Archive for category VOTF Focus News Roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 11, 2022

TOP STORIES

Pope mandates annual audit on protection of children from abuse
“Pope Francis on Friday (Apr. 29) asked for an annual audit evaluating how national Catholic Churches are implementing measures to protect children from clergy sexual abuse, saying that without more transparency the faithful will continue to lose trust. ‘Abuse in any form is unacceptable,’ Francis told members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was established in 2014 to promote best practices and a culture of safeguarding worldwide.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Women religious blaze new trails in roles of authority at the Vatican
“When Pope Francis met more than 850 religious sisters attending the International Union of Superiors General plenary meeting in Rome in 2019, the pope insisted that the chair for the body’s then-president, Sr. Carmen Sammut, be seated right next to him. At the time, both Sammut, a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, and those in the room were touched by the pope’s deeply symbolic gesture to level the playing field. Now, as delegates from around the globe prepare to travel again to Rome for this year’s May 2-6 plenary, a wave of new appointments of sisters inside the Vatican has made it clear that Francis is backing that symbolism up with substantive changes and making room for more women religious to have a permanent seat at the table.” By Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican clears Polish Cardinal Dziwisz of abuse cover-up
“The Vatican has wrapped up its own investigation and dismissed allegations that Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz had covered up cases of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in his archdiocese. In a written statement released April 22, the Apostolic Nunciature in Poland said the Vatican found the cardinal had been ‘correct’ in his actions after it examined the findings of an investigation led by Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Expert says too many laity ignore abuse crisis because ‘it doesn’t affect them’
“When it comes to addressing the clerical sexual abuse, the role of the laity is central, according to experts. However, according to one of the Colombian lay women at the center of the country’s bishops’ response, too many people avoid addressing it, because they don’t think it is a problem that affects them. Ilva Myriam Hoyos, former Colombian attorney general for children, adolescents and family, is the head of the bishops’ working group for the protection of minors.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope warns of lost trust without more abuse accountability
Pope Francis gave a new mandate to his sex abuse advisory commission Friday (Apr. 29), telling its members to work with bishops around the world to establish special welcome centers for victims and to audit the church’s progress on fighting abuse from its new perch within the Vatican. Francis warned that without more transparency and accountability from the church, the faithful would continue to lose trust in the Catholic hierarchy after decades of revelations about priests who raped and molested children and bishops and religious superiors who covered up those crimes.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

ACCOUNTABILITY

Voice of the Faithful puts children first with new study of dioceses’ child protection efforts
“Voice of the Faithful has published the first independent, online review of all U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses’ level of compliance with child protection and safe environment guidelines. The average overall score was 67%, with the most frequently achieved score 63.5%. Although some dioceses did well, no diocese achieved 100%, and three dioceses scored in the 20s. Click here to read the entire report. The study is the first independent analysis of child protection and safe environment policies in all U.S. dioceses.” By Voice of the Faithful on Religion News Service Press Service

Cologne paid a million euros for priest’s gambling
“After several reports in the German secular media during Holy Week that the archdiocese of Cologne had paid more than €1m to settle a priest’s debts, including his gambling debts, the archdiocese confirmed the reports on Maundy Thursday. The money … was taken out of the special ‘bishop’s chair’ fund which is also used to pay the damages of clerical sexual abuse victims and to finance Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki’s favourite project, the Cologne University for Catholic Theology (KHKT).” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synod on synodality to be ‘process of spiritual discernment,’ participants say
“The Vatican office organizing a major 2023 Vatican summit on synodality held a preparation meeting last week, saying the synod of bishops has already begun. ‘This synod was conceived not as an event that will take place in a moment, meaning October 2023: It has already begun, and this awareness has been assumed by all of us taking part in this assembly,’ said Colombian layman Oscar Elizalde, spokesman for CELAM, the Latin American bishops’ conference. ‘We are not preparing for the synod, it has already begun.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Church seeks Synod insights from Anglican, Uniting events
“To help better understand the place of synodality in the Catholic Church, ecumenical leaders will attend national Uniting and Anglican gatherings this month to see how synodality works in those communities. The global Synod on Synodality has encouraged engagement with ecumenical and interfaith groups as part of the process leading towards the gathering in Rome in October 2023. The Australian Synod of Bishops committee reached out to the National Council of Churches Australia to see how the Catholic Church and other Christian communities could walk together in their synodal journeys.” By CathNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis vows new start in fight against clerical sex abuse
“Pope Francis said Friday (Apr. 29) changes to an advisory body on preventing sexual abuse represented a fresh start in the fight against pedophile priests, but conceded ‘much remains to be done.’ The pope in March moved the Commission for the Protection of Minors into the Vatican’s powerful doctrine office, which oversees the church’s investigations of abuse cases, in a bid to give it the institutional power critics said it was lacking. The reform ‘marks a new beginning,’ the 85-year-old told commission members at the conclusion of their plenary meeting Friday.” By Agence France-Presse on Phillipines.Lics.News

Pope Francis updates canon law on dismissal from religious institutes
“Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter on Tuesday (Apr. 26) bringing Church law up to date on the rules for dismissal from religious institutes, in light of the updated penal law on sanctions related to clerical sexual abuse and other crimes. The letter, known as Recognitum librum VI and issued motu proprio (on the pope’s ‘own impulse’) on April 26, modifies one sentence from canon 695 of the Code of Canon Law.” By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

CARDINALS

Are lay cardinals next?
“Pope Francis is reorganizing the Vatican Curia — the church’s administrators and his senior staff — and may name new cardinals in June. Francis’ new apostolic constitution, ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (‘Preach the Gospel’), issued last month, noted that the heads of dicasteries and other offices that manage the church need not be ordained. This highlighted Francis’ stated aim to give ‘more space’ to women in the church. Most of the important dicasteries are as a matter of fact headed by cardinals. But if any Catholic can head a curial office, the question becomes, does the title come with the job? More importantly, is the title needed to do the job?” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

Spanish bishops say they won’t participate in national clerical abuse inquiry
“Spain’s bishops announced Friday (Apr. 29) that they will not take part in an independent commission into clerical sexual abuse created by the national legislature, alleging, among other things, that the commission won’t look into all sexual abuse of minors but only those committed by members of the Catholic Church. ‘We want to state that to carry out an investigation of abuses only in the church, when it is clear that out of 15,000 open cases in Spain, only 69 refer to the church, is a surprising decision,’ said Bishop Luis Argüello, spokesman of the Spanish bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

After tense year of debates, U.S. bishops to gather for retreat in June
“The U.S. Catholic bishops will gather for a retreatlike special assembly this summer in San Diego to focus on episcopal unity after a tense year and a half in which deep divisions surfaced among prelates over the issue of denying Communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians — including President Joe Biden. There will be no public session for the June 2022 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops because the normal assembly business of committee reports and presentations are being set aside for prayer, reflection and episcopal fraternity, a spokeswoman for the conference told NCR.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Irish priest appointed to senior Vatican role investigating abuse
“An Irish priest, Msgr John Kennedy has been put in charge by Pope Francis of leading investigations into child abuse allegations against the Catholic clergy worldwide. The 53-year-old monsignor is the new secretary of the disciplinary section at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which has responsibility for dealing with credible allegations against clergy. He had been serving at the office since being appointed there by Pope Francis in 2017 and his appointment is part of a major shake-up of the Vatican curia being undertaken by Pope Francis.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Argentine nuns accuse archbishop, others of gender violence
“Several feminist groups are calling for protests May 3 in support of a community of cloistered nuns who have caused shockwaves by accusing the archbishop of a northern Argentine province and other church officials of gender-based psychological and physical violence. The pairing of feminists and Carmelite nuns is unusual in a country at the forefront of Latin America’s women’s movement where activists are often at odds with the Roman Catholic Church. The support illustrates how rare it is for this type of dispute to make it to the courts.” By Almudena Calatrava, The Associated Press, in Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: Thanks to Network for 50 years of lobbying for the common good
“It is not an overstatement to say that some 17.5 million formerly uninsured Americans now have health insurance thanks, in large part, to a group of Catholic sisters. Network, a Catholic social justice lobby of religious women, was instrumental in the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, which dramatically reduced the number of uninsured Americans. That is just one of the group’s many accomplishments over the past five decades. Network, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, has tirelessly worked for the common good, and the country is a better place for its having done so.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

WOMEN’S VOICES

Should women be ordained Catholic deacons?
“In 2020, Pope Francis created a second Vatican commission to consider ordaining women as deacons—clergy who may read the gospel and preach at Mass, baptize, witness marriages, preside at funerals, and work with the needy. (A prior commission had ended two years earlier with no action taken by the Vatican.) One media report said the move signified that ‘women deacons in the Catholic Church are closer to reality than ever before.’ Correction: women deacons were reality in the early church.” By Rich Barlow, Bostonia, Boston University Alumni Magazine

VATICAN

Vatican backs Cardinal Woelki over abuse study contracts
“The Vatican has ruled that the German Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki did not breach canon law when awarding contracts connected to a landmark report on clerical abuse. The Archdiocese of Cologne announced the Vatican’s decision on May 3, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. During a seven-month ‘period of spiritual leave’ taken by the cardinal, the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese commissioned two independent canon lawyers to study the contracts awarded by Woelki and vicar general Msgr. Markus Hofmann.” By Catholic News Agency Staff

CHURCH REFORM

Rome on a Mission: Pope Francis’ reform of the Curia
“This, at last, is the reform ‘strongly wished for by most of the cardinals gathered in the pre-conclave general congregations’ in 2013, as Praedicate recalls at the end of its preamble. The date of the constitution’s release—March 19, the ninth anniversary of Pope Francis’s inaugural Mass—is a reminder of those days, when cardinals in the wake of Benedict’s resignation stood up, one after another, to urge the next pope to turn a dysfunctional, inward-looking court of self-aggrandizing cronies into an effective, outward-looking organism of service to the whole Church.” By Austen Ivereigh, Commmonweal

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican trial places pope, top aides at center of London deal
“The former director of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency testified Wednesday (Apr. 27) that Pope Francis asked him to help the Vatican secretariat of state get full control of a London property, once again putting the pope and his top deputies in the spotlight for their roles in the problematic deal. Tommaso Di Ruzza is one of 10 people accused in the Vatican’s sprawling financial trial, which is centered on the secretariat of state’s 350 million euro investment in a luxury London property. Vatican prosecutors have accused brokers and Vatican officials of fleecing the Holy See of millions of euros in fees, much of it donations from the faithful, and then extorting the Vatican of 15 million euros to get full control of the property.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

VOICES

Stephen Mills: Don’t tell us it’s too late to get justice
“Take it from me, the aftershocks of child sexual abuse last a lifetime. I’m 66, and the sexual violence I experienced at age 13 — a near-death experience, really — can still grip my body and mind when I least expect it. I thought I’d be released when my abuser died. But that happened 30 years ago. Then I was sure I just needed to find the right meds, the right therapy, the right spiritual practice. No, no and no.” By Stephen Mills, Trib Live

What kind of Catholics are we?
What does it mean to be a vowed Dominican Sister, a member of the Order of Preachers within a church that largely rejects women preaching in liturgical settings? Lucky for me, I am blessed with a high tolerance for perceived contradictions. In fact, it was my penchant for incongruities that, after 25 years as a non-practicing Catholic, drew me back into the fold. For me, the endurance, scope and coherence of the Catholic tradition belie a profound underlying Truth that enables me to live with the inherent, sometimes painful, contradictions of the church.” By Quincy Howard, Globe Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Troubling past: the Church’s role in America’s Indian boarding school era
“The doll is about 6 inches tall, handcrafted of red leather, with a tan belt and headband around its long black hair. It’s a male warrior, holding a bow. ‘This is actually me,’ D. Richard Wright said of the doll. The parishioner of Gichitwaa Kateri in south Minneapolis made it as part of an effort to process recent findings in Canada of what are believed to be hundreds of graves of children on the sites of former indigenous residential schools. Some Twin Cities American Indians — mostly women — gathered together to make ‘spirit dolls’ representing the children in some of those graves, resulting in an exhibit called ‘215+’ that was on view from November to January at Indigenous Roots in St. Paul.” By Maria Wiering, The Catholic Spirit

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

California Catholic dioceses ask Supreme Court to hear statute of limitations extension case
“California Catholic bishops are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a case challenging the state for permitting victims of childhood sexual abuse to file claims again, after the timeframe for them to pursue legal action has expired twice. Nine California Catholic dioceses and archdioceses filed a petition for writ of certiorari, or a petition to review a lower court’s decision, in the case — Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland v. Superior Court of California for Los Angeles — on April 15.” By Katie Yoder, Catholic News Agency, on AngelusNews.com

Iowa’s dangerous safe base for abusers
“The game of tag is one of the most classic outdoor childhood games. Although it has many versions, traditionally speaking, one player is ‘it’ and must tag other players to eliminate them. Generally, players cannot be tagged out if they are on the ‘safe base.’ Kids often complain and holler that the safe base is unfair. They have a point. There is ‘safe base’ in Iowa, but it is a dangerous one. You see, Iowa law creates a safe zone for the absolute worst – sexual predators. A sexual predator may be out and held accountable in one jurisdiction but cross the state line into Iowa and they are safe. Why?” By Kathryn Robb and Kylie DeWees, The Gazette

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

A wounded healer speaks about the sexual abuse crisis
“In this new episode of Field Hospital, Jeannie Gaffigan and I had the privilege of speaking to Mark Joseph Williams, a survivor of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest who has undergone a long journey of healing and recovery. He now advocates for and accompanies other survivors as they seek the healing and justice they need after suffering the trauma and injustice they have endured. Professionally, Mark is a management consultant and a forensic social worker from New Jersey. He also serves as special advisor in the Archdiocese of Newark for Cardinal Joseph Tobin.” By Mark Lewis, The Field Hospital Podcate, on WherePeterIs.com

Navarre will recognize the victims of abuses in Church already prescribed
“Navarre will enact a law to recognize as such the victims of pederasty in the Catholic Church, clarify the crimes committed by the members of this institution in the community and ‘contribute to a collective, democratic and critical memory’ about the problem. The draft of the law, to which this newspaper has had access, contemplates the creation of a ‘recognition commission’ composed of experts who will assess, during six years of work, the requests of people who claim to have suffered abuses by the clergy and want to benefit from the law.” By Julio Núñez, El Pais

ILLINOIS

Archdiocese of Chicago settles sex abuse claim against the Rev. George Clements: lawyer
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has reached an $800,000 settlement over claims of sexual abuse by the late Rev. George Clements, the famed Holy Angels pastor, and four other Chicago-area religious figures, according to lawyers representing the alleged abuse victims. An attorney for Clements’ now 54-year-old alleged victim called Tuesday (Apr. 26) for Cardinal Blase Cupich to place Clements on the archdiocese’s public list of ‘credibly accused priests.’ ‘The hiding has to stop. The secrecy has to stop,’ Boston-based attorney Mitch Garabedian told reporters.” By Stefano Esposito, C

Chicago Sun-Times

INDIANA

Judge rejects sex abuse plea deal for suspended Indy priest
“A judge rejected a proposed plea agreement for a suspended Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in 2016 and instead set a trial date for the cleric Thursday (Apr. 21). Hamilton County Superior Court Judge Michael Casati threw out the deal that would have allowed David Marcotte to plead guilty to one count of dissemination of matter harmful to minor in exchange for the state dismissing charges of child solicitation and vicarious sexual gratification. Casati scheduled a jury trial for Oct. 10 on the three felony counts, WRTV-TV reported.” By Associated Press in The Goshen News

KANSAS

Lawrence priest suspended after child sex abuse allegation
“A former pastor at Catholic parishes in Lawrence and Eudora and on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus has been suspended from ministry following an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. According to March 25 issue of The Leaven, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, the archdiocese learned on Feb. 28 that Father Michael Scully had been accused of sexual abuse. Upon notification, the archdiocese ‘relieved Father Scully from public exercise of priestly ministry’ until an investigation is complete.” By Andrea Albright, The Lawrence Times

Topeka man’s status as a priest now to be decided after DA opts not to file charges in abuse claim
“Now it knows a Topeka Roman Catholic priest accused last year of child sexual abuse won’t be charged criminally, his archdiocese says it will proceed with evaluating his status as a priest. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay has decided not to file charges against the Rev. John Pilcher after reviewing the results of an investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, he told The Capital-Journal on Monday (Apr. 25).” By Tim Hrenchir, Topeka Capital-Journal

MISSOURI

Priests accused of sexual abuse living at Jefferson County treatment center
Catholic priests and clergy accused of sexually abusing children are living under the radar at a Missouri treatment center. Tucked behind trees in a quiet neighborhood off Eime Road in Dittmer, MO, is a Catholic community shrouded in secrecy. ‘There’s some sick people over there,’ said Michael Stenzhorn, who lives just across the street. Signs outside the Vianney Renewal Center don’t say who lives there. ‘I believe there are hundreds if not thousands sex offender clergy who have been through that place,’ said David Clohessy, the Missouri Volunteer Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).” Stenzhorn says for years his family was in the dark.” By KFVS-TV12 News

NEW YORK.

Abuse survivors and Catholic Diocese of Rochester face off in bankruptcy court
“The Rochester Catholic Diocese is being accused of acting in bad faith. Sex abuse survivors are frustrated the diocese bankruptcy case is still not settled. When they joined the case, their civil lawsuits against individual parishes and priests were frozen. After three years without a settlement, they now want to be able to proceed with those lawsuits. Brian Delafranier, a survivor of the abuse, said him and other victims deserve to be compensated for the abuse they suffered.” By Ginny Ryan, WHAM-TV13 News

Court: Albany diocese must release priest treatment files
“A recent court ruling has opened the door to the release of psychological treatment records of priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany accused of child sexual abuse. The Albany Times-Union reported the ruling came in a lawsuit by an alleged abuse victim from the 1980s who sought records detailing the treatment received by the Rev. Edward Pratt and other priests. The diocese had argued that the records were subject to patient-physician privilege, but the appeals court wrote last Thursday that the privilege was waived because the priests’ records had been shared with then-Bishop Howard J. Hubbard.” By Associated Press

NORTH CAROLINA

Archdiocesan priest accused of inappropriately touching minor in 2018
“A report to the Archdiocese of Denver states that an archdiocesan priest inappropriately touched a minor a single time back in 2018. The inappropriate touching occurred in a public space when the young girl was exiting church immediately after Mass had ended. According to the Archdiocese of Denver, the church followed its Code of Conduct and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and immediately reported the allegation to authorities.” By Morgan Whitley, FOX-TV31 News

OHIO

Diocese of Toledo Announces Final Decision Regarding Reverend Nelson Beaver
“The Diocese of Toledo is announcing the final decision regarding Rev. Nelson Beaver, who was placed on administrative leave in October 2018 having received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor dating back over 25 years. Three other allegations of sexual abuse of a minor from a similar time period were subsequently made against Beaver … In October, 2019, the diocese announced that the investigation had been completed, the Diocesan Review Board found all four allegations to be substantiated and voted unanimously that Beaver is not suitable for priestly ministry. Bishop Daniel E. Thomas accepted the Review Board’s recommendation …” By Diocese of Toledo

TENNESSEE

Lawsuit: Knoxville diocese mishandled sex abuse claim
“A lawsuit says the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville mishandled a report about allegations that a priest sexually abused a parishioner. The lawsuit filed in Sevier County says Father Antony D. Punnackal locked an adult female plaintiff in a room on Feb. 17, 2020, and fondled her, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. Police allegedly informed the diocese about the allegations against Punnackal before he was indicted by a grand jury, but no action was taken until the indictment, the complaint states.” By Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Archdiocese of Seattle settles two sex abuse claims for $375,000
“The Archdiocese of Seattle said Thursday (Apr. 28) it will pay $375,000 to settle two separate claims of sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. The Roman Catholic archdiocese said in a news release that it settled a case involving allegations of childhood sexual abuse in the early to mid-1970s by David Pearson, a volunteer at St. Joseph Parish in Issaquah. Pearson has died. The archdiocese also said it settled a case involving an allegation of sexual abuse by Father Paul Conn in about 1987 when he served at Queen of Angels Parish in Port Angeles.” By Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

New portal will assess, improve safeguarding
“A new portal launched today by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited will help Catholic organizations measure their progress in applying the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. Marking the launch of the portal, ACSL CEO Ursula Stephens described it as a crucial resource for entities wanting to understand where their current safeguarding standards are in relation to best practice. ‘It is intuitive, easy to navigate and use and will be invaluable to safeguarding personnel everywhere. The portal we have developed will help Catholic entities to meet their own legislative safeguarding requirements in a timely way,’ Dr Stephens said.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Sex abuse case sparks Ottawa to assert papal ambassador’s diplomatic immunity
“Three weeks after Pope Francis apologized for Catholic residential school abuses, Ottawa issued a diplomatic immunity certificate for the pope’s ambassador who faced a lawyer’s demand for records in other Catholic school sexual and physical abuse allegations. ‘Clearly, that consent is not forthcoming, because the certificate was issued,’ Sandra Kovacs, lawyer for complainant Mark O’Neill said. ‘This position is not surprising, particularly in light of the frustration also expressed by residential school survivors, who have asked Pope Francis for unfettered access to records with the Vatican’s missionary department, too,’ Kovacs said.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique Newsmagazine

PHILIPPINES

Brooklyn diocese settles sex abuse lawsuit vs. Filipino bishop
“The Diocese of Brooklyn has settled a lawsuit against the late Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, accused of sexual abuse of a minor when he was a visiting clergy in St. Francis de Sales Church in Belle Harbor in New York in the early 1970s. According to Road to Recovery, Inc., a non-profit in New Jersey that assists victims of sexual abuse, Father Gutierrez sexually abused a minor child parishioner of St. Francis de Sales Parish on approximately six occasions from around 1970 until 1971 when the boy was about 11 to 12 years old.” By Cristina D.C. Pastor, The FilAm Magazine

SINGAPORE

Member of Catholic order in Singapore who committed sex acts on two teenage boys jailed 5 years
“A man who was part of a Catholic religious order that established a school in Singapore, was sentenced to five years’ jail on Thursday (May 5) for committing unlawful sexual acts with two teenage boys. The Singaporean, who The Straits Times understands is not a priest, pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily having carnal intercourse against the order of nature and one charge under the Children and Young Persons Act. Two other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.” By Samuel Devaraj, Straits Times

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 25, 2022

TOP STORIES

N.J. Catholic diocese agrees to $87.5M deal to settle clergy sex abuse suits
“A New Jersey Catholic diocese has agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle claims involving clergy sex abuse with some 300 alleged victims in one of the largest cash settlements involving the Catholic church in the United States(link is external). The agreement between the Diocese of Camden, which encompasses six counties in southern New Jersey on the outskirts of Philadelphia, and plaintiffs was filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden on Tuesday (Apr. 19).” By Mike Catalini, Associated Press

Spanish bishops brief pope on abuse commission
“Pope Francis met with the leaders of the Spanish bishops’ conference and was briefed on the independent commission established by the bishops to investigate clerical sexual abuse in the country(link is external). Speaking with journalists outside the Vatican press office April 7, Cardinal Juan José Omella of Barcelona, president of the conference, said the pope encouraged the bishops to continue supporting survivors of abuse. Pope Francis ‘encouraged us to walk along that path of accompanying victims because they are at the center of everything, to collaborate in everything and, above all, to prevent these things from happening again,’ Omella said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Portugal probe: 290 church sex abuse claims in 90 days work
“A lay committee looking into historic child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church said Tuesday (Apr. 12) it received witness statements from 290 alleged victims in its first three months of work, with cases involving children as young as two years old(link is external). More than half the reported cases suggest many more victims were involved, said Pedro Strecht, a psychiatrist who heads the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church. The six-person committee, which includes psychiatrists, a former Supreme Court judge and a social worker, began its work in January at the behest of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press

Is Pope Francis prepping for doomsday in the church? I hope so.
“If you’re not a Vaticanista, the announcement of the proposed reform of the Roman Curia on March 17 might have seemed like some pretty standard Catholic gobbledygook … But in the midst of the release of the reform document, Vatican experts recognized something that actually could change things for you and me in a potentially massive way(link is external). As one theological expert who worked on the constitution put it, the Vatican seems to be saying that the ‘power of governance in the church does not come from the sacrament of [Holy] Orders’ but from one’s mission in the church. That is, being in positions of leadership in the church should not require a collar, ordination or being a man.” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

74 bishops sign open letter warning of German Synodal Path’s potential for schism
“In an open letter, 74 bishops from North America, Africa, Italy and Australia have expressed their ‘growing concern’ about the German Synodal Path process and content(link is external), warning about its ‘potential for schism.’ Joining recent letters of concern by the Nordic and Polish bishops, the ‘fraternal open letter to our brother bishops in Germany’ said ‘the Synodal Path’s actions undermine the credibility of church authority, including that of Pope Francis.’” By Greg Erlandson, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

An island retreat: sin, secrecy, and the offshoring of sexually abuse priests
“[This is] an historical account that encourages scholars and activists alike to rethink the geography of clerical sexual abuse: though there is a generally agreed upon history that bishops throughout the United States transferred priests between parishes to evade suspicion and at times prosecution, this provides a previously untold account of how the U.S. Church leveraged developments in moral theology, pastoral psychology, and free market capitalism to secure transnational lines of flight for some of its most incorrigible abusers(link is external).” By Kevin Lewis O’Neill, John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Frustration with German Synodal Path should not derail path of synodality
“Last week, 74 bishops signed a letter to the German bishops expressing concern about that country’s ‘Synodal Path,’ which voted on a series of reforms in February. The letter warns the German synodal consultations hold the ‘potential for schism’(link is external) and identifies seven specific criticisms, such as the charge the German process relied more on ‘sociological analysis and contemporary political, and gender, ideologies’ … The German Synodal Path is part of a universal process. The German bishops have made clear that they understand certain doctrinal matters can only be developed by the universal church.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Grace of priesthood is given for service, not priests’ glory, pope says
“In the life of every Christian, but especially of priests, God’s love and forgiveness are the greatest rewards, and any attempt to seek one’s own glory plays into the hands of the devil(link is external), Pope Francis said. With some 1,800 priests concelebrating and renewing the promises made at their ordinations, Pope Francis celebrated the chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica April 14. ‘There is no recompense greater than friendship with Jesus,’ the pope told them. ‘There is no peace greater than his forgiveness. There is no greater price than his precious blood, and we must not allow it to be devalued by unworthy conduct.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Vatican approves norms to reshape U.S. priestly formation
“The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has approved new norms for the formation of seminarians(link is external), which were drafted by the U.S. bishops’ conference in 2019, and have been under discussion between Rome and the USCCB since that time. The sixth edition of the Program for Priestly Formation, which governs seminary education for priests, will require seminaries and dioceses to reshape their formation programs, in order to accommodate new stages of formation at both the start and conclusion of seminary studies.” By The Pillar

VOICES

On the power of Resurrection and healing from abuse
“Early on in my healing work, a friend suggested that I think back to who I was before I was sexually abused(link is external). They wondered if I might find power in remembering characteristics or aspects of myself before the abuse that are still a part of me today. When I first attempted to recall who I was before the abuse, I could not remember specific traits or memories. I was so young when the abuse started, no older than 5, and it felt like trying to recall the memories of someone who wasn’t yet a person. The abuse occurred during my formative years, when a child’s brain develops into who they will become later in life, from our social lives to our emotions to how we show up relationally.” By Meredith McKay, National Catholic Reporter

 ‘Good Policy’
“Since 2002, numerous bills have been introduced in the New York State Legislature to add clergy to the list of mandated reporters for child sexual abuse. The bills — which have respected the sanctity of the confessional — long have been supported by the New York State Catholic Conference (NYSCC), which represents the state’s bishops in matters of public policy, and by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany, who has been a national leader in responding to the clergy abuse crisis. But 20 years since the first bills were introduced — which were spurred on by the sexual abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston that was exposed by the Boston Globe — clergy still are not included in the expansive state list of mandated reporters(link is external) that includes doctors, social workers, police officers, social service workers and most school officials.” By Mike Matvey, The Evangelist, The Official Publication of the Diocese of Albany

Reclaiming the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition form the culture wars
“When Michael Murphy, director of Loyola’s Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage, first invited me to join this conversation, he asked me to give a few remarks as part of a panel on how the culture wars have distorted Catholic bioethics. But then I was relocated to a keynote address on the topic ‘Reclaiming the Catholic Moral and Intellectual Tradition from the Culture Wars(link is external).’ If the first topic was big, the second is, colossal. So I am going to take the original starting point that he gave me — the culture wars and bioethics — as a way into the larger question.” By M. Therese Lysaught, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

If Pennsylvania senators don’t extend time limits for sexual abuse cases, Wolf will call special session
“Gov. Tom Wolf says if state lawmakers don’t temporarily extend the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse this year, he’ll call a special session on the matter(link is external). A 2018 grand jury recommended the state temporarily lift legal time limits for survivors with decades-old cases to allow them to sue their alleged abusers. Pennsylvania now lets anyone who says they were abused as a child come to court with a civil lawsuit before age 55, but some survivors missed their opportunity when the time window was smaller. Research shows social and psychological pressures can keep survivors from coming forward for far longer.” By Sam Dynkjlau, WESA-FM Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Legionaries’ updated abuse report reveals four new allegations
“The Legionaries of Christ received four new allegations of sexual abuse against members of the congregation between March 2021 and March 2022(link is external), and new allegations also have been made against priests already undergoing canonical procedures after being named in previous reports. The Legionaries’ 2021 ‘Annual Report: Truth, Justice and Healing’ was released April 6 with updates to their ongoing effort to ‘give an account of their commitments to the victims of sexual abuse since the publication three years ago (December 2019) of all cases from their history.’ Since releasing its previous annual report in March 2021, the congregation received four new allegations, it said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Agency

CONNECTICUT

New Haven priest accused of sexual abuse in 1990s
“The Rev. Joseph M. Elko, administrator of St. Martin de Porres Roman Catholic Church, has been placed on administrative leave because of a claim of sexual abuse that allegedly occurred in the 1990s(link is external). In an email Monday (Apr. 11), David Elliott, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hartford, said the news was announced at Masses this weekend. The church is located at 136 Dixwell Ave. ‘As a result of the receipt of that claim, pursuant to the Archdiocese’s protocol, Fr. Elko has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation of the claim,’ Elliott said in the statement.” By Ed Stannard, New Haven Register

ILLINOIS

Trial set for priest charged in 2017 sexual assault case
“The trial of a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a Shapiro Developmental Center resident(link is external) in 2017 is set to begin Monday (Apr. 18) in Kankakee County Circuit Court. Formerly a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Goodrich and longtime assistant at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Kankakee, Richard E. Jacklin, 70, is facing three felony charges that could carry a prison term of 12 to 50 years. He is charged with aggravated sexual assault, six to 30 years; criminal sexual assault, four to 15 years; and sexual misconduct, two to five years.” By Jeff Bonty, Daily Journal

INDIANA

Carmel priest files lawsuit in response to allegations of inappropriate conduct
“A Carmel priest filed a lawsuit in response to allegations of inappropriate conduct(link is external). In March, the Diocese of Lafayette suspended Father James DeOreo after receiving allegations of inappropriate conduct with a minor. DeOreo was suspended from public ministry. The diocese said at the time that the allegation violates the Diocesan Code of Conduct for Clergy. The diocese said the allegation was reported to Indiana Child Protective Services.” By WTHR-TV13 News

Evansville priest on leave after allegations of sexual misconduct
“A Evansville priest has been removed from the public ministry after an allegation of sexual misconduct from 20 years ago(link is external) was reported to the Diocese of Evansville. According to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Father Bernie Etienne served at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church and is currently placed on administrative leave. The Diocese did not clarify the nature of the allegations against Father Etienne, regarding the age, gender of the victim and where the sexual misconduct took place.” By Shwetha Sundarrajan, WANE-TV15 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Diocese asks state’s top court to halt suit by Bishop Weldon sexual abuse survivor
“A lawyer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield asked the state’s top court Monday (Apr. 4) to halt a civil lawsuit brought by the former Chicopee altar boy who suffered sexual assaults decades ago at the hands of former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon(link is external). The high-profile case was elevated from the Appeals Court to the Supreme Judicial Court in December because the high court wanted to consider issues it raises. They include whether the diocese, which includes all of Berkshire County, is protected by what’s known as charitable immunity, a legal protection that existed under certain circumstances at the time of the assaults in the 1960s.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MISSISSIPPI

Ex-friar found guilty of sexual abuse of former student at Catholic school
“A former Franciscan friar has been found guilty of sexually abusing a student(link is external) during the 1990s at a Greenwood Catholic school. A Leflore County jury deliberated less than an hour Wednesday (Apr. 13) before finding Paul West guilty of one count of sexual battery and one count of gratification of lust. West, 62, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Ashley Hines to 30 years on the first count and 15 years on the second, to be served consecutively.” By Kevin Edwards, McComb Enterprise-Journal

NEW YORK.

Diocese moves to reinstate freeze on cases
“In a bid to keep parishes and officials, including Bishop Salvatore Matano, from answering scores of sexual-abuse allegations against church officials in state court(link is external), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has asked for a Bankruptcy Court trial. Known as adversarial proceedings or APs for short, such trials look to have a bankruptcy judge resolve differences between parties in a case. Parties not satisfied with a bankruptcy judge’s ruling can appeal the ruling to a federal district court.” By Will Astor, Rochester Beacon

Two accused priests sue Buffalo Diocese after their pensions are cut
“Two retired Buffalo priests accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external) are suing the Buffalo Diocese to restore their pensions, which were reduced or eliminated after the priests refused to submit to a monitoring program pushed by the State Attorney General’s Office. The Rev. Arthur J. Smith and the Rev. Pascal D. Ipolito maintain that they are not child molesters and haven’t had a fair hearing to defend themselves against the accusations. They also said they earned the pensions that were promised to them when they became priests decades ago and when they retired a few years ago.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

PENNSYLVANIA

Sexual assault survivor shares story, what he is doing to help victims
“In 2016, a Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed widespread sexual assault by Catholic priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. One of the accounts in that report came from Shaun Dougherty who is from Johnstown, PA and survived sexual abuse by his priest when he was 10 years old(link is external). ‘I’m here to share my story so it is not repeated again,’ Dougherty said to an small audience in the HUB’s Ohio Room. Dougherty came to IUP as part of the University’s Six O’clock Series which are a series of guest lectures open to the public. He does not want his story to be ‘heavy.’ Instead, he wants his story to be an inspiration for others to speak up and act.” By Samuel Bigham, ThePenn.org

Preventing child abuse – ‘Fight for that kid’: Law enforcement, court professionals work to seek justice
“Chris Swartz is a tall, barrel-chested police officer. He’s not exactly the kind of guy who, at first appearance, would be envisioned spending countless hours comforting children in their times of most desperate need. But as a member of the Johnstown Police Department, he has been providing compassion and justice for young victims of sexual and physical abuse for years(link is external). ‘With me, I took this position as a juvenile detective because I care about kids,’ Swartz said during an interview on April 1, just hours after a 14-month-old Johnstown girl died at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, the victim of a homicide.” By Dave Sutor, Tribune-Democrat

WISCONSIN

Details lacking in Kaul clergy sex probe
“Wisconsin’s attorney general said his investigation into clergy sex abuse across the state has resulted in 1,000 calls to his tipline, 204 reports, and one criminal case. But there are some questions the AG is not answering. Kaul launched his investigation into the Catholic Church in Wisconsin one year ago. On Tuesday (Apr. 19), he provided an update on his progress. ‘As of April 18, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Clergy and Faith Leader Initiative has received a total of 204 completed reports to the toll-free tip line and the online reporting tool accusing more than 150 individuals of abuse …’ Kaul said in a statement.” By Benjamin Yount, The Center Square, on apg-wi.com

AFRICA

Priest urges Rmaphosa to establish inquiry into historical sexual abuse
“Activist and Anglican priest, Reverend June Major, has taken her fight for justice for sexual assault victims to the president’s office(link is external). On Wednesday (Apr. 12), Major handed a memorandum to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office in Tuynhuys, Cape Town, calling for a commission of inquiry into historic child sexual offences within churches and other faith-based institutions.” By Bulelwa Payl, iol.co.za

CANADA

Montreal Catholic Church ombudswoman details delays, resistance to complaint process
“An independent ombudswoman hired by the Catholic Church of Montreal said Tuesday (Apr. 19) she’s encountering delays and resistance to her efforts to address complaints, warning that the process to tackle abuse and misconduct risks becoming a ‘smokescreen(link is external).’ The third quarterly report published Tuesday by Marie Christine Kirouack said that in recent months she’s faced a number of problems, including non-compliance with deadlines, delays and a failure by church officials to follow up with people who are subject to complaints.” By Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press, in Toronto Star

EAST TIMOR

Convicted UK pedophile priest visited Timor-Leste
“A Catholic priest convicted in the UK last week of sexually abusing boys in his care also came into contact with children in Timor-Leste and took them to his hotel room(link is external) during visits to the country that spanned a decade, it has emerged. Father Patrick Smythe, 79, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison by Leeds Crown Court on April 7, told police during an interview that he had visited Timor-Leste over a period of 10 years ‘sponsoring people of the country.’ He is also said to have been in contact with children of a similar age to the victims he has been convicted of abusing.” By UCANews.com

FRANCE

French Catholic Church in crisis: Trainee priests grapple with aftermath of abuse scandal
“Six months after the publication of the Sauvé report, which revealed the scale of sexual abuse over decades in the French Catholic Church, what effect has the crisis had on aspiring priests? Despite the atmosphere of mistrust currently enveloping the Church, some forty students at the diocese in Orléans are training to join the priesthood while attempting to learn from the errors of those before them(link is external). Our France 2 colleagues report, with FRANCE 24’s Emerald Maxwell.” By Emerald Maxwell, France24.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Catholic priest who preyed on schoolboys branded a ‘beast’ as he is jailed for historic sex offenses in Leeds
“Father Patrick Smythe was locked up for seven and a half years after a jury reached unanimous guilty verdicts after a trial at Leeds Crown Court(link is external). Jurors heard how Smythe, 79, preyed on three of his victims during swimming trips to the former Leeds International Pool. Smythe also targeted boys in his care while on a retreat at a hostel in North Yorkshire. A judge who sentenced Smythe told the pensioner he had told a ‘pack of lies’ to the court during the trial. Judge Simon Batiste said: ‘The offenses involved six different complainants who were at the time of the offences aged between 12 and 16.” By Tony Gardner, Yorkshire Evening Post

SWITZERLAND

Swiss Catholic Church to open secret files to sexual abuse investigators
“In late 2021, the Catholic Church in Switzerland instructed two historians to investigate sexual abuse within the organization. The move followed evidence of sexual abuse on a staggering scale within the organization in France(link is external). On 4 April 2022, a date was announced for the opening of the secret episcopal archives, reported RTS. Work will start on 1 May 2022. The researchers running the investigation are from the University of Zurich. The organizations requesting the investigation include the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, KOVOS and RKZ, three Catholic associations in Switzerland.” By LeNews.ch

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Ex-Albany bishop acknowledges covering up abuse allegations / Associated Press

Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.

Associated Press

“The former bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has acknowledged covering up allegations of sexual abuse against children by priests in part to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the diocese.

“Howard J. Hubbard made the admission during a deposition taken last year as part of a response to dozens of claims filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. A judge ordered the deposition released on Friday.

“Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.

“During the four-day deposition, Hubbard named several priests who had been accused of sexual abuse who were referred to treatment and later returned to ministry, without notification to the public. One, David Bentley, admitted to Hubbard that he had engaged in the behavior alleged.”

By Associated Press — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 28, 2022

TOP STORIES

Pope releases Vatican reform, gives weight to fighting abuse
“Pope Francis released his long-awaited reform program of the Holy See bureaucracy on Saturday (Mar. 19) that envisages greater decision-making roles for the laity and gives new institutional weight to efforts to fight clerical sex abuse(link is external). The 54-page text, titled ‘Praedicate Evanglium,’ or ‘Proclaiming the Gospel,’ replaces the founding constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’ that was penned by St. John Paul II in 1988.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Spain parliament approves independent investigation into Catholic Church sexual abuse cases
“The Spanish Parliament voted Thursday (Mar. 10) overwhelmingly in favor of a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate alleged Catholic Church sexual abuses of minors(link is external). Spain’s ombudsperson is set to chair the commission. The final vote count consisted of 286 votes in favor, 51 votes against and two abstentions. Spain’s Catholic Church has been under investigation on multiple fronts since a report from El Pais newspaper revealed 1,237 cases of sexual abuse within the church. Since then, the Catholic Church opened an investigation, lawmakers opened an inquiry, and the Attorney General launched an investigation.” By Lauren Ban, Jurist: Legal News & Commentary

1st German Catholic diocese allows women to perform baptisms
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Essen has become the first in Germany to allow women to perform baptisms(link is external), citing a lack of priests. The diocese said in a statement Monday (Mar. 14) that Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck tasked 18 lay ministers —17 of them women — with conferring the sacrament of admission into the Church at a ceremony over the weekend. Until now only priests and deacons – functions the Catholic Church reserves for men – were allowed to perform baptisms.” By the Associated Press on ABCNews.com

For the synod to succeed, the church must listen to all of us
“As the synodal consultation process gets underway, I’ve heard from several diocesan lay leaders throughout the country about how concerned they are that this process will not be inclusive(link is external). Many fear that only a single group of people, primarily from leadership councils in parishes and dioceses, will be asked for input during this initial stage. Others share how parishes continue to serve only the dominant group in the community and are not inclusive of all cultural communities. What is painfully obvious is the lack of diversity in areas of leadership and the lack of centering the experiences of those parishioners at the margins.” By Milton Javier Bravo, U.S. Catholic

ACCOUNTABILITY

The Institutionalist: Pope Benedict and Munich’s sex-abuse crisis
“‘What did he know and when did he know it?’ That was the famous question asked by Senator Howard Baker fifty years ago at the Watergate hearings. Today that question is being asked about Pope Benedict, who has been accused of mishandling sexual-abuse cases(link is external) when he was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.” By Arthur McCaffrey, Commonweal

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Will Catholic colleges embrace synodality
Why haven’t Catholic colleges and universities in the United States more urgently engaged Pope Francis’s repeated calls to practice ‘synodality’(link is external)? After all, these centers of intellectual development and social change are crucial in getting younger Catholics to care about the future of the Church. On this episode, we’re featuring a series of conversations with three experts on the current state of the synod and American Catholic higher education: Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University, Micah Kiel of St. Ambrose University, and Amirah Orozco of Dominican University.” By Editors at Commonweal

Parishes hold discernment sessions
“In Catholic parishes around western Oregon, Catholics have gathered over the past six weeks to pray, speak up, listen and dream about the future of their worldwide church(link is external). Information from parish discernment meetings will feed into regional writeups then move on to an Archdiocese of Portland report that will help shape documents at the national and Vatican levels. Launched by Pope Francis, the process is the largest consultation with believers in the history of Christianity. It will reach a culmination at the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality in 2023.” By Catholic Sentinel

Not many Catholics care about the synod. But I’m not ready to give up on it year.
“The apathy in the U.S. church is real. The synodal journey, and the diocesan synods, are not off to a good start(link is external). Find someone in your parish who even knows anything about it—take your time. Catch a priest off guard, and he might have a word or two to say. Good luck, though, finding any earnest enthusiasm. Thumb through Twitter a minute. Caustic medium though it is, you will really get an idea what I mean. It has had a sluggish start, this synod.” By Joshua J. Whitfield, America: The Jesuit Review

POPE FRANCIS

After 9 years, Francis reorganizes Vatican with focus on evangelization, roles for laypeople
“Pope Francis has overhauled the Vatican’s central bureaucracy for the first time in over 30 years, dramatically expanding the number of top leadership roles lay men and women can hold and reorganizing Vatican departments under the central priority of evangelization(link is external). The 54-page text of the new Apostolic Constitution was released on March 19 — 9 years to the day of Francis’ inauguration as pope in 2013 — and fulfills a top priority of the College of Cardinals, who made clear their desire to improve and decentralize church governance when they gathered in Rome to name a successor to the then-recently retired Pope Benedict XVI.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Pope removes Puerto Rican bishop from office
Pope Francis has ‘relieved’ Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, of the pastoral care of the diocese(link is external), the Vatican announced without providing an explanation. The Vatican’s brief announcement March 9 added only that the pope had asked 79-year-old Bishop Álvaro Corrada del Río, retired head of the neighboring Diocese of Mayagüez, to serve as apostolic administrator. Bishop Fernández, in a statement posted on the diocesan website, said, ‘I feel blessed to suffer persecution and slander for proclaiming the truth.’ The bishop also said he had been asked to resign but refused to do so.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Scandinavian bishops criticize Germany’s synodal path reform project
“The Catholic bishops of the Scandinavian countries have voiced concern about ‘the direction, the methodology and the substance’ of the Synodal Path reform consultations in Germany(link is external). In an open letter to the German bishops’ conference, the Nordic bishops’ conference said it appreciated that there was a ‘palpable need for change’ in Germany. However, the issues addressed were not a ‘purely German’ concern, they added. Although the bishops acknowledged the Germans’ desire to address the wounds caused by clergy sexual abuse and to call for a ‘radical conversion’ of the church, they said the process must stop at those issues ‘that contain unchangeable parts of the church’s teaching.’” By Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Top Vatican officials invite priests to help contribute to synodal process
“Priests should try to help show the true face of the church as an open, welcoming home inhabited by the Lord and enlivened by love, said Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of the Bishops, and Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy. ‘It is well known that today’s world is in urgent need of fraternity. Without realizing it, the world yearns to meet Jesus,’ they said in a letter to the world’s priests, including those who are also bishops and cardinals. In order to help people encounter Jesus, priests ‘need to listen to the Spirit together with the whole people of God(link is external), so as to renew our faith and find new ways and languages to share the Gospel with our brothers and sisters,’ they wrote. That is the precise objective of the synodal process that Pope Francis has proposed …” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women’s theology mentoring program doubles in size
“The Good Samaritan Study and Mentoring Program has doubled in size for its second year(link is external), meaning eight women will receive support to undertake studies aimed at promoting women’s leadership within the Church. The popular SAM Program was able to be expanded thanks to financial assistance from a number of men’s religious orders. Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Sister Patty Fawkner, wrote to several male religious congregations in Australia offering them the opportunity to contribute to the SAM Program as a way of supporting women’s leadership in the Church.” By CathNews.com

Pope Francis: The church needs women saints
The Catholic Church needs women, especially women saints(link is external), who have shown throughout history an unwavering dedication to God and to caring for their brothers and sisters, Pope Francis said. The women honored as doctors of the church and as co-patrons of Europe, he said, are examples of “the courage to face difficulties; the capacity for being practical; a natural desire to promote what is most beautiful and human according to God’s plan; and a far-sighted, prophetic vision of the world and of history, that made them sowers of hope and builders of the future.” By Catholic News Service in America: the Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Church finances must be ‘exemplary,’ ‘irreproachable,’ pope says
“Financial and judicial reforms are meant not only to bring the Vatican up to date with international standards of transparency but also to make the church’s structure reflect ‘an increasingly evangelical style,’ Pope Francis said. Meeting March 12 with judges, prosecutors, investigators and other members of the Vatican’s state tribunal, the pope said that when it comes to financial management and transparency, ‘the church must be exemplary(link is external) and irreproachable, especially on the part of those who hold important roles of responsibility.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Brazilian bishop: I hope the synod will end clericalism in the church
“The church needs to overcome clericalism once and for all in order to effectively promote unity and synodality(link is external), said Brazilian Bishop Pedro Carlos Cipollini in an interview conducted over Zoom last December … ‘It is clericalism that prevents the church today from being missionary,’ Bishop Cipollini said. ‘I have great hope that the synod on synodality can make clericalism collapse—perhaps not entirely, but at least in its major strongholds. If this synod doesn’t overcome that difficulty, I don’t know when we will have another opportunity.’” By Filipe Domingues, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Pope Francis is drawing on Vatican II to radically change how the Catholic Church is governed
“Pope Francis’ long-awaited reform of the Roman Curia takes a head-on approach to the crises facing the church, using the Second Vatican Council as a road map for reclaiming the church’s credibility. One could argue Francis was elected to carry out this reform, given that it was a main subject of the cardinals’ pre-election conversations in 2013. It is only the fifth such effort to remake the Curia in the last 500 years … The new constitution for the Roman Curia, ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (‘Preach the Gospel’), which was finally released March 19 after nine years of work, recognizes that in the face of the crises of abuse, vocations and credibility, the way forward is not a ‘smaller but purer’ church but rather a broad evangelization(link is external), the road map for which is Vatican II.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Commentary: a time of reckoning for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Roman Catholic churches and parishioners
“I’ve also, off and on as a reporter for 30 years, covered the physical and sexual abuse cases of Christian Brothers and priests who destroyed young boys’ lives(link is external) — right from the Hughes Inquiry to the actual trials of the Mount Cashel Christian Brothers and priests in the early 1990s.I’ve also met, spoke with and interviewed a number of victims — mostly men, and mostly still young men at the time, with their hearts and lives torn apart. Watched them crumble in front of me.” By Glen Whiffen, SaltWire.com

I am an abuse survivor. I believe the synod will teach the church how to listen.
“On Dec. 9, 1968, I pulled a stool next to my father in his room at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, the same hospital where so many coronavirus patients succumbed during the Covid-19 pandemic … Two hours later my father died. I had just turned 12, and I didn’t realize that my darkest days were ahead. His death left our family shattered. My mother fell prey to her alcoholism, and I fell prey to her escalating physical and mental abuse. Father figures in the community sought me out. Some were well-intentioned, others were not. In my 13th year, I was raped by a male teacher. Molestation by a Roman Catholic priest would follow(link is external).” By Mark Joseph Williams, America: The Jesuit Review

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Irish abuse survivor: Curia reform undermines independence of commission
“A survivor of clerical sexual abuse who quit the Vatican’s advisory group on abuse said she believes new reforms of the Roman Curia will further erode the independence of the body(link is external). Marie Collins, whose advocacy led to an Irish government inquiry into the handling of abuse allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese, was one of the founding members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2014. She quit in 2017, warning that ‘the reluctance of some in the Vatican Curia to implement recommendations or cooperate with the work of a commission, when the purpose is to improve the safety of children and vulnerable adults around the world, is unacceptable.’ By Chai Brady, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

INDIANA

Priest at Carmel church under investigation for misconduct with a minor
“A priest at a Carmel Catholic church has been suspended from public ministry. The Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana says the Rev. James De Oreo has been accused of inappropriate conduct with a minor. De Oreo is a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, located on the southwest corner of West 146th Street and Oak Ridge Road.” By WISH-TV8 News

KANSAS

Statement regarding Rev. Michael Schemm
“Today (Mar. 7), Rev. Michael Schemm was reinstated to public ministry in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita(link is external). In October of last year, the diocese received an allegation that Father Schemm, pastor at Church of the Resurrection, sexually abused a minor in the 1990s. Rev. Schemm denied the allegation and was placed on administrative leave of absence pending investigation. In accordance with our protocols, the diocese notified the district attorney.” By the Diocese of Wichita

LOUISIANA

New lawsuit alleges members of Hope Haven sexually abused man when he stayed at home in 1970s
“On Tuesday, March 15, attorneys Jessica Arbour and Jacques Bezou, Jr. hosted a press conference regarding the filing of what they say is a ‘new child sexual abuse and coverup lawsuit(link is external).’ The suit has been filed on behalf of Larry Polizzi, a man who claims he was sexually abused as a child at Hope Haven, a church-run home for orphans and troubled youth. Court papers report Polizzi was molested during a court-ordered stay at Hope Haven in 1976. Polizzi was 14 when the allegations happened.” By Kylee Bond, WGNO-TV News

Priest, nun names in new Hope Haven sexual abuse lawsuit
“A new lawsuit filed on behalf of Larry Polizzi, who lived at Hope Haven in his teens, alleges the horrific sexual abuse he endured while living there(link is external) back in the 1970s. ‘Instead of taking care of him, they abused him, pretty systemically and repeatedly,’ said Jessica Arbour, an attorney for Polizzi. The lawsuit names Father Sean Leo Rooney and Sister Alvin Marie Hagan as the perpetrators of the abuse. ‘I’ve been ashamed of myself for many years and I feel, for what they done to me, from the time I was 14, they need to be held accountable,’ said Polizzi.” By Anna McAllister, WGNO-TV News

Lawsuit filed against Diocese of Baton Rouge under new child sexual abuse law
“A lawsuit has been filed against the Diocese of Baton Rouge under a new law suspending the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases in Louisiana(link is external). The lawsuit names Fr. John Weber, who was a priest with the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Diocese of Baton Rouge. Weber died in 2000. According to the petition for damages, which was filed in East Baton Rouge Parish District Court, a man claims he was sexually abused by Weber at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Baton Rouge beginning when he was about 13 years old. The church was also named in the lawsuit.” By WAFB-TV9 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Late Everett priest accused of sexually abusing student at least 100 times in 1970s
“A Boston Archdiocese priest has been accused of sexually abusing a student at least 100 times in the late 1970s(link is external) at a Catholic school in Everett, one of the many places where he was assigned by the archdiocese, according to the alleged victim’s lawyer and the official Catholic Directory. The late Rev. Michael J. Regan allegedly abused the girl from approximately 1977 to 1980, when she was about 14 to 17 years old and the priest was a teacher at Pope John XXIII High School, Mitchell Garabedian said at a press conference on Tuesday (Mar. 14).” By Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald

Trial should go forward in former altar boy’s case against diocese, SJC justice says
“Lawyers for the Springfield diocese failed to persuade a Supreme Judicial Court justice to delay action on a lawsuit brought by a former altar boy sexually abused decades ago by a bishop(link is external). In a ruling late last week (Mar. 11), Associate Justice David A. Lowy denied a motion by lawyers for the diocese and other defendants to halt proceedings in the case, saying the plaintiff ‘has a right to expeditious resolution of his case.’” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MICHIGAN

No charges against northern Michigan priest
“The Michigan Attorney Generals Office will not file criminal charges against a northern Michigan priest accused of sending inappropriate texts to students(link is external). Late last year, the Diocese of Gaylord referred a complaint to the AG’s Office involving a priest sending messages through text and social media to high school students. The Attorney General’s Office said the priest involved was Bryan Medlin.” By Roxanne Werly, UpNorthLive

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Legion of Christ N.H. school dismissed from sex assault lawsuit
“The Center Harbor school where several boys were reportedly molested by members of the disgraced Roman Catholic religious order, the Legionaires of Christ, is no longer a defendant in the federal lawsuits brought by the survivors(link is external). Five men filed lawsuits against the order and the school last year in the United States District Court of Connecticut accusing the order of negligence for effectively facilitating and covering up the abuse.” By Damien Fisher, InDepthNH.org

NEW JERSEY

Abused as an altar boy, he biked 800 miles to inspire other victims in a new film
“A lone cyclist pedals along a rolling road as cars pass. This is David Ohlmuller. He is 52 now, divorced, the father of a college-bound son, a hall of fame champion paddle tennis player and a long-distance cyclist. He was also abused by a Catholic priest when he was an altar boy(link is external) in Montclair, New Jersey. He rides his bicycle to exorcise that memory.” By Mike Kelly, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK.

Nassau County DA investigating Diocese of Rockville Centre pastor for possession of child pornography
“The Nassau County District Attorney’s office is investigating an associate pastor at a Levittown church for possible possession of child pornography(link is external). The church is under the umbrella of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The Rev. Joseph Nohs is being probed and is not permitted to serve as a priest at St. Bernard’s Church in Levittown until the outcome of the investigation is complete. Requests for comment from the diocese were not returned at press time.” By Mike Smolins, LIHerald.com

Brooklyn aux bishop under Vatican investigation, whistleblower resigns
“Bishop Raymond Chappetto, 76, whose resignation was announced by the Vatican on March 7, is accused of failing to pass on to the Brooklyn diocesan review board and diocesan officials a memo about a priest who had been accused of misconduct(link is external). The Vatican has directed the bishop of a New York diocese to investigate, sources in Brooklyn and the Vatican told The Pillar. The investigation has raised questions among some in Brooklyn about the decision of Brooklyn’s Bishop Robert Brennan to leave Chappetto in place as vicar general for more than four months after he became aware of complaints to the Vatican about Chappetto’s conduct in office.” By The Pilar

Accused bishop’s funeral Mass participation provokes outcry from abuse victims
“Retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz kept a low profile in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo since being accused last summer of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 1990(link is external). At least that was the case until Monday (ar. 14), when Grosz was on the altar for the funeral of Bishop Emeritus Donald W. Trautman in St. Peter Cathedral in Erie, Pa. Grosz’s participation in the funeral Mass alongside several other bishops has sparked outrage on social media among survivors of clergy sexual abuse who thought the church had suspended him from public ministry while it investigated the abuse claim.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

OHIO

Former Franciscan friar Morrier sentenced on sex crimes
“A former Franciscan friar has been sentenced on sex crimes that took place when he was at Franciscan University of Steubenville(link is external). ‘I’ve lost the last 12 years of my life to him, the third order regular Franciscans and Franciscan university,’ the victim said in court Friday (Mar. 11). As the victim read a long and emotional statement, David Morrier sat emotionless in the Jefferson County Common Pleas Courtroom of Judge Joseph Bruzzese.” By Paul Giannamore, WTOV-TV9 News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Lawsuit accuses Charleston priest of sexual abuse of former student
“A new lawsuit accuses a Charleston priest of sexual abuse. Reverend Father Bryan Babick has been named in a federal lawsuit along with the diocese of Charleston and the Bishop of Charleston brought by a former seminary student(link is external). Babick has been the parish administrator at Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Folly Beach. The defendant was also a former chaplain at Bishop England High School. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff ‘John Doe 197,’ was a seminary student. He says he was being advised by Babick at the time of the alleged abuse in 2019.” By Anne Emerson, ABC-TV4 News

SOUTH DAKOTA

Former Rapid City priest sentenced for child sex crimes
“A former Rapid City catholic priest was sentenced on Friday (Mar. 11) for child sex crimes on top of his current sentence for stealing from the church(link is external). Marcin Garbacz, a native of Poland, first pleaded not guilty, and then guilty for illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place. While traveling in Poland, Garbacz recorded video of an unclothed minor.” By NewsCenter1 Staff

TENNESSEE

Questioning Knoxville diocese’s handling of abuse cases / Featured letter
“When you string together all that’s alleged or known about Diocese of Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika and the purported seminarian who is now accused of sexually assaulting a church employee, it paints a pretty damning picture(link is external). None of these facts or allegations, in isolation, is of course conclusive proof of wrongdoing. But taken together, they sure don’t pass the smell test.” By David Clohessy, KnoxNews.com

ARGENTINA

‘We were practically nothing to him,’ ex-seminarian says of Bishop Zanchetta’s abusive behavior
“One of the former seminarians who was the victim of sexual abuse by Argentine Bishop Emeritus Gustavo Zanchetta(link is external) of Orán says the powerful prelate manipulated young men under his authority with clothing, computers, and other gifts, discriminated against darker-skinned seminarians, and ‘bragged about being friends’ with Pope Francis. ‘The truth is that we had a bad time,’ the former seminarian, identified only as ‘M.C.’ told journalist Silvia Noviasky of the newspaper El Tribuno in an exclusive interview.” By Catholic News Agency

AUSTRALIA

Toowoomba Diocese performs strongly on audit
“Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd has today published its safeguarding audit report on the Toowoomba Diocese. The audit assessed the diocese’s progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. The standards provide a framework for the safety and protection of children and adults at risk in Catholic organizations. ACSL chief executive officer Ursula Stephens said that the diocese has performed strongly, with 87 per cent of the NCSS criteria and indicators relevant to the diocese either fully implemented, or substantially progressed(link is external).” By CathNews.com

Retired Catholic priest Richard Doyle found guilty of molesting young girl decades ago
“A retired Catholic priest in Perth has been found guilty of sexually abusing a young girl(link is external) more than 40 years ago. Richard Doyle, 85, was found guilty of four charges of indecent dealings with the girl when she was between the ages of six and 10. The District Court in WA was told the girl’s mother was a devout Catholic with a strong involvement in the church. She first met Doyle in Bruce Rock where he was a parish priest.” By Cason Ho, ABC News

Victorian Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale faces more child sex abuse charges
“Victorian police have charged Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale with more child sexual abuse offences(link is external) as part of an investigation into a number of alleged historical assaults. On Tuesday (Mar. 8), detectives from the Sexual Crimes Squad charged the 87-year-old with 24 charges related to sexual offenses, including sexual penetration of a person aged 10-16 and indecent assault.” By ABC

CANADA

Former B.C. seminary student suing estate of dead priest over alleged sexual abuse
“Vancouver’s Roman Catholic archbishop, a Mission Catholic seminary and a dead priest have been named as defendants in a lawsuit alleging sexual and physical abuse(link is external) dating to 1977. The complainant, known only by his initials, alleges Harold Vincent Sander, also known as Father Placidus, encouraged the 13-year-old seminary student to sketch his profile. It was in Sander’s private office that the boy’s pants and underwear were lowered to his ankles, according to a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on March 14.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, North Shore News

Papal meetings will address ‘legacy of suffering’ Indigenous face, Canadian bishop says
“Canada’s bishops have voiced hope that when delegations of Canadian Indigenous meet with Pope Francis next week (Mar. 28), the meetings will be an opportunity to reflect on the tragedies of the past and take steps toward further healing and reconciliation(link is external). Speaking to Crux, Johnathan Lesarge, a spokesman for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), expressed sorrow and remorse for the trauma experienced by Indigenous communities, and for the church’s role in the suffering they endured through the residential school system.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Cemeteries will not be sold to help compensate Mount Cashel victims, says archdiocese
“Uncertainty about the fate of cemeteries in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s has been put to rest following an agreement in principle that excludes the sacred properties from a historic and ongoing liquidation process(link is external). Evelyn Grondin-Bailey, a member of the St. Patrick’s cemetery committee in Burin, said Monday (Mar.14) she was ‘absolutely elated’ that the restored cemetery in her community will not be sold. ‘We were extremely happy to get that news,’ she said.” By Terry Roberts, CBC News

CHILE

Chile’s new leader puts bishops on notice over legacy of abuse scandals
“Gabriel Boric, the charismatic former student activist who swept to the presidency in Chile last December and is now the second-youngest head of state in the world, marked the end of his first week in charge on Friday (Mar. 18). There’s at least one group in Chile clearly put on notice there’s a new sheriff in town – the country’s Catholic bishops, who presided over the most massive clerical abuse crisis anywhere in Latin America(link is external).” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

GUIANA

Archbishop: ‘Many of our assets must be contributed’ to settle abuse cases
“Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes on Friday (Mar. 18) issued a much stronger call for the Catholic community to pull together more existing assets to help pay nearly 300 survivors of Guam clergy sexual assault(link is external) because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do, and it would end the Archdiocese of Agana’s three-year bankruptcy. Many of these assets must be contributed, he said. The archdiocese is under a March 25 deadline to offer a revised settlement offer to the creditors’ committee that represents mostly abuse survivors. Otherwise, the clergy sex abuse cases could go to trial.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post, in Kilgore News Herald

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Retired Catholic priest, 89, jailed after admitting historical sexual offenses
“A retired Catholic priest has been jailed after admitting to historical sexual offences carried out in the 1960s. Anthony Barker, 89, pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault(link is external) at Durham Crown Court on December 22, 2021. On Friday (Mar.11), Barker, of Queensway, Hexham, Northumberland, was sentenced to a 28-month custodial sentence and placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. The court heard how Barker abused a child in his care on the grounds of the former Ushaw College, a former Catholic seminary in Durham, north-east England.” By Gerard Donaghy, The Irish Post

LUXEMBOURG

Victims of sexual abuse continue to come forward
“Eleven people contacted the archdiocese in 2021 to report that they experienced sexual violence within the structures of the church(link is external). Specifically, the reports were made by three women and eight men. One of these individuals was over 18 years of age at the time the incident occurred. This means that ten people were minors when they were sexually assaulted. The incidents reportedly took place between 1940 and 2009.” By Roy Grotz, RTL.lu

NEW ZEALAND

Hundreds held after New Zealand-led investigation into images of child abuse
“A two-year investigation led by the authorities in New Zealand has resulted in the arrests of hundreds of people around the globe on charges of possessing and sharing child sexual abuse material(link is external), officials said on Wednesday (Mar. 2). Dozens of children were moved out of harm’s way as a result, the authorities said. The investigation, the largest of its kind led out of New Zealand, found a secret global networks that shared child sexual abuse images on a wide scale.” By Natasha Frost, The New York Times

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 14, 2022

TOP STORIES

Cardinal archbishop offers resignation on return from timeout
“A prominent Roman Catholic archbishop who faced strong criticism for his handling of the church’s sexual abuse scandal in Germany said Wednesday (Mar. 2) that he has offered his resignation to Pope Francis following a ‘spiritual timeout’ granted by the pontiff(link is external). Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, marked his return to work with a lengthy letter to the faithful in which said he was ‘not returning unchanged, as if nothing had happened in this time.’” By Greg Moulson, Associated Press

Bishop barred from public ministry in former diocese
“The former bishop of the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, Bishop Michael Hoeppner, will not return to do any ministry in the diocese and will have his retirement compensation cut(link is external), the diocese’s new shepherd announced on March 7. Hoeppner resigned on April 13, 2021 at the request of Pope Francis following a 20-month-long investigation into claims that he mishandled allegations of clergy sex abuse. He was 71 at the time – four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.” By John Levenburg, Cruxnow.com

Young Catholics say they need church leaders to listen, engage them more
“Catholic young people in the U.S. are leaving behind traditional models of learning about and living out their faith, and clergy, youth ministers and others will have to make some drastic changes(link is external) to their ministry style if they want to keep them engaged. That’s the bottom line of ‘The State of Religion & Young People 2021 — Catholic Edition,’ a report released Feb. 23 by Springtide Research Institute, a Minnesota-based nonprofit sociological research institute dedicated to exploring the spiritual lives of young people. Its current research focuses on the demographic ages 13-25, also known as Generation Z.” By Christina Lee Knauss, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Ex-bishop appointed by pope sentenced for sex abuse
“A retired Argentine bishop seen as close to Pope Francis was sentenced on Friday (Saturday, Mar. 5, in Manila) to four-and-a-half years in prison for sexually abusing two seminarians(link is external). A court in the northwestern town of Oran, where Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta was bishop from 2013 to 2017, ordered his immediate detention. The 57-year-old Zanchetta, who had traveled from the Vatican for the trial, was convicted of ‘simple, continued and aggravated sexual abuse,’ with his offense aggravated by his role as a clergyman.” By Agence France-Press in The Manila Times

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

A personal reflection on synodal listening session
Our pastoral care area, or PCA, for the synodal listening session consists of five parishes grouped together, based on proximity(link is external). The first session was Dec. 15. As I was going to the meeting, I ran into a young person near the church and struck up a conversation. He asked, ‘What is going on this evening?’ I threw the question back to him: ‘What do you think is happening?’ He replied, ‘I don’t know. I hear that there is going to be a big complaining meeting!’ ‘Complaining about what?’ I enquired. ‘I don’t know. I guess the church!’” By Teresia Mutiso, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic college leaders urged to listen up in synod sessions
“Although next year’s world Synod of Bishops on synodality may seem like it would be something far removed from U.S. Catholic college students, many are hoping that’s not the case. ‘Synodality is the chance to be creative in imagining the future of the church. Use this chance. … Catholic colleges and universities can make a contribution(link is external),’ a theologian told a group of Catholic college leaders in February. Massimo Faggioli, professor of historical theology at Villanova University, outside of Philadelphia, urged Catholic leaders … to be invested in the synod not only because Catholic colleges are a big part of the church but also because there is currently a ‘crisis of trust in institutions’ and Catholic colleges are not immune to it.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service

Where German Catholics & Pope Francis diverge: Germany’s ‘synodal way’ charts its own course to reform.
“Germany’s Synodale Weg (‘synodal way’), led by the German conference of bishops and the national committee of lay German Catholics (ZdK), assembled for the third time in February; it was likely a watershed moment in the German Church’s synodal process(link is external). Some 230 delegates, lay and clergy, debated and voted on over a dozen documents produced by working groups in four areas: power in the Church; the model of priesthood; women and ministries; and sexual morality in Church teaching.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

BISHOPS

Argentine bishops renew commitment to eradicating sex abuse after Bishop Zanchetta’s sentencing
“The Argentine Bishops’ Conference expressed Friday (Mar. 4) its closeness to the victims of Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, sentenced to prison for sexually abusing seminarians(link is external), and renewed their commitment to eradicate these abusive behaviors. ‘Having learned of the court ruling in which Gustavo Zanchetta, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, has been convicted, we want to express our closeness to the victims and express a strong and sincere request for forgiveness on behalf of the entire Church,’ the bishops said in a March 4 statement.” By Walter Sanchez Silva, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report

When we got a new bishop, he didn’t know about our archdiocese’s history of abuse. Then he listened to me and other victims.
“Shortly after Archbishop Donald Bolen was installed to serve as Archbishop of Regina, I and other victims reached out and requested to meet with him. We learned he was unaware of the area’s deep legacy of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). At the initial and subsequent meetings, he learned of the deep legacy of abuse and the painful, retraumatizing and broken process that myself and other victims were subjected to when they came to the church to report abuse. Those initial conversations resulted in an understanding and willingness on his part to walk with and work with victims.” By Pamela Walsh, America: The Jesuit Review

Warning to bishops: Please make sure the Eucharistic Congress isn’t a very expensive boondoggle
“In a report published last week, my colleague Brian Fraga surveyed a variety of opinions about the U.S. bishops’ planned eucharistic revival that begins in June and is set to culminate with a $28 million Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in 2024. Fraga’s reporting brought to mind a famous moment in the history of the Catholic Church in this country(link is external). On June 24, 1926, some 600,000 Catholics made their way by car or train to the campus of Mundelein Seminary for the great eucharistic procession that was the final act in the 28th International Eucharistic Congress in Chicago, the first to be held in the United States. Earlier that week, a Mass had been celebrated at Soldier’s Field and a variety of programs, Masses and confessions were held at Chicago’s many churches.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Religious Sister tells Mexican symposium: Women have an essential role in the Church
“Despite her short stature, Sister María Grazia Caputo, Representative of the Salesian International Institute Mary Help of Christians of the United Nations in Geneva and New York, has plenty of reasons to stand tall. And she’s had many opportunities to do so, when both men and women within the church tried to set her aside. ‘I have had the negative experience of men and women who tried to squash me or move me to the side(link is external),’ Caputo told Crux. ‘Each one of us is called to rediscover themselves as a gift from God, who has a project for us to carry out, and for which he has given us an identity. We do not need to be someone else to achieve what God has planned for us.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

The nun reshaping the role of women inside the Vatican
“Sister Nathalie Becquart, 53, a French Roman Catholic nun, was named to serve as under secretary of the Synod of Bishops, a summit of 250 bishops from around the world that will meet in Rome in 2023. She will become the first woman with a right to vote at such a high-level Vatican gathering(link is external).” By Celestine Bohlen, The New York Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican judge tosses defense motions as fraud trial advances
“The Vatican’s criminal tribunal on Tuesday (Mar. 1) resoundingly rejected defense motions to dismiss a landmark financial fraud case and ruled the trial will go ahead(link is external) with the questioning of a cardinal scheduled for later this month. Judge Giuseppe Pignatone read aloud his rejection of two-dozen defense arguments from the past seven months that sought to have the charges dropped against the 10 defendants. The case involves the Holy See’s bungled 350 million-euro (US$390 million) investment in a London property, though it has grown to involve other unrelated financial charges.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Sentencing due for Torrance nun who embezzled Catholic school funds
“The retired principal of a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, who as a nun took a vow of poverty, faces sentencing today (Mar. 8) for embezzling more than $835,000 in school funds to support a gambling habit and other personal expenses(link is external). Mary Margaret Kreuper, 80, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty in July to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges. Prosecutors recommend a 24-month prison sentence, three years of supervised release, and restitution. Kreuper’s sentencing position was sealed.” By City News Service on kfiam640.iheart.com

VOICES

Midlands voices: All victims of sexual abuse deserve chance at justice
“All victims of child sexual abuse deserve the chance to seek justice. Who could disagree? Two high-profile Nebraska public officials, that’s who. On Feb. 9, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson sent a representative to a Judiciary Committee hearing to publicly testify against LB 1200. That legislation would allow victims of child sexual abuse to sue public institutions(link is external) — like public schools and juvenile detention facilities — for their careless supervision of employees who sexually abuse children.” By Matt Heffron, Omaha World-Herald

Diocese of Albany fights release of records as former bishop contends he wants to help survivors
“When former Bishop Howard Hubbard penned an Op-ed in the Times Union just as the Child Victims’ Act was about to expire, his former diocese was facing more than 300 lawsuits from survivors of childhood sexual abuse. His words offered regret for mistakes made in the past and hope for reconciliation and healing, in spite of the fact that Hubbard himself was the target of some of the abuse allegations. Currently, the Diocese of Albany is fighting the release of internal documents that would surely shed light on how sexual predators were allowed to continue preying on innocent children.” By Joseph Saunders, LosAngeles.legalexaminer.com

The Whistleblower
“It’s near the end of Lent 2021, the Church busy season, and Father Boniface Ramsey, 75, bounds around St. Joseph of Yorkville Parish in New York City amid a hectic schedule. On this warm, early spring day as the city seemingly emerges, slowly and cautiously, from a yearlong pandemic, students at the parish school are playing on the street … For decades, Father Ramsey knew much about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct but found few willing to listen(link is external) and fewer still willing to do anything about it. ‘It would come up on occasion,’ Father Ramsey recalls, particularly when McCarrick was up for an ecclesial promotion or was the subject of a laudatory story. ‘Something would irritate me on all this. I would feel frustrated and not listened to.’” By Peter Feuerherd, FranciscanMedia.org

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Shocking statistics
“An extraordinary claim appeared in a column by Matthew Syed in the Sunday Times yesterday (Fe. 27), namely that up to a million Italian children have been abused by Italian priests since 1950(link is external). No-one can fail to have been shocked by such a figure, but from where does it originate? The answer is that it comes from a member of ‘The Abuse Network’ which is calling on the Church in Italy to investigate clerical sex abuse as has happened recently in France and Germany.” By David Quinn, Catholic Herald

‘I felt like I had to be there,’ says photographer Lisa Kessler, who documented aftermath of clergy sexual abuse crisis in Boston
“Twenty years ago, as the Globe’s Spotlight Team broke explosive stories about clergy sexual abuse of children, protests erupted outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, blocks away from photographer Lisa Kessler’s studio(link is external). She picked up her camera and went to the demonstrations. ‘I felt like I had to be there. I was the only person, certainly the only photographer, with access to all the different players,’ said Kessler, who is not Catholic. She had spent most of the 1990s as a photographer of record for the Archdiocese of Boston, traveling with church hierarchy and shooting for the Boston Pilot, the archdiocese’s official newspaper.” By Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe

CONNECTICUT

Woman accuses former Bridgeport priest of sexual abuse
“A woman is coming forward with sexual abuse allegations against a former Bridgeport priest. ‘Jane Doe’ said Fr. George Maslar sexually abused her twice in his car in 1971 when she was around 15 years old(link is external). ‘I never envisioned myself doing this,’ the woman said during a press conference Wednesday (Feb. 16). ‘I was too afraid. I felt ashamed as if it was my fault. Thinking about it made me physically sick.’ She said she met Maslar when both attended prayer meetings at the Cathedral of Saint Augustine in Bridgeport.” By Jenn Brink WTNH-TV8 News

INDIANA

Priest gets prison term for sexually abusing altar boy
“A western Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priest who sexually assaulted an altar boy for several years has been sentenced to 2½ to five years in state prison(link is external). The Rev. Andrew Mark Kawecki, of Greensburg will also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years once he’s freed from custody under the sentence imposed Thursday. He had pleaded no contest last October to indecent assault.” By The Associated Press

Suspended Indianapolis priest pleads guilty in minor sex abuse case
“An Indianapolis Catholic priest suspended amid allegations of sexual abuse involving a minor on Tuesday (Mar.8) agreed to plead guilty to one charge filed against him(link is external). According to the Hamilton Superior Court plea agreement, Fr. David Marcotte, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of dissemination of matter harmful to minors, a level 6 felony.” By Lucas Gonzalex, WRTV-TV News

MASSACHUSETTS

New allegation of abuse deemed credible against former Pittsfield priest
“A review board run by the Diocese of Springfield has upheld a new allegation of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest who served parishioners of a Pittsfield(link is external) church in the mid-1980s. The diocese said Wednesday it updated its roster of credibly accused priests to now reflect multiple allegations that Charles J. Sullivan sexually abused minors. Sullivan, who served the diocese from 1965 to 1992, died in 2014. He was assigned to St. Mary the Morning Star Parish in Pittsfield from 1984 to 1986.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Lawsuit alleges sexual abuse of student at Holbrook Catholic school in the 1980s
“An Auburn man has filed a negligence lawsuit accusing two now deceased priests of sexually abusing him while he was a student at a Catholic school in Holbrook(link is external) during the 1980s. The suit, filed Tuesday in Worcester Superior Court, alleges the abuse occurred at St. Joseph School when Gerry Nee, now 46, was 6 to 12 years old. The alleged abuse took place in confessionals and a vacant rectory, where one sexual assault left Nee in need of medical attention, according to the nine-page lawsuit.” By Tonya Alanez, The Boston Globe

MINNESOTA

Bishop Cozzens offers clarity regarding statuses of Msgr. Grundhaus and Bishop Hoeppner
“In a Mar. 7 letter to diocesan faithful, Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens offered clarity regarding the statuses of Msgr. Roger Grundhaus and Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner(link is external). According to the letter, Msgr. Grundhaus does not have faculties for public ministry in the Diocese of Crookston. The declaration is in effect for one year and will be reviewed at that time to determine if it should continue.” By Janelle C. Gerge, Crookston Diocese

MONTANA

Missoula Catholic schools president on leave following diocese investigation
“Missoula Catholic Schools President Luis Hayes has been placed on immediate paid administrative leave following an investigation(link is external), the Diocese of Helena announced. Former Loyola Sacred Heart High School Principal Kathy Schneider and former Athletic Director Jacob Alford will also remain on paid administrative leave for the remainder of the year. None of the three administrators on leave will be offered contracts to return in the fall, according to Bishop Austin Vetter.” By Skylar Rispens, Missoulian

NEW MEXICO

Catholic child sex abuse trial moved to February 2023
“The civil tort case referencing alleged abuse by the late Fr. David Holley against a John Doe while Holley was in Alamogordo in the 1970s will now be heard in February 2023(link is external). The case was originally set to begin in July 2022. According to court filings, more time was needed for discovery between the parties. Discovery, in the legal senses, means to exchange legal information and facts of the case between opposing attorneys so that all sides can know the facts of a case.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Archdiocese sues insurance companies over sexual abuse coverage
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, in the throes of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, sued four insurance companies this week, claiming they haven’t fulfilled their contracts to provide liability coverage for sexual abuse complaints(link is external). The archdiocese hopes to raise enough money, including through insurance payouts, to settle the bankruptcy case involving more than 400 people who allege they were victims of clergy sexual abuse, with some claims dating back decades.” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Nassau priest under investigation for child pornography
“The pastor of a Levittown church has been barred from services while Nassau County District Attorney’s office investigates him for possible possession of child pornography(link is external). According to News12, Father Joseph Nohs, a priest at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, is not allowed to present himself as a priest while the investigation is ongoing, the Diocese of Rockville Centre said.” By Alex Costello, Levittown Patch

Pre-trial battles form as Albany diocese fights release of records
“Last August, former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard reflected on his handling of decades of child abuse allegations in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, noting that his ‘most fervent prayer each day is that victims’ … But for many victims, according to their attorneys, the ‘healing’ they seek may rely on a full disclosure of why the diocese(link is external), as Hubbard has acknowledged, covered up the chronic sexual abuse for decades by secretly shuffling priests in and out of treatment, or moving them from parish to parish without warning congregations about their criminal behavior.” By Brendan J. Lyons, Albany Time Union

OKLAHOMA

Two more Mount St. Mary administrators out following sexual assault allegations
“Months after sexual assault allegations surfaced, two additional Mount St. Mary administrators have resigned. The school’s vice principal and a counselor have resigned. The announcement was sent to parents and students. Last year, Mount St. Mary conducted an independent investigation into sexual assault claims from current and former students(link is external). ‘At first I was really scared because, honestly, it’s just really traumatizing to have to deal with it again, it’s been a long time and I don’t like to even think about what happened,’ one woman said.” By Shelby Montgomery, KOCO-TV5 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pa priest gets prison term for sexually abusing altar boy
“A western Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priest who sexually assaulted an altar boy for several years has been sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in state prison(link is external). The Rev. Andrew Mark Kawecki, of Greensburg will also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years once he’s freed from custody under the sentence imposed Thursday. He had pleaded no contest last October to indecent assault.” By Associated Press

TENNESSEE

Knoxville Catholic diocese accused of improper sexual abuse investigation, lawsuit alleges
“An unnamed plaintiff is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville and its bishop, alleging the diocese did not properly investigate sexual abuse allegations against a former employee(link is external).

The complaint, filed Tuesday in Knox County Circuit Court, outlines in vivid detail several instances of sexual harassment and abuse the plaintiff said he suffered. It also makes several allegations about the bishop overreaching in an investigation of abuse claims, using information reported last year by a news agency.” By Liam Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel

VERMONT

‘Move Forward with Love’: Exhibit traces healing journey of abuse survivors
“The newest exhibit at the Vermont History Museum documents a painful legacy, but it’s one survivors of childhood abuse and trauma say needs to be heard(link is external) as part of their healing process. ‘This cannot be allowed to happen again,’ said Katelin Hoffman, referring to the abuse she experienced at the now-defunct St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington when she was in her early teens. Hoffman and others have reported they were routinely harmed at the facility that closed in 1974. Some said, as a particularly shocking example, they were even forced by staff to eat their own vomit when they were sick.” By Jack Thurston, NECN-TV

AUSTRALIA

Abuse survivor takes Archdiocese of Melbourne to trial over historical sexual abuse
“Oliver will never forget the day his life changed forever. It was the day a Catholic priest — a man he saw as God — abused his trust and allegedly set him on a path towards ‘shame, substance abuse and profound mental illness(link is external),’ the Supreme Court of Melbourne heard. ‘I was dead. He murdered me,’ Oliver told the court. ‘He murdered that boy, that little boy, that I used to be.’

In 1968, Oliver was sexually assaulted by Desmond Gannon — now known to be a notorious pedophile priest.” By Lucy MacDonald, ABC News

CANADA

Deal will see Mount Cashel abuse survivors and St. John’s parish get share of Chase the Ace cash
“A settlement has been reached involving millions of dollars raised in a Chase the Ace fundraiser for a St. John’s-area parish nearly five years ago(link is external). The cash got tangled up in ongoing insolvency proceedings involving the Roman Catholic church in eastern Newfoundland and efforts to compensate victims of historic abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage. An out-of-court settlement was reached Sunday (Feb. 27) night. The matter had been due to go before a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge Monday morning.” By Tony Roberts and Rob Antle, CBC News

GERMANY

German court convicts Catholic priest of abusing girls
“A German court on Friday (Feb. 25) convicted a Catholic priest of sexual abuse of children in cases that spanned many years(link is external) and sentenced him to 12 years in prison. The Cologne state court also ordered the 70-year-old to pay three co-plaintiffs in the cases damages totaling 50,000 euros ($56,000), news agency DPA reported. The priest was identified by local media only as Hans U. According to the indictment, the case against the priest covered 118 counts and the youngest victim was a 9-year-old girl.” By Associated Press

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Archbishop: Child abuse scandal shames us
“The new Archbishop of Glasgow yesterday (Feb. 27) said the Catholic Church should feel ashamed over the child abuse scandal while praising survivors for speaking out(link is external). William Nolan also insisted the Church must ‘change our ways to ensure what happened in the past does not happen again.’ His comments came as he was installed as the new leader of Scotland’s largest Catholic community at a mass in the city’s St Andrew’s Cathedral.” By Katrine Busey, The Sunday Post

GUAM

Judge’s ruling paves way for use of Catholic parish, school assets to help pay clergy sex abuse survivors
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Saturday (Feb. 26) afternoon issued a ruling that paves the way for the use of the assets of Catholic schools and parishes to help pay nearly 300 survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults(link is external). The judge found in favor of the committee representing mainly abuse survivors. The creditors committee, represented by attorneys Edwin Caldie and Andrew Glasnovich, asked the court to allow the inclusion of school and parish assets into the Archdiocese of Agana’s bankruptcy estate, so they could be used to compensate abuse survivors.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

INDIA

50-year-old priest arrested for uploading child pornography
“A 50-year-old priest has been arrested for allegedly uploading child pornography on social media in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur district(link is external). The accused has been arrested under sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO) 2012 and the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000. The complaint came from a US-based NGO. The police said that the complaint was made by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which is a US-based NGO. NCMEC found the content and informed the Indian authorities.” By TimesNewNews.com

INDONESIA

Timor-Leste acquits priest over false abuse case report
“A Timor-Leste court has acquitted a priest and several of his staff over writing a report in favor of a defrocked priest jailed for sexually abusing young girls(link is external). Father Herminio Fatima Goncalves, former chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of Dili Archdiocese, and three of his staff were on trial after being accused of authoring the controversial report that made wild and false allegations against police prosecutors, journalists and NGOs involved in the prosecution of Richard Daschbach.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

JAPAN

Bishops in Japan set March 18 as day of prayer for victims of sexual abuse
“Catholic bishops in Japan have dedicated the second Friday of Lent as a Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse(link is external). Archbishop Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, has requested Catholics to join in prayers for the victims and survivors of sex abuse on March 18, ucanews.com reported. Archbishop Kikuchi said that in recent years cases of sexual abuse by clergy have been reported in churches around the world, and investigations reveal that many similar cases existed way back in the past.” By Catholic News Service

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 1, 2022

TOP STORIES

In Italy, a call for a national investigation into clerical sexual abuse
“Catholic groups and abuse survivors on Tuesday (Feb. 15) called on the Roman Catholic Church in Italy, which has yet to reckon with the scourge of sexual abuse by priests, to create an independent commission to investigate how the crisis has been handled(link is external). In a number of countries — including Australia, France, Ireland and the United States — the church has allowed some scrutiny of its actions. But so far, the church in Italy has resisted calls for an independent inquiry, even after Pope Francis in 2019 held a landmark meeting on clerical sexual abuse and called ‘for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors.’” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Spanish bishops announce national investigation of clerical sexual abuse
“Caving to pressure from abuse survivors, politicians and the media, the Spanish bishops announced on Tuesday (Feb. 22) that they will conduct a full, nation-wide investigation of clerical sexual abuse(link is external). Cardinal Juan José Omella, president of the Spanish bishops’ conference, and lawyer Javier Cremades announced a twelve-month investigation with the necessary historical ‘breadth’ which will include both dioceses and religious congregations.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis reorganizes Vatican’s doctrinal office, creating department to handle abuse cases
“Pope Francis on Feb. 14 overhauled the current structure of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, creating an independent section to handle disciplinary matters related to the sexual abuse of minors(link is external). Under its new structure, the office will operate with autonomous doctrinal and discipline sections that will be coordinated by separate secretaries, both of whom will report to the prefect of the congregation. The new legislation, Fidem servare (‘To preserve the faith’), represents the most significant organizational changes to the office in over 30 years.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Why is an abuser still working as a priest?
“The BBC has uncovered how a culture of complicity and denial conceals the true scale of clerical sex abuse in Italy. One shocking case that we delved into exposes how abusers in the Church can escape justice(link is external). This account contains descriptions which readers may find upsetting. – We’ll call him ‘Mario.’ He pulls back slightly as we shake hands, still clearly uncomfortable with physical contact. And at my first question – ‘How are you?’ – which I hoped would ease him gently into conversation, he immediately breaks down. ‘This interview is taking me back to it all,’ he stutters, barely able to get the words out through his tears. Mario has never spoken before to a journalist about what he calls his ‘sexual slavery’ at the hands of his childhood priest.” By Mark Lowen, BBC News, Rome

U.S. bishops defend planned $28 million Eucharistic congress amid criticism
“To organize a National Eucharistic Congress in 2024, the Catholic bishops in the United States have partnered with an event planner who was accused of charging exorbitant rates during the preparations for Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January 2017. The bishops are also relying on conservative Catholic organizations to provide funding and create catechetical and promotional materials for a multiyear National Eucharistic Revival that will lead up to the four-day congress in July 2024(link is external). The bishops intend to set up a nonprofit organization to handle logistics and raise $28 million over the next two years to hold the event in downtown Indianapolis.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Argentine bishop rejects sex abuse claims as trial begins
“The trial of a Roman Catholic bishop accused of sexually abusing young men in northern Argentina began Monday (Feb. 21)(link is external) with the cleric denying the claims, in the latest court case to highlight sex crimes that have roiled the global church in recent decades. Pope Francis, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires and the first Latin American pontiff, has repeatedly apologized for past crimes by priests and pledged to end cover-ups while ensuring that priestly sexual abuse be ‘erased from the face of the earth.’” By Augustin Geist, Reuters

Pope Benedict’s lack of apology for abuse cases ‘appalling,’ say German survivors
“German survivors of clergy sexual abuse are sharply criticizing retired Pope Benedict XVI’s response to a report that faulted his handling of four abuse cases in the 1970s and ’80s, calling his lack of a direct apology an abdication of personal responsibility. ‘The one thing everybody expects from him is to say, ‘I made a mistake. I’m sorry. I should have acted differently back then. And I’m sorry,’ said survivor Doris Reisinger. Reisinger, a German theologian who left religious life after alleging abuse by a priest in her community, said that Benedict’s two-page Feb. 8 letter responding to accusations that he mishandled four cases of abuse during his time as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, was an ‘embarrassment(link is external).’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synodality needs to begin at the local level
“The key elements of synodality – communion, participation and mission – must first be inculcated in our local communities if they are to shape the wider Church, writes Deacon Justin Stanwix …But can we have a synodal Church if we don’t start the process of growing the synodal parish?(link is external) There is no rush to perfect the model instantly because we are on a journey together. But this journey needs many travellers and a commitment to go the distance.” By CathNews.com

Priest: Listening sessions offer faithful chance ‘to participate, be heard’
“The Philadelphia Archdiocese plans to offer to as many of the faithful as possible ‘multiple opportunities to participate and be heard’ in listening sessions in preparations for the 2023 world Synod of Bishops on synodality(link is external), said Msgr. Brian Hennessy. The priest, who is pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania, is the coordinator for the archdiocesan phase of the synod. He issued a letter about plans for in-person and virtual gatherings in parishes and among various groups across the archdiocese. The listening sessions will be led by trained facilitators from the local communities. Results of the sessions will be compiled into a report in June.” By Gina Christian, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Lay Catholics fill the enthusiasm gap on Francis’ Synod on Synodality
“When Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, Robert Choiniere, a lay minister, said, ‘This is the thing I’ve been waiting for.’ If the phrase ‘Synod on Synodality’ fails to strike similar reverberations in your soul, you’re not alone. The synod has seemingly failed to grab the attention of American Catholics, for reasons both worldly and ecclesiastical(link is external). First, Francis announced the synod on March 7, 2020 — four days before the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. A global lockdown soon put every other reality on pause.” By Renée Roden, Religion News Service

The Global Synod at Catholic University
“The Catholic University of America is fully engaging in the global synod process(link is external) called for by Pope Francis, beginning with a public conversation on Feb. 28 between the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre and University President John Garvey, followed by campus-wide listening sessions to be held this semester … The Vatican has called for Catholic universities and faculties of theology to contribute to the universal Church’s discussion of synodality. Catholic University is one of the only universities in the country to respond with a plan that includes both internal discussion and external events, including events with bishops.” By The Catholic University of America

A tale of two synods: What will the German and Roman synodal gatherings accomplish?
“There are two synodal gatherings going on now in the Catholic Church — the ‘Synodal Way’ of the German church and the ‘synod on synodality’ of the bishops of the Catholic Church — which will undoubtedly have serious repercussions on the life of the church(link is external). A number of factors influenced the German Synodal Way: the devastating consequences of the sex abuse scandal by priests, the cover-up by many bishops and the appallingly low level of less than 6% of German Catholics participating in the Sunday eucharistic liturgies. The Synodal Way of the German church involves a synodal assembly with meetings beginning in 2020 and scheduled to end in 2023.” By Charles Curran, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope exempts Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter from Latin Mass restrictions
“Despite his efforts last year to crack down on use of the Traditional Latin Mass, Pope Francis this month issued a decree exempting members of a priestly society(link is external) with a special attachment to the traditional liturgy from adhering to the restrictions. Headquartered in Switzerland, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) is a Society of Apostolic Life of pontifical right that was founded in 1988 by 12 priests who were formerly members of the Society of St. Pius X, after its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated for consecrating four bishops without the proper papal mandate.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Pope amends canons to give greater authority to bishops, conferences
“Saying he wanted to promote a ‘healthy decentralization’ of some aspects of church life, Pope Francis made several changes to church law, granting greater authority to individual bishops, bishops’ conferences and synods of bishops(link is external) of the Eastern Catholic churches. The changes, the pope said, should ‘foster a sense of collegiality and the pastoral responsibility’ of bishops and religious superiors who are closest to the matters being decided and therefore have a better understanding of what is appropriate.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Vatican ponders priesthood amid abuse research, revelations
“The Vatican this week (Feb. 17) is hosting a three-day symposium on the Catholic priesthood amid renewed public attention on clergy sex abuse scandals and fresh research into the abuses of priestly power(link is external) that harm both children and adults. Pope Francis opens the symposium Thursday, and no fewer than a half-dozen Vatican cardinals are scheduled to either address the conference or preside over its sessions. The high-level lineup suggests the topic has particular relevance as the Catholic hierarchy grapples with dwindling numbers of priests in Europe and the Americas and calls for a reform of everything from celibacy requirements to the role of women in the church.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope Francis: Priests need to have these four traits in the world today
“Addressing a symposium on the priesthood in the Vatican on Feb. 17, Pope Francis offered reflections that, he said, could be considered ‘the swan song’ of his priestly life, since they are the fruit of ‘what the Lord has gradually helped me to realize’ during more than 50 years in the ministry. Francis was ordained a priest for the Society of Jesus on Dec. 13, 1969. In a profoundly spiritual talk today, he presented what he called the ‘four pillars’ or ‘four forms of closeness’ that he considers fundamental to the life of a priest(link is external) ‘since they imitate God’s own style of God, which is essentially a style of closeness.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican reports more Catholics, with varying access to priests globally
“The number of Catholics and of Catholic men and women who devote their lives to serving them continues to grow in Africa and Asia, Vatican statistics show, but pastoral ministry is still much more readily available to Catholics in Europe(link is external) … And while just over 20 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Europe, 40 percent of the world’s priests minister there. The Americas have 48 percent of the world’s Catholics, but only 29.3 percent of the world’s priests.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Arlington Catholic Herald

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women speakers emphasize need for ‘reciprocity’ in church’s ministry
“Promoting better collaboration between women and men in the Catholic Church is not primarily about equality but about allowing the church to fulfill the mission given to it by God(link is external), said women speakers at a Vatican conference on priesthood. ‘The church needs women and must call them to serve’ for the good of all people, said Michelina Tenace, a professor of dogmatic theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and consultant for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. ‘If the church does not make this call, a ministry risks being seen as a right. But serving is not a right, it is a duty,’ she said Feb. 18 in a panel on ‘Women and ministry — the state of investigation.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

CHURCH REFORM

Benedict XVI and the German church he served seek forgiveness in very different ways
“The Church hierarchy has been signaling a new openness to change, but a plea from the Pope emeritus, following the release of a report on abuse, follows an old path(link is external). — In Germany, lately, powerful bishops have been speaking of prospects for change in Catholic life with a frankness not seen from the Church hierarchy anywhere else in a long time … The issues they raise are so complex and controversial that a serious effort to address them could break the Church apart.” By Paul Elie, The New Yorker

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

What happens next with tests approved by Germany’s Synodal Assembly?
“In early February, the plenary assembly of the Synodal Path met in Frankfurt and approved a number of far-reaching reform proposals for the Catholic Church in Germany. Now people in the church are debating what comes next regarding the approved resolutions and how to carry them out.(link is external) The plenary approved three texts in a second reading; two-thirds of nearly 230 delegates, including bishops, approved the texts; in a separate vote of just bishops, the texts still garnered two-thirds of the votes.” By Ludwig Ring-Eifel, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Pope’s use of authority becomes new front in Vatican ‘trial of the century’
“As the dust began to settle last year on the Vatican’s troubled $400 million dollar land deal in London, and as the colossal dimensions of the failure it represents became clear, Pope Francis was determined to put someone on trial, including his former chief of staff(link is external), Italian Cardinal Becciu, along with nine other defendants. Yet, under the heading of ‘be careful what you wish for,’ Francis could find that the primary person on trial ends up being not Becciu and the rest, but himself.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Report shows more dioceses establish foundations to fund work of church
“Despite fundraising challenges nationwide caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic foundations continue to grow their role in helping the U.S. church with its fundraising needs(link is external), according to a recent study. ‘Catholic Foundations in the U.S. Revisited,’ released in late 2021, is the work of Walter Dillingham, a Catholic who serves as director of endowments and foundations at the Wilmington Trust, a New York City-based firm that specializes in helping nonprofits manage their finances. This is Dillingham’s third look at the role of Catholic foundations nationwide, and this report highlights not only the role foundations play, but also which fundraising tools they find most effective and how they provide information about their work to current and prospective donors.” By Christina Knauss, Catholic News Service

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Celibacy no ‘divine law’ for priests, but promotes holiness, speakers say
“The requirement that most priests in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church be celibate has theological and spiritual foundations and not only practical motivations, said speakers at an international conference on priesthood. Jesus’ chastity, poverty and obedience were not ‘incidental or simply functional,’ but expressed his total union with God and dedication to the salvation of humanity, Jesuit Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a well-known canon lawyer, said Feb. 19 at the Vatican conference. The church has never claimed that celibacy is ‘intrinsic’ to the priesthood(link is external), he said, and, in fact, the Eastern Catholic churches have maintained the discipline of having both celibate and married clergy, and the Latin church has welcomed married priests coming from other denominations.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Mulakkal verdict signals a need for structural and systemic change
“The verdict acquitting Bishop Franco Mulakkal in the much-awaited case of the sexual abuse of a religious sister has been disappointing to many of us, and has made us suspicious. I write this for many reasons; first, because I have journeyed with this case from a distance; and because I feel the need for speaking up in defense of our sisters, and sounding a wake-up call for us as women religious … For too long we women in the church have accepted dominance and hierarchy and never questioned this because of the socialization processes we have gone(link is external) through. Right from our childhood and into our teens we have been taught to accept everything without questioning. Because “they” know and you don’t; this is internalized and every institution in our society has reinforced this belief.” By Dorothy Fernandes, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

A Catholic nun is going to prison for fraud. Why are abusive priests going unpunished
“Recently Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, a Catholic nun who stole $835,000 from a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, California, was sent to prison for a year and ordered to pay the money back to the school, where she was the principal for over 28 years. The school funds were used to support the nun’s gambling addiction, including trips to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. ‘I have sinned, I’ve broken the law and I have no excuses,’ Kreuper admitted during her sentencing. Her sentence is ironic and her contrition admirable compared with the behavior of Catholic priests and their history of abuses within the church(link is external).” Commentary on Religion News Service by Robert D. Karpinski

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

25 years later, Legion of Christ victims seek reparations
“A Connecticut newspaper exposed one of the Catholic Church’s biggest sexual abuse scandals by reporting 25 years ago Wednesday (Feb. 23) that eight men had accused the revered founder of the Legion of Christ religious order of raping and molesting them when they were boys preparing for the priesthood. It took a decade for the Vatican to sanction the founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, and another decade for the Legion to admit he was a serial pedophile who had violated at least 60 boys. In the meantime, the original whistleblowers suffered a defamation campaign by the Legion, which branded them liars bent on creating a conspiracy to hurt a man considered a living saint.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FLORIDA

Homestead priest sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for raping parishioner in rectory
“Father Jean Claude Philippe, convicted of raping a parishioner in the rectory of his church(link is external) in Homestead, did not apologize when it came time for his sentencing. Instead, he complained about his time in jail and said he was preaching the word of God to inmates behind bars. ‘The devil is powerful but won’t change me,’ he said. ‘I won’t change my ways. I will continue in my path.’ That path, a judge ruled on Thursday (Fen. 17), will nevertheless continue in state prison for nearly eight years.” By David Ovalle, Miami Herald

MISSOURI

Lawsuit accuses De Soto priest of sexually abusing boy
“The priest at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in De Soto has been accused in a lawsuit of abusing a child two decades ago at a St. Louis boys’ home(link is external). Christin Hornbeck says in the lawsuit that the Rev. Alexander Anderson fondled him in the late 1990s or early 2000s at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, 4753 S. Grand Ave., in south St. Louis. The lawsuit was filed Feb. 10 in the St. Louis Circuit Court. Hornbeck, who now lives in Georgia, was between the ages of 11 and 13 at the time of the alleged abuse, said his lawyer, Rebecca M. Randles of the Randles Mata law firm in Kansas City.” By Tony Krausz, Leader Publications

NEW MEXICO

Legacy Christian Academy principal charged with sexually abusing a child in Alamogordo
“Trevor Lavalais, principal and director of Legacy Christian Academy, a private school in Alamogordo, was arrested on Feb. 11 on six counts relating to sexual assault involving a child(link is external). Lavalais, 33 of Alamogordo, was charged with one count of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, per court records.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Archdiocese of Santa Fe insurance records can be filed publicly
“A potential showdown over whether insurance documents related to coverage of clergy sex abuse claims filed against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe should be sealed fizzled Monday (Feb. 14) when lawyers for four companies voiced no objection to the records generally being filed publicly(link is external). How much insurance carriers will pay toward a settlement of nearly 400 claims filed by abuse survivors is one of the remaining obstacles to resolving the four-year-old archdiocese case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albuquerque.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

OHIO

Alleged victims of abuse at Parmadale orphanage have discussed counseling, restitution with Catholic leaders
“Decades-old abuse allegations against the Catholic Church came to the forefront Tuesday (Feb. 22). A national organization is lending its support to people who claim they endured severe abuse when they were children at the former Parmadale home for children(link is external) in Parma. Dr. Robert Hoatson and Carolyn Mason held a news conference Tuesday talking about her time at Parmadale in the 1960s. You might remember Carolyn from the News 5 investigation that broke the news of the claims of physical abuse against some nuns at Parmadale.” By ABC-TV5 News

TENNESSEE

Judge sentences former Catholic Sunday school teacher for abuse at Murfreesboro parish
“A Rutherford County judge sentenced Michael D. Lewis to 20 years in prison Monday (Feb. 14) after Lewis pleaded guilty to felony charges in the sexual abuse of a girl at a Catholic parish in Murfreesboro(link is external). Lewis pleaded to four counts of statutory rape, Class C felonies, all related to events that occurred between 2014 to 2016 when Lewis was the director for religious education at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church.” By Liam Adams, Nashville Tennessean

WISCONSIN

‘Dirty, disgusted, afraid’: Former Wisconsin police chief speaks about clergy abuse he faced as a child
“Zipping up his sleeping bag, a Sheboygan teen was restless, worrying about what was to come. ‘He’d go from sleeping bag to sleeping bag. I’d learn to flip over on my stomach so he couldn’t touch me.’ Former Germantown Police Chief, Peter Hoell, is speaking out publicly for the first time about the sexual abuse he faced as a teenager(link is external) in Sheboygan. More than four decades ago, Hoell says a Holy Name Parish Priest, William Effinger, sexually molested him several times, taking advantage of him and his friends by feeding them alcohol.” By Shaun Gallagher, WTJM-TV4 News

ARGENTINA

Argentine court hears testimony of porn on accused bishop’s phone, requests for ‘messages’
“On the second day of the trial against Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta over sexual abuse, a priest testified that he had porn on his phone(link is external), while a psychologist of one of the alleged victims testified that the bishops’ behavior ‘scared and intimidated him.’ As the trial began Monday (Feb. 21), Zanchetta, bishop emeritus of Orán, in northern Argentina, denied all charges of alleged sexual abuse.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Retired bishop Zanchetta denies sex abuse claims at trial in Salta
“A retired Argentine bishop seen as close to the Pope, and who worked as an advisor for management of Vatican property, on Monday (Feb. 21) denied charges of sex abuse allegedly committed a decade ago(link is external). Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, 57, appeared behind closed doors in the court of San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, where he was bishop from his appointment by Pope Francis in 2013 until his resignation in 2017.” By Agence France-Press in Buenos Aires Times

GERMANY

Munich report on sex abuse heightens Catholic Church divide over sexuality
“Supporters of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rose to his defense in the past week after a report on decades of sexual abuse in his former archdiocese in Munich accused the retired pontiff of covering up and ignoring abuse by Catholic priests there. But some believe the defense of Benedict is less about his legacy and more about the deepening polarization in the Catholic Church and its approach to homosexuality and priestly celibacy(link is external), issues that are both now center stage in Germany.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Victim awarded £1.4m damages over abuse by monks
“A man who was abused by monks at a school in Fife run by Christian Brothers has secured £1.4m in damages(link is external). It is believed to be the highest sum ever to be awarded to a survivor. The victim was sexually assaulted and beaten by three Christian Brothers while staying at St Ninian’s School in Falkland in 1980 and 81. The man, who was named in courts as AB to protect his identity, said he hoped his award would inspire others in their quest for justice.” By BBC News

GUAM

Archbishop Byrnes, finance volunteer take the witness stand in payment case for abuse survivors
“Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes and former Archdiocesan Finance Council President Richard Untalan on Monday (Feb. 21) took the witness stand in a trial that would determine whether the assets of Catholic parishes and schools could also be used to pay hundreds of survivors of alleged clergy sexual assaults(link is external). Byrnes acknowledged the position of the archdiocese that he, as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana, only holds the assets of schools and parishes in trust, for the benefit of schools and parishes.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

Archdiocese makes case for hiring special counsel a week before trial on church assets to pay sex abuse claims
“The Archdiocese of Agana’s legal team on Friday (feb. 11) morning made the case to hire a special counsel, a week before the start of a trial on a lawsuit seeking to include the assets of Catholic parishes and schools to help pay clergy sex abuse claimants(link is external). U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood heard oral arguments from the archdiocese, the U.S. Trustee, and the creditors committee representing mostly abuse claimants in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy case. The judge is expected to soon issue a written order.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

ITALY

Pressure groups demand Church in Italy submit to external sexual abuse inquiry
“Catholic groups on Tuesday (Feb. 15) accused Italy’s Church of an ‘institutional failure’ to confront clergy sexual abuse, and demanded an independent national inquiry mirroring ones conducted in France and Germany(link is external). A collective of nine groups – seven headed by women – issued the demand during the launch of a campaign called ‘Beyond the Great Silence’ and a hashtag, #ItalyChurchToo, inspired by the international #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

NEW ZEALAND

Marylands School: Abuse in Care Inquiry unravels more mysteries
“Business has been brisk this past week at the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry. The latest phase of the inquiry has looked at the historical wrongdoing that took place at the Marylands residential school and its co-located St Joseph’s orphanage(link is external) in Christchurch, as well as the nearby Hebron Trust facility. These residences were overseen by the Brothers Hospitaller of St John of God, a Catholic order known for its work with at-risk young people, including kids with learning disabilities – and rather too many of the 1680 reports of abuse against local Catholic clergy and workers from 1950 to the present day.” By Radio New Zealand

Archbishop accepts Catholic Church needs to take responsibility for historical abuse
“Catholic Archbishop Paul Martin accepts that survivors of abuse want the church to take responsibility and not just leave it to a particular order(link is external) that may have been involved. He made the comment at the Abuse in Care inquiry investigating historical abuse by the St John of God Order at Marylands School in Christchurch. The order ran the school between 1955 and 1984. Archbishop Martin said the culture at the time was wrong.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

POLAND

Portugal: Church sex abuse panel unearths over 200 cases
“A lay committee looking into historic child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church(link is external) said Thursday (Feb. 10) that during its first month of work it received allegations from 214 people. The allegations are from people born between 1933 and 2006 and tell of psychological torment kept secret for decades, the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church said. ‘This suffering is associated with feelings of shame, fear, guilt and self-exclusion, reinforcing the idea of lives where the sensation of ‘standing on the sidelines’ was always present,’ the committee said in a statement.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press

SPAIN

Spain church pledges external probe into child abuse
“Spain’s Catholic Church said Monday (Feb. 21) a law firm would carry out an independent investigation into allegations of child abuse involving its clergy(link is external) as political pressure grows to hold an inquiry. The legal team will “open an independent channel” to receive complaints, review the legal procedures to punish criminal practices and help the authorities clarify the facts, the CEE Episcopal Conference, which groups Spain’s leading bishops, said in a statement.” By Agence France-Presse on newsinfor.inquirer,net

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

January 31, 2022

TOP STORIES

Report on sexual abuse in German diocese faults retired pope
“A long-awaited report on sexual abuse in Germany’s Munich diocese on Thursday (Jan. 20) faulted retired Pope Benedict XVI’s handling of four cases when he was archbishop in the 1970s and 1980s(link is external). The law firm that drew up the report said Benedict strongly denies any wrongdoing. The findings, though, were sure to reignite criticism of Benedict’s record more than a decade after the first, and until Thursday only, known case involving him was made public.” By Geir Moulson, Associated Press, on ABC-TV News

In first court testimony on abuse ever given by a German bishop, Hamburg archbishop admits to mistakes
“In the first testimony ever given by a German Catholic bishop in a court case on abuse, Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hesse admitted having made mistakes(link is external) in the case of an offending priest on trial in the Cologne regional court. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported that Archbishop Hesse, 55, the former head of personnel in the Archdiocese of Cologne, was called as a witness in the case against the priest, who has only been named as U. He said the mistakes included that the allegations against the priest that became known in 2010 should have been reported to the Vatican.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican includes group backing women’s ordination on website
“The Vatican has included a group that advocates for women’s ordination on a website promoting a two-year consultation of rank-and-file Catholics, indicating that Pope Francis wants to hear from all Catholics(link is external) during the process. The inclusion of the Women’s Ordination Conference on the website promoting the Vatican’s 2023 ‘synod,’ or meeting of bishops, is significant since the Vatican has long held the group at arm’s length. Catholic doctrine forbids the ordination of women as priests. In the run-up to the synod, the Vatican has asked dioceses, religious orders and other Catholic groups to embark on listening sessions so ordinary Catholics can talk about their needs and hopes for the church.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

For first time, Pope Francis installs women in two church ministries
“Pope Francis installed women as well as men from all over the world as catechists and lectors on Sunday (Jan. 23), marking a break with what had been church law reserving those ministries to men(link is external), even if women have performed those functions in many parts of the Catholic world for decades without the formal designation. Francis conferred the ministries during a celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica of the Sunday of the Word of God, which he instituted in 2019, to encourage among all Catholics an interest in knowing the sacred Scriptures and their central role in the life of the church and the Christian faith.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

20 years after clergy sex-abuse scandal erupted: Reparation and rectification continures
As we mark the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the toxic avalanche of revelations about decades of clergy sexual abuse of minors in Boston and beyond, two headlines are clear(link is external). The first is the unfathomable scope of what had happened and remained hidden prior to that apocalypse: tens of thousands of victims, thousands of clerical molesters, hundreds of bishops and senior chancery officials who had covered up the abuse and transferred the abusers, and the entrenched culture of corruption that enabled all of it.” Commentary by Father Roger Landry in National Catholic Register

ACCOUNTABILITY

Father Zollner: Retired pope should make a personal statement on abuse report
“Following the publication of an experts’ report on how sexual abuse was handled in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, the German Catholic news agency KNA spoke to Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors since its creation(link is external) and president of the Institute of Anthropology: Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

Pope Benedict XVI knew of abusive priests when he ran Munich archdiocese, investigators say
Pope Benedict XVI knew about priests who abused children but failed to act when he was archbishop of Munich(link is external) from 1977 to 1982, an inquest found Thursday, rejecting Benedict’s long-standing denials in a damning judgment. “He was informed about the facts,” lawyer Martin Pusch said, as the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl law firm announced the findings of an investigation into historic sexual abuse at the Munich Archdiocese over several decades. The report was commissioned by the church itself.” By Rob Picheta, Claudia Otto and Nadine Schmidt, CNN

New Jersey is ‘impediment’ to McCarrick records release
“As New Jersey’s governor weighs the nomination of a new state attorney general, an ongoing investigation in the attorney general’s office has delayed the release of information about the activities of disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick(link is external). But with appointment of a new attorney general, it is possible the investigation could come to a close, allowing New Jersey bishops to release diocesan records on McCarrick.” By The Pillar

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synodality and ecumenism require walking together, say cardinals
“All Christians are invited to pray for unity and continue to journey together, said Cardinals Mario Grech, general secretary of the Synod of the Bishops, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Toward that end, the two offices came together to offer a prayer, which could be added to the other intentions during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25. Inspired by the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer, ‘We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him,’ the prayer ‘offers a propitious occasion to pray with all Christians that the synod will proceed in an ecumenical spirit(link is external),’ the two cardinals said in a joint news release Jan. 17.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

The ‘new evangelization’ has problems, but a synodal approach can help
“… The 2021-23 synod on synodality has asked us to create an intentional time to reflect together on becoming a more dialogical, loving and listening church. This is a true evangelical initiative, and possibly the answer to a lifetime of silent prayers spoken by all those who feel they need to turn their back on our church to find a deeper relationship with God(link is external). The synod is still scandalously on the backburner in many U.S. dioceses, but the parishes and dioceses that are thriving right now are those that are welcoming, loving and listening. In short, they are synodal: laity and clergy walking together, growing ever closer in friendship with one another and with Christ as they reach out to those on the margins and serve.” By Michael J. Sanem, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope vows justice for abuse victims after Ratzinger faulted
“Pope Francis vowed Friday (Jan. 21) to provide justice to victims of clergy sexual abuse and German authorities called for further investigation(link is external) after an independent audit faulted retired Pope Benedict XVI for having botched four cases of abuse when he was archbishop of Munich, Germany. The fallout from the report continued to reverberate Friday as church officials digested the findings that a pope credited with having turned the Vatican around on the abuse issue had in fact mishandled cases earlier in his career.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in Religion News Service

BISHOPS

Spanish bishops meet with pope, vow to investigate sex abuse cases
“In the wake of a newspaper report revealing hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse in Spain, the country’s bishops assured Pope Francis that every diocese has established a commission that will investigate allegations of abuse(link is external). Speaking with journalists Jan. 14, Spanish Cardinal Juan José Omella of Barcelona, president of the Spanish bishops’ conference, said there are no plans to establish a single independent commission, as in Germany, France or neighboring Portugal, to conduct a nationwide investigation of the handling of cases past and present.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

New plans to improve treatment of clergy
“The Association of Catholic Priests has said it is hoping to work with the four archdioceses in the Irish Church to set up a structure to deal with priests’ complaints about bishops’ treatment of clergy(link is external). Spokesman for the ACP, Fr Tim Hazelwood, told the Tablet that what the association was asking for and working towards was establishing a system for engaging with the problems highlighted to the group by priests.” By Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women at the altar
“On January 23, 2022, Pope Francis installed several men and women to the lay ministries of lector and catechist. This might seem like a routine matter of Catholic practice, but in fact it represented an important change for the church(link is external): Francis altered canon law to state that ‘lay people’ rather than just ‘lay men’ can serve as lectors, or readers, at Mass, and as altar servers one year ago. In May, 2021, he created the entirely new ministry of catechist. Women had often been serving as lectors and catechists, but with this change in canon law, and with the papal installation at St. Peter’s Basilica, women are now officially recognized. That is an important development.” But does this mean women will soon be ordained?” By Phyllis Zagano, Sapientia

Women’s voices key to addressing clergy sexual abuse
“The final panel at a Jan. 20 webinar on clergy sex abuse brought together noted women leaders in the Catholic Church to share their perspectives on what might have been different in the church’s response to the abuse crisis(link is external) if women had ‘been given a seat at the table earlier in this process.’ The webinar, ‘Listening to the Voices of Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse,’ brought together investigators of past abuse, relatives of victims and those who counsel survivors. It was sponsored in part by Georgetown University.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on UCANews.com

CHILD PROTECTION

Vatican child protection expert says prelates should apologize for abuse cover-up
“Those responsible for covering up abuse cases should be upfront and apologize, says a top Catholic expert on child protection and accountability. His comments come on the heels of a scathing report on sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich, once headed by emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. ‘Everybody who is in a position of responsibility makes mistakes, nobody’s perfect, but people would understand if you apologize to them(link is external),’ said Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, created by Pope Francis in 2014 to combat abuse in the church.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

VATICAN

Vatican defends Benedict after report faults abuse record
“The Vatican on Wednesday (Jan. 26) strongly defended Pope Benedict XVI’s record in fighting clergy sexual abuse and cautioned against looking for ‘easy scapegoats and summary judgments(link is external),’ after an independent report faulted his handling of four cases of abuse when he was archbishop of Munich, Germany. The Holy See’s editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, provided the Vatican’s first substantial response to the report in an editorial that appeared in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and its media portal, Vatican News. In it, Tornielli recalled that Benedict was the first pope to meet with victims of abuse, that he had issued strong norms to punish priests who raped children and had directed the church to pursue a path of humility in seeking forgiveness for the crimes of its clerics.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Taizé, a musical monastic community, formed in response to a global crisis. Today, it faced new once: climate change and sex abuse
“This is Taizé, the ecumenical monastic community founded by Brother Roger Schütz in the 1940s as a parable of communion, a hope that if Christians from different countries and backgrounds could gather on a hill in rural France and pray together, then this might serve as a sign that reconciliation is possible(link is external) among churches and in the world. Brother Roger believed in the radical idea that little acts, like young people singing together in a church, really matter in history. That is what a parable does, after all—it points to a meaning larger than itself.” By Stephanie Saldaña, America: The Jesuit Review

Bishop says Amazon Synod did little to tackle sacramental crisis in region
“The sacramental situation was not resolved in the (Amazon) synod,” he said. ‘The pope didn’t want to assume the risk of fracturing the Church with openings that could have risked its unity. He was more concerned with the unity of the Church than the sacramentality of an answer.’ However, the bishop argued, ‘every theological study tells us that there is no Church without the Eucharist(link is external). The fact that it is not available makes us become a Protestant Catholic Church, because we lack the Eucharist and the other sacraments.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

VOICES

The root of Catholic priest abuse in Louisiana
“Catholicism, in what is now the 18th state of the Union, predates Louisiana’s statehood by nearly two centuries. Its culture, religion, and economy have all been deeply influenced by the Catholic Church which were first embedded in this multi-cultural state by Catholic France and Spain … In terms of understanding the history of Catholic priest abuse in the state(link is external), these factors must be taken into account.” By Los Angeles Injury Law News

Editorial: In penance for mishandled abuse cases, Benedict needs to give up ‘pope emeritus’
“In some ways, last week’s news was not particularly new: another independent report about sex abuse in the Catholic Church. We’ve had them from Pennsylvania, from France, and now from Germany’s Archdiocese of Munich-Freising, the latest with details of nearly 500 victims over 74 years. But this one is different, because among the bishops implicated in moving around offenders and covering up their abuse was a man who went on to become pope: then-archbishop, later Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger(link is external). The 1,900-page report, released Jan. 20 by a Munich law office after a two-year investigation, accuses Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI of mishandling at least four cases of sexual abuse by priests when he was archbishop in Munich.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

The Irish Times view on clerical abuse: Benedict has questions to answer
“The evidence that the institutional culture of church cover-up, so vividly recorded in Ireland’s own inquiries into clerical abuse, goes right to the top(link is external) is shocking but perhaps not surprising. The attitude of many church leaders that “scandal” brought about by revelations of abuse is a more pressing concern, than the abuse itself, reflects a very traditional, unacceptable placing of the church above society and its common rules.” By Editorial Staff at The Irish Times

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Sen. Lauren Arthur files legislation to help catch predators and achieve justice for survivors of childhood sexual abuse
“State Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, filed two pieces of legislation to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse seek justice through civil action(link is external), while strengthening the attorney general’s ability to investigate cases of sex trafficking and abuse. ‘In Missouri, no one should be above the law,’ Sen. Arthur said. ‘When an organization knowingly ignores or hides child sex abuse, they must be held accountable. Together, these bills will help survivors seek justice while also strengthening the criminal prosecution of abusers. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the scourge of child sexual abuse in Missouri, and to help heal wounds that have been ignored for too long.’” By Senate.mo.gov

Church victims push to expand lawsuit window in Nebraska
“Victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests urged Nebraska lawmakers on Friday (Jan. 21) to pass a law that would let people who were abused decades ago file lawsuits against the church(link is external) or other organizations that were negligent. The proposal comes on the heels of a Nebraska attorney general report that identified 258 victims who made credible abuse allegations against church officials, dating back decades. None of those cases, however, are expected to result in prosecutions or legal judgments because the statutes of limitation for both criminal charges and civil lawsuits have expired.” By Grant Schulte, Associated Press

Louisiana becomes the latest of 22 states to open a ‘Lookback Window’ for childhood sex abuse
“‘The scars of childhood sexual abuse may stay with survivors long-term and they deserve more time to report these devastating crimes,’ stated Christina Step, spokeswoman for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. This came in August, 2021 at the signing of Louisiana House Bill 492 when lawmakers unanimously approved the current bill that removes deadlines for child sex abuse victims to pursue damages in civil court(link is external). The bill also created a three-year window where all unresolved child molestation claims — no matter how old — can be pursued in civil court.” By LosAngelesLegalExaminer.com

New Colorado law gives sex abuse survivors new option in court
“The first civil case has been filed under a Colorado law that took effect on the Jan. 1, 2022 allowing survivors can sue alleged perpetrators for cases going back to 1960(link is external). It was 1977, before and during a river rafting trip in which a then-teenage girl says she was sexually assaulted by a teacher from a private school. ‘I immediately buried it. It was too overwhelming for me to handle at my age, and I didn’t tell anyone except a Catholic priest who I confessed it to,’ Kate McPhee, now living in Vermont, told CBS4.” By CBS-TV4 News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Infographic: Annual audit tracks increase in allegations of historic abuse incidents
“The latest annual audit of children protection sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, released the same day Father McWilliams was sentenced (Nov. 9, 2021), reported that more than 4,200 allegations of sexual abuse by clergy were made between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020(link is external). The annual audit tracks not only new charges of abuse but also how well U.S. dioceses and eparchies are observing child protection protocols established in 2002 by the U.S.C.C.B. in accordance with its “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” By Staff at America: The Jesuit Review

ILLINOIS

Retired Chicago-area priest facing allegations of sexually abusing a minor four decades ago
“ A retired Chicago-area priest is accused of sexually abusing a mino(link is external)r. The Archdiocese of Chicago has ordered Father James McIlhone to step aside from ministry and leave St. Edward Parish, where he lives in retirement. The allegations date back 40 years to when McIlhone served as associate pastor at Santa Maria Del Popolo Parish in Mundelein. The Archdioceses says the accusations have been reported to the Lake County State’s Attorney, and there will be a full investigation.” By CBS-TV2 News

KANSAS

Wichita priest won’t be charged with child sexual abuse
“A Roman Catholic priest who was accused of sexual exploitation of a child will not be charged(link is external) because the statute of limitations has ended, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Wednesday (Jan. 26). The Catholic Diocese of Wichita placed Rev. Michael Schemm on administrative leave last November after it received an allegation against him.” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

MICHIGAN

Former priest from Oakland, Wayne sentenced for sexual abuse of teenagers
“A former priest from Oakland and Wayne counties has been sentenced to prison for sexually abusing teenagers(link is external). Gary Berthiaume, 79, was sent to trial in July on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He pleaded guilty to those counts in November but pleaded no contest to a third charge of gross indecency, according to authorities. He was also charged in two new cases in June. The charges stem from allegations of abuse in the 1970s, while Berthiaume was a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, officials said.” By Derick Hutchinson, ClickonDetroit.com

NEBRASKA

Omaha priest, linked to sex abuse cases, facing more jail time for suspected thefts
“More potential jail time for a once high-ranking Omaha priest charged in two separate theft cases and also linked to several other priests named in a recent state investigation of widespread sexual abuse by Catholic clergy(link is external). Already facing up to 24 years in prison for allegedly stealing thousands in Douglas County, Father Michael Gutgsell now faces another 20 years for a second suspected theft case, this one in Sarpy County. The 73-year-old former Chancellor in the Omaha Archdiocese is accused of stealing $96,000 from Saint Joseph Church in Springfield, Gutgsell’s last church assignment.” By Joe Jordan, Nebraska News Channel

NEW MEXICO

Alamogordo clergy sex abuse case moves forward, trial set for July 11
“A motion to drop racketeering charges was denied in a lawsuit filed by a man alleging he was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest in Alamogordo(link is external) in the 1970s. The suit was filed by a clergy sexual abuse survivor listed as John Doe who alleged Father David Holley sexually assaulted him while Holley lived in Alamogordo, and sued Servants of the Paraclete’s, the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Las Cruces, El Paso and Worcester, Massachusetts and Alamogordo parishes Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Jude Parish.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

OKLAHOMA

‘We were all children.’ What we know about allegations of sexual abuse of students at Mount St. Mary
“Multiple former students at Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City have accused top administrators, including former principal Talita DeNegri, of dismissing their reports of sexual abuse by other students(link is external). The story was detailed in an exclusive report by The Oklahoman. In the wake of the allegations DeNegri resigned and the school is bolstering its policies and procedures related to mandatory reporting of abuse. However, alumni are demanding more answers from the school’s Board of Trustees.” By Josh Dulaney, The Oklahoman

WISCONSIN

‘This is criminal evidence’: Advocates deliver boxes of documents regarding clergy abuse to attorney general
“An advocacy group has turned over thousands of pages of documents from the five Wisconsin Catholic dioceses it says demonstrate a systemic coverup of sexual abuse by clergy members(link is external). Nate’s Mission, an advocacy group aimed at ending clergy abuse in Wisconsin, handed the documents over to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on Tuesday (Jan. 18), in a move to further the investigation launched last year into abusive clergy and the coverup of abuse by Catholic dioceses.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

FRANCE

French Catholic Church raises 20mn euros for sex abuse victims
“Catholic dioceses in France have raised 20 million euros ($22.6 million) to compensate thousands of victims of historical child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), the fund in charge of raising the money said Tuesday (Jan. 25). Church officials have been under intense pressure to recognize and compensate victims after a landmark French inquiry confirmed widespread abuse of minors by priests, deacons and lay members of the Church dating from the 1950s. ‘It’s a first step. The Church has followed through on its commitment,’ the president of the Selam fund, Gilles Vermot-Desroches, told AFP after its board met on Monday (Jun. 24).” By Agence France-Press on DeccanHerald.com

GERMANY

Child abuse scandal: Germany’s Catholic Church fights for its future
“A perfect blue sky hangs over Aachen Cathedral. The crisp winter sunlight illuminates more than 12 centuries of church history, constructed on Charlemagne’s orders and the site of coronations of dozens of Germany’s kings and queens. But all is far from well behind the ornate facade here in the city on Germany’s western border with Belgium and the Netherlands(link is external). In his Sunday sermon, Aachen Bishop Helmut Dieser spoke of wrath and disappointment, outrage and dismay, suffering and doubt.” By Deutsche Welle

INDIA

Mumbai priest’s conviction for child abuse sparks debate on church procedures for victim protection
“On December 29, a special judge of a court set up under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act convicted Roman Catholic priest Lawrence Johnson for sexually assaulting a minor boy(link is external). The case highlights how church authorities failed to follow both the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and rules set by the state and church Canon Law for victim protection. Human rights activists and women’s rights organizations within the Catholic community have criticized the manner in which the rights of victims are routinely negated and abusers are shielded or supported on the pretext of “maintaining neutrality” or that the matter is sub judice.” By Flavia Agnes, Scroll.in

Bishop’s acquittal: Kerala court questions nun’s ‘conduct,’ ignores change in law on rape
“From notions of how an ideal victim must behave to theories of possible enemies within the system plotting against the accused; speculation that the complainant could have had an affair with a married man to an earlier, narrower definition of rape. These are some of the key factors behind the Kerala court’s acquittal of Franco Mulakkal, the former Jalandhar Bishop of the Catholic Church, of all charges in the alleged rape of a nun(link is external).” By Apurva Vishwanath, The Indian Express

INDONESIA

Indonesia jails ‘Catholic brother’ for molesting boys
“An Indonesian court has sentenced a ‘Catholic brother’ to 14 years in jail for sexually assaulting boys at an orphanage near capital Jakarta(link is external). Lukas ‘Lucky’ Ngalngola, also known as Brother Angelo, was convicted by Depok District Court on Jan. 20 for threatening violence and committing lewd acts on at least three children. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 100 million rupiah (US$6,990). Ngalngola claimed to be a member of the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of Charity (BSMC), an obscure order based in the Philippines.’ By Katharina R. Lestari, UCANews.com

Indonesia sees spike in sexual abuse of children
“Sexual violence committed against children in Indonesia almost tripled in 2021, but true figures remain elusive because of a tendency not to report such crimes and cover them up(link is external), according to an agency dedicated to protecting victims. The Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPKS) said it recorded 288 complaints last year, a sharp increase on the 107 recorded in 2020. ‘At least 65.7 percent of these 288 incidents took place in schools,’ Edwin Partogi Pasaribu, an agency spokesman, said on Jan. 16.” By Konradus Epa, UCANews.com

POLAND

Polish diocese apologizes for asking if abuse victim is gay
“A Catholic diocese in Poland apologized on Thursday (Jan. 13) for having asked a court to determine whether a man who was sexually abused as a child by a priest is gay(link is external), and whether the sexual contact may have consequently been pleasurable for him. Following wide criticism, the Bielsko-Zywiec diocese said that its letter to the court should not have included questions about the victim’s sexuality or have suggested that he drew pleasure from contact with the priest. The diocese dispatched the letter in response to a lawsuit by the victim, Janusz Szymik.” By Vanessa Gera, Associated Press, in U.S. News & World Report

PORTUGAL

Portuguese abuse commission begins work investigating ‘deep pain and suffering’
“A week into the year-long independent anti-abuse commission convened by the Catholic Church in Portugal, 102 allegations had been mad(link is external)e. In a statement released to the Lusa Portuguese news agency, child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, the coordinator of the independent abuse commission, said that the 102 testimonies received thus far, contain ‘moments of deep pain and suffering.’ The testimonies were received either online or via phone call. The Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church is collecting complaints from victims of cases that have occurred since 1950, which may be referred to the police.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

Swiss Catholic church orders study of past sexual abuse
“The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland have asked two academics to lead a study into the Swiss church’s history of sexual exploitation since the mid-20th century(link is external), joining other churches in other countries in Europe and beyond to undergo such a reckoning. The Swiss Conference of Bishops and two other organizations announced Monday (Dec. 6) that two University of Zurich history professors, Monika Dommann and Marietta Maier, will assemble a team in the coming weeks before formally launching the project and detailing its full ambitions in March.” By Jamey Keaten, Associated Press

Pope approves updates to norms for dealing with ‘grave crimes’
“Pope Francis has given formal approval to a series of updates and modifications that have been made over the years to the norms regarding clerical sexual abuse and other crimes reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith(link is external). The newest version of the so-called ‘Norms on the delicts reserved to the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith’ does not introduce any new crimes, but it does seek to improve the procedural norms regarding the penal process and to update those canons connected with the recently revised ‘Book VI: Penal Sanctions in the Church’ that was to go into effect Dec. 8.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

A priest ordained in 2017 is now serving a life sentence for sex abuse. How did he slip through the cracks?
“Just two years after his ordination in 2017, the Rev. Robert McWilliams was charged with a cascade of sexual assault and child pornography charges(link is external). He was sentenced to life imprisonment a few weeks ago, on Nov. 9, in a federal criminal court in Cleveland. The McWilliams case came as an unhappy shock to Catholics in the Diocese of Cleveland and all over the United States who might have hoped that years of procedural changes and an enhanced screening process for seminarians would have put an end to the ordination of priests like Father McWilliams.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Religious institutes in France determined to fight clergy sex abuse
“In the wake of a recent devastating report by a special commission in France investigating sexual abuse of minors by clergy, a new committee has been established by the religious men and women’s conference (the Conférence des Religieux et Religieuses de France or CORREF) to hear testimonials of victims of sexual abuse by religious men and women(link is external), including abuses suffered by adults and members of religious communities. Many stories of abuses against nuns have been reported without action being taken. This new committee will allow any potential victim to state their case.” By Elisabeth Auvillain, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

After two decades, abuse crisis has humbled the Catholic Church
“From when the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse crisis erupted in 2002 until his death more than three years later, St. John Paul II never met with a victim of clerical sexual abuse. In contrast, Pope Francis has met numerous times with abuse victims and their advocates since his election in 2013. He plans next year to meet with representatives of indigenous people from Canada who are protesting the historical abuse of children at church-run residential schools there. Those meetings are a sign of how the Catholic hierarchy has transformed its response to abuse scandals(link is external), which have left the church poorer and less influential in the countries where they have emerged.” By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal

ACCOUNTABILITY

Pope says he’ll meet with French sex abuse commission
“Pope Francis agreed Monday (Dec. 14) to meet with the commission that published a ground-breaking report into clergy sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church(link is external) and, separately, expressed “sadness” over the sudden downfall of the archbishop of Paris, according to French bishops who met with him. Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French Bishops Conference, told reporters that Francis had agreed “in principle” to meet with the independent commission members but that a date had to be found.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Catholic church sexual abuse must be seen in ‘historical’ context, Pope says
“Pope Francis has called for caution in the ‘interpretation’ of a damning report released in October that found as many as 330,000 children may have been sexually abused by clergy and lay members of the Catholic Church in France. The pontiff said on Monday (Dec. 6) that the ‘historical situation’ must be framed in context when conducting studies that explore incidents dating back decades … Noting that studies ‘must be attentive to the interpretation’ people will ‘make of it,’ the Pope said that historical abuse must be viewed according to the standards of the time(link is external). He gave as an example that the ‘attitude’ of the church to cases of abuse was ‘to cover it up,’ but acknowledged that this was an ‘attitude that unfortunately still exists today in a large number of families.’” By RT.com

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Largest Native American diocese takes unique approach to synod
“Unlike most dioceses in the U.S. that have turned to one or two key people to lead their synodal process, Bishop James Wall of Gallup has taken a different approach by turning to one of the diocese’s religious communities to take the helm(link is external). ‘We’re a diocese with very few and limited resources, so rather than hoisting this on one person’s shoulders I thought it would be a little more doable if we were to ask the [Sisters of Our Lady of Guadalupe] religious community,’ Wall told Crux. ‘Plus, they’re awesome and everybody loves them and they’re perfectly bilingual in English and Spanish.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Synod phase for local listening gets an uneven start in U.S. dioceses
“Kevin Beck said the only thing he has seen thus far from his diocese in Colorado Springs, Colorado, about the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops on synodality is an article in the diocesan newspaper that reported the bishop was reviewing the consultation process(link is external). ‘That was in October, and we haven’t heard anything since,’ said Beck, who is organizing his own online listening session for a group of lay Catholics in the diocese to offer their input and have their voices heard. ‘We’ve drafted a set of questions that we’re going to send out to people who said they want to participate so they can have time to think about what they want to say,’ said Beck, who told NCR that he wished his diocese was ‘more excited’ about the synod.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

An unprecedented gathering in Latin America is putting Pope Francis’ vision for the church into action
“Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh covered and participated in the Latin American ecclesial assembly in Mexico City last week. It was the first meeting of its kind, bringing together about 1,000 bishops, priests, religious and lay people to discuss the region’s pastoral needs in a synodal way.(link is external) On ‘Inside the Vatican,’ Austen joins host Colleen Dulle to discuss his experience at the meeting and what lessons the Latin American church can teach the rest of the world about synodality.” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

Encuentros: Learning from 50 years of synodal experience – if we’ve been paying attention
“Catholics in the United States have been engaged for 50 years in groundbreaking processes of synodal discernment, dialogue and decision-making. Some readers may ask: How is this possible? Isn’t synodality a novelty, a trend distinctive of Pope Francis’ pontificate? How come I never heard of this in my parish, diocese, Catholic school, seminary or college?

If you asked any of these or similar questions, chances are that you are unaware of some of the most exciting — and yes, synodal — conversations about ecclesial life, mission and evangelization among Hispanic Catholics, who constitute nearly 45% of the Catholic population in the U.S.(link is external)” By Hosffman Ospino, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope praises ‘dignity’ of French bishops in tackling abuse crisis
“During a press briefing held at the French Seminary in Rome, members of the presidency of the Bishops’ Conference of France noted that their Monday (Dec. 13) meeting with Pope Francis was an annual custom, in order to report on the work of their recent plenary assembly(link is external). This year, the bishops, who met in Lourdes from 2 to 8 November, focused in particular on the CIASE report. Its publication on 5 October caused shock in France, particularly with the survey that showed there have been 330,000 victims of sexual violence within the Catholic Church since 1950.” By Cyprien Viet, VaticanNews.va

Pope could visit Canada in 2022 as part of reconciliation process, archbishop says
“After Pope Francis voiced his intention earlier this year to travel to Canada as part of the nation’s reconciliation process with indigenous communities, one of the country’s top prelates has said the papal visit could come as early as next year(link is external). Currently in Rome for meetings between the leadership of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and Vatican officials, Bishop Raymond Poisson of Saint-Jérôme and Mont-Laurier and president of the CCCB, told Crux that ‘it’s possible’ the pope could visit Canada in 2022.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis: ‘I accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Paris not on the altar of truth but on the altar of hypocrisy’
“On the flight back from Athens to Rome, Pope Francis surprised journalists by stating that he had accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, ‘not on the altar of truth but on the altar of hypocrisy(link is external).’ He accepted the resignation (submitted on Nov. 26) during the visit to Cyprus. The pope’s answer was given in response to one of several questions from five journalists on the 90-minute flight. Francis also revealed the possibility that he could meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow for a second time and said plans for this will be discussed next week.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

PRIESTS

Fr. Donald Cozzens, who challenged clericalism in the church, dies at 82
“As an author and lecturer, Father Donald B. Cozzens, a Cleveland diocesan priest and former seminary rector, shared candid insights on the priesthood, challenging the Catholic Church to confront clericalism and renew its structure(link is external). Despite criticism privately and publicly from fellow clergy, Father Cozzens maintained that it was his love of the priesthood that prompted his outspokenness for positive change. Father Cozzens, 82, died Dec. 9 … It was Father Cozzens’ book, ‘The Changing Face of the Priesthood,” published in 2000, that set the course for much of his life after he stepped down as president-rector of St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in the Diocese of Cleveland a year later to focus on teaching and writing.” By Dennis Sadowsky, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pressure on parishes with dozens of aging priests due to retire
“The number of Catholic priests serving in Ireland is set to decline dramatically over the coming months. Priests who were due to retire over the past year but stayed on to help colleagues during the pandemic are now hoping they can step down from active ministry — but a lack of ordinations means there is no one to replace them(link is external). In the Diocese of Cork and Ross, for example, around 11 priests are due to retire over the next three years. Nine of the diocese’s 94 serving parish priests are aged over 75.” By Neil Michael, The Irish Examiner

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

Pope cites new book on nun abuse in warning to superiors
“Pope Francis on Saturday (Dec. 11) drew attention to a problem that the Vatican has long sought to downplay: the abuses of power by mother superiors against nuns who, because of their vows of obedience, have little recourse but to obey(link is external). During an audience with members of the Vatican’s congregation for religious orders, Francis cited a new investigative expose of the problem written by a reporter for the Holy See’s media, Salvatore Cernuzio. Francis noted that the book, ‘Veil of Silence: Abuse, Violence, Frustrations in Female Religious Life,’ doesn’t detail ‘striking’ cases of violence and abuse ‘but rather the everyday abuses that harm the strength of the vocation.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

WOMEN’S VOICES

Catholic women urge Vatican to sign Europe rights convention
“A consortium of Catholic women’s groups is calling on the Holy See to join the Council of Europe and to sign the European Convention on Human Rights, arguing that the Vatican should show consistency by expressing its firm commitment to protecting human rights(link is external). In a petition marking the Human Rights Day declared by the United Nations, the groups said the Holy See is recognized internationally as a sovereign state and presents itself as a firm promotor of human rights and dignity. Yet they noted the Vatican hasn’t followed up by adhering to the European Convention, regarded as the gold standard for rights protections around the world.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Barred from the priesthood, some Catholic women find other roles
“Women aspiring to leadership in the Catholic church have long come to terms with the glass ceiling that exists in the male-dominated institution, but Pope Francis’ spate of female appointments in the Vatican hierarchy suggests that change, however modest, is underway(link is external). A growing number of women hold consequential positions in the church and at the Vatican. But it’s the roles women occupy at the grassroots level — in parishes, dioceses and universities — that suggest to female Catholics that despite the institution’s slowness to change, women are taking the lead, making new demands and inspiring new perspectives.” By Claire Giangravé and David Crary, Religion News Service/Associated Press (This story is part of a series by The associated Press, Religion News Service and The Conversation on women’s roles in male-led religions)

Meet Sister Nathalie Becquart, the woman who is helping reshape the Catholic Church
“ Amid Pope Francis’ attempts to reform the hierarchical structures that have defined the Roman Catholic Church for centuries—structures that have in many ways limited the influence of lay people and especially women—few have had such a decisive say on shaping the future of the institution as Sister Nathalie Becquart(link is external). In February, the pope named the French religious sister of the Congregation of Xavières to become the undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, a summit of church leaders at the Vatican set to address the most cogent topics facing the institution.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Advent: Hearing God in a female voice
“A female voice begins the Jesus story. In Luke’s version, a woman decides all by herself — a subversive thing! — whether the Jesus story will even happen. Mary’s ‘let it be’ gets everything started. A courageous, hesitant, female voice brings God more fully into the world(link is external). Advent is a good time to honor, cherish and listen to the many strong female voices that challenge us, teach us, love us, and bring us into a deeper experience of God, if we let them. Then and now, those female voices are widely ignored, marginalized, and muted by those who think that only males should be heard. The Jesus story turns all that upside-down. It places women front and center, right from the start.” By Joe Kay, Sojourners

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Final plan to consolidate Cincinnati Catholic parishes and schools unveiled
“Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr announced Sunday he is ready to move forward with an ambitious restructuring program that will impact every Catholic parish and school across 19 Ohio counties. The reorganization, known as Beacons of Light, will consolidate the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s 208 parishes into 57 ‘families of parishes(link is external),’ which will begin sharing priests, staff, facilities and other resources early next year. Over time, church officials expect those parish families to become single parishes, eliminating more than 70% of the archdiocese’s parishes and setting the stage for the possible closure of churches and schools.” By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

CHURCH FINANCES

At five-years, financial transparency report shows progress, but improvement needed
“This year marks five years that Voice of the Faithful has reviewed annually all U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency. Over the past five years, according to VOTF reviewers, overall diocesan transparency scores have increased, and some dioceses have achieved considerable success, but much work remains to be done(link is external). The 2021 report shows that overall diocesan online financial transparency scores increased from 65% in 2020 to 69% in 2021, but that only 64% of all dioceses posted current audited financial reports, even though those dioceses posting such reports increased from 104 in 2020 to 113 in 2021.” By RNS Press Release Distribution Service

Archdiocese of Louisville files documents to intervene in lawsuit brought by parishioners against long-time Catholic priest
“The Archdiocese of Louisville has filed court documents to intervene in a lawsuit brought by parishioners against a longtime Catholic priest. A civil lawsuit alleges Father Anthony Ngo is wrongfully using church money by converting some funds donated to the parish for his own personal use(link is external). Ngo has been pastor at St. John Vianney’s in south Louisville for two decades. Those bringing the suit against Ngo said they were removed from their volunteer roles on the parish council after raising concerns about church finances.” By Rachel Droze, WHAS-TC11 News

Interrogation tapes in Vatican finance trial leaked to media
“Videotapes of interrogations with a key witness in the ongoing Vatican finance trial have been leaked to an Italian newspaper. Corriere della Sera reported in a Dec. 3 article billed as an ‘exclusive’ that journalists at the Italian newspaper had viewed the video footage of interviews between Vatican prosecutors and Msgr. Alberto Perlasca(link is external), a former official at the Secretariat of State, who was once considered a suspect in the finance investigations … The Perlasca tapes have been at the center of arguments at recent hearings in the trial to prosecute alleged crimes committed against the Secretariat of State surrounding its purchase of a 350 million euro ($404 million) investment property in London.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Vatican fraud trial sees more delay amid procedural errors
“The Vatican’s big fraud and embezzlement trial, which opened to great fanfare in July, suffered another delay Tuesday (Dec. 15) as the tribunal postponed any further decisions until prosecutors finish redoing their investigation of four of the original 10 defendants(link is external). The delay means the trial, which had already been proceeding at a snail’s pace even by Italian standards, won’t get off the ground until mid-February at the earliest. Tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone said that by then he could “finally, hopefully” unify the two branches of the trial and start in earnest.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Do you think everyone at Latin Mass is an ideologue? You might be wrong.

I’ve attended Church of the Holy Innocents, New York City’s main hub for Tridentine Latin Mass enthusiasts, on and off since my undergrad days. Many, including Pope Francis himself, have expressed concerns that parishes that celebrate the Latin Mass tend to attract reactionaries who are opposed to progress and give rise to insular communities. As much as this is often the case, and I applaud Francis for taking this step, my experience has shown me that there are other, more nuanced reasons people are drawn to the Tridentine Latin Mass(link is external). Yes, many are drawn to it for ideological reasons. But the Latin Mass is also a haven for those who feel misunderstood or outcasted for their unconventional personalities and aesthetic sensibilities.” By Stephen G. Adubato, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis is asking the U.S. bishops to listen to the people. Will they?
“Everybody likes Pope Francis. Except, it seems, U.S. Catholic bishops. On the other hand, no one seems to like the bishops(link is external) — they damaged their own credibility with their 2002 ‘Dallas Charter’ on clerical sex abuse, which sanctioned only priests and deacons but left bishops alone … Once again, today, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops seems bereft of common sense … Many American bishops are content to ignore the worldwide Synod on Synodality: Only half of the U.S. bishops have even named someone to run the synod project in their dioceses. That is, half of the U.S. bishops are not interested in what the people of God think.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

The bishops on the Eucharis and public life
“On Nov. 17, the assembled Catholic bishops of the United States overwhelmingly approved “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church(link is external)” by a vote of 222 to 8. Pope Francis’ apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, had told the bishops that in their decision making “the path forward necessarily involves unity.” To the extent possible on this earth, that is what they demonstrated. Secular news media responded by demonstrating their single-minded focus on national politics.” By Richard Doerfinger, The Pilot

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Proposed bill would remove statute of limitations for sexual assaults
“In November the Nebraska attorney general’s office unveiled a bombshell report that showed widespread sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the state. While their stories were told, the victims were not given a chance to see their abusers held responsible and now a proposed piece of legislation is hoping to change that. The investigation into clergy abuse began in 2018 but the concerns about potential abuse were known by legislators long before the Attorney General’s investigation was launched(link is external).” By Alex Whitney, FOX42-TV News

Ohio House majority leader considering reforms in light of Father Drew rape case
“The Ohio House Majority Leader tells FOX19 NOW he is considering reforms to state laws in light of the Father Geoff Drew rape case. Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township said Friday (Dec.3) he recently met with a group of activist parents asking lawmakers to reform Ohio’s child abuse laws, Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati and Voice of the Faithful(link is external). ‘I pledged to them to work with them on three things. First of all, we have a law right now in Ohio that requires teachers, priests and ministers to report to the authorities known or suspected child abuse. But it has a relatively short statute of limitations within which to prosecute people for failing to meet their mandatory reporting duties. So I’m looking at extending that statute of limitations.’” By Chris Riva and Jennifer Edwards Baker, WXIX-TV19 News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Pope Francis closes clerical sex abuse loophole
“Clerics who sexually abuse minors can be canonically prosecuted even when they say they were not aware that a person with whom they had sexual contact was a minor(link is external), according to changes to canon law announced by the Vatican on Tuesday (Dec. 7). The reform of the law, authorized by Pope Francis, follows cases in which clerics claimed they did not know the age of a minor with whom they had sexual contact, or believed them to be more than 18 years old.” By The Pillar

Catholic priest abuse survivors use drama therapy techniques to heal old wounds
“The new Netflix documentary ‘Procession’ follows six men who were sexually abused by Catholic priests from the Kansas City area(link is external). The film, made by University of Missouri Associate Professor Robert Greene, shows the survivors reclaiming power through drama therapy techniques. The men attempt to heal from decades of pain by creating short films, some set at the very location the abuse happened. The scenes aren’t graphic, but symbolic of the power priests have.” By Kayla Drake, St. Louis Public Radio

CALIFORNIA

Vatican removes former San Benito County priest from accused list
“The Diocese of Monterey announced that Rev. Cornelius (Scott) McCarthy was removed from the list of clergy accused of sexual assault(link is external) following a Vatican investigation that concluded on June 25. McCarthy appeared on the credibly accused list published in 2019. According to the 2019 report, McCarthy was accused in 2002 of an incident that occurred in 1976. The allegation was known, but was reclassified to “credible” in the 2019 report. ‘Fr. McCarthy’s name on a list of clerics credibly accused of abusing a minor is demonstrably false and his removal from ministry is declared invalid, and his name is to be removed from the list of Priests Credibly Accused of Sexually Abusing a Minor,’ the Vatican said in the press release.” By BenitoLink.com

Adult survivors of Catholic clergy abuse in Sacramento call for justice
“As Catholics around the world celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, new church laws take effect on Dec. 8 criminalizing the sexual abuse of adults by priests and other clergy members(link is external). This comes after Pope Francis announced the changes in June, aimed at addressing shortcomings in the Church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. The law recognizes that adults too may be victimized by priests who abuse their authority, while further providing accountability among Bishops who know about but don’t report sexual abuse.” By Giacomo Luca, ABC-TV10 News

LOUISIANA

Stephen Sauer, former priest who ran agency for disabled, booked with sex crimes
“The executive director of Arc of Greater New Orleans has been arrested on five counts of video voyeurism and one count of sexual battery(link is external), according to court records. Stephen Sauer, 59, remains behind bars in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center, pending a court hearing Thursday (Dec. 16). ArcGNO, with headquarters in Metairie, provides services to mentally disabled people in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes.” By Mike Perlstein, WWL-TV4 News on NOLA.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Diocese of Fall River finds allegations of sexual abuse against three priests ‘credible’
“Three Massachusetts Catholic priests are barred from returning to ministry after the diocese found them each to be ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). According to the Diocese of Fall River, Father Richard E. Degagne was suspended after allegations surfaced in 2019. He was then the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Easton. Father Edward J. Byington and Father James F. Buckley were already retired and were not assigned to a parish when allegations surfaced during 2020, diocese officials said.” By WCVB-TV5 News

NEW JERSEY

Committee for sex-abuse survivors seeks more money from Camden Diocese
“A committee for victims of clergy sex abuse has fired another salvo in a bankruptcy battle with the Diocese of Camden. The committee on Friday (Dec. 10) asked a judge to remove restrictions on more than $63 million in diocesan funds(link is external). The request, if approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jerrold Poslusny Jr. in Camden, would make the money available to claims by the diocese’s creditors, including the sex-abuse survivors.” By Jim Walsh, cherry Hill Courier-Post

OHIO

Ohio priest pleads guilty to raping altar boy
“A Roman Catholic priest in Ohio on Thursday (Dec. 2) pleaded guilty to raping an altar boy(link is external) during a three-year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Under terms of a plea agreement, Father Geoff Drew, 59, will be sentenced to seven years in prison and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He’ll receive credit for approximately 27 months he has spent in confinement.” By Associated Press

PENNSYLVANIA

Ex-priest charged with filming boy in Pittsburgh Target restroom
“A former priest was arrested for allegedly filming a 13-year-old boy in a Target store restroom(link is external) in East Liberty. Paul Spisak, 77, a former priest at St. Mary of the Mount in Pittsburgh, St. Benedict the Abbot in McMurray, St. Dominic in Donora and St. Mary, Cecil, was taken into custody as he attempted to drive away from the store. Spisak faces child pornography and invasion of privacy charges.” By Eric Heyl, Patch.com

SOUTH CAROLINA

Charleston diocese under fire after reappointing accused Catholic priest
“The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is denouncing the Diocese of Charleston after allowing a priest to resume preaching duties after being accused of sexual exploitation(link is external). Officials say that Father Wilbroad Mwape began preaching again at a Greenville church four months after being placed on temporary leave following a sexual exploitation allegation by a parishioner. The accusation led to a lawsuit filed on August 4th with complaints of the priest abusing his position beginning at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Orangeburg and his relocation to Greenville.” By Dianté Gibbs, WCXBD-TV2 News

Judge rules against priest sex abuse survivor in Lowcountry civil suit
“A Savannah priest sexual abuse survivor will ‘not’ be able to sue a South Carolina Catholic Diocese for the crimes he says happened to him 30 years ago(link is external) in the Lowcountry. Chris Templeton was abused by at least one priest in the Savannah diocese as a young man, the memory still harsh and vivid. But he says this decision by a Lowcountry judge hurts almost as much.” By Andrrew Davis, WSAV-TV3 News

VERMONT

Orphans were abused, and the bishop does nothing
“An open letter to Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, the Roman Catholic bishop of Vermont: Why are you waiting for me and other clergy abuse victims to die(link is external)? As children at St. Joseph’s Orphanage, we were physically, mentally and sexually abused. In December 2020, you said the following during an interview on the WCAX program ‘You Can Quote Me’: ‘I absolutely believe that children were abused at the orphanage. No one is contesting that at all.’ You know that there was abuse, yet you do everything you can to avoid helping the abused.” Commentary by Maura Labelle, VTDigger.com

WASHINGTON

Seattle Catholic archdiocese settles sexual abuse claim
“Seattle’s Catholic archdiocese has agreed to pay a Washington woman $725,000 as part of an early dispute resolution to her lawsuit alleging an unidentified employee sexually abused her at the Catholic school she attended(link is external) more than 40 years ago. The woman, identified by her initials, T.R., was an 8-year-old third grade student at the archdiocese’s private St. Louise Parish School in 1977 when an unidentified playground attendant started giving her candy and began sexually grooming her, the lawsuit said.” By Associated Press

CANADA

‘Historic injustices require historic reparations’: Ottawa setting aside $40 billion for Indigenous children and First Nations families
“The federal Liberal government is setting aside a whopping $40 billion to settle outstanding Indigenous child welfare lawsuits and to meet the long-term health, education and social welfare needs(link is external) of First Nations children and families. Several First Nations leaders and advocates reacted positively yet warily to Ottawa’s pledge, saying discussions to settle three massive lawsuits are still underway, with no final decisions made.” By Tonda MacCharles, Ottawa Bureau, Toronto Star

Fugitive priest could still face sex charges if more Nunavummiut testify against him
“An Oblate priest accused of sexually assaulting children in Naujaat and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, could still face charges(link is external), says Canada’s justice minister — but victims need to bring new evidence forward first. Johannes Rivoire spent time in several Nunavut communities starting in the 1960s, but returned to France in 1993 … On Monday (Dec. 13), when pressed about Rivoire in the House of Commons by Nunavut MP Lori Idlout, Justice Minister David Lametti said he can’t resurrect the stayed charges, but ‘there is always the possibility that further evidence might be brought forward by other complainants or other witnesses.’” By CBC News

Law firm seeks class action for alleged sexual assaults by priests in Diocese of Amos, Que.
“A law firm representing men who say they were sexually assaulted by at least five priests when they were children is requesting authorization for a class action lawsuit(link is external) against the entire Diocese of Amos, in Quebec’s Abitibi region. The application, being presented in the Superior Court of the District of Abitibi on Tuesday, targets the Diocese of Amos and the Bishop of Amos for alleged crimes from 1940 to the present day. The men say they were between the ages of seven and 14 at the time of the alleged assaults.” By The Canadian Press Staff on montreal.ctvnews.ca

Miller ‘puzzled’ why feds dropped appeal of Catholic Church’s residential school payments
“Newly named Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller says he wants to get to the bottom of why Ottawa abandoned its appeal of a ruling releasing the Catholic Church from its settlement obligations to residential school survivors(link is external). ‘I am as puzzled as everyone,’ he told The Canadian Press in a recent, wide-ranging interview. ‘I don’t know what there is to do yet.’” By Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press, on GlobalNews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Man wins £75,000 damages for alleged sexual abuse
“A Belfast man who says he was sexually abused at a children’s home run by a religious order(link is external) is set to receive £75,000 in damages. The payout represents settlement of the 66-year-old’s civil action against De La Salle Provincialate. No admission of liability was made in the resolution confirmed at the High Court in Belfast. The man who took the case cannot be named for legal reasons. He claimed that Christian Brothers molested him at Rubane House in Kircubbin, Co Down in the late 1960s.” By The Irish Times

New Zealand abuse report says Church hasn’t taken ‘sufficient steps’ to address problem
“A new report on sexual abuse in New Zealand says abuse in religious settings often causes ‘particular harm’ to victims(link is external). The report quoted Thomas Doyle, a former Catholic priest and a leading expert in abuse in the Catholic Church, who called it ‘soul murder.’ The report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care – titled He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu; from Redress to Puretumu — was tabled in New Zealand’s parliament on Dec. 15. The document makes recommendations on how survivors of abuse in state and faith-based care should be listened to and how they should be compensated. The three religious denominations covered in the report were the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Salvation Army.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

Portugal

Portugal urges victims of clergy sexual abuse to break the silence
“A commission investigating allegations of historical child sexual abuse by members of the Portuguese Catholic church urged victims on Thursday (Sec. 2) to speak up and help them lift a veil of silence around the issue(link is external). ‘We want (victims) to report, finally and without fear, what happened to them,’ the head of the newly-created commission, psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, told a news conference during which he announced the team conducting the investigation.” By Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereisa, Reuters

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland to follow France and investigate sexual abuse in Catholic Church
“Following in the footsteps of France the Catholic Church in Switzerland recently instructed two historians to investigate sexual abuse within the organization(link is external), reported RTS. The researchers running the investigation are from the University of Zurich. They now have the task of collecting testimony from victims which will form the basis of a report on sexual abuse within the Swiss Catholic Church. The organizations requesting the investigation include the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, KOVOS and RKZ, three Catholic associations in Switzerland. The written agreement to proceed with the investigation was signed in November 2021. The project, which is a pilot, has been designed to ensure the investigations are independent.” By LeNews.ch


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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 6, 2021

Catholic nuns lift veil on abuse in convents
“As the Roman Catholic Church pays more attention to the closed world of convents, where women spend much of their time in prayer and household work, more episodes of psychological, emotional and physical abuse are coming to light(link is external). A new book, “Veil of Silence” by Salvatore Cernuzio, a journalist for the Vatican’s online outlet, Vatican News, is the latest expose to come from within and approved by authorities. Cernuzio recounts experiences of 11 women and their struggles with an age-old system where the Mother Superior and older nuns demand total obedience, in some cases resulting in acts of cruelty and humiliation.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Phil Saviano, clergy abuse victim who refused to stay silent dies at 69
“Phil Saviano was near death from AIDS three decades ago and thousands of dollars in debt when the Worcester Diocese tried to silence him with a settlement that would have prevented him from publicly revealing that he had been sexually abused by a priest when he was a boy(link is external). ‘I just couldn’t agree to it,’ Mr. Saviano told the Globe in 1995. ‘I knew if I did I would just be contributing to their campaign to look away and shut everybody up’ … ‘I lost my faith before I’d even gone through puberty. For over a year, I struggled with a priest who cornered me every chance he got,’ Mr. Saviano wrote in remarks he prepared for a searing, healing speech he delivered in Boston in 2002 at the first national convention of the Voice of the Faithful.” By Bryan Marquand, The Boston Globe

French Catholic Academy questions findings of child sex abuse inquiry
“Members of the French Catholic Academy have expressed doubt about a recent report on historical sex abuse in the church. Eight representatives of the 250-person academy have questioned the findings of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE).(link is external) In October, a CIASE report estimated that 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse since 1950 within the church … The inquiry sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church in Europe and led to apologies from French bishops and Pope Francis. But eight members of the Catholic Academy said CIASE used ‘flawed methodology’ and had ‘serious shortcomings.’” By Agence France Presse

Sorry isn’t enough: People and Catholic Church need to heal, says MMF president
“The president of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) says he has no doubt that Pope Francis will soon apologize for the role the Catholic Church played in Canada’s residential school system, but he believes the path to healing and moving forward requires much more than just an apology(link is external). ‘What we need to discuss is how we create healing, and not just say sorry, and walk away,’ MMF President David Chartrand said on Tuesday (Nov. 30). In late December MMF representatives including Chartrand will join several other delegations that will travel to Rome to meet with Pope Francis.” By Dave Baxter, Winnipeg Sun, in Toronto Star

U.S. Catholic bishops encourage government search for boarding school graves
“Two influential U.S. Roman Catholic Church bishops are encouraging their peers to cooperate with a federal investigation into abuses committed within the former Native American boarding school system(link is external). In a letter sent to all U.S. bishops in November, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, who heads a church committee on domestic justice, and Bishop James Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, who leads a church committee on Native American affairs, asked fellow bishops to hand over records investigators may seek and allow access to property where the unmarked remains of Native American students may lie.” By Brad Brooks, Reuters

ACCOUNTABILITY

Defrocked cardinal McCarrick named in sex abuse lawsuit
“Defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is facing another sexual abuse lawsuit(link is external), from a man who claims McCarrick abused him in the 1980s in New Jersey. In the lawsuit filed in state court and announced Tuesday (Nov. 23), Michael Reading alleged McCarrick engaged in sexual contact with him in 1986 while on a trip to the New Jersey shore, around the same time McCarrick ordained Reading as a priest. The claim comes as a two-year window nears completion in New Jersey for people to file abuse lawsuits regardless of how far back the alleged abuse occurred.” By David Porter, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope accepts resignation of Paris archbishop, who denies accusations
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, who had offered to step down to avoid ‘becoming a source of divisions,’ after an article in the Le Point weekly claimed he mismanaged his archdiocese and had an affair with a woman while he was vicar general(link is external). The pope also named retired Archbishop Georges Pontier to temporarily lead the archdiocese as the apostolic administrator; the 78-year-old archbishop had served as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Avignon from January to July after deep divisions and financial difficulties lead to the early retirement of Archbishop Jean-Pierre Marie Cattenoz.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Church cannot repair what it does not recognize, Cardinal “’Malley says on abuse
“Gathering information and statistics on the sexual abuse of minors is an important tool for assessing established responses and for crafting recommendations to fix a failed system, said U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. ‘We cannot repair what we do not recognize. We cannot restore a broken trust if we do not address the heart of the matter(link is external).’ The message, published Nov. 18, was sent to a conference marking the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse — held every Nov. 18 and promoted by the Council of Europe.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

BISHOPS

Interview: Bishop Wack ;discusses ‘anger, division’ in U.S. Catholic Church
“Christendom has come and gone, says Bishop William Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida. ‘We’ve reached the end of Christendom,’ said Wack, who told NCR in a recent interview that the church’s goal should not be to restore a supposed golden age of Christianity or rebuild a political culture where the Christian faith reigns supreme(link is external). ‘Our faith is not built on this state-sponsored or state-supported Christianity. It’s built on a person: Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,’ said Wack, explaining in the interview his vision of the Christian faith and modern society that he wrote about in his first pastoral letter.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

What the Vatican thought of the U.S. bishops’ meeting
“The U.S. bishops approved their long-awaited and much-debated document on the Eucharist at their November meeting last week. This week on ‘Inside the Vatican,’ America’s national correspondent Michael O’Loughlin, who covered the meeting in Baltimore, joins Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell and host Colleen Dulle for a conversation about what the bishops decided and what the Vatican hopes they will do next(link is external).” By Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, Inside the Vatican

Communion rules set out for U.S. Roman Catholics
“A statement on the Eucharist approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops last week urges communicants to ‘enter more deeply by faith and love’ into the Real Presence of Christ(link is external). It warns that receiving holy communion while publicly rejecting ‘defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiat[ing] her definitive teaching on moral issues’ is ‘likely to cause scandal for others.’ Its publication follows debate in the US on whether President Biden, a Roman Catholic, should receive communion, given his public support for abortion rights; some bishops have stated that they would not allow it.” By Madeleine Davies, Church Times

Bishops encourage cooperation to address church’s past in tribal schools
“Two U.S. bishops have urged their fellow prelates to cooperate with any requests they receive from the federal government for an investigation on alleged abuses at tribal schools operated by church entities in the past. In a Nov. 8 letter addressed to all U.S. bishops, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, chair of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Native American Affairs, told prelates that ‘if the government asks for any records you may possess, we encourage cooperation.’” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service

French Catholic bishops announce ‘vast program of renewal’ after abuse report
“Catholic bishops in France announced Monday (Nov. 15) that they have agreed to ‘a vast program of renewal(link is external)’ of governance practices in response to a landmark report on clerical sex abuse. Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference, said Nov. 8 that the bishops had decided to ‘initiate a path of recognition and reparation opening for the victims the possibility of mediation and compensation.’” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

PRIESTS

Catholic priests survey finds lower morale, ‘conservative shift’ among U.S. clergy
“A new survey released this month suggests a more ‘pessimistic’ view of the Catholic Church among U.S. priests today as compared to 2002, as well as an increasing perception of ‘more theologically conservative(link is external) or orthodox’ young priests as compared to their older counterparts. A Nov. 1 report summarized findings from the 2021 Survey of American Catholic Priests (SACP), which comprised 54 questions posed to 1,036 Catholic priests in the United States.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Association on EurasiaReview.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

‘The deep heart’s core’: Faith of lay people will guide Catholic Church for uncertain future
“I am torn. A rather negative starting point I must confess, but let me elaborate. On the one hand I hear the echoing voices of my now adult children expressing, rather vehemently, their incredulity that a woman they deem intelligent continues to be involved with the Catholic Church. It is an institution which has become irrelevant in their lives. They repeatedly describe it to me as misogynistic, homophobic, abusive and money-grabbing. I understand where they are coming from and find myself sadly in agreement with their analysis … So why am I still hanging in there? There is something ‘in the deep heart’s core’ (Yeats) which doesn’t allow me to walk away just yet.(link is external)” By Patricia Melvin, The Irish Times

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Pope sets up commission to monitor annulment reform in Italy
“Concerned at the slow pace of adopting his reforms of the marriage annulment process, Pope Francis has established a Vatican commission to encourage and verify progress in the dioceses of Italy. ‘Each bishop who does not yet have his own ecclesiastical tribunal must seek to erect one or at least endeavor to make this possible(link is external),’ the pope wrote in his document formally establishing a pontifical commission to monitor and assist the Italian dioceses. The document was published Nov. 26.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Louisville priest denies allegations made by parishioners suing him for misusing church conations, according to court document
“A long-time Louisville Catholic priest filed a response in Jefferson County Civil Court to a lawsuit brought against him by parishioners. A civil lawsuit filed in October alleges Father Anthony Ngo is wrongfully using church money(link is external) by converting some funds donated to the parish for his own personal use. Ngo has been pastor at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in south Louisville for more than two decades.” By Rachel Droze, WHAS-TV11 News

Former economy czar Cardinal Pell warns the Vatican is facing major deficit
“Former Vatican economy czar Cardinal George Pell warns in a new book that the Catholic institution is facing a growing deficit(link is external), but he hopes financial reform efforts have put a stop to money laundering in the small city-state. Pell’s newest book, ‘Prison Journal, Volume 3: The High Court frees an Innocent Man,’ was published in November and is the final installment detailing his experiences in prison. Pell was jailed for more than a year in 2019 after being accused of sexually abusing minors in Victoria, Australia, and was acquitted on appeal by the country’s High Court in April 2020 for lack of evidence.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Church membership declines amid changing faiths,times
“Faith is changing, at least according to some numbers. A Gallup survey shows church membership dropped below a majority for the first time(link is external). In 2020, 47% of U.S. adults were members of a church, synagogue or mosque. It’s a statistic that now has leaders in different religions taking action. ‘It’s a really big issue,’ said Rabbi David Steinhardt, a senior rabbi at B’Nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton.” By Tory Dunnan, WPTV-TV5 News

Traditionalism, American-style: a new kind of opposition to Rome
“It wasn’t hard to anticipate the reception that Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis custodies would get in the United States(link is external): hostile (from those already militantly opposed to the pope) or lukewarm (from most of the U.S. bishops). It follows a pattern that began in 2013, with the reception of Francis’s pontificate in general: a minority of U.S. bishops willing to show their communion of intent with the pope; a majority reluctant to engage with him one way or another; and a very small but very vocal sliver of bishops and lay intellectuals who charge Francis with breaking the Church apart.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

U.S. bishops lost about how to engage a culture they don’t understand
“At the first press conference during the U.S. bishops’ fall assembly, conference president Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles did his best to convince the world that the bishops’ document on the Eucharist was never about criticizing President Joe Biden or focusing on other Catholic politicians(link is external) who do not oppose legalized abortion. ‘My understanding is that the intention of the document was not that [criticizing pro-choice politicians],’ Gomez said. ‘The intention of the document since the beginning was about educating Catholics about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Clergy sexual abuse survivor: Bishop Cozzens had ‘immediate concern for my soul’
“Gina Barthel received a response the same day she emailed Bishop Andrew Cozzens, explaining she was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest in New York(link is external) and asking if he would be willing to meet with her. He called, they found a time in January 2014 and they’ve been meeting once a month ever since. Conducted in a safe environment, their discussions have guided Barthel through anger, tears and trauma to drawing ever closer to Christ, particularly in eucharistic adoration.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

Altar boy abuse is an ‘old Spanish custom’ priest told victims
“When Robert Friscic was being molested by a Catholic priest from the age of 11 until he was 18(link is external), he kept asking his abuser why he was being subjected to such intolerable behavior. The answer he got was ‘because I love you.’ Father Anthony Bongiorno, since deceased, also told him and other victims that he was simply performing: An old Spanish custom in which the altar boy sleeps with the priest. Decades on Friscic decided to lodge a civil claim against the Catholic Church for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Bongiorno, and this week ABC News reported that he had been awarded an out-of-court settlement of $3-million (£1.6) by the Archdiocese of Melbourne.” By Barry Duke, Patheos.com

Woman, 33, who was repeatedly raped by a Catholic priest at age 14 recalls first time he abuse her
“A woman who was repeatedly raped by a Catholic priest when she was 14 years old(link is external) has shared horrible details from the moment he assaulted her for the first time – and revealed that decades later, she still has PTSD from it. Megan Peterson, now 33, came forward in 2011 and said she had been sexually assaulted by Indian priest Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, now 67, for more than a year in 2004 – when she was just 14 years old. At the time, he had been transferred from Infant Jesus Church in India to Blessed Sacrament Church, in Greenbush, Minnesota.” By Lillian Gissen, Daily Mail

CONNECTICUT

Court sets deadline for sexual assault claims in Norwich diocese bankruptcy case
“A federal bankruptcy judge has set a deadline of March 15, 2022 for receipt of claim forms from people who say they were sexually assaulted by priests and employees of Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich(link is external). Victims who fail to do so will likely lose their right to obtain compensation from the diocese and possibly its parishes. The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July as it faced more than 60 lawsuits filed by young men who charge they were sexually assaulted as boys by Christian Brothers and other staff at the diocese-run Mount Saint John Academy in Deep River from 1990 to 2002.” By Joe Wojtas, The New London Day

ILLINOIS

Chicago-area priest reinstated year after abuse probe began
“A suburban Chicago priest has been reinstated as a pastor after a review board for the Archdiocese of Chicago found there was ‘insufficient reason to suspect’ he had sexually abused children 25 years ago. The Rev. David F. Ryan was first asked to step away from the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich in November 2020 when an investigation into the alleged abuse began.” By Associated Press in Beaumont Enterprise

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield Diocese adds Joseph P. Quinlan to its roster of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse
“A priest who served the Diocese of Springfield from 1971 until his death in 1989 was added Monday (Nov. 29) to the list of those credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). ‘The Review Board carefully reviewed this allegation, including a report issued by the diocesan investigative team, and found this allegation to be credible,’ a statement from the Diocese of Springfield said. The diocese listed the name of Joseph P. Quinlan on its online directory of priests and other church personnel against whom an allegation of abuse — in this instance, it was sexual abuse of a minor — has been upheld by the Review Board.’ By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

‘I’m tired of waiting for justice’: alleged clergy abuse victim wants action from diocese
“Two men who claim a local priest sexually abused them as minors(link is external) decades ago are demanding action from the diocese. ‘I’m tired of waiting for justice,’ said Richard Eldridge, who has publicly accused retired priest the Rev. Edward Byington of sexual abuse … Eldridge spoke at a press conference on Tuesday (Nov. 24) morning with attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented victims of clergy sexual abuse for several decades, and Robert Hoatson, co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, an advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse and their families.” By Audrey Cooney, The Herald News

Catholic priest convicted of taking semi-nude photographs of a boy in 1992 laicized
“Bishop Robert J. McManus announced Thursday (Nov. 18) that Ronald D. Provost has been laicized. In 1993, Provost was convicted in Worcester Superior Court of soliciting a child to pose nude and received a suspended prison sentence with probation(link is external). He was found guilty of taking semi-nude photographs of a 10-year-old boy in 1992 in the locker room of a pool in Gardner. Provost, who was pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Barre when the photographs were taken, was removed from any active ministry in the diocese when the picture-taking allegations surfaced.” By Craig S. Semon, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

MICHIGAN

Former priest with Wyandotte ties pleads guilty to sex crimes
“A former priest with ties to Downriver and Oakland County has pleaded to several sex crime charges from the 1970s involving young boys(link is external), including two brothers. During a Nov. 8 Zoom hearing before Judge Daniel O’Brien of Oakland County Circuit Court, Gary Berthiaume, 79, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and no contest to one count of gross indecency. In exchange for his pleas, Assistant Attorney General Danielle Russo Bennetts dismissed two other counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one other count of gross indecency.” By Aileen Wingblad, The News Herald

NEW JERSEY

Advocates call for removal of street sign honoring NJ priest accused of sex abuse
“Most drivers and pedestrians who travel a part of Washington Street in West New York are oblivious to what the man whose name graces the thoroughfare has been accused of doing. At least four people have said Msgr. Eugene Fanelli abused them when he was pastor(link is external) at Our Lady of Libera Roman Catholic Church and they were children in the West New York parish. ‘The fact that a street was named after him is heinous,’ said Jason Schack, who filed a lawsuit in November alleging that Fanelli abused him for seven years, beginning when he was 8.” By deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

As filing window closes, sex abuse lawsuits against NJ Catholic Church number 820
“A recent lawsuit alleging that a religious order priest sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in 2006 was among the nearly 180 sex abuse civil complaints(link is external) filed this month alone against the Catholic Church in New Jersey. The claim caught the attention of the attorney for the Diocese of Paterson, who said he routinely passes allegations of abuse to law enforcement authorities. This one warranted added urgency because of when the abuse allegedly occurred. The attorney sent information about the complaint to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office on the day he received it several weeks ago.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Another child sex abuse lawsuit filed against Delbarton School
“A lawsuit against the Delbarton School claims that a priest sexually abused a child(link is external) in the 1990s. The complaint became the latest among several lawsuits filed against the school for alleged abuse. The lawsuit alleges that Father Jude Salus sexually abused the plaintiff from 1993-94. The plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit anonymously, was a student and approximately 14 years old.” By Josh Bakan, New Jersey Patch

Thirty-four alleged child abusers publicly identified for the first time in New Jersey
“Through lawsuits filed against the Catholic Archdiocese and Dioceses in New Jersey under the Victims’ Rights Bill, 34 alleged perpetrators(link is external) have been publicly accused of sexual abuse for the first time. They are: Fr. Richard Carrington (Archdiocese of Newark) …” By AndersonAdvocates.com

NEW YORK.

86-year-old Queens priest removed from ministry following credible claims of child sexual abuse
“An 86-year-old priest has been removed from the ministry following an investigation conducted by the Brooklyn Diocese that determined that a claim of child molestation against him dating back to the 1970s was credible(link is external). Rev. Peter Mahoney–who had been ministering part-time to the Hispanic community at Saint Anne Catholic Church in Flushing and St. Nicholas of Tolentine in Jamaica, Queens—is no longer permitted to celebrate mass publicly, or exercise any public ministry.” By Christian Murray, Sunnyside Post

NORTH CAROLINA

Priest sued for sexual abuse served this summer at Washington church
“A Catholic priest who served this past summer in Washington has been named in a sexual abuse lawsuit(link is external). Father Francis Gillespie, a Jesuit priest, filled in at Mother of Mercy Church from June to August. The Diocese of Charlotte was also named in the lawsuit that was filed under the Safe Child Act. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, says the abuse involved an 8-year-old altar boy at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Charlotte. The organization says it happened over a four-year period while the victim also attended the parish school.” By WITN-TV News

OHIO

Plea negotiations underway in Father Geoff Drew rape case
“Negotiations are underway for a plea deal in the case of Father Geoff Drew, the Cincinnati Catholic priest accused of raping an altar boy(link is external) 30 years ago. Sources told WCPO 9 there are active negotiations on a plea agreement ahead of the start of Drew’s trial Friday (Dec. 3), and the victim in the case has participated in those discussions. Drew, 59, is charged with nine counts of rape and has, so far, pleaded not guilty. He faces life in prison if convicted.” By WCPO-TV9 News staff in Dayton Daily News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

D.C. priest in prison for abusing girls found guilty of groping woman
“A Catholic priest serving 15 years in prison for sexually abusing two girls at Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Northwest D.C. has now been convicted of groping an adult female parishioner(link is external). In 2019, Urbano Vazquez, now 49, was found guilty of one count of second-degree child sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl, as well as two counts of second-degree child sexual abuse and one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse of a 9-year-old girl. Both the girls were from his parish, and the crimes happened between 2015 and 2017, while he was an assistant pastor at Shrine of the Sacred Heart.” By Neal Augenstein, WTOP News

CANADA

Catholic archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth knew of sexual abuse, ‘vicariously liable’
“The alleged sexual abuse of a 10-year-old altar boy by a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) nearly 60 years ago in Halifax is at the center of a class action against the Halifax-Yarmouth archdiocese. ‘The case law from the Supreme Court of Canada … is quite clear that dioceses are vicariously liable for sexual abuse by their priests,’ said John McKiggan, the Halifax lawyer who filed the class action in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in August 2018 on behalf of Douglas Champagne, the young altar boy from the early 1960s, and other plaintiffs.” By Francis Campbell, SaltWire.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Abuse charged against Scottish priest who lived in Saskatchewan dropped
“The prosecution service in Scotland has dropped its case on historical child abuse charges(link is external) against a retired Catholic priest who used to live and serve in Saskatchewan, according to the BBC. Rev. Robert MacKenzie was extradited from Canada in 2020 to stand trial in Scotland. The now 87-year-old was accused of physical and sexual abuse during his time as a teacher at two schools in Scotland from the 1950s to the 1980s.” By CBC News

GUAM

Church offers to pay up to $34 million
“Guam’s Catholic Church has come up with a revised proposed payment of $27.96 million to $34.38 million to those who claimed they were raped or sexually molested by priests and other members of the clergy when they were minors(link is external), dating back to the 1950s. That’s more than $100,000 per clergy sex abuse survivor if the award is based on equal amounts, although the process is far from over. Clergy sex abuse survivors and other claimants would need to vote to either accept or reject the plan from the Archdiocese of Agana.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former school principal Patrick Harte loses appeal for sexually abusing boys 50 years ago
“Former school principal Patrick Harte has failed in a bid to have his convictions for sexually abusing schoolboys in classrooms over 50 years ago overturned(link is external) on appeal. In dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal rejected what was described as an ‘extraordinary’ submission by Harte that he was prejudiced after it emerged during the trial that he had not sought the blessing of a priest before entering a teacher training course. Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham had described any such risk as ‘fanciful’ during submissions.” By Paul Neilan, Sunday World

SPAIN

Why is Spain’s Catholic Church refusing an independent investigation into sex abuse claims
“Activists are calling for an independent probe into alleged sexual abuse in Spain’s Catholic Church. They insist the number of cases is on a par with neighbour France, where a recent investigation found 218,000 victims since 1950. But as the Episcopal Conference’s gathering of bishops closed in Madrid on Friday (November 19), the church denied the claims(link is external). Spokesman Luis Argüello reiterated the institution would not be ‘proactive’ in undertaking an external investigation into allegations of sexual abuse. ‘We are not prepared to carry out statistical and sociological investigations,’ he said.” By Heather Galloway, EuroNews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

November 23, 2021

TOP STORIES

New report on abuse shows ‘need for continued commitment and diligence’
“The 18th annual report on U.S. diocesan and eparchial compliance with the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People found a total of 4,250 clergy sex abuse allegations for the 2019-2020 audit year, about two-thirds of which stem from lawsuits, compensation programs and bankruptcies … ‘Though the Church’s efforts are admirable, constant vigilance is still required and the commitment of the clergy and lay faithful remains necessary(link is external),’ he (Deacon Bernie Nojadera, USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection executive director) wrote. ‘The efforts of the Church will hopefully change the culture, and this will only work if everyone follows the rules.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Portugal’s Catholic bishops announce independent child sexual abuse commission
“Portugal’s Roman Catholic Church said on Thursday (Nov. 11) it would create an independent commission to investigate historical child sexual abuse allegedly committed by members of the clergy(link is external) following pressure from prominent congregants to lift a veil of silence around the issue. Portugal’s Bishops’ Conference said in a statement that it decided to create the commission to improve the way cases are handled and to ‘carry out a study to clarify the history of this serious issue.’” By Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves, Reuters

French clerical abuse report puts spotlight on confession
“The absolute secrecy of confession is central to the Roman Catholic faith. What is said in confession is between a penitent and God, the priest a mediator. Any priest who breaks that seal can face excommunication under church laws that the Vatican places above all others. But what happens when what is confessed is a violation of the laws of the state?(link is external) It is an issue that has vexed attempts to address the sexual abuse cases that have roiled the church in any number of countries, but one that has emerged as especially charged in France, where the state long ago stripped the Catholic Church of its pre-eminence.” By Norimitsu Onishi and Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times

Nebraska AG finds 258 victims of Catholic church sex abuse
“A Nebraska attorney general’s office investigation identified 258 victims who made credible allegations of sexual abuse against 57 Catholic church officials(link is external) in the state going back decades, including many that high-ranking church leaders knew about and didn’t report to the authorities, according to a report released Thursday (No. 4). Prosecutors can’t charge against any current or former church officials with a crime because the statutes of limitations have expired in the vast majority of cases, Attorney General Doug Peterson said at a news conference announcing the findings.” By Grant Schulte, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Sex abuse survivors urge bishops to denounce Church Militant’s agenda
“On the first of two days of public sessions during the U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly, a group of sex abuse survivors in a Nov. 16 news conference called on the prelates meeting in Baltimore to focus less on who can take Communion and instead do more to end sex abuse and other abuses by clergy(link is external). The survivors also demanded the bishops condemn a group that was holding a nearby protest claiming homosexuality is linked to pedophilia.” By Rhino Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Bishops agree to begin review of charter earlier than planned
“An update on the U.S. bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ will take place sooner than originally planned. On Nov. 17, the second of two days of public sessions during their fall general assembly Nov. 15-18 in Baltimore, the bishops voted to begin the process of updating the charter in 2022 rather than in 2025(link is external). The vote was 230 bishops in favor of the plan and five bishops against it. Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, chairman of the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, told the bishops that events in recent years made it necessary to start the review sooner than expected.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

ACCOUNTABILITY

French Church admits sexual abuse responsibility
“The French episcopate, shaken by a report’s estimates of widespread sexual abuse within the Church, has admitted its institutional responsibility for the scandal and called on the Vatican and outside experts asked to help it reform(link is external). The French bishops’ conference, at its autumn plenary session in Lourdes, said it will name nine lay-led working groups to formulate responses to the main proposals of the independent commission’s report. They will be staffed by lay people, clerics and victims.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

French bishops agree to compensate sex abuse victims
“France’s Catholic Church announced on Monday (Nov. 8) that it would financially compensate sex abuse victims by selling property assets or taking out a loan if needed(link is external). French bishops said in a written statement they will set up an ‘independent, national body’ tasked with addressing compensation issues. They committed to allocating money to a specific fund ‘in order to compensate victims,’ notably by selling property or through a potential loan. They also called on Pope Francis to send ‘a team of visitors’ to assess the church’s response regarding child protection.” By Associated Press

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Joint letter of Cardinals Koch and Grech to bishops responsible for ecumenism calls on bishops to listen to non-Catholic Christians during the synodal process
“In a joint letter of 28 October 2021, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, addressed the Bishops responsible for ecumenism in their Episcopal Conferences and Synods of the Oriental Catholic Churches. In the letter, the two Cardinals offer practical suggestions aimed at implementing the ecumenical dimension of the synodal process in Dioceses, Episcopal Conferences, and Synods(link is external). The Vademecum for the Synod affirms: ‘The dialogue between Christians of different confessions, united by one baptism, has a special place in the synodal journey’ (5.3.7).” By Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on ChristianUnity.va

POPE FRANCIS

Francis appoints first female secretary-general
“Pope Francis has appointed the first female secretary-general of Vatican City State(link is external), choosing Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Raffaela Petrini for the role. Sr Raffaella, 52, is the first woman to be appointed as the number two official at the Vatican City State administration, a position that has traditionally been held by a bishop. She becomes the highest-ranking woman official in the Vatican. Sr Rafaella’s role gives her a pivotal role in the governance of the city-state which includes the Vatican’s museums, police, department for health, post office and pharmacy.” By CathNews.com

BISHOPS

Catholic bishops avoid confrontation with Biden over communion
“The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States backed away from a direct conflict with President Biden on Wednesday (Nov. 17), approving a new document on the sacrament of the Eucharist that does not mention the president or any politicians by name(link is external). At issue was the question of which Catholics, under which circumstances, are properly able to receive Communion, one of the most sacred rites within Christianity. For some conservative Catholics, the real question was more pointed: Should Catholic politicians who publicly support and advance abortion rights be denied the sacrament?” By Ruth Graham, The New York Times

Opening bishops’ meeting, Vatican ambassador urges prelates to tamp down divisons
“The Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S. urged the country’s Catholic bishops on Nov. 16 to try to tamp down divisions among themselves and to embrace Pope Francis’ vision for a listening church(link is external), open to change. In an energetic half-hour address opening the first general session of the bishops’ four-day assembly, Archbishop Christophe Pierre told the prelates gathered here that the church needs ‘attentive listening more than ever if she is to overcome the polarization facing this country.’ Although Pierre did not specifically mention the bishops’ plans to release a controversial document on Communion, he appeared to touch on the intense disagreements among the prelates in recent months about the text.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

These five U.S. bishops may be in the spotlight for years to come
“‘My impression continues to be that the most important prelates in the United States have more or less given up on the USCCB,’ said (Massimo) Faggioli (church historian and professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University), who suggested that the bishops’ conference today is ‘in the hands’ of prelates who are ‘out of sync’ with Francis … Among the nominees for election (to USCCB standing committees) in Baltimore are five bishops who appear to be among ‘rising stars’ of the national conference(link is external). Some are known for prioritizing similar issues as Francis, such as immigration, economic injustice, climate change and reaching out to those on the margins. Others have not been always known for emphasizing issues favored by the pope.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Sadly, the U.S. bishops’ conference is a ghost of its former self
“Now, the bishops’ conference is like a ghost of its former self(link is external). In 2012, they failed to pass(link is external) a document on poverty. In 2018, the Vatican had to intervene at the last minute and ban voting(link is external) on a series of action items related to clergy sex abuse, a public rebuke of the conference leadership without precedent. This week, if they vote to approve this document on the Eucharist it will not be because the text is good but because its mediocrity does not offend. How sad.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Bishops’ visits to Rome unable to quell crisis in Polish church
“For the first time in seven years, nearly all Poland’s Catholic bishops went to Rome last month for formal meetings with Pope Francis and Vatican officials. Although most of the prelates expressed satisfaction with the encounters, they also hinted that there had been some frank exchanges over the pope’s handling of the country’s sex abuse crisis. An unprecedented 10 Polish bishops, mostly retired, have been sanctioned in various ways in recent months for ignoring abuse complaints(link is external). ‘The pope knows how important the Polish church is,’ said Fr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, a Polish theologian and former secretary-general of the Brussels-based Commission of European Union Bishops’ Conferences (COMECE).” By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter

Mexico bishops investigated over abuse cover-up allegations
Twelve bishops in Mexico are being investigated for covering up the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults(link is external), although no conclusions have so far been reached, the Vatican ambassador to the South America nation has revealed. Archbishop Franco Coppola, the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, said that some of the investigations, carried out on the basis of new norms established by Pope Francis, have been referred to the Vatican itself.” By Madoc Cairns, The Tablet

Bishops’ visits to Rome unable to quell crisis of Polish church
“For the first time in seven years, nearly all Poland’s Catholic bishops went to Rome last month for formal meetings with Pope Francis and Vatican officials. Although most of the prelates expressed satisfaction with the encounters, they also hinted that there had been some frank exchanges over the pope’s handling of the country’s sex abuse crisis(link is external). An unprecedented 10 Polish bishops, mostly retired, have been sanctioned in various ways in recent months for ignoring abuse complaints.” By Jonathan Luxmore, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Dear Bishops: We need to talk about the crisis of despair in Catholic priests
“The U.S. bishops are meeting this week (Nov. 15-18) in Washington. And amid all the stories about a document on the Eucharist and other matters that they will discuss, you would be forgiven if you didn’t catch word of the results of a survey of clergy released Nov. 2; it found that over half of U.S. priests are pessimistic about the state of the church(link is external). Fifty-one percent indicated the church is in ‘not so good’ shape, and another 13 percent described it as ‘poor.’” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Parishioners at Catholic church in Louisville sue longtime priest, alleged wrongful use of money
“A civil lawsuit filed in Jefferson County alleges a Louisville priest, Rev. Anthony Ngo, wrongfully used church money by converting funds donated to the parish for his personal use(link is external) … Ngo has been the pastor at St. John Vianney’s for more than two decades. He denies he did anything wrong. Members of his former parish council and the parish’s former music director filed the lawsuit.” By Rachel Droze WHAS-TV11 News

Yes, honest to God, Vatican finance stories matter
“It’s only Tuesday (Nov. 9), but I’ve already got a candidate for the Vatican soundbite of the week. It came in a piece in the Financial Times, quoting an unidentified expert on the London real estate market on news that the Vatican is selling a property in the posh Chelsea neighborhood for $270 million, representing roughly a $130 million loss on its original investment of $400 million. ‘I couldn’t quite understand how they [the Vatican] had lost money on it(link is external),’ the expert said, referring to the well-known fact that losing money on real estate in London is hard to do – unless, it turns out, you’re the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.” By John L. Allen, Cruxnow.com

Vatican to lose £100m of charitable funds in London property sale
“The Vatican City will suffer a loss of £ 100 million in donations to the poor(link is external) when it completes the pending sale of its luxurious London office building, which is now the center of international criminal investigations. According to some people familiar with the process, the Vatican City is in the final stages of selling 60 Sloane Avenue, a building in London’s Knightsbridge district, to private equity group Bain Capital for about £ 200 million. Both Bain Capital and Savills, which manages the sale, declined to comment. The Vatican City states that between 2014 and 2018, senior Holy See officials invested a total of € 350 million in donations to the London building. In short, the sale is expected to confirm a loss of approximately £ 100 million in the Catholic Church.” By California News Times

VOICES

Catholic leaders have to be defenders of children
“Shame, anguish and anger at child sexual abuse in the Church should lead to a devoted commitment to eradicate abuse everywhere. This active stance has to be the primary focus of society and of the Church and every individual member(link is external). Jesus of Nazareth said the child is the most important of all. If we continue to fail children, we fail Christ. The established institutional Church and many members — lay people and priests — have spectacularly failed to care, protect, help, support and compensate innocent vulnerable children for heinous crimes against them. Many of the bishops, priests and lay people have over the years, denied, covered up, transferred abusive priests, lied and forced child victims to shut up.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times

‘The Church must be political’: an interview with Bishop John Stowe
“Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., was ordained as the third bishop of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, in May 2015. The following interview was conducted by email. John Gehring: What would you like to see come out of the upcoming meeting of the U.S. bishops (Nov. 15-18)? Bishop John Stowe: My hopes for the USCCB meeting are probably unrealistic, but I would love to see us as a conference modeling the synodal path that the Church has embarked upon(link is external). I would like to see real discernment, serious discussion, and prayerful listening before publishing a letter as important as a teaching document on the Eucharist.” By John Gehring, Commonweal

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Italian bishops mark first day of prayer for abuse victims
“As the Catholic Church in Italy still reels from several fresh scandals involving clergy, the country’s bishops on Thursday (Nov. 18) will be hold the first-ever Day of Prayer and Awareness for victims and survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). ‘We cannot forget the suffering experienced by minors and vulnerable people due to the abuses of power, conscience, and sexuality committed by a considerable number of clerics and consecrated persons,’ said Bishop Lorenzo Ghizzoni of Ravenna-Cervia in the introduction for one of the formal prayers prepared for Thursday.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Church shores up ability to support survivors
“A capital injection from Catholic dioceses and religious orders has strengthened the ability of Catholic Church Insurance and the Church to make financial reparations for abuse carried out by priests, religious and lay people(link is external). Catholic Church Insurance (CCI), which has been supporting Catholic parishes, schools, community services and other ministries for more than 100 years, last year reported that recent and projected compensation claims for historical abuse had necessitated an increase in the company’s capital levels. Eighteen current CCI shareholders contributed to a capital injection earlier this year, which solidifies the broader insurance business, but especially the historical abuse claims that CCI covers.” By CathNews.com

CONNECTICUT

Priest abuse victims oppose diocese actions in bankruptcy case
“The committee that represents people who say they have been sexually assaulted by priests and other members of the Diocese of Norwich have filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court opposing the Catholic diocese’s attempt to prohibit victims from filing claims(link is external) after Feb. 10, 2022. The claimants’ committee, which is being represented by the Bridgeport law firm of Zeisler and Zeisler, wants a 120-day window from the date that a plan advertising the deadline, otherwise known as the bar date, is approved by Judge James Tancredi, as opposed to the 90-day window being requested by the diocese.” By Joe Wojtas, The Day

ILLINOIS

Catholic order found California abuse complaint credible, then moved priest to Chicago
“The Rev. Timothy Keppel was overseeing two parishes near San Bernardino, Calif., when a man told the diocese there that, while in his teens, he’d been repeatedly sexually abused by the priest(link is external). The abuse happened decades earlier, he said. And Keppel was never charged with a crime. But the Resurrectionist religious order of Catholic priests, brothers and deacons that Keppel belongs to determined the accusations were credible.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

MARYLAND

Former priest Robert Brennan, a Maryland resident, pleads guilty to lying to agents investigating clergy abuse
“ A defrocked priest pleaded guilty Wednesday (Nov. 10) to four counts of making false statements to FBI agents investigating clergy abuse(link is external). Former Philadelphia priest Robert Brennan, 83, changed his plea to guilty Wednesday in federal court, according to court documents. The charges stem from a federal investigation undertaken after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released an explosive 2018 grand jury report on abuse in the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses that detailed decades of abuse by more than 300 priests against nearly 1,000 victims across the state.” By Associated Press in The Baltimore Sun

MASSACHUSETTS

Boston Archdiocese settles two new lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests
“Two lawsuits filed this month alleging sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests(link is external), one of whom was based in Milton, were settled on Friday (Nov. 12) for undisclosed sums. Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian said the lawsuits each settled in the ‘high five figures.’ One of the lawsuits was filed against the Boston archdiocese and the Missionary Society of St. Columban in Milton, which hosted Irish priest Brian Gallagher, who died in 2014. The lawsuit also named the Rev. John K. Connell, who died in 2007.” By Wheeler Cowperthwaite, The Patriot Ledger

MICHIGAN

Attorney general gives update on clergy sex abuse cases
“A former priest in Oakland County has pleaded guilty to sex abuse(link is external), Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today. Gary Berthiaume, 79, was sent to trial in July by Judge James Brady in Oakland County’s 47th District Court on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, 15-year felonies. That development involved the original case against him, which was charged last year. In June, Berthiaume was charged with additional felonies in two new cases. Both cases were sent to trial by the end of September.” By Jack Hall, RadioResultsNetwork.com

MISSOURI

Kansas City man encourages others who’ve been sexually assaulted to ‘tell their story’
“‘We need to hold each other up,’ says one Kansas City man who was assaulted by his priest. Others tell their stories in a new Netflix documentary shot in Kansas City. Brian Heydon was sexually assaulted as a kid. Now a licensed counselor in Kansas City, Heydon grew up in a Catholic family. In the 1960s and ’70s, he said, the religion was a place for child predators to thrive(link is external).” By KCUR-FM National Public Radio

NEBRASKA

Nebraska investigation: Catholic clergy sexually abused hundreds of victims
“Nebraska’s attorney general conducted an investigation that found that Catholic clergy in that state sexually abused hundreds of victims, but the offenders can’t be prosecuted(link is external). And Peterson says by no means did his office find every victim or abuser. In the three-year investigation released Thursday, the office found evidence of 57 abusers, few of whom are still alive. Investigators found evidence that the church knew about the assaults and didn’t properly report them to law enforcement. Peterson had this message for church leaders. Nebraska Public Media’s Will Bauer explains why that is.” By Will Bauer, National Public Radio

NEW JERSEY

More than 850 sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed as deadline approaches for past claims
“Since it (24-month window on abuse suits) took effect, 880 cases involving individuals with claims that would have been time barred but for the new law have been filed(link is external) through Sept. 30, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts. Most of those cases, 62.2%, named a cleric and/or religious institution as a defendant. Schools accounted for 15.5% of the lawsuits and the Boy Scouts of America was named in 11.3% of the cases. State Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, who championed the legislation despite years of pushback, said those numbers should be much higher, and said the window for filing civil lawsuits should stay open.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Elderly Buffalo priest accused of abuse denies claim, prays for accuser
“At age 87, Monsignor Ronald P. Sciera might not have much time left to clear his name of the child sexual abuse allegation lodged against him(link is external) in an August lawsuit. But the priest of 60 years said his reputation is not his main concern.’ I have to answer to God,’ he said. ‘I have a hope that justice will be served, and the truth will come to light.’ An unnamed plaintiff alleges Sciera molested him nearly five decades ago at St. Aloysius Gonzaga parish in Cheektowaga.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

OHIO

‘Cunning, calculating and extremely cruel’: Sentencing nears for disgraced priest
“A disgraced Catholic priest, convicted of sex trafficking in minors and various child pornography charges, will be sentenced(link is external) next Tuesday (Nov. 9) by a federal judge. Prosecutors said Robert McWilliams led a double life. While professing his belief in Christianity at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville and St. Helen’s Church in Newbury Township, Father McWilliams was using fake identifies and technology to hide his abuse of children and secret criminal lifestyle.” By Jack Shea, FOX-TV8 News

Priest who served in North Canton placed on leave
“A Catholic Diocese of Youngstown priest has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of allegations involving a minor(link is external). The Rev. Marian Babjak serves as pastor of Christ Our Savior Catholic Church in Struthers. He previously served at St. Paul Catholic Parish in North Canton. Babjak was parochial vicar and associate pastor at St. Paul starting in 2017, where he served until 2020 when he was appointed to Christ Our Savior parish in Struthers.” By Charita Ml Goshay, The Repository, on The-Review.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Philly priest sexually abused a teen at Cardinal Dougherty High and on a shore trip decades ago
“A Philadelphia priest who was on the faculty at Cardinal Dougherty High School in the 1980s sexually abused a teen there and also took the boy on a trip to Margate, where he served him alcohol and assaulted him(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed in Atlantic County Superior Court.

The Rev. Peter Foley sexually assaulted the boy, then 16, on a trip to the Shore in 1981 and also at the school, where they worked together on student council, the suit says.” By Menasah M. Dean, The Philadelphia Inquirer

RHODE ISLAND

Former Rhode Island priest charged with sexual assaults going back to 1989
“A former Rhode Island Catholic priest has been indicted on sexual assault charges. James Silva, 81, is charged with two counts of first-degree child molestation sexual assault and nine counts of second-degree child molestation sexual assault(link is external). He was charged after an investigation by the state attorney general’s office and the Rhode Island State Police. The allegations stem from alleged assaults of a boy under the age of 14 between 1989 and 1990, while Silva was interim director and assistant director at the Office of Ministerial Formation within the Diocese of Providence, Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office said Tuesday (Nov. 9). The charges come as Neronha’s office continues its review of decades of diocesan records.” By Brian Amaral, The Boston Globe

SOUTH CAROLINA

Lawsuit claims sexual abuse from Myrtle Beach Catholic Church priest
“A lawsuit filed Wednesday (Nov. 3) claims a child was sexually abused by a priest at a Catholic church in Myrtle Beach(link is external) between 1990 and 1994. The lawsuit, filed anonymously by ‘John Doe,’ claims Father Robert Kelly at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church groomed and sexually assaulted the child while he was an altar boy in the early 1990s. Kelly died in 2004, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against The Diocese of Charleston and The Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston.” By Kevin Accettulla, WBTW-TV13News

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin’s attorney general is investigating the handling of clergy abuse claims. Six months in, here is what we know.
“As allegations of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests continue to emerge, Wisconsin hasn’t been immune to the scandal … In early 2021, Josh Kaul, the Wisconsin attorney general, announced an investigation into claims of clergy abuse and systemic cover-up(link is external) over decades. Here is the background on the Department of Justice investigation and where it stands as it reaches its sixth month …” By Laure Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

FRANCE

Trial of Lebanese priest accused of sexual abuse begins in France
“The trial of Lebanese priest Mansour Labaky started on Monday (Nov. 8) at the Criminal Court of the French city of Caen. The Maronite priest is formally accused of sexually abusing three children under his care(link is external), but there are dozens more alleged victims. Labaky, now 81, is prosecuted by three women who say they were sexually assaulted by the priest in the nineties while they were still teenagers. They were living in a French orphanage for Lebanese children founded by Labaky in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War.” By The New Arab (alaraby.co.uk)

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

A priest sits on a bed, trousers off, legs open. ‘What do you do when you think of girls?’ he asks.
“Everything in the bedroom is white, including a white crucifix on a white wall. A holy man sits on the corner of a bed, trousers off, legs open. ‘You need to confess everything(link is external),’ he says, gripping a young boy’s arm to pull him closer. ‘The Catholic church has been very good to you, to your mother, to your brother and sister. You don’t want that to all go away, do you? So tell me, what else have you done wrong.” By David Smith, The Irish Times

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