’ trust ahead of the annual Peter’s Pence collection(link is external). In an interview with Vatican News June 25, Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said Catholics ‘have the right to know how we spend the money given to us.’ ‘Sometimes contradictions arise from a lack of knowledge, which, in turn, comes from a lack of transparency,’ Father Guerrero said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

CLERICALISM

How do you recognize clericalism?
“In November of 2019, the Report on Clerical Sexual Abuse made 31 recommendations for preventing and investigating sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. In particular, recommendation #25 called for ‘…the immediate establishment of a leadership team comprised of lay, religious and clergy to prayerfully explore the development of an Archdiocese-wide plan’ to combat ‘the inherent evil of clericalism(link is external)’ within both the laity and clergy of the Archdiocese.” By Archdiocese of Vancouver Clericalism Committee on BCCatholic.ca (The BC Catholic)

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Buffalo Diocese considers merging parishes to share resources, priests
“After filing for bankruptcy amid growing clergy sex abuse claims, the Buffalo Diocese is working on a ‘Road to Renewal.’ Catholic Church Deacon, Paul Snyder, said he wants churchgoers to have an input on the renewal(link is external). ‘What I have seen so far is in this Road to Renewal is its telling people in the pews what they need to do,’ Snyder said. ‘I find that very surprising because it was never the people in the pews causing these problems.’ This plan comes as church attendance continues to decline.” By Lilia Wood, WKBW-TV7 News

Buffalo Diocese eyes grouping parishes to share priests, schools as it emerges from scandal
“The numbers tell a stark story about the extent of decline within the Buffalo Diocese over the past decade or so. Average weekend Mass attendance fell by 41% – from 158,300 people in 2011 to 93,134 people in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Enrollment in Catholic elementary and high schools dipped from 16,716 students to 12,643 students during the same time. And 62 fewer priests were working in the diocese in 2019, compared to 2011 … As they try to restore the diocese’s battered reputation and finances, Bishop Michael W. Fisher and other church leaders are also asking Western New York Catholics to re-imagine the traditional parish structure(link is external) that has marked the practice of the faith since their births into it.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Bishops’ conference walks back mixed messaging on Communion and Catholic politicians
“Following a virtual meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops, at which a majority of the country’s hierarchy voted to advance a divisive document on the Eucharist, the U.S. bishops’ conference is seeking to clear up its own mixed messaging and is insisting the eventual document will no longer target Catholic politicians(link is external). A June 21 document published by the bishops’ conference states ‘there will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians’ and notes that the timing of the document is related to ‘declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful,’ which has been of concern ‘for some time.’ The new messaging from the bishops’ conference, however, has now undergone some revisions from their original proposal.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Catholic Church has misplaced moral priorities
“Talk about lousy timing. The biggest religion story in Iowa last week was a jaw-dropper. Attorney general Tom Miller announced he has concluded a three-year investigation of sexual abuse allegations against priests in the four Roman Catholic dioceses(link is external) in our state. Miller’s staff examined church records, some dating to the 1930s, that involved about 100 priests. His office also received and looked into 50 allegations against 36 priests, many of whom were the subject of earlier complaints.” By Randy Evans, nwestiowa.com

The USCCB’s misguided effort to punish President Biden
“‘As a convert, I never expected much of the bishops,’ Dorothy Day wrote in a 1968 letter. ‘In all history, popes and bishops and abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy(link is external). I never expected leadership from them.’ Many Catholics, and not only converts, would agree with Day’s jaundiced view of bishops—and June’s meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded us why that’s the case. President Joe Biden’s worthiness to receive Communion dominated coverage of the proceedings, a predictably divisive outcome that underscored the bishops’ political obtuseness and pastoral failings.” By The Commonweal Editorial Board

Editorial: The Catholic Church must come clean – completely – about what it did to native Americans
“Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has helped all Canadians and First Nations communities grapple with the sorrowful realities of their nation’s colonial past, particularly the gruesome legacy of its residential schools for Indigenous children. Those schools, many administered by Catholic religious orders and intended to be engines of assimilation, became centers of despair and brutality(link is external). The recent discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at two schools, and the likelihood that thousands more will be found at other residential school sites, have added to the anguish. But at least in Canada, a foundation for healing is being laid by the government-sponsored truth and reconciliation commission.” By America: The Jesuit Review Editorial Board

Janet Petersen: Give survivors of sexual abuse a chance to pursue justice, no matter their birthday
“Attorney General Tom Miller recently released the findings of his investigation into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, which represents just a small fraction of sexual abuse cases in Iowa … Despite Iowa’s new law eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse, these Roman Catholic priests who drugged and raped Iowa children and the dioceses that covered up the crime are immune from criminal prosecution in every case(link is external).” By Janet Petersen, Guest Columnist, The Des Moines Register

Editorial: Don’t put your faith if the bishops’ conference
“At their June meeting, 168 U.S. bishops voted to move forward with a document on the Eucharist, an idea that came out of a working group concerned with President Joe Biden’s political positions on abortion. Although subsequent messaging from the conference has indicated the document will not address denying Communion to politicians, it was clear from the discussion at the meeting that such exclusion motivated many bishops. They proceeded with this divisive project despite repeated warnings(link is external) (including from the Vatican) that it would lead to further politicization and polarization — concerns confirmed within hours of the release of the vote total, when a group of Democratic Catholic politicians responded with a letter of their own, lambasting the ‘weaponization of the Eucharist’ … What a mess.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Board

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

AG’s Office releases report on clergy abuse
“The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has completed a review of clergy abuse in Iowa(link is external). The office examined records involving about 70 Catholic priests and looked into 50 complaints of sexual abuse and misconduct reported to the attorney general. ‘Sexual abuse took place over decades. The complaints, the victims, the duration of the abuse were overwhelming,’ a report by the AG’s Office concluded. ‘Our hearts go out to the victims of these acts. The consequences are severe and lifelong.’ The report concludes that while the Catholic Church in Iowa had a long, painful history of abuse by priests and a cover-up by officials, the Dioceses have enacted many reforms over the last two decades. The Dioceses have become more responsive to victims of clergy abuse and each now reports all accusations to law enforcement authorities.” By Iowa Attorney General’s Office

COLORADO

Colorado survivors of childhood sexual abuse can sue institutions that hid or ignored it
“Individuals who were abused as children in Colorado can sue the institutions that hid abuse or did nothing to stop it(link is external) starting in January. Gov. Jared Polis signed SB21-088 into law Tuesday (Jul.6), giving survivors another avenue to pursue claims against government entities, schools and private institutions that have youth programs like the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church. The law caps how much victims can get from the lawsuits — up to $1 million from private entities and up to $387,000 from governmental entities.” By Saja Hindi, The Denver Post

IOWA

Former St. Mary’s priest names in attorney general’s abuse report
“A former Storm Lake priest and Fonda man affiliated with the Catholic church have been accused of sexually abusing young boys(link is external) decades ago, according to an Iowa Attorney General’s report that commended the Sioux City Diocese for keeping an active list of ‘credibly accused’ priests and clergy members. The attorney general’s report released last week said Everett Apt of St. Mary’s Parish and an unidentified ‘non-clergy member who was involved in a Catholic organization’ in Fonda were among its list of 31 alleged abusers.” By tom Cullen, The Storm Lake Times

Attorney General: Iowa report finds ‘overwhelming’ sex abuse by Catholic clergy
“Citing ‘overwhelming’ incidents of abuse and ‘extensive’ cover-up that spanned decades, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller issued a report Wednesday (Jun. 23) detailing 50 complaints his office received about allegations of sexual impropriety by Catholic clergy, non-clergy or spiritual leaders(link is external) — including 17 victims who had not previously come forward to report abuse to authorities. The report concluded the Catholic Church in Iowa has had a ‘long, painful history of abuse by priests and a cover-up by officials’ but has taken steps recently to implement reforms and respond to victims.” By Rod Boshart, Special to the Globe Gazette, in Blue Mountain Eagle

LOUISIANA

Diocese of Lafayette puts deacon on leave pending sex abuse investigation
“The Diocese of Lafayette has received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Deacon Shawn Jude Gautreaux(link is external), according to a news release. Following an initial inquiry, the Diocese has placed Gautreaux on administrative leave pending a further determination in the matter. The allegation received, according to the release, relates to a period of time many years before he was ordained a deacon. Further, the Diocese has reported the allegation to law enforcement authorities in St. Martin Parish.” By The Daily Advertiser

MAINE

Maine priest placed on leave following sexual abuse allegation
“A Roman Catholic priest serving several midcoast churches but who has worked throughout Maine is on temporary administrative leave while the diocese investigates a decades-old abuse allegation(link is external), officials said Monday (Jul. 5). According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, the Rev. Robert Vaillancourt has been accused of sexually abusing an underage girl in the 1980s. He has been placed on administrative leave while the diocese’s Office of Professional Responsibility conducts an internal investigation, consistent with the diocese’s protocol for such allegations.” By Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald

MASSACHUSETTS

Trial date set for Catholic priest charged with rape
“A trial date has been tentatively scheduled for the Catholic priest who was charged with rape in a local case(link is external). Mark Hession is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 5, according to a pretrial hearing Monday (Jul. 12) in Barnstable Superior Court. He faces two charges of rape, one charge of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, and one charge of intimidating a witness. Hession, a 63-year-old Fairhaven resident, on Jan. 11 pleaded not guilty to the charges.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times

MICHIGAN

Ex-Catholic priest in Oakland County faces more sex abuse charges
“A former priest in Oakland County charged with sexually assaulting a minor decades ago now faces two more cases(link is external), the Michigan Attorney General’s office announced Monday (Jun. 28). The three cases against Gary Berthiaume stem from allegations in the 1970s involving victims who were between 13 and 15 at the time, investigators said in a statement. Berthiaume, 80, was then a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, according to the release.” By Mark Hicks, The Detroit News

MINNESOTA

Northwest Minnesota priest cleared of child sex abuse; deacon now faces similar allegations
“Just days after a priest in the Crookston Catholic Diocese was cleared of sexually abusing a minor, leadership announced a deacon who oversaw youth camps is under investigation for similar accusations(link is external). Deacon Aaron Kaiser has been placed on administrative leave pending the probe into allegations of child sex abuse, according to a news release issued June 11. He has been removed from ministry.” By April Baumgarten, Brainerd Dispatch

NEW YORK.

Buffalo priest placed on leave following abuse allegations in new lawsuits
“A retired Buffalo priest who is accused of child sex abuse in two recent Child Victims Act lawsuits has been put on administrative leave(link is external). Bishop Michael W. Fisher suspended Monsignor James G. Kelly from active ministry Wednesday (Jun. 30) after an unnamed plaintiff said in court papers that Kelly molested him from 1980 to 1982. The plaintiff was an 8-to 10-year-old student of the Diocesan Educational Center and attended church at St. Nicholas and St. Benedict the Moor at the time of the alleged abuse. The school and both parishes are now defunct.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

OHIO

Cleveland-Area Catholic Priest Intends To Plead Guilty To Child Sex Charges
“A Cleveland-area Roman Catholic priest intends to plead guilty to federal charges involving the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography(link is external), according to his attorney. Attorney Robert Dixon filed a motion Thursday saying Robert McWilliams will plead guilty to charges contained in an indictment without a plea agreement. Dixon declined to comment on Friday (Jul. 2). McWilliams was accused by prosecutors in an indictment filed last July of posing online as a female to persuade boys to send him sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves and threatening to tell their parents if they did not send more images.” By KDKA-TV2 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Father Robert Cedolia, Catholic priest, charged with sexual assault
“A former priest-administrator at several Roman Catholic parishes in Allegheny County has been charged with twice sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy(link is external) who was preparing for his first Holy Communion, police said. The Rev. Robert J. Cedolia, 70, was charged with aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and related offenses for alleged sexual assaults that occurred in the spring of 1998 in the sacristy of Our Lady of Joy in Plum and two weeks later in a restroom at the back of the sanctuary, according to a criminal complaint filed by Allegheny County police detectives.” By Kris B. Mamula, Pittsburg Post-Gazette

SOUTH CAROLINA

Catholic church fires employee, allegation of sexual misconduct involving minor
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston has fired an employee over a 2016 allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor(link is external). The allegation was reported to Charleston Police Department on June 18, reports show. The employee was identified by the Diocese but his position was not noted. The Post and Courier is not naming the accused. ‘(The employee) was terminated after officials with the Diocese of Charleston learned of an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor,’ Maria Aselage, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Charleston, wrote.” By Olivia Diaz, The Post and Courier

CANADA

Disgraced Bishop Hubert O’Connor again accused of sexual assault
“A dead former B.C. Roman Catholic bishop convicted in 1997 of rape and indecent assault against residential school students has again been named in new allegations of sexual assault(link is external). The now-dead Bishop Hubert O’Connor is one of three priests named in the lawsuit. In 1997, O’Connor was convicted of rape and indecent assault of female students at schools. He was later acquitted of indecent assault in a 1999 appeal and a new trial was ordered for the rape charge but the Crown decided not to pursue the case after O’Connor apologized.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique News Magazine

5 more priests named in latest archdiocese sexual abuse report
“The latest progress report from the committee studying clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Vancouver names five more clergymen(link is external) involved in abuse settlements, lawsuits, or other cases. The previously unpublished names are Father Roland Joncas, Brother Edward Patrick English, Father Frederick Robert Neilsen, Father Duncan George Goguillot, and Father William Crawford Mendenhall.” By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

B.C. man sues Vancouver archdiocese over abuse claimed at Catholic summer camp
“Vernon Mulvahill says he has lived with an anger at his core since he was seven or eight years old. In the decades since, the Chilliwack truck driver’s rage has expressed itself through violence, heavy drinking and restlessness. Mulvahill says he is tired of feeling ashamed for a wrong that was done to him as a child. He is suing the Roman Catholic bishop of Vancouver and the archdiocese over sexual assault he claims happened at a summer camp(link is external) in the late 70s.” By Jason Proctor, CBC News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former priest jailed for repeated indecent assault of a boy in 1970s
“Former priest Tony Walsh has been jailed for two years for repeatedly indecently assaulting a child(link is external) 45 years ago. Walsh (67) was a trainee priest when he sexually abused the child victim on six occasions inside a church in the 1970s. Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Walsh has 39 previous convictions, 34 of which are for previous offences of indecent assault.” By Brion Hoban, The Irish Times

POLAND

Polish Catholic Church Facing Wave of Sex Abuse Allegations
“The Catholic Church in Poland is facing a wave of allegations of sexual abuse, church authorities said on Monday (Jun. 28), as they laid out statistics on the extent of abuse amid an investigation into alleged cover-ups by a senior clergyman. Seen by many as a core element of Poland’s national identity, the Catholic Church is a powerful force in public life. However, it has been rocked by a series of pedophilia scandals that have contributed to the erosion of its authority, especially among younger Poles.” By Reuters in U.S. News & World Report

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 30, 2021

TOP STORIES

New Vatican laws on clergy abuse not enough, says former papal commissioner
“A respected former member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse has expressed disappointment in the recent revision of the criminal section of the Catholic Church’s canon law, saying the changes do not go far enough to protect children and vulnerable adults from possible predators(link is external). Marie Collins, an Irish survivor who resigned in frustration from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2017, pointed during a June 15 webinar to the fact that the new provisions do not mandate that a priest found guilty of abuse be removed from any office he may hold, or from the priesthood.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

A Vatican office rallies the strength of the laity
The Holy See’s Dicasteries recounted from the inside: history, goals and mission – a look at how the offices work that support the Pope’s ministry. The prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, describes the work of his office in this interview.
Five years in existence and three areas of competence as big as the world can be summarized in a single word: laity(link is external). Pope Francis created this new structure of the Holy See in response to his wish to bring together men and women of every background, culture and part of the world. The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life is the privileged place and observatory to discern and promote all that can give prominence to the lay vocation in the Church and the world … The aim is to promote reflection in anthropological, moral, and philosophical areas, as well as action in political, economic, and ethical spheres in order to protect and promote the dignity of human life..” By Alessandro De Carolis

The abuse crisis and the elusive horizon of a repenting church
“The Catholic Church enjoyed a bit of a renewed honeymoon with the global media after the May 21st announcement of the ‘synodal process 2021–2023.’ But the love fest lasted only about a week.(link is external) It was brought to an abrupt and ugly end when law enforcement officials in Canada discovered 215 unmarked graves of indigenous children at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia. International organizations quickly demanded that the Church in Canada and the Holy See admit responsibility for the tragedy … For the Catholic Church in the 21stcentury, the present is unmanageable, the future continues to slip away, and the hope of a fresh start has become elusive.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

In Canada, Another ‘Horrific’ Discovery of Indigenous Children’s Remains
“The remains of 751 people, mainly Indigenous children, were discovered at the site of a former school in the province of Saskatchewan, a Canadian Indigenous group said on Thursday (Jun. 24), jolting a nation grappling with generations of widespread and systematic abuse of Indigenous people. The discovery, the largest one to date, came weeks after the remains of 215 children were found in unmarked graves on the grounds of another former boarding school(link is external) in British Columbia. Both schools were part of a system that took Indigenous children in the country from their families over a period of about 113 years, sometimes by force, and housed them in boarding schools, where they were prohibited from speaking their languages.” By Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky, The New York Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Synodality? What’s Synodality?
The USCCB just isn’t into it, and that’s a problem.
“This necessarily means a rebalancing of power in the Church—not only between the clergy and the laity or between men and women, but also (for example) between the power of money and the contributions of the voiceless. Therefore, even though the bishops are in charge, the synodal process requires a mobilization of the entire Church(link is external) … All have the opportunity to play an important role during the next two years. If everything is left to the vertical institution of the Church, this two-year ‘synodal process’ will simply perpetuate an ecclesiastical order that works only for an increasingly small number of people—that is, for clerics and the clericalized laity.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

UN rights experts urge Vatican to halt child sex abuse
“A group of United Nations human rights experts said Monday (Jun.21) they had urged Pope Francis and the Vatican to take steps to stop child sex abuse in Catholic institutions and prevent it from happening again(link is external). The experts called on ‘the Holy See to take all necessary measures to stop and prevent the recurrence of violence and sexual abuse against children in Catholic institutions, and to ensure those responsible are held to account and reparations are paid to victims.’ The four special rapporteurs, who do not speak for the United Nations but report their findings to it, wrote to the Vatican on April 7.” By Buenos Aires Times

Vatican regulates lay movements to prevent governance abuses
“The Vatican took steps Friday (Jun. 11) to better regulate Catholic lay religious movements(link is external) by imposing term limits on their leaders and requiring internal elections to be representative of their memberships. The Vatican’s laity office cracked down on the largely unregulated world of international associations of the faithful after some cases of abuses of authority and bad governance had been reported.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on MyJournalCourier.com

POPE FRANCIS

Francis names Oblate priest new secretary of papal clergy abuse commission
“Pope Francis has named Oblate Fr. Andrew Small secretary ‘pro tempore’ of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external). Small, 53, had served two terms as national director for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, and his successor there was named in April. The Vatican June 22 announced Small’s appointment to the commission, which Pope Francis established in 2014. The body of experts, with input from survivors, is meant to make proposals and spearhead initiatives to improve safeguarding norms and procedures throughout the church. Its work is separate from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s investigation and canonical prosecution of clerics accused of abuse.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

German says Pope made right call when he refused Cardinal’s resignation over abuse crisis
“A leading German bishop says Pope Francis made the right decision when he refused the resignation of German Cardinal Gerhard Marx(link is external), who had asked the pope to release him from his role as archbishop of Munich in an attempt to assume collective responsibility for the clerical sexual abuse scandals. ‘It creates security for the others: You never know for what mistake a bishop might be obliged to resign,’ said Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Carinal says Church law on abuse will need ‘continuous updating’
“Cardinal Oswald Gracias says the Church was trying to ‘answer present-day needs’ when it revised the section on canon law dealing with penal matters, but also noted Church law on abuse will need ‘continuous updating(link is external).’ Under the new version of the code promulgated at the beginning of the month, there is new chapter on “Offenses Against Human Life, Dignity, and Liberty,” covering matters of abuse.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

German cardinal’s resignation, refused by pope, reinvigorates church reform
“Pope Francis rejected the resignation of German Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s on Thursday (June 10), but the news did little to calm the shockwaves Marx’s move sent through the Vatican and supporters of Germany’s controversial Synodal Path movement(link is external), who view the prelate as their champion. In a letter published June 4, Marx offered his resignation to Francis in light of the sexual abuse scandals shaking the church in Germany and beyond, which Marx said was ‘also caused by our personal failure, by our own guilt.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

CCCB Statement – Delegation to the Holy See
“The Catholic Bishops in Canada have genuinely heard the sincere invitation to engage wholeheartedly with the past and are deeply committed to take truly meaningful active steps together with Indigenous Peoples in view of a future filled with greater respect and cooperation. The recent discovery of children’s remains at a burial site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia reminds us of a tragic legacy still felt today(link is external). With the strong encouragement of Pope Francis, the Bishops of Canada have pledged true and deep commitment to renewing and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land.” By the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Poland’s embattled bishops to meet with Pope Francis
“When Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, a retired Polish prelate, was sanctioned by the Vatican in late May for mishandling sexual abuse by his clergy, it was just the latest blow to the once-unsullied image of the country’s Catholic Church. In recent days, there have been reports that the Polish bishops have been specially summoned to Rome in the fall by Pope Francis because of a spate of sexual abuse cases(link is external) that have rocked the country’s church. Although officials have denied the accuracy of the reports, they nonetheless signal the deep unease now afflicting religious life in Europe’s most Catholic country.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Can the US bishops grasp Pope Francis’ ecclesial vision?
“When Cardinal Reinhard Marx published his remarkable and unexpected letter of resignation as archbishop of Munich and Freising on June 4, religion reporters, theologians and members of the hierarchy jumped on the phone to try and make sense of it. Some writers foolishly rushed into print with analysis … Francis did not accept the cardinal’s resignation. Again he surprised us. Not only that, his response to the German cardinal was so spiritually rich, and so provocative in its understanding of the source of episcopal authority(link is external), it could well serve as the starting point for the discussion the U.S. bishops will have at their spring meeting later this week. The pope’s vision might yet save the bishops’ conference from its worst instincts.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Irish bishops choose woman to head steering group for synodal pathway
“The Irish Catholic bishops have chosen a laywoman to head preparations for a national synod, due to be held in the next five years(link is external). Nicola Brady has worked in a number of peace-building roles, both nationally and internationally, and currently works on building relations between the Christian traditions in Ireland. Bishops meeting virtually for their summer 2021 plenary meeting announced June 16 that Brady will head up a new synodal steering group to make preparations.” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

VATICAN

Vatican to seek dismissal of Guam rape case
“The Holy See, or the Vatican, will be seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed against it by a former Catholic school student who claimed that former Archbishop Anthony Apuron raped him(link is external) in the mid-1990s. ‘The Holy See intends to file a motion to dismiss based upon numerous grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficient services of process and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,’ the Vatican’s legal team said in court filings. That motion would detail the team’s defense against claims that the Vatican is liable for an archbishop’s rape and molestation of children, among other things.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

Vatican regulates lay movements to prevent governance abuses
“The Vatican took steps Friday (Jun. 11) to better regulate Catholic lay religious movements by imposing term limits on their leaders and requiring internal elections to be representative of their memberships. The Vatican’s laity office cracked down on the largely unregulated world of international associations of the faithful after some cases of abuses of authority and bad governance(link is external) had been reported. Canon lawyers and theologians said the crackdown was perhaps a sign that other lay movements, which have flourished over the last half-century but were largely left to govern themselves, might be similarly targeted.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH REFORM

Voice of the Faithful 2021 Conference will feature well-known theologian and women religious leader
“An internationally recognized theologian and author and the leader of an organization representing thousands of women religious will speak at Voice of the Faithful’s 2021 Conference Re–Membering the Church: Moving Forward(link is external). Overall, this year’s VOTF conference will look closely at the body of the Catholic Church to see how structure, power, participation, and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world.” By PRZen on DigitalJournal.com

CHURCH FINANCES

No Vatican-NZ money-laundering probe
“Media coverage of a spectacular error in an Australian financial authority’s reporting of financial transactions from the Vatican to Australian(link is external) accounts earlier this year prompted some Catholic figures to mention possible New Zealand connections, as part of a wider discussion about money-laundering between nations. But New Zealand Police have told NZ Catholic that the New Zealand Financial Integrity Unit ‘has not commenced any money-laundering investigations in relation to the transfer of funds between the Vatican and New Zealand.’” By Michael Otto, New Zealand Catholic

Nun who ran Torrance Catholic school will plead guilty to stealing funds that financed gambling habit
“A nun who ran a Catholic elementary school in Torrance agreed to plead guilty to stealing more than $ 835,000 from school funds(link is external) to pay her personal expenses, including gambling habits. Mary Margaret Kluper, 79, was charged with one wire fraud and one money laundering charge on Tuesday, according to the California Central District Federal Attorney’s Office. The judicial transaction was submitted with the billing documents. Kluper’s lawyer, Mark Burn, said he was ‘extremely regretful of what happened’ about how Kluper became a nun at the age of 18 and devoted his life to helping others.” By California News Times

As new report released, Vatican bank chief says ‘bad old days’ are done
“With release of an annual report showing a healthy profit in 2020 despite the Coronavirus pandemic, Friday capped what’s already been a good run in June for the Institute for the Works of Religion, the so-called ‘Vatican bank,’ including good grades from Europe’s top financial watchdog and a key recognition by the IRS in America. In tandem with other milestones in recent years, President Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, the French economist and banker who’s led the IOR since 2014, believes June 2021 marks an historic turning point. ‘I think we can say,’ de Franssu told Crux, ‘that the era of the old Vatican bank is ove(link is external)r.’ By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

Sardinia charity linked to ousted Vatican cardinal searched
“Italian police searched the offices of a Sardinian charity and diocese on Wednesday (Jun. 9) on behalf of Vatican prosecutors who are investigating a once-powerful cardinal on alleged embezzlement charges(link is external). Lawyers for Cardinal Angelo Becciu said in a statement that any and all documentation seized would only serve to confirm the absolute correctness of the behavior’ of Becciu, the charity and the diocese of Ozieri. Pope Francis sacked Becciu as head of the Vatican’s saint-making office and stripped him of his rights and privileges as a cardinal in September, amid a crackdown on financial mismanagement and corruption in the Holy See.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Watchdog group: Vatican needs to improve handling of financial crimes
“Moneyval, the European financial watchdog committee, said that while the Vatican has made progress in combatting financial crimes, its investigations into potential crimes committed by senior officials needs more fine-tuning(link is external). The group, also known as the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, released its assessment of the Vatican’s compliance with financial regulation standards June 9. The 275-page report was published after experts from Moneyval conducted a two-week onsite inspection of the Vatican in October.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, America: The Jesuit Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Joe Biden, the Bishops & Vatican II: The Battle Over the Brand of U.S. Catholicism
“With the Catholic Church now besieged by scandal, financial collapse and an extraordinary exodus of the faithful hastened by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are good reasons to be worried that the bold experimental spirit of Vatican II, its hope for a church engaged with the world, is at its end(link is external) in these Biden years. Many Catholics could be tempted to indulge hopes that the Biden administration could be a new beginning for the council’s spirit of engagement with the world if Mr. Biden can excite Americans about Catholicism—while at the same time exciting Catholics about the goodness of our political obligations.” By Steven P. Millies, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Thomas Merton’s wisdom for a church in crisis
“It’s striking how timely those opening observations (of Thomas Merton’s) are 57 years later. Indeed, the church, at least within the United States, is facing a crisis(link is external). And, as I have written here before, part of what contributes to the crisis is the refusal of many bishops to recognize the ongoing creative power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, they double down on their own sense of self-assurance and the mistaken belief that they — and they alone — are responsible for the success or failure of Christ’s church. This is part of what I see playing out in their reduction of the Blessed Sacrament to an idolatrous token of political partisan approval or as a blasphemous weapon to be used in controlling the people of God.” By Daniel P. Horan, OFM, National Catholic Reporter

The collapse of the US bishops’ conference
What we witnessed last week at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring meeting was outrageous(link is external). As mentioned in my last column, bishops questioned each other’s motives without any objection from the chair. Bishops argued that this push to draft a document on the Eucharist was not motivated by politics, but then had to acknowledge that the idea came from a working group formed to cope with the Biden administration. And, in what would appear funny were it not so tragic, every time the principals in the effort to draft the document explained that they were not motivated by politics, that this effort was not directed at any one individual, one of the culture warrior backbenchers would get up and mention President Joe Biden by name.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church response to sexual abuse must center on survivor well-being, not defensiveness
“In light of the recent discovery of 215 Indigenous children in unmarked graves at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia and investigations at other former residential schools, there have been renewed calls for the Pope to apologize for residential schools and for the Catholic Church to release its records(link is external). The story has also turned public scrutiny on how the Catholic Church has responded to other calls to apologize and be accountable to victims in cases of sexual abuse both in residential schools and throughout the church.” By Beth Daley, TheConversation.com

Church For Residential Schools: Experts
Too few people in charge of residential schools have faced legal consequences for ‘crimes against humanity” committed against Indigenous children, experts say.
Following the discovery of the remains of 215 undocumented children, some as young as 3, under a former residential school in British Columbia, calls are mounting for leaders and staff of residential schools to be punished. Starting in the 1800s, residential schools were funded by the Canadian government and operated by churches to forcibly assimilate an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children. More than half of all schools were Catholic-run. Sweeping physical and sexual abuses, disease, and malnutrition were rampant, and up to 15,000 children, many undocumented, were killed nationwide(link is external). The last school only closed its doors in the mid-1990s.” By Anya Zoledziowski, VICE.com

A mass grave for Indigenous children was found in Canada. Could it happen in the United States
“After years of grueling testimony about the treatment of First Nations and other Indigenous children in residential boarding schools during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Canadians could be forgiven if they believed they had already heard the worst. But on May 27, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that a land survey using ground-penetrating radar at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia discovered the remains of 215 children—and more are expected to be found(link is external) after another survey this month.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

As Child Victims Act nears end, details of abuse still elusive
“Nearly two years ago, the Child Victims Act went into effect, touted as a way to bring both a reckoning for individuals and institutions involved in decades of child abuse and a measure of justice for their victims. But none of the thousands of court cases that have been filed in New York have yet gone to trial(link is external) and many details of the alleged institutional coverups that shielded the abuse remain cloaked in secrecy.” By Edward McKinley, Times Union

New Maine law will remove time barrier to civil claims on childhood sexual abuse
Anyone who has experienced childhood sexual abuse in Maine soon will be able to file a civil claim against their perpetrator, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred(link is external). In 2000, Maine eliminated the statute of limitations for those lawsuits. But that policy was not retroactive, so victims whose claims had expired still could not bring them forward. On Monday (Jun. 21), Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill that will lift the statute of limitations for those cases as well. Supporters said that means more survivors will have the option to take their abusers to court.” By Megan Gray, Portland Press Herald

Pa. lawmakers threaten university funding over statute of limitations deadlock
“A pair of state lawmakers who sponsored a bill to give adult survivors of child sexual abuse the right to sue their assailants beyond the statute of limitations say they will block state appropriations for Pennsylvania’s public research universities if Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward continues to stall a vote on their bill. State Reps. Jim Gregory, R-Blair County, and Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, say they’ve assembled a coalition of lawmakers from diverse sectors who are willing to block funding to Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities unless Ward, a Hempfield Republican, moves the bill to a vote.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Louisiana Legislature allows for more child sex abuse lawsuits — including against the Catholic Church
“The Catholic Church and other major institutions accused of mistreating children stand to lose a lot more money to lawsuits brought by victims of abuse(link is external) under a bill unanimously approved by the Louisiana Legislature Thursday. House Bill 492, sponsored by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, removes the time limit for civil lawsuits over child abuse. Currently, a person must sue over child abuse before they turn 28 years old.” By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

First-Of-Its-Kind Law Allows Child Sex Assault Survivors To Sue Institutions That Covered Up Abuse
“On the last day of the legislative session, state lawmakers gave final approval to what will be a first-in-the-nation law. The bill will allow survivors of child sexual assault between 1960 and 2022 to sue institutions like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts if their assault was the result of a cover-up by the institution(link is external). They will have three years to file the lawsuit. Earlier this year, lawmakers lifted the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases going forward but, because the state constitution bars retroactive claims, it didn’t help those abused in the past. This bill creates a new type of claim not under the statute of limitations.” By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Do not say ‘rape’ but term it ‘inappropriate contact’: Catholic Church
“In 2018, the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime – the division within the bureau that provides profiles of violent criminals, among other things – reviewed much of the evidence the Pennsylvania Grand Jury received and concluded that its analysis of the material revealed something akin to ‘a playbook for concealing the truth(link is external).’ First, the church employed euphemisms for sexual assault, referring to the crime not as rape, but as ‘inappropriate contact’ or ‘boundary issues,’ center investigators said. In one case, the grand jury reported a priest’s repeated and violent sexual assaults of children were referred to as ‘his difficulties.’” By Savio Rodrigues, Goa Chronicle

Catholic churches publicly report a fraction of sexual abuse allegations
“The number of sexual abuse accusations made public by Catholic churches in Illinois is a fourth of the total number(link is external), according to Attorney General Kwame Raoul. An investigation launched by Former Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2018 discovered Catholic churches kept at least 500 sexual abuse accusations a secret. At the time, only 185 clergy members in the state were publicly identified as being “credibly” accused of child sexual abuse. Madigan announced her investigation in August 2018, and by December, the state discovered those 500 undisclosed cases, bringing the total number of allegations up to about 690.” By Renée Cooper, WCIA.com

CALIFORNIA

Attorney says ‘predator’ Craig Harrison sexually assaulted 2 minors, one at Bakersfield church
“Attorneys have filed lawsuits alleging former priest Craig Harrison sexually assaulted two minors(link is external), one at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Bakersfield. Harrison sexually assaulted a 13-year-old at St. Francis in about 1990, said plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson at a press conference in Fresno. He said Harrison lured the teen into the rectory and ‘violated him repeatedly.’” By Jason Kotowski, KGET.com Bakersfield

Diocese of Fresno vows to soon release report on priests accused of sexual misconduct
“The Diocese of Fresno is close to releasing a much-anticipated report on priests accused of sexual misconduct, an official said Wednesday (Jun.9). ‘We are in the process of finalizing that report,’ said Cheryl Sarkisian, chancellor and victim assistance coordinator for the diocese. ‘It has been time- and labor-intensive and is close to being finalized for release soon. The diocese under then-Bishop Armando Ochoa vowed in January 2019 to release a list of accused priests, much like other dioceses have done across the country.’” By Robert Rodriguez, Fresno Bee

ILLINOIS

Chicago Archdiocese settles sexual abuse suit for $880,000
“Two men who said they were sexually molested decades ago by a notorious Catholic priest who was imprisoned for molesting other boys have agreed to a settlement of $880,000(link is external) from the Archdiocese of Chicago, attorneys announced Wednesday (Jun.23). The men alleged Norbert Maday sexually abused them repeatedly starting when they were as young as 10 years old while they were altar boys and students at St. Bede the Venerable Elementary School on the city’s South Side, attorneys Jason Friedl and Martin Gould said.” By Don Babwin, Associated Press

How one Catholic order closes its eyes to sexual abuse by clergy
“Among Catholic religious orders in the United States that, like the U.S. church itself, are facing a national reckoning over clergy sexual abuse of children, the Claretians stand out(link is external). The Claretians operate Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3200 E. 91st St. on the Southeast Side, which was the first Mexican American Catholic congregation in Chicago. Many of the order’s ministries center on children, including tutoring, violence prevention and arts programs. Like other orders that operate in the Chicago area, the Claretians have faced abuse allegations. Six clerics accused of sexual abuse have served at some point at Our Lady of Guadalupe, records show.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Tmes

Northwest Side pastor reinstated following sexual abuse investigation by Archdiocese of Chicago
“The Archdiocese of Chicago reinstated the Rev. Daniel McCarthy to a Northwest Side parish(link is external) less than a year after a decades-old sexual abuse allegation surfaced. In a letter released Monday to the congregation of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish and School, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich stated McCarthy would be reinstated effective immediately following an investigation from last year’s report. ‘The Review Board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father McCarthy is guilty of these allegations,’ Cupich stated in the letter.” By Elvia Malagón, Chicago Sun-Times

IOWA

Iowa Attorney General’s report reviews dozens of ‘overwhelming’ sex-abuse complaints against Catholic priests
“In Iowa as in the rest of the country, the incidence and duration of sexual abuse by clergy ‘were overwhelming’ and the cover-up ‘extensive(link is external)’ in earlier decades, a report by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office that was released Wednesday (Jun. 23) concludes. A years long investigation by the office reviewed nearly 50 complaints of sexual abuse against current and former Catholic priests and other officials, including 17 allegations that had never before been reported.” By William Morris and Melody Mercado, Des Moines Register

KANSAS

KCK Catholic diocese says finding that priest did not sexually abuse minor was wrong
“A finding in 2002 that one of its priests did not sexually abuse a minor was inaccurate(link is external), the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced on Friday (Jun.18). ‘With deep sorrow for the suffering of victims and survivors of abuse, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announces that William Haegelin, a priest who was removed from ministry in 2002 and laicized in 2004, has been the subject of a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor,’ the archdiocese said in a statement published in Friday’s issue of The Leaven, its official newspaper.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

A Catholic Priest Admitted to Raping a Child. Because His Deposition Is Sealed, He Walks Free.
“The Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse (SCSA) issued a letter to various law enforcement officials requesting that they read the sealed deposition of accused child rapist, and former Catholic priest(link is external), Lawrence Hecker. The President of SCSA Richard Windmann explained that a ‘Federal Court in New Orleans, Louisiana, has sealed a deposition in which a Catholic priest admitted to raping a child. Because the deposition is sealed by the court, this predator is a free man on the streets of our community, and no child is safe, and he has escaped Justice.’” By Helen Lewis, Big Easy Magazine

Faced with financial liability, Lafayette Diocese and fallen priest shift blame to victim’s family
“Disgraced priest Michael Guidry has twice changed his story about the night in 2015 that he molested a teenage altar boy in the rectory of St. Peter’s Church in Morrow(link is external), a small community in St. Landry Parish. When the boy reported the abuse three years later, Guidry initially told St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives that he could not recall the fondling. But moments before taking a lie detector test, he admitted rubbing the boy’s genitals.” By Ben Myers, The Acadiana Advocate

MICHIGAN

Former Jackson music teacher facing 10-20 years in prison after sexual abuse plea
“A former music teacher is facing 10 to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse charges dating to his tenure at a Jackson Catholic school(link is external) in the 1970s. Joseph Comperchio pleaded guilty Friday (Jun. 18) in Jackson County Circuit Court to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office. Nessel’s office in September charged Comperchio with six counts of criminal sexual conduct for sexually abusing two children and added five new counts in October related two individuals.” By Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News

Former Catholic school teacher downstate pleads guilty; 4th conviction in AG’s Clergy Abuse investigation
“A former Catholic school music teacher will serve at least a decade in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of criminal sexual conduct(link is external), which will result in the harshest prison sentence thus far in the Michigan Department of Attorney General’s ongoing clergy abuse investigation. Joseph – or Josef – Comperchio, of Fort Myers, Florida, was first charged last September for sexually abusing two children. In those cases, he was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Then in October of last year, five new counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving two individuals were added.” By FOX-TV6 News

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Supreme Court sends case accusing Catholic priest of abuse back to Forrest County
“Robert McGowen’s hopes for relief decades after he says he was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest(link is external) are still alive after the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling Thursday (Jun. 17). McGowen was 12 and 13 years old in 1984-85, when he says he was sexually abused by former Sacred Heart Catholic Church priest Father John Scanlon. McGowen said he did not remember the abuse until one day in December 2018, after which he sought counseling, according to court documents.” By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American

MISSOURI

Kansas City diocese hasn’t named all priests credibly accused of sex abuse, group says
“The Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese has failed to include nearly 20 priests on its list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse even though they are named elsewhere(link is external), a victim’s advocate group said Wednesday (Jun. 23). Those priests — including one convicted in Texas of trying to hire a hit man to kill his victim— all had ties to the diocese in the past, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group publicly released the names at an afternoon news conference.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW JERSEY

Attorney for clergy sex-abuse victims claims Camden diocese ‘underreported’ assets
“The Diocese of Camden ‘grossly underreported’ its assets in a bankruptcy filing in an effort to ‘disadvantage survivors of clergy abuse(link is external),’ a lawyer charged Wednesday (Jun. 23). Attorney Jeff Anderson asserted Bishop Dennis Sullivan, the diocese’s leader, ‘has at least $774 million under his control.’ In contrast, he said, the diocese’s bankruptcy filing lists assets of almost $54 million and net assets after liabilities of $28.1 million.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

Law firm adds 9 N.J. priests to list of accused abusers, as deadline nears in diocese’s bankruptcy case
“Anyone who was sexually abused by a Catholic priest has less than two weeks to file a claim before a deadline set in the Diocese of Camden’s bankruptcy case, attorneys said as they added nine new names to the list of accused priests(link is external). The diocese — which includes parishes in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties — filed for bankruptcy last fall after church officials said its finances were overwhelmed by clergy sexual abuse settlements and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

N.J. man sues Delbarton School alleging monks sexually abused him repeatedly in the 1970s
“A former star athlete and football player at Delbarton School in Morris County has filed a lawsuit against the order that runs the private Catholic institution, claiming three monks sexually abused him as a teenager(link is external) in the 1970s – the latest in a series of similar lawsuits filed against the school. Rodney Baron, now 57, claims in the lawsuit he was abused in the late 1970s when he was 13 or 14 years old. Baron states in the suit that he and his brother were the only Black students at Delbarton and were instructed to be ‘exceptionally obedient’ because of their race.” By Anthony G. Attrino, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Buffalo Diocese to monitor 18 priests accused of abuse with home visits, restrictions
“The Buffalo Diocese, heavily criticized by State Attorney General Letitia James for not keeping better tabs on priests who molested children, is launching a monitoring program that will include monthly home visits and other restrictions for offending priests(link is external). Bishop Michael W. Fisher confirmed in an interview with The News that the diocese has developed and begun to implement a ‘detailed monitoring plan with a professional monitor who will be in contact with each of these priests who have been relieved of ministry.’” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Tollner seeks info from Diocese on abuse he says he suffered
“Rensselaerville resident Richard Tollner has filed a legal petition against the Diocese of Albany, relating to an effort to secure justice against a Catholic priest whom Tollner says sexually abused him when he was a teenage prep-school student(link is external) in Nassau County. The petition for pre-action discovery, filed on May 28, would allow Tollner and his attorneys to acquire information from the Diocese of Albany that would help them to ‘fully evaluate [Tollner’s] claims’ against the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which oversaw the prep school, St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary, where Tollner says he was sexually assaulted a number of times by Alan Placa in the 1970s.” By The Altamont Enterprise

Rochester diocese seeks approval for $35M settlement with insurers for sex abuse victims
“The Diocese of Rochester has asked a federal judge to approve a $35 million settlement agreement with its insurers to help pay survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). In a statement issued Friday (Jun. 11) afternoon, the diocese said the proposed agreement was with Lloyd’s of London and Interstate Fire and Casuality, who are among the major insurers involved in its bankruptcy case.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Sexual abuse claims at Bronx Catholic school spanning 3 decades come to life
“It’s taken him decades to tell his story, but one man is sharing with News 12 his traumatic memories of being sexually abused as a little boy for years at a Catholic school(link is external) and community center in the Bronx. He says the time to get justice is now as the expiration date for the state’s Child Victims Act approaches. ‘As a little child, I could not process what was happening to me. I felt defenseless, I felt dirty. I felt it was my fault,’ said the man. John Doe spoke with News 12’s Asha McKenzie under protection of anonymity.” By News 12 Staff

Rochester diocese seeks approval for $35M settlement with insurers for sex abuse victims
“The Diocese of Rochester has asked a federal judge to approve a $35 million settlement agreement with its insurers to help pay survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). In a statement issued Friday (Jun. 11) afternoon, the diocese said the proposed agreement was with Lloyd’s of London and Interstate Fire and Casuality, who are among the major insurers involved in its bankruptcy case.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

NEVADA

Law Review: Seven more victims sue the Catholic Church
“A few years ago, this column summarized the statistics of thousands of lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church for ignoring the molestation of children by priests who historically were transferred to other parishes where their pedophilia continued. Today’s case, Ratcliff v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, analyzes a new case filed by seven adults. Seven adults claiming they were molestation victims(link is external), sued the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles and related individuals and entities for molestation allegedly committed by Father Christopher Cunningham.” By Jim Porter, Sierra Sun

TEXAS

New list of clergy accused of sex abuse released by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
“Faith leaders from the Catholic dioceses in Texas have added four more names to the list of clergy who were accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) from 1950 through the end of 2018. The original list was presented as part of an effort to bring about the restoration of trust, according to the website hosted by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The updated list includes John Patrick Barry, C.S.B., Franz B. Lickteig, O.Carm. and William ‘Herb’ Schreiner, C.S.B. who have all been “deceased for decades.” By ABC-TV13 News

WISCONSIN

Lawsuit claims racial discrimination in treatment of clergy abuse survivors
“We’ve heard the reports of alleged and confirmed sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, but we’re also learning about racial disparities in the treatment of clergy abuse victims(link is external). In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, June 8, the lawyer for a Black clergy abuse victim accused the Franciscans of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headquartered in Franklin, Wisconsin, and the Diocese of Jackson Mississippi, of discrimination. He said both churches ignored Raphael Love’s repeated claim of abuse by former Franciscan Brother Paul West.” By CBS 58 Newsroom

AUSTRALIA

Some abuse survivors to receive advance payments
Elderly and terminally ill survivors of child sexual abuse will be able to access advance compensation payments of up to $10,000(link is external), after an inquiry found the scheme designed to support victims is a bureaucratic nightmare. In its first two years of operation, the national redress scheme has been criticized as incredibly slow, overly complicated and traumatizing for survivors forced to recount horrific tales of abuse in the hope of securing financial support. A review commissioned by the Morrison Government has been released by Social Services Minister Anne Ruston and agreed with many of those sentiments.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Ottawa archbishop apologizes for Catholic Church’s role in residential school system
“Ottawa-Cornwall Archbishop Marcel Damphousse issued a formal apology Monday (Jun. 21) to Indigenous people for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system(link is external). He also called on Pope Francis, the global head of the church of approximately 1.3 billion people, to apologize, as well. The apology is the latest expression of contrition from a Canadian Catholic leader since the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked burial sites of children’s remains adjacent to a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. It follows similar apologies from the archbishops of Vancouver and Regina.” By Ryan Patrick Jones, CBC News

Catholic order that staffed Kamloops residential school refuses to share records families seek
“The order of nuns that taught at the former Kamloops residential school, and others in B.C., continues to withhold important documents that could help tell the story of how Indigenous children died at the schools over the past 150 years(link is external). The Sisters of St. Ann has never approved the release of relevant government records — documents that could relate to deaths at the schools — according to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the religious order.” By Angela Sterritt, Jennifer Wilson,·CBC News

Sask. Catholic churches delay, reject calls to release internal files on abuser priests
“Joey Basaraba cries randomly while sitting in his Saskatoon apartment, in the shower or out walking. He can’t remember the last time he slept through the night. ‘I take it one day at a time,” Basaraba said in an interview this week. Basaraba, who says he was sexually abused for years starting at age six by two Prince Albert, Sask., priests(link is external), is joining the renewed national calls for church transparency after the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a Catholic residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.” By Jason Warick,·CBC News

GERMANY

Archdiocese of Berlin suspends work of commission on sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Berlin announced that it was temporarily suspending the work of its expert commission established to follow up on a legal report about sexual abuse in the archdiocese(link is external) since 1946. The archdiocese said June 22 that the commission is recommending that findings from the legal firm Redeker Sellner Dahs be reworked or that another legal firm be commissioned to investigate the abuse. In a statement later that day, lawyers Sabine Wildfeuer and Peter-Andreas Brand of Redeker Sellner Dahs said they learned about the suspension of the archdiocesan Sexual Abuse Expert Commission through the media.” By Anli Serfontein, Cruxnow.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Fr Malachy Finnegan: Abuse survivor Tony Gribben gets six-figure settlement
“A man abused for years by a pedophile priest at a County Down school is to receive a six-figure sum in damages(link is external), the High Court has been told. Tony Gribben, 61, sued the trustees and board of governors at St Colman’s College in Newry and the Diocese of Dromore. He took the lawsuit over the sexual and physical assaults suffered at the hands of the late Father Malachy Finnegan. The pay-out to Mr Gribben forms part of a settlement.” By BBC News

‘The Irish Handmaid’s Tale’: Mother and baby home survivor says reality was worse than fiction
“The way survivors of mother and baby homes have been treated by the Catholic Church and successive governments in Ireland amounts to ‘abuse of the abused(link is external),’ one woman has said. Terri Harrison was among the survivors to give testimony to the Investigation Committee of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. Speaking to The Journal, Terri said that recalling the trauma she suffered when coerced into giving her son up for adoption, and her ongoing search for him, while giving evidence to the Commission was incredibly difficult.” By TheJournal.ie

‘I was disgusted by it’: Former Belvedere College pupils claim priest assaulted them
“A number of former pupils of Belvedere College in Dublin have alleged that a priest who taught at the fee-paying secondary school assaulted them(link is external) in the late 1970s and 1980s. In March the Jesuits in Ireland publicized the name of a former Belvedere College teacher, Fr Joseph Marmion SJ, who is now deceased, to encourage people who may have suffered abuse to come forward. The Order said at the time that Marmion had ‘sexually, emotionally and physically’ abused pupils at Belvedere College in Dublin in the 1970s.” By The Irish Journal

Retired priest seeks to stop child sex abuse trial going ahead
“A retired priest is seeking a High Court order halting his trial on charges of child sexual abuse dating back to the 1960s. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is facing four charges of sexual assault of a female(link is external) on dates between 1966 and 1969. The complainant was a secondary school student and a minor at the time of the alleged assaults in Co Galway. The first assault is alleged to have taken place in the room of an abbey.” By Aodhan O’Faolain, The Irish Times

POLAND

Poland asks Vatican’s data for its church sex abuse probes
“Poland’s state commission for fighting sex abuse of minors said Thursday (Jun. 24) it has asked the Vatican for data on abuse by the clergy in Poland because Poland’s church is not providing the requested information(link is external). Head of the commission Blazej Kmieciak said that some 30% of cases of abuse of persons aged under 15 that the commission is analyzing relate to the clergy. He said, however, that despite written requests made earlier this year to regional leaders of Poland’s Catholic Church and of other churches, only one bishops’ court made its files available to the State Commission for Cases of Pedophilia.” By Associated Press in Las Vegas Sun

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 14, 2021

TOP STORIES

New Vatican law criminalizes abuse of adults, even by laity
“Pope Francis has changed church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority, and to say that laypeople who hold church office can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes(link is external). The new provisions, released Tuesday (Jun. 1) after 14 years of study, were contained in the revised criminal law section of the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law, the in-house legal system that covers the 1.3 billion-strong Catholic Church. The most significant changes are contained in two articles, 1395 and 1398, which aim to address major shortcomings in the church’s handling of sexual abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Governance report ‘catalyst for conversation’
“Catholic Religious Australia is launching a series of online conversations to explore the 2020 Church governance review report(link is external), ‘The Light from the Southern Cross.’ ‘The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia’ report, published in August 2020, has been commended as an important and substantial contribution to the life and mission of the Church in Australia, and a roadmap for the future of the Church. CRA president Br. Peter Carroll FMS said, ‘The report is a valuable resource and in light of the Plenary Council, the timing is right for the People of God to reflect on the themes in the report and discern what those themes mean to them.’ By CathNews.com

Archdiocese of Milwaukee says it won’t participate in AG investigation of clergy sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is pushing back against a recently announced attorney general investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy(link is external), calling it a display of ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ and a violation of the First Amendment. In a letter from the archdiocese’s attorney, Frank LoCoco of the Milwaukee firm Husch Blackwell, contends Attorney General Josh Kaul doesn’t have the authority to investigate the Catholic dioceses of the state and that doing so would go against the U.S. Constitution and state laws.” By Laura Schulte and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Pope Francis orders review of the Vatican congregation that oversees over 410,000 Catholic priests worldwide
“Pope Francis has asked an Italian bishop, Msgr. Egidio Miragoli, 65, to carry out a visitation of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, which has oversight of the more than 410,000 Catholic priests around the world(link is external). Bishop Miragoli broke the news today, June 7, in a letter to the priests of the Diocese of Mondovi, in Italy’s Piedmont region, where he is pastor … He (Miragoli) revealed that on June 3, Francis explained in some detail what he expected him to do when he met the bishop at a private audience in Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where the pope lives. The bishop did not disclose the details of his brief, and the Vatican has not commented on the meeting or a visitation of the congregation.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis refuses resignation of German cardinal, commends his courage
“Although agreeing with him that the clerical abuse crisis is a ‘catastrophe,’ Pope Francis rejected the resignation presented to him by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx(link is external) as archbishop of the archdiocese of Munich. ‘You tell me that you are going through a moment of crisis, and not only you but also the Church in Germany is going through it,’ Francis wrote in a letter dated June 10. ‘The whole Church is in crisis because of the abuse matter; moreover, the Church today cannot take a step forward without addressing this crisis.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Vatican punishes Polish churchmen for alleged abuse cover-up
“The Vatican said March 29 that it is punishing a retired Polish archbishop and a bishop for their alleged roles in covering up sexual abuse committed by other clergymen(link is external). Former Gdansk Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz and former Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz have also been forbidden from living in their former dioceses or participating in any public religious celebrations there. The Vatican Embassy in predominantly Roman Catholic Poland also said each of the two is being required to contribute personal money into a fund helping victims of clerical abuse.” By Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter

Poland’s embattled bishops to meet with Pope Francis
“When Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, a retired Polish prelate, was sanctioned by the Vatican in late May for mishandling sexual abuse by his clergy, it was just the latest blow to the once-unsullied image of the country’s Catholic Church. In recent days, there have been reports that the Polish bishops have been specially summoned to Rome in the fall by Pope Francis(link is external) because of a spate of sexual abuse cases that have rocked the country’s church. Although officials have denied the accuracy of the reports, they nonetheless signal the deep unease now afflicting religious life in Europe’s most Catholic country.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Missing residential school records: Vatican won’t release documents, feds destroyed files
“While the Vatican has refused to release residential school records, it isn’t the only body suppressing the racism and abuse experienced within these institutions(link is external). The Canadian government destroyed 15 tons of paper documents related to the residential school system between 1936 and 1944, including 200,000 Indian Affairs files. From the age of four, Mike Cachagee attended three separate residential schools in northern Ontario. But there are few records to prove it.” By Omar Sachedina and Brooklyn Neustaeter, CTV News

POPE FRANCIS

A reforming pope’s dilemma: Using the center to deliver decentralization
“Before St. John Paul II, the old joke used to go that being pope meant never having to say you’re sorry. Since John Paul actually apologized for various failures and sins of the church well in excess of 100 times, that bit of papal humor no longer really applied. However, here’s another old papal saw that’s still highly relevant: ‘Do as I say, not as I do(link is external).’ The thought comes to mind in light of news that the Vatican under Pope Francis, for the very first time in history, is carrying out a financial audit of the Diocese of Rome.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Pope orders visitation of German archdiocese
“Pope Francis has ordered an apostolic visitation ‘to obtain a comprehensive picture of the complex pastoral situation’ in the Archdiocese of Cologne and to investigate how accusations of clerical sexual abuse were handle(link is external)d, the Vatican nuncio to Germany announced. The pope asked Swedish Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm and Dutch Bishop Johannes van den Hende of Rotterdam to carry out the visitation, which include onsite visits in the first half of June, the note said.” By Catholic News Service on UCANews.com

Pope expresses sorrow but no apology for indigenous school deaths in Canada
“Pope Francis expressed sorrow Sunday (Jun. 6) for the gruesome discovery of a mass grave in Canada containing the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children. The remains were found at a boarding school for Indigenous Canadians, operated by Catholic clergy. ‘I join the Canadian Bishops and the whole Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people, who have been traumatized by this shocking news,’ Francis told an audience in St. Peter’s Square, according to a translation of prepared remarks. ‘This sad discovery further heightens awareness of the pain and sufferings of the past.’” By Matthew S. Schwartz, National Public Radio

CARDINALS

Cardinal Marx offers Pope Francis his resignation, citing ‘responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse’
“In a decision that has sent shock waves through the German Catholic Church, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, 67, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, revealed that on May 21 he met Pope Francis in the Vatican and handed him his letter of resignation(link is external), with a strong plea that the pontiff accept it. He said Francis asked him to continue serving as bishop of the archdiocese until he has made a decision on his request. In a declaration issued today (Jun. 4), Cardinal Marx said: ‘It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse perpetrated by representatives of the church over the past decades.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

PRIESTS

Pope Francis: The church needs fragile pastors – not ‘superman’ priests
“Pope Francis told a group of priests studying in Rome that if they do not want to be pastors, spending time with the faithful, they should request dismissal(link is external) from the priesthood and concentrate on academics instead. ‘Be pastors with the scent of your sheep, persons able to live, laugh and cry with your people—in other words, to communicate with them,’ the pope told the priests June 7. The priests, who are studying at pontifical universities in Rome, live at the city’s St. Louis of France residence.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Wisconsin priest digs in to refuse bishop’s demand to resign
“The Rev. James Altman calls himself ‘a lowly priest’ serving a blue-collar city in western Wisconsin. But when his bishop demanded his resignation – after a series of divisive remarks about politics and the pandemic – Altman refused to oblige(link is external) and has since raised more than $640,000 from his conservative supporters to defend himself. While not unprecedented, a Catholic priest’s refusal to abide by a bishop’s call to resign is certainly rare. Altman’s case, which has garnered national attention and made him a celebrity of sorts among conservative Catholics, has further fueled the divide between them and those urging a more progressive, inclusive church.” By Todd Richmond and David Crary, Religion News Service

We need to talk about our Catholic seminaries
“We are looking for our priests to be shepherds; to live among us, to listen to our joys and sorrows, and above all to love us with the heart of Jesus. In my last podcast, I talked with the Rev. Erich Rutten, a white priest who pastors St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, a historically Black Catholic parish in Saint Paul, Minn. He recounted how he prepared for his current assignment at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University(link is external) in New Orleans, La.” By Gloria Purvis, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN’S VOICES

Ambassador welcomes Vatican ‘See change’ on women
“There is ‘definitely’ a change in the Holy See in their approach to women(link is external), according to Sally Axworthy, British ambassador to the Holy See. ‘There are more senior appointments now…Sister Natalie Becker is the deputy in charge of synods, there’s a deputy foreign minister who’s a woman…women are increasingly being appointed to positions of real responsibility in the Vatican.’ By Sebastian Milbank, The Tablet

New canon on women’s ordination nothing new, can be changed
“Now it is formally illegal to ordain a woman as a deacon. Or as a priest. Or as a bishop(link is external). On June 1, Pope Francis promulgated revisions to the Code of Canon Law detailing crimes and punishments. The new ‘Book VI: Penal Sanctions in the Church’ takes effect Dec. 8. Most of the revisions have to do with crimes of sexual abuse and the responses (or non-responses) of bishops and religious superiors. Some have to do with financial crimes. And then there is the one about women’s ordination: ‘Can. 1379 § 3. Both a person who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive the sacred order, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by dismissal from the clerical state.’” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Priests testify at Vatican trial on abuse in minor seminary
“Several priests, some of whom were former students at a minor seminary located in the Vatican, testified at the ongoing trial of Fr. Gabriele Martinelli, who is accused of sexually abusing a younger student at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary(link is external). The priests — Frs. Giuliano Zanotta, Daniele Pinton, Giampaolo Cozzi and Ambrogio Marinoni — described Father Martinelli’s influence at the minor seminary, as well as that of his mentor and former rector of St. Pius X, Msgr. Enrico Radice, and L.G., the victim who is also a former student. Also testifying was Deacon Alessio Primante.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH REFORM

Pope pushes “synodality” dialog to reform Catholic Church
“Using the word ‘synodality’ at the start of an article is enough to turn readers off. Boring! And when they learn it’s about the Roman Catholic Church, many might say they’re interested only in its scandals about sex or money. But the champion of this ‘synodality’ reform drive is Pope Francis, one of the world’s most popular religious leaders(link is external). The drive will be either his biggest victory or the worst failure of his papacy. And its success will depend to a large part on how young people react to it.” By Tom Heneghan, News-Decoder.com

Vatican Curia, semper reformanda
“A new papal document reforming the Curia — the Vatican bureaucracy, mostly composed of priests and bishops — will soon be published(link is external). I’m sure Pope Francis’ heart is in the right place, but I expect to be disappointed. Attempts to reform the Curia have been going on since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, each announced with great fanfare, but the effects were only incremental. There is no reason to expect anything better this time.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

Perth Catholic priest who denied stealing almost $500,000 from church agrees to pay money back
“A Catholic priest previously accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish(link is external) has settled civil proceedings with the church, acknowledging he used parish money partly for personal use and agreeing to pay it back. Father Joseph Walsh had been facing criminal charges, accused of stealing the funds from St Joseph’s parish in Subiaco by allegedly using church credit cards and cheques to pay for personal expenses between 2014 and 2017.” By Nicolas Perpitch, ABC News

Cathedral fraudster who took £235,000 must pay back £1
“A fraudster who took £235,000 from Norwich’s Catholic Cathedral(link is external) has been ordered to pay back £1 because he has no money left. Rene Mugenzi siphoned off the cash while volunteering as the treasurer at St John the Baptist from 2016 to 2018. He moved the money, much of which had been donated by the congregation and was designated for charity work, from the Cathedral’s account into his own.” By Tom Bristow, Eastern Daily Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

What new revisions to the Cod of Canon Law mean for safeguarding
“The new series of laws and provisions set out in the revised section on crimes and penalties in the Code of Canon Law will help the Catholic Church in its efforts at safeguarding(link is external), said two canon lawyers. And yet, like with every new norm and measure, its success will depend on following through on enforcement, being mindful in interpreting still unclear aspects and working on remaining gaps, they said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

VOICES

Church still incapable of saying there is no excuse for a priest abusing a child
“I don’t know whether he or the people around him still regard the institution as more important than the people it is supposed to serve, but sometimes abuses. Or maybe it’s just — and I don’t know the answer to this either — he and those around him think we’re all fools. Whatever the answer to those questions, I don’t believe it is possible to read the most recent changes to canon law — the law of the Catholic Church — without feeling utterly let down by Pope Francis(link is external). The Pope who promised so much, but has changed as little as possible.” By Fergus Finlay, Irish Examiner

Crime of abuse is personal failure, not institutional
“A cleric who sexually abuses a child and a bishop or religious superior who covers up that abuse are personally morally at fault, but the Catholic Church as an institution is not, said Cardinal Julián Herranz, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. In a letter published on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, the 91-year-old cardinal said that ‘the errors, sins and sometimes even crimes of her members, including senior members of the hierarchy’ cannot be allowed to ‘cast doubt on the credibility of the church(link is external) and the salvific value of her mission and her magisterium.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Abuse laws come 40 years too late for Catholic Church
After thousands of reported cases of sexual abuse, the Vatican has finally updated its canon laws(link is external) for handling cases within the Church — standards which haven’t been touched since the 1980s. The new canon laws, or a set of laws set by the Roman Catholic Church to be followed by members of the religion, sought to streamline and clarify how to deal with child sexual abuse. The biggest of these changes included requiring all priests and nuns to become mandated reporters, making grooming for sex or child pornography illegal, and enforcing punishment within the Church like defrocking.” By Hayley DeSilva, DePauliaOnline.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Here’s what you need to know about the Child Victims Act, a proposed bill to allow survivors to pursue justice after sexual abuse
“A proposed bill that would allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to hold their abuser accountable is facing an uncertain future in the state Legislature(link is external). The Child Victims Act would allow survivors to pursue civil action against their abuser or the organization that employed the person, removing the current limitation that allows a person to pursue action only until they turn 35 years old. The bill, survivors say, would allow them to finally feel a sense of justice, share their stories as adults and hopefully prevent future crimes from taking place.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

The Catholic Church is reinstating priests accused of sexual abuse
“In most of the cases uncovered by VICE News, the Catholic Church has also provided little to no insight into how, exactly, its officials determined that these priests weren’t guilty of sexual assault(link is external). And in at least three cases, the Church gave the priests back their jobs but added a glaring asterisk: They had to agree to abide by certain restrictions, such as staying away from kids.” By VICE News

Sex abuse victims want AG to keep convicted priest locked up
“An attorney and victims of sexual abuse by a Chicago Roman Catholic priest on Thursday (Jun.3) urged Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to keep the defrocked priest locked up(link is external). Daniel McCormack is committed indefinitely under a state law that allows sex offenders to be held in custody beyond their sentences if a judge finds they are substantially likely to re-offend. ‘Daniel McCormack as a priest is a serial predator and has been incarcerated for some years,’ victims’ advocate and attorney Jeff Anderson said.” By Associated Press

CALIFORNIA

Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse by Former Diocese of San Diego Priest
“A man who alleges a former Catholic priest repeatedly molested him when he was a young boy, then continued to be active at parishes(link is external) within the Diocese of San Diego for decades, said Tuesday he decided to file a lawsuit to protect children. Beau Potter, now 54 years old, alleges Father Ramon Marrufo molested him in Rialto over the course of several years in the 1970s, beginning when the plaintiff was in second grade. Prior to 1978, the Diocese of San Diego stretched into portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.” By Times of San Diego

ILLINOIS

Names sought of all Illinois order priests accused of abuse
“An attorney is calling on Catholic bishops across Illinois to end the ‘dangerous deceit’ and release a full list of religious order priests who face credible sexual abuse accusations(link is external). Attorney Jeff Anderson last week made public the identities of 175 priests accused of sex abuse, including 117 who previously worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Those names came from lawsuits as well as lists compiled by the religious orders themselves, among other sources, he said.” By Associated Press in The Southern Illinoisan

Pfleger returns to St. Sabina, reflects on ‘painful nightmare’ that followed sex abuse allegations
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger on Sunday Jun. 6) returned to his South Side parish for the first time since he was reinstated last month following an investigation into decades-old allegations of sexual abuse(link is external), a process he described as ‘a painful nightmare’ spurred by ‘false accusations.’ ‘It’s good to be home,’ Pfleger told a raucous congregation at St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham that included director Spike Lee and acting Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.” By Tom Schuba, Chicago Sun Times

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield diocese to expand list of those ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors
“The Catholic Church in western Massachusetts has announced that it will release an expanded list of those credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor while serving the church(link is external). In a letter to parishioners, Bishop William Byrne said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is expanding its criteria for disclosure of accusations. The diocese will release its updated list in early June, and Byrne said it will include a “considerable addition” by including those who were dead when an allegation surfaced, were members of a religious order or were lay employees of the diocese.” By Dusty Christensen, Athol Daily News

NEW MEXICO

Las Cruces Diocese Says Abuse Records Were Disclosed Voluntarily, Despite New Mexico Attorney General’s Claims
“While New Mexico’s attorney general has taken credit for securing Catholic Church documents on sex abuse by clergy, saying they will be released to the public soon, a spokesperson for the Las Cruces diocese said it provided the documents voluntarily(link is external) out of a desire to address the “abhorrent crime” of sex abuse, not because of a search warrant or legal obligation.” By Kevin Jones, National Catholic Register

NEW YORK.

Abuse survivors in Rochester Diocese bankruptcy case ask judge to go to trial
“Attorneys for survivors who have filed child sex abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester say mediation has failed. Nearly 500 claims are part of a federal bankruptcy proceeding(link is external). Now, in documents filed Tuesday (Jun. 8), some are asking the judge to take a rather unusual step: to allow them to move their cases to a different court.” By WHAM-TV13 News

Former Olean priest among three accused in lawsuit
“Three priests — including one who long served in Olean — have been placed on leave in response to claims in a lawsuit filed last month that they sexually abused a boy(link is external) in the 1990s, the Diocese of Buffalo announced over the weekend. Bishop Michael Fisher said Saturday (Jun. 5) the priests all ‘deny ever committing any acts of abuse’ but were placed on leave pending an investigation. The diocese also notified the Erie County District Attorney’s Office of the claims, which emerged in a lawsuit last month.” By Olean Times Herald

Priest on leave after his name appears on clergy offender list
“A priest serving in the Albany Diocese is on administrative leave, after his name appeared on a list of clergy offenders in the Springfield Diocese(link is external) Wednesday (Jun. 2). Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has placed Rev. Jeffrey L’Arche, a priest of the LaSalette Missionaries and pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Amsterdam and St. Stephen’s Church in Hagaman, on administrative leave, effective immediately. While on leave, Father L’Arche is barred from officiating at sacraments, wearing clerical garb, or presenting himself as a priest.” By WRGB-TV6 News

TENNESSEE

Big trouble in little Knoxville: Misconduct cases bring systemic, cultural weaknesses into sharp focus
“Who shall watch over the Watchers? That is just one of the questions raised by the complex and deeply troubling circumstances of the Diocese of Knoxville(link is external), only some of which have been reported. The Catholic Herald has learned significant details regarding several cases of clerical misconduct and mismanagement in Knoxville. The details of one case in particular involve senior Church leaders in the US and abroad, and raise questions regarding oft-cited structural weaknesses in the Church’s new ‘metropolitan’ system for investigating abuse and coverup allegations.” By Christopher R. Altieri, Catholic Herald

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest’s evidence in abuse trial
“A Catholic priest writing of his unwanted ‘sexual problem’(link is external)

 left something crucial out of the passage, a jury has heard. ‘In my dreams,’ Anthony William Peter Caruana told Sydney’s District Court. ‘When you talk about fondling young boys, is this referring to your dreams or real life?’ the 79-year-old’s barrister Bernard Brassil said on Wednesday (Jun. 10). ‘My dreams,’ Caruana said.” By Greta Stonehouse, 7News.com.au

After 40 years of waiting, Garden Point abuse survivors get justice
“Forty-two survivors of Aboriginal forced removal policies have signed a deal for compensation and apology 40 years after suffering sexual and physical abuse in the Garden Point Catholic Church mission(link is external) on Melville Island north of Darwin. ‘I’m happy, and I’m sad for the people who have gone already … we had a minute’s silence for them … but it’s been very tiring fighting for this for three years,’ said Maxine Kunde, the leader of a group which took civil action against the church and Commonwealth in the Northern Territory Supreme Court.” By Jane Bardon, ABC News

86-year-old pedophile priest loses Australian court appeal
“An 86-year-old pedophile former Catholic priest came a step closer to deportation to Ireland when a court on Friday (Jun.4) upheld a decision to strip him of his Australian citizenship. Finian Egan has been fighting a five-year legal battle against former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s decision to cancel his citizenship over the defrocked priest’s criminal record(link is external). Egan initially won an appeal in 2016 in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, a court that reviews government decisions.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

CANADA

Sask. Catholic churches delay, reject calls to release internal files on abuser priests
“Joey Basaraba cries randomly while sitting in his Saskatoon apartment, in the shower or out walking. He can’t remember the last time he slept through the night. ‘I take it one day at a time,’ Basaraba said in an interview this week. Basaraba, who says he was sexually abused for years starting at age six by two Prince Albert, Sask., priests, is joining the renewed national calls for church transparency after the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a Catholic residential school(link is external) site in Kamloops, B.C.” By Jason Warwick, CBC News

B.C. Catholic archdiocese sued in Gambier Island camp sexual allegations
“A B.C. man is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver and its archbishop alleging a camp counsellor sexually abused him(link is external) and others at a Bible camp. Vernon Mulvahill, in a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court June 7, alleges a man named only as John Doe exposed his penis to him, touched him in a sexual manner, made other children perform sexual acts on him in the same room and made the plaintiff perform oral sex on him.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, VancouverIsAwesome.com

Catholic Church must take responsibility for the harm done in residential schools
“In reality, these were prisons for children; children who were treated as a looming threat to that so-called civilized society(link is external). Children forcibly taken from their parents and then forced to remain in the custody of institutions managed by various Christian denominations and paid to do so by the federal government. This particular ‘school’ was operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Roman Catholic order of priests who were assisted by various orders of Catholic nuns. It was established in 1890 and closed down in 1978.” By Gillian Steward, Toronto Star

CHILE

Chile’s Jesuits confess ‘crimes, negligence and errors’ on sex abuse
“In an internal report made public this week, the Jesuits of Chile acknowledge that based on accusations and investigations that emerged over a fifteen-year period, at least 64 people have been sexually abused by 11 Jesuit priests in the country(link is external). Among those victims were 34 minors, both boys and girls. The report compiles investigations carried out by the Jesuits in Chile between 2005 and 2020, meaning, five years before explosive revelations against former priest Fernando Karadima, found guilty of abusing seminarians, including minors, in 2011.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

EAST TIMOR

The disgraced priest, the children’s shelter and a fight for justice in East Timor
“The road up to the village of Kutet in East Timor’s western enclave of Oecusse is so rough that most highlanders walk the jungle trail when they need to visit the coast … At Kutet’s centre is a shelter for girls and boys that for many years was run by American Catholic priest and Timorese independence hero Richard Daschbach. There, visitors would witness a serene setting with children playing marbles, with jump ropes and running around apparently as happy as can be … But it was all an illusion(link is external).” By Chris Barrett, The Age

GERMANY

German Catholic abuse victims meet papal investigators
“Victims of Catholic Church sex abuse met on Tuesday (Jun. 8) with two senior bishops sent by the Pope to investigate the German archdiosese of Cologne, which has come under increasing pressure after a report found hundreds of historic cases. The Pope’s two envoys are looking at possible mistakes committed by Germany’s largest archdiocese(link is external), after an 800-page report in March found more than 200 abusers and more than 300 victims, mainly children, in cases from 1975-2018.” By Reuters

HUNGARY

Catholic bishops’ conference condemns all forms of child abuse
“The Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (MKPK) has condemned all forms of child abuse and declared zero tolerance towards it(link is external). In a statement issued on Wednesday (Jun.2), MPKP added, however, that manifestations suggesting that there are links between church profession and the propensity to commit abuse ‘fail to serve the interests of society.’ Child abuse is a serious sin and a crime, regardless of whether it is committed in school, at sport clubs, in camps, within family, or in secular or religious institutions, the statement said.” By Hungary Today

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Up to 7,000 abuse survivors assisted by Catholic Church support service
“Over the past 25 years the Catholic Church in Ireland has provided a counselling service for almost 7,000 survivors(link is external) of institutional, clerical, and religious abuse, and members of their families. It is free and involves a network of counsellors in Ireland and abroad which provides essential therapy to those who have suffered such abuse, said Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh, Michael Router. He is a director of Towards Healing which, with its forerunner Faoiseamh, provides the counselling service.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

POLAND

Polish bishop sanctioned in new abuse scandal
“Another Polish bishop has been sanctioned by the Vatican and ordered to withdraw from public life, for covering up sexual abuse of minors by clergy(link is external) in the predominantly Catholic country. ‘Acting on the basis of Canon Law provisions and Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, the Holy See conducted proceedings, following formal reports, into reported negligence by Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy,’ Poland’s southern Krakow Archdiocese said in a weekend communique.” By Jonathan Luxmore, The Tablet

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