Archive for category VOTF Focus News Roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Feb. 3, 2023

TOP STORIES

Fordham report faults Jesuits for stressing discretion in handling abusive priests
“Anew report from the Jesuit-run Fordham University on the long-term impacts of clergy sexual abuse criticizes the global Jesuit religious order for placing importance on discretion when handling Catholic priests accused of abuse, instead of on discipline or prevention of further abuse. The report, released Jan. 26, summarizes the findings of 18 research projects that were part of a yearslong effort to better understand clergy abuse.” By Aleja Hertzler-McCain, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis admits mishandling of sex abuse cases, says church must do more
Pope Francis has shed light on the Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse allegations against East Timor’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning independence hero, suggesting that he indeed was allowed to retire early rather than face prosecution or punishment. Francis made the revelation in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday (Jan. 17) with The Associated Press, in which he also denied he had a role in deciding the case of a famous Jesuit artist whose seemingly preferential treatment cast doubt on the Vatican’s commitment to cracking down on abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican weighs in on German plan for governing ‘council’ of laity and bishops
“Senior Vatican officials have notified the bishops of Germany that they are not empowered to create a proposed legislative body made up of clergy and laity, which would act as a governing body for the whole Church in the country. ‘We wish to make it clear that neither the Synodal Path, nor any body established by it, nor any Episcopal Conference has the competence to establish the ‘Synodal Council’ at the national, diocesan or parish level,’ a Jan. 16 letter sent to the German bishops explained.” By Luke Coppen and J.D. Flynn, The Pillar

Vatican’s handling of Rupnik case shows church considers women unequal
“The global Jesuit order issued a notice in early December that it had placed restrictions on the ministry of Jesuit Fr. Marko Rupnik, an internationally known religious artist, after accusations he had abused several adult women. While remaining deliberately vague about the reasons for the move, the Jesuits seemed keen to stress that ‘no minors were involved.’ While the Jesuits and the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith avoided further comments on the case, some Italian blogs reported that Rupnik, a charismatic star in certain circles, had been accused of spiritually and sexually abusing consecrated women of the Loyola Community, a religious community he had co-founded in Slovenia in the early 1980s.” By Doris Reisinger, National Catholic Reporter

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY

‘Confusion, control and abuse’: Report offers new details about Jean Vanier’s secret sect and sexual exploitation
“When revelations emerged nine months after his 2019 death that Jean Vanier — a philosopher, author and activist once deemed a living saint — had sexually and spiritually abused women, his legacy was upended. Now a massive report, released Jan. 30, seeks to untangle and analyze many pieces of the dark and complex story of Vanier’s decadeslong hidden life, highlighting both the extent of abuse and the ‘incredible persistence of a perverse nucleus’ of abusers. Produced by an independent, interdisciplinary commission of French academics, the nearly 900-page report validates the claims of 25 non-disabled women against Vanier, who founded a worldwide organization supporting adults with intellectual disabilities.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Spanish bishops lament low participation in Synod on Synodality, especially by young people
“The Spanish bishops consider ‘synodality to be advancing in our Church’ although they report low participation, especially among young people, to whom the Church must learn to listen and modulate the way of communicating the Gospel, they say. The Spanish Bishops’ Conference has presented the Synthesis for the European Continental Stage of the Synod on Synodality, which will be used in preparing the final document to be taken to the Continental Assembly.” By Catholic News Agency

Each of us must become a synod, says Sr. Nathalie
“‘This is a very special time for the Church and, as you know, we are all together, everywhere in the world, living this Synod now,’ Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ said as she commenced her Australian tour in Melbourne on Tuesday (Jan. 31). The Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops gave her perspective on synodality, its challenges, and the future of the global Church at a public forum hosted by Newman College in Parkville, in Melbourne’s inner north.” By CathNews.com

The role of bishops in the synodal process
“On the eve of the celebration of the Continental Assemblies, it is with a letter addressed to all the eparchial bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches and diocesan bishops around the world that the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, and the General Relator of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, address the topic of the bishop’s role in the ongoing synodal process.” By Cardinal Mario Grech and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich

Rigid definitions of ‘Catholic’ leave too many out in the cold
“Collectively, it’s led to a sense that the church has to do something about those who walk away and don’t come back. At the global level, Pope Francis has called a synodal listening and discernment process for the whole church slated to run into late 2024. The U.S. bishops have initiated their own call for renewed teaching and understanding of the Eucharist. Beneath the surface of each initiative are foundational questions about who gets to call themselves Catholic, who gets to call anything Catholic, and who even wants to be called Catholic.” By Don Clemmer, U.S. Catholic

POPE FRANCIS

The Anti-Francis Gatekeepers: this January exposed the opposition to Francis
“New Year in Rome, normally a quiet time, is when the Vatican slowly emerges from the post-Christmas shutdown. While keeping one eye on the pope’s address to foreign diplomats, many reporters dare to take time off. In January 2023 that was a bad idea. The passing of Benedict XVI—ninety-five and long ailing—on December 31 was followed by the unexpected death on January 10 of a giant figure of conservative Catholicism, Cardinal George Pell, eighty-one, who had concelebrated Benedict’s funeral just five days earlier. What made this one of the most turbulent months of the past decade was not just these two deaths but what they exposed: the tactics and mindset of a group of conservatives who, smelling the end of the Francis era, are determined to secure its reversal in the next conclave.” By Ausen Ivereigh, Commonweal

Pope Francis recalls a ‘conversion moment’ on abuse
“In a wide ranging interview with the Associated Press, published on January 25, 2023, Pope Francis explained how he had a ‘conversion moment’ on the issue of abuse within the Church during his 2018 trip to Chile. He also commented on two important abuse accusations that have emerged over the last months. The first concerns an East Timorese Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bishop, Carlos Ximenes Belo, and the second a Slovenian Jesuit artist, Father Marko Rupnik, whose paintings are found in churches all over the world.” By Isabella H. de Carvalho, Aleteia

Pope discusses his health, critics and future papacy
“Pope Francis says he hasn’t even considered issuing norms to regulate future papal resignations and plans to continue for as long as he can as bishop of Rome, despite a wave of attacks by some top-ranking cardinals and bishops. In his first interview since the Dec. 31 death of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis addressed his health, his critics and the next phase of his pontificate, which marks its 10th anniversary in March without Benedict’s shadow in the background.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope Francis, between reality and representation
“The news that the French priest and psychiatrist Tony Anatrella has been barred from public life, but not reduced to the lay state, after his final conviction for abuse, has arrived for Pope Francis while the echoes of the Rupnik case have not yet quiet down … Probably, the decisions of Pope Francis must be considered the natural implementation of measures that had already been put in place in the past. Of course, there are new elements, but the line of judgment is the same. Indeed, Pope Francis allows for even more exceptions and is more personal in his decisions.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Monday Vatican

CARDINALS

Prominent Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet denies 2nd allegation of sexual misconduct
“Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet is denying allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by a woman in 2020. On Friday (Jan. 20), the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Quebec City confirmed that it had received a second complaint against Ouellet, the former archbishop in the provincial capital. A Vatican investigation was conducted in the wake of the second complaint against Ouellet, but Pope Francis decided ‘not to retain the accusation against the cardinal’ who now serves as head of the Vatican’s bishops’ office.” By CBC News

BISHOPS

Stika told priests accused seminarian was ‘victimized’
“The Pillar has confirmed a recently-made allegation, that Bishop Rick Stika told priests a seminarian accused of sexually assaulting a parish organist had actually been victimized by the organist – essentially recasting the story so that the accused seminarian was the victim, rather than the alleged aggressor. The allegation came in a lawsuit refiled last week, which charges that Stika impeded an investigation into the claim that former seminarian Wojciech Sobczuk sexually assaulted the lawsuit’s plaintiff, who worked as a musician at the Diocese of Knoxville’s cathedral.” By The Pillar

India: Bishops need to be serious about their meetings
“In recent years, the simple church-going Catholics in India, the world’s biggest democracy, have been scandalized by allegations of clerical sex abuse and financial crimes rocking the Catholic Church in India. Will that be a botheration for the bishops as they gather for their annual plenary meeting this week in southern Indian Bangalore city? The growing rift and spirited fight among the bishops, priests, and the laity, some of them involving court cases, have undermined Catholics’ faith in the Church’s self-stabilizing system and exposed to the world the serious lack of leadership in the Indian Catholic Church today.” By Michael Gonsalves, UCANews.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Is there room in the tent?
“As the Church prepares for the next phase of the Synod on Synodality, one of the most pressing issues is the relationship between women and the Church, combined with the problem of clericalism. The Working Document clearly states that ‘almost all reports raise the issue of full and equal participation of women.’ (No. 64.) Many national reports asked to restore women to the ordained diaconate, yet the Synod’s Working Document for the Continental Stage refers to ‘a female diaconate’ … While women are increasingly included as professional managers within Church structures, notably within the Roman Curia, deep resistance to accepting historical precedence of women’s ordained ministry remains.” By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano

Installing women as lectors, Pope says Word of God is for all
“Pope Francis Sunday (Jan. 22) celebrated a special Mass marking the Day of the Word of God, during which he conferred the ministry of lector on seven lay people, five of them women, and said the Gospel is intended primarily for the sick and far away. Francis formally opened the ministry of lector, along with that of acolyte, to women in a 2021 decree. He established the Day of the Word of God on the third Sunday in ordinary time in 2019. In his homily for the Jan. 22 Mass, the pope noted that Jesus in the scriptures is ‘always on the move, on his way to others.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Australian Catholic groups push for progressive church reforms in wake of George Pell’s death
“A coalition of 20 Catholic groups will this week push for significant reform of the church in Australia to make it more inclusive, saying the conservative stance of the late Cardinal George Pell ‘may have galvanized the mood’ for change. The Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform will gather on Thursday (Feb. 2) – the same day as the funeral planned for Pell at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral – in support of Pope Francis’s commitment to a more inclusive church and less autocratic and patriarchal leadership.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Pope Francis confers lay ministries upon 10 people in St. Peter’s Basilica
“Pope Francis formally conferred the ministries of lector and catechist upon four men and six women from the Philippines, Mexico, Congo, Italy, and the U.K. on Sunday at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Celebrating the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 22, the pope presented Bibles to three new lectors and said: ‘Receive the book of Holy Scripture and faithfully transmit the Word of God, so that it may germinate and bear fruit in the hearts of men.’’ By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

CHILD PROTECTION

Protecting God’s children
“The approach of Catholic Schools Week gives us an opportunity to revisit the efforts the Archdiocese of Chicago has been taking to keep our children safe. First, we must acknowledge forthrightly the serious mishandling in the past of child abuse in our parishes and schools by clergy and others. The pain caused by these failures is the reason this archdiocese has, for more than 30 years, been at the forefront of creating and continually improving policies and programs to address the scourge of child sexual abuse and support survivors.” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, Chicago Catholic

Catholic Church doing opposite of public statements on abuse safeguarding – advocate
“The leader of a network for survivors abused by priests says the Catholic Church’s new promises to change are not genuine. Earlier this week a 10-point statement was issued by NZ Catholic Bishops Conference president Cardinal John Dew, and Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa president, Fr Thomas Rouse … But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Aotearoa leader, Dr Chris Longhurst, told RNZ: ‘What the bishops and the congregational leaders of the Catholic Church are saying in public is not what’s happening behind closed doors.’” By Radio New Zealand

VATICAN

Vatican to hear final appeal of former pastor removed from St. Matthew Catholic Church
“The legal fight behind the walls of the Vatican over the pastorship of Charlotte’s largest Catholic church has reached its end game. Rev. Patrick Hoare, who was removed as spiritual head of massive St. Matthew Church based on allegations of misconduct involving young people, has filed his final appeal to reverse the 2020 decision by Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte. While the Diocese of Charlotte previously has acknowledged that its investigation of Hoare had not revealed any incidents of sexual abuse of young people, his odds of reversing his removal appear small.” By Michael Gordon, The Charlotte Observer

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Where is Mass attendance highest? One country is the clear leader
“A compilation of new data by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University sheds light on the countries around the world that have the highest Mass attendance numbers. CARA researchers used data from the World Values Survey (WVS), a major international study of religious belief that has been conducted for decades, to examine 36 countries with large Catholic populations. Of those countries, the researchers ranked them by the percentage of self-identified Catholics who say they attend Mass weekly or more, excluding weddings, funerals, and baptisms.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

Running the numbers, Africa isn’t the Catholic future – it’s the present
“While Catholicism officially numbers around 1.3 billion adherents worldwide, a good share of that total is fairly nominal. In terms of setting the tone within the church, those who are more active generally punch far above their weight – generating a greater share of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, for instance, as well as various lay roles. In much Catholic parlance, it’s long been said that Africa is the future of the church. Looking at the numbers in terms of who actually shows up, however, Africa isn’t the future. It’s the present, and it has been for a while.” By John L. Allen, Jr, Cruxnow.com

Seattle Archdiocese announces sweeping plan to consolidate parishes
“The Seattle Archdiocese is consolidating parishes in a sweeping plan that will affect virtually every Catholic Church community in Western Washington. In Masses and vigils over the weekend from the Canada to Oregon borders, pastors announced the four-year plan to group two or more parishes together in ‘families’ that will share one priest and one assistant priest. Some churches will likely close or be repurposed for uses such as early learning centers or homeless shelters.” By Nina Shapiro, The Seattle Times

Losing their religion: why U.S. churches are on the decline
“Churches are closing at rapid numbers in the US, researchers say, as congregations dwindle across the country and a younger generation of Americans abandon Christianity altogether – even as faith continues to dominate American politics. As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year in the country – a figure that experts believe may have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic.” By Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian

CHURCH FINANCES

$5.4 million altar for Work Youth Day generates controversy in Portugal
“Although Pope Francis hasn’t even formally confirmed his presence yet, the 2023 edition of World Youth Day in Lisbon is already generating controversy over a $5.4 million price-tag for the altar area from which the pontiff is expected to celebrate a closing Mass. Last week Lisbon city officials published details for the massive 54,000-square foot altar and stage area, at a cost of 4.2 million Euro plus VAT, or value-added tax, for a total outlay close to $5.4 million. The contract has been awarded to Portugal’s largest construction company, Mota-Engil.” By Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Is the Vatican clericalist in all the wrong places
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller suggested recently that the Vatican could appoint a layman or woman to serve as Secretary of State, in line with curial reforms issued by Pope Francis last year. The suggestion from the former prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has been widely taken as either ironic, or as a barbed attempt at humor around the Vatican. But what point was he trying to make? And if the idea of a layperson serving at the top of the Roman curia isn’t to be taken seriously, what does it say about the nature of Francis’ reforms in Praedicate evangelium, the apostolic constitution promulgated last year?” By Ed Condon, The Pillar

VOICES

The Church’s memory problems: trying to reckon with the past—and the present
“One month into 2023, it seems there are fewer comforting pages of Church history to balance out the increasing number of shameful ones. The past five years of Francis’s decade-long pontificate have presented no shortage of difficulties tied to the abuse crisis—from his disastrous trip to Chile in January 2018 to last month’s revelations about Jesuit artist and alleged serial abuser Marko Rupnik. The recent deaths of Benedict XVI and Cardinal George Pell have brought to light further reminders of the unpleasant past; their records on the abuse crisis and Vatican governance are, in different ways, problematic and controversial and unlikely to be settled anytime soon.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Considerations for a Church in crisis
“In terms of its harm and far-reaching effects, the present crisis in the church must be compared with the Reformation and the French Revolution. It is this conviction that brings to my mind the forthright declaration of the Second Vatican Council, Our era needs wisdom more than past ages…. The future of the world is in peril unless wiser men and women are forthcoming (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World, No. 15).” Originally published May 27, 2002, by John R. Quinn, retired archbishop of San Francisco who died in 2017

Academic theology needs to be more connected to the church
“The confused sense of purpose in the theology departments at many of our Catholic institutions of higher learning is one of the biggest challenges facing the Catholic Church in the United States. Deconstructionism, with its hostility to the very idea of a canon, and its various post-modern offshoots, have left their mark on theological scholarship, frustrating or making any attempt at a lived connection with the life of the church nonsensical. This is a difficult story to report. Colleagues do not like to complain publicly about each other.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Clerical loss of power – Germany, synodality and the synodal way
“The Roman Catholic Church is in the midst of the greatest church crisis since the Reformation, which is not triggered by the worldwide abuse scandals, but finds a focal point in them … Will uncoordinated processes of ecclesiastical decision-making and reform lead to the self-destruction of the previous Roman Catholic world system? Or can the current disputes between the Vatican and above all the Church in Germany pave the way for a new, more comprehensive ecclesiastical self-understanding?” By Sigrid Grabmeier and Christian Weisner, The Tablet

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Low blow by PA lawmakers: playing politics with kids abuse by clergy, harmed by polluters
“In what only can be described as a low blow (or, more likely, an immoral partisan backroom deal), the Pennsylvania State Legislature seems prepared to use the constitutional amendment dubbed “Marsy’s Law” — meant to guarantee the rights of crime victims’ rights — to also move two other highly contentious amendments related to voter identification and regulatory review. Even my hometown Blair County Republican Representative Jim Gregory said, ‘What they’re trying to do, in my opinion, is use victims as pawns in a political game, and I’m not going to play that.’” By Mitchell Hescox, York Daily Record

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Former nun adds to abuse accusations against prominent Slovenian Jesuit priest
“A Slovenian former nun has come forward to accuse a Jesuit priest once prominent at the Vatican of sexual and psychological abuse, at least the fourth public accuser in a case that has shaken the worldwide religious order. The Italian investigative newspaper Domani, which has been breaking ground on the story for the past few months, on Monday (Jan. 23) published an interview with the woman, who said she was pressured into sexual acts by Father Marko Ivan Rupnik.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

WA lawmakers propose bill requiring clergy to report child abuse, citing InvestigateWest Reporting
“In response to InvestigateWest reporting on Jehovah’s Witnesses covering up allegations of sexual assault, Washington state lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. Senate Bill 5280, and its companion bill in the state House, would make it illegal for clergy not to report sexual abuse allegations to authorities unless the information came in the form of a confession. Currently, Washington is one of a handful of states in the country that do not list clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect at all.” By Wilson Criscione, InvestigateWest

CALIFORNIA

Santa Rosa priest was accused of child sex abuse by error, plaintiff’s attorney said
“A veteran Sonoma County priest who was named among the perpetrators in a crush of new clergy abuse lawsuits last year has been vindicated by the very man who first accused him. Monsignor James Pulskamp, one-time director of the Hanna Boys Center in the Sonoma Valley, was misidentified by the alleged abuser, the plaintiff’s attorney says. The accuser has since identified his alleged assailant as disgraced Rev. John Crews, who succeeded Pulskamp in 1984 as director of what was then a residential school for at-risk boys.” By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat

COLORADO

Man sues Denver archdiocese over abuse by convicted priest
“A man who says he was repeatedly sexually abused as a teen by his Catholic priest more than two decades ago filed a lawsuit against the now-defrocked priest and the Archdiocese of Denver on Thursday (Jan. 19), taking advantage of a recently passed law that allows victims to sue even if the statute of limitations has expired. The lawsuit targets Timothy Evans, a priest convicted in 2007 of sexually abusing other teens in two Colorado counties around the same time frame.” By Colleen Slevin, Religion News Service

KANSAS

KBI produces what archbishop had requested: a serious study
“On Friday, Jan. 13, in the late afternoon, then-Attorney General Derek Schmidt released a summary report conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) on Catholic clergy abuse in the state of Kansas. The investigation was undertaken on Nov. 15, 2018, after my request to Attorney General Schmidt … I am grateful to the attorney general and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for the considerable time and resources they devoted to this investigation. They provided what I hoped for: an objective, thorough examination of the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and the deficiencies of the response by Catholic officials, namely bishops.” By Archbishop Joseph Nauman, The Leaven

Lawmakers, survivors call on Kobach to release names of priests investigated for abuse
“Survivors of sexual abuse are calling on Kansas’ new attorney general, Republican Kris Kobach, to release the names of Catholic priests investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for perpetrating or ignoring abuse. A coalition of sex abuse survivors, lawmakers and advocates made the plea outside the Johnson County Courthouse weeks after Kansas’ previous attorney general, Republican Derek Schmidt, released a 21-page summary of a multi-year investigation on his last full business day in office.” By Ketie Bernard, The Kansas City Star

KENTUCKY

What we know about the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville investigations and lawsuits
“In the last year, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has been hit with two lawsuits alleging improper investigations into sexual assault complaints. These lawsuits cracked open the inner workings of the diocese. In the course of reporting on the lawsuits, Knox News has published a number of articles detailing different aspects of how the diocese has, and has not, held itself accountable. Here is a look at the findings of Knox News’ investigation.” By Tyler Whetstone, Knoxville News Sentinel

NEW JERSEY

Abuse survivors say Catholic church has failed to disclose hundreds of cases in NJ
“Four years ago, when New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses released a list of 188 clergy who had been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually assaulting children, church leaders vowed that they would continue to update the names as new allegations arose. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, leader of the Newark Archdiocese, wrote that he hoped releasing the names would be ‘an expression of our commitment to protecting our children’ and ‘a new level of transparency in the way we report and respond to allegations.’ But today, Newark’s inventory of 63 credibly accused clerics remains unchanged.” By Deena Yellin and Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK.

New York diocese, abuse victims file competing bankruptcy plans
“A Roman Catholic diocese on Long Island, New York, proposed a bankruptcy plan on Friday (Jan. 27), moving to retake control of its Chapter 11 case after a committee representing sexual abuse victims filed a competing restructuring proposal. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, one of the largest in the United States, said in a statement Friday that the proposed aggregate payment and the payment each abuse victim would receive under its proposed plan are ‘well in excess of any other Diocesan Chapter 11 plan in history.’’ By Dietrich Knauth, Reuters

PENNSYLVANIA

Pa. House leaders are on a listening tour. Sex abuse survivors feel unheard – again
“Before every interview she does, Lara Fortney-McKeever clasps a delicate key-motif bracelet around her wrist — a symbol of the years she and her sisters spent locked in silence about their childhood sexual abuse. Even after the arrest of the parish priest who had groomed and molested Fortney-McKeever and four of her younger sisters, a gag order signed as part of a settlement with the Diocese of Harrisburg prevented them from speaking about it.” By Bethany Rodgers and Bruce Siwy, PhillyBurbs.com

Former priest sentenced to 37 months on child porn charges
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of collecting thousands of child pornography images while serving overseas and then bringing them with him when he returned to the United States has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison. The Rev. William McCandless, 57, of Wilmington, Delaware, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Easton to 37 months in prison on a conviction of having used his cellphone to try to access pornography featuring underage boys.” By The Associated Press on abcnews.go.com

TENNESSEE

Anti-abuse advocates: diocese’s move to require victim’s name in lawsuit is ‘heartless’
“In an unusual move, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville won a legal effort to force an alleged rape victim to use his legal name instead of a pseudonym if he wants to continue his lawsuit against the church. The diocese’s push to name the victim alarmed clergy sex abuse advocates across the country. Several told Knox News the maneuver is meant to intimidate the man and scare off those who consider reporting a sexual assault in the future.” By Tyler Whetstone, Knox News

TEXAS

San Antonio priest quietly removed after sexual misconduct investigation
“Fr. Duncan Amek, a Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of San Antonio has been removed from active ministry following an investigation of sexual misconduct involving women and financial impropriety. On May 15, 2019, in St. Ann’s Church, where he had been a deacon for the previous year, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, ordained Duncan Amek, a native of Homa Bay, Kenya, to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Amek then went to work for St. Matthew Church and School in San Antonio, Texas.” By Zach Hiner, snapnetwork.org

Pavone was accused of ‘sexual misconduct’ before laicization
“Laicized priest Frank Pavone was accused before his laicization of sexual harassment, grooming behavior, and coercive physical contact with young women, several sources close to the allegations have told The Pillar. The Pillar has learned that at least two reports of misconduct were sent to the Diocese of Amarillo during or before 2010, with additional complaints also likely filed, sources said. Reports involved allegedly inappropriate behavior toward interns and junior employees of Priests for Life, the non-profit organization Pavone has headed since 1993.” By the Pillar

El Paso Diocese sex abuse lawsuit settled
“A settlement on the eve of jury selection in Deming’s Sixth Judicial District Court last week pre-empted a civil trial against the Catholic Diocese of El Paso alleging past sexual abuse by a priest who is now deceased. The trial had been set to begin today (Jan. 24). The plaintiff, identified as John Doe 117 in the 2019 complaint, alleged he was abused during road trips to Deming by Father Pedro Martinez, a priest at the Mt. Carmel parish in El Paso, where the plaintiff also lived at the time.” By Algernon D’Ammassa, Demming Highlight

AFRICA

Pope urged to sanction Congo priest in child sex abuse case
“Kinshasa, DR Congo- Congolese and foreign activists on Monday (Jan. 30) called on Pope Francis to sanction a priest accused of sexually abusing a minor in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he arrives on Tuesday. A girl identified as Marie told reporters by video conference how she was raped nearly two years ago by a priest from the Tshumbe diocese in the center of the country, when, at the age of 14, she was ‘aspiring’ to join the church. Marie said she had informed the church authorities in Congo. Since then, ‘I am not living in safety, everyone around me is under threat,’ she said.” By Agence France-Press in Manila Bulletin

AUSTRALIA

Ex-Vic priest extradited on assault charge
“A former Victorian priest who was jailed for sexually abusing six schoolboys will be extradited to Tasmania to face more indecent assault charges. David Edwin Rapson was in 2015 found guilty of abusing the boys, aged between 11 and 16, at two Victorian boarding schools in the 1970s and 1980s. He was sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail, with a non-parole period of nine years and four months. The Victorian attorney-general office on Monday (Jan. 30) lodged an application in Melbourne Magistrates Court, requesting Rapson be extradited to Tasmania.” By Australian Associated Press on YahooNews.com

‘Tip of the iceberg’: hundreds of victims allege sexual abuse at Victorian state school
“Almost 400 civil claims have been made against the Victorian government for historical child sexual abuse in state schools in the past 12 years, with more than half settled out of court, documents obtained under freedom of information laws show. Since 2010, 381 claims have been made for abuse that occurred in Victorian state educational settings between 1960 and 2018, including primary and secondary schools, specialist schools, early learning centers and after-school care.” By Benita Kolovos, The Guardian

CANADA

Court rules on Mt. Cashel settlement for abuse cases
“A Jan. 12 decision by the Newfoundland Labrador Supreme Court is expected to solidify and focus the compensation claims process for the victims of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Geoff Budden, a lawyer for the claimants, told The Catholic Register that while ‘it isn’t the process that we advocated, it is a process we are fine with.’ ‘The court wrote that from our four representative plaintiffs, we’d get insights that would perhaps lead to resolutions for the other plaintiffs. The claims officer, he or she, could take these decisions as sample guidance to help determine the rewards for the balance of the claims,’ said Budden.” By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

Canada to pay Indigenous abuse survivors more than $2bn
“Canada will pay hundreds of Indigenous communities more than $2 billion in compensation for nearly a century of abuse suffered by children in residential schools, its government has announced. The Can$2.8 billion (US$2.1 billion) settlement, the result of a class action lawsuit by 325 Indigenous groups, will be placed in a not-for-profit trust independent of the government. It will be used to ‘revitalize Indigenous education, culture, and language -– to support survivors in healing and reconnecting with their heritage,’ according to a press release.” By France24.com

FRANCE

‘We want justice’: Victims of sexual abuse by French Catholic Church seek financial compensation
“On 5 October 2021, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the French Catholic Church published its report. Its revelations were chilling. From 1950 to 2020, no less than 330,000 minors were victims of sexual abuse by clerics or laypersons within the Church. In response, two independent bodies were created to deal with reparations: The National Body for Recognition and Reparation, and the Commission for Recognition and Reparation. More than a year later, have the victims been able to find peace? Far from it, says Nancy Couturier.” By Johan Bodinier, Euronews.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND AND WALES

Peterborough Catholic priest, 74, accused of abusing children
“A 74-year-old Catholic priest has gone on trial accused of sexually abusing two children in the 1980s. Dennis Finbow, who had worked in Dogsthorpe in Peterborough, faces six counts of indecently assaulting a boy and girl aged between 10 and 13. The trial at Huntingdon Crown Court heard the prosecution say that the defendant had touched the girl while she was in bed.”

 By BBC News

Shamed Glasgow priest convicted of sexually abusing girls
“A shamed priest was convicted today (Jan. 20) of sexually abusing four girls. Father Neil McGarrity, 68, preyed on his victims at two churches in Glasgow as well as his parish home in the city. McGarrity played ‘footsie’ under the table with one of the girls and was caught in a ‘prolonged embrace’ with another. The priest of 33 years, from the city’s Maryhill, also touched and rubbed the girls with one victim claiming he hugged her while sat on a couch.” By Connor Gordon, The Scotland Herald

Exclusive: bishop reported to police for abuse as Vatican probes lockdown sex parties
“Bishop Robert Byrne has been reported to the police following an allegation of abuse made against him by a Catholic priest, the Catholic Herald can reveal. The Oratorian stepped down as Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle in December – almost a decade before he was due to retire – saying that the demands of his office were ‘too great a burden.’ Last week, however, the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops launched an investigation for ‘an in-depth report into the events leading up to Bishop Byrne’s resignation”’ which will be overseen by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool.” By Simon Caldwell, Catholic Herald

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Spiritans told abuse survivor (74) they would deny everything and ‘get him’ for costs
“A survivor of abuse at a school run by the Spiritan congregation in south Dublin was told they would deny all allegations against them, force the case to a higher court and ‘get him’ for costs. Dr John Connolly (74) says he went to the Spiritan congregation in recent years with allegations of his abuse as a child in 1958 by the late principal Fr Robert Stanley (‘Stanno’) at their Willow Park school in Blackrock. However, Dr Connolly ended up in the Round Hall of the Four Courts in Dublin where he was told ‘they would not only deny everything but force it to a higher court and get me for costs [range €40,000-€80,000].’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

PHILIPPINES

Philippine Church must let the law take its own course
“Pope Francis has forbidden attempts to obstruct justice and asks to turn over clerical child abusers to civil authorities. The institutional Church in the Philippines has never had a priest jailed for child sexual abuse so far because as Cardinal Antonio Tagle told the BBC’s Hardtalk TV program, it was an internal affair handled by Church authorities. That policy is now changing as Pope Francis and the Vatican have forbidden such handling. The days of impunity are past. Or are they?” By UCSNews.com

Prosecutors, children win convictions of sex abusers
“It is a happy day when I can write about victories and convictions. Prosecutors are fighting hard for child rights and are winning important convictions. Judges, too, believe testimonies of children with horrifying accounts of multiple rape and sexual assault by biological fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles and Catholic priests. These are great victories for those who hunger or thirst for justice and have had their fill.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times

SPAIN

How is Spain facing up to its Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal
“For a long time, Fernando Garciá-Salmones found it hard to accept his own reflection in the mirror. When he was a schoolboy, aged just 14, a priest named José María Pita da Veiga began to sexually abuse him. Fernando says, ‘the vulture made the little mouse feel guilty.’ ‘The priest came to me one rainy day and asked me to go upstairs to dry off in his room and that’s when it started,’ he said.” By Carlos Marlasca, EuroNews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Jan. 20, 2023

TOP STORIES

Hierarchy’s sacramental betrayal in abuse scandal obstructs synodality
“What I eventually came to understand about the scandal affected not only my career … It would also ultimately place in question much of what I knew and understood about the church. What transpired regarding the scandal in the more than 35 years since that phone conversation continues to be the dominant lens through which I view developments in the church, including the synodal process underway. I agree with theologian Massimo Faggioli and Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, who wrote recently in this space: ‘It must be understood that the chances of the synodal process that will soon begin its continental phase are closely tied to what the Catholic Church is doing and not doing on the abuse crisis. It’s about the abuse crisis even when it’s not explicitly about the abuse crisis.’” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

The life and complicated legacy of Pope Benedict XVI
“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at 95 on Saturday (Dec. 31), leaving behind a complicated legacdy and a lasting impact on Catholics across the globe. Margaret Roylance, vice president of Voice of the Faithful – a lay group that supports survivors of clergy sexual abuse – and Thomas Groome, professor of theology & religious education at Boston College, spoke to Liz Neisloss about the positive changes the late pope made within the Church, as well as the darker periods of his papacy.” By WGBH-TV News

Exclusive: Vatican must treat abuse victims better, pope’s lead investigator says
“Pope Francis’ lead clergy abuse investigator has acknowledged survivors’ frustrations with the Vatican’s strict culture of secrecy about Catholic bishops accused of misconduct or cover-up. Victims who bring a claim forward have a right to know how it is handled, said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna. In a National Catholic Reporter interview, Scicluna admitted the Vatican is not at what he termed ‘an optimal point’ with regard to how it follows up with abuse victims, calling the matter ‘something that needs to be developed.’” By Joshua J.McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Traditionalists, reform and women
“As the Catholic Synod on Synodality enters its ‘continental phase,’ some have wondered if the church is moving toward Vatican Three. Of course, there are still fights going on about Vatican Two. Not long ago, Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, said the current synod would lead ‘to a new reception of the Second Vatican Council,’ allowing the reforms of the mid-1960s to finally take hold. A small but vocal cadre of Catholics fears that precise possibility, which they caricature as a church overrun with bad liturgy, bad moral theology and guitar music.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service

Women and the Church
“We should not forget Sarah, but rather, we should remember her more than we do, and recognize her role in salvation history was at least equal to Abraham’s. What has happened to Sarah, the way we tend to forget about her and think only of Abraham, shows how easy it is for us to ignore the role women have played in salvation history. We must not think this is a problem only for those women born before Christ, for if we look at Christian history, it is clear that the role Christian women have played in history has been marginalized or forgotten, just like it was for their pre-Christian counterparts.” By Henry Karlson, Patheos

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY

Diocese again receives high grade in annual VOTF report
“In the recent 2022 financial transparency report by the Voice of the Faithful, a national lay organization of Catholics that formed after the revelations of clerical sexual abuse in 2002, the Fall River Diocese was again ranked among the top dioceses belonging to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For the second consecutive year the diocese earned a score of 92 out of 100 points. The report is based on a review of 177 dioceses across the country. The review was done last summer by a team of independent reviewers, with results published on November 30. The average score for the 177 dioceses surveyed was 70 (up from 69 last year).” By Anchor News of the Diocese of Fall River

McCarrick’s lawyers say he’s not competent to stand trial
“Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is in ‘significant’ mental decline and may not be fit to stand trial for allegedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy, his attorneys say in a new court filing. The legal team for the 92-year-old ex-prelate said it plans to file a motion to dismiss the case, citing a neurological exam conducted by Dr. David Schretlen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The exam took place on Dec. 5, 2022, at a facility in Missouri where McCarrick is living.” By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Pope Francis: synodal journey ‘a challenge and task’ for American seminarians
“Pope Francis told American seminarians in Rome that they are called to take up the ‘challenge and task’ of the synodal journey — of listening to the Holy Spirit and to one another — as they study to become priests. The pope met with students, staff, and faculty of the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican on the morning of Jan. 14. ‘Your time here in Rome,’ he said, ‘coincides with the synodal journey that the whole Church is presently undertaking, a journey that involves listening, to the Holy Spirit and to one another, in order to discern how to help God’s holy people live his gift of communion and become missionary disciples.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Church in Oceania prepares response to Synod of Bishops report
“The rich diversity of the Catholic Church across Oceania, as well as its unity, was evident during a meeting in Melbourne last week of representatives of the region’s four bishops conferences and Eastern Catholic churches. More than 20 people from across the Pacific gathered to reflect on and respond to the Working Document for the Continental Stage released by the Synod of Bishops Secretariat, titled Enlarge the Space of Your Tent. The discernment and writing group was convened to prepare a draft report from Oceania to be considered at next month’s assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) in Fiji.” By Catholic Outlook, News from the Diocese of Parramatta

Synod on Synodality: ‘great moment of ecclesial communion’: Catholic bishops in CAR
“The ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality offer an opportunity for ‘ecclesial communion’ among the people of God in the Central African Republic (CAR), Catholic Bishops in the country have said. In a statement issued Sunday, Jan. 15, members of the Central African Episcopal Conference (CECA) say the synodal process has helped the Church in CAR to seek a new beginning in Christ.” By Jude Atemanke, aciafrica.org

If taken seriously, the synodal process could transform race relations in the U.S. church
“Since our nation’s origin, color and race have crippled the quest for equality. The racial gap that many believed was narrowing has abruptly widened. White backlash to eight years of a Black president, police and vigilante killings of unarmed Blacks, the cumulative impacts of mass incarceration, disparities in health care, job opportunities, home financing, school suspensions, criminal justice sentences and other inequities confirm the 1968 Kerner Commission finding that America is two unequal societies.” By Daryl Grigsby, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis reorganizes Diocese of Rome in face of ‘epochal change’
“Pope Francis on Friday Jan. 6) issued a document reorganizing the Vicariate of Rome in what he called a time of ‘epochal change.’ The apostolic constitution, In Ecclesiarum Communione, replaces a 1998 constitution promulgated by Pope John Paul II. It goes into effect on Jan. 31. ‘In arranging this new Constitution for the Vicariate,’ Francis wrote in the preface, ‘in the face of an ‘epochal change’ that involves everything and everyone, I hope that it will be primarily an exemplary place of communion, dialogue and proximity, welcoming and transparent, at the service of the renewal and pastoral growth of the Diocese of Rome, an evangelizing community, a synodal Church, a people which credibly witness to God’s mercy.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, in National Catholic Register

Benedict’s burial leaves Francis alone, and unbound
“Since the first day of his papacy nearly a decade ago, Pope Francis has had to navigate an unprecedented complication in the Roman Catholic Church: coexisting with his retired predecessor in the same Vatican gardens. Supporters of Francis studiously played down the two-pontiff anomaly, but it generated confusion, especially when conservative acolytes of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sought to wrap their fervent opposition in their leader’s white robes.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

CARDINALS

George Pell, cardinal whose abuse conviction was overturned, dies at 81
“Cardinal George Pell, an Australian cleric and adviser to Pope Francis who became the most senior Roman Catholic prelate to be sent to prison for child sexual abuse and was later acquitted of all charges, died on Tuesday (Jan. 10) in Rome. He was 81 … Cardinal Pell was for decades one of Australia’s most powerful religious figures. A former athlete with a formidable intellect and a combative streak, he was a conservative voice heard regularly in the media, opposing abortion while defending the church against accusations of child abuse as the archbishop of the Melbourne diocese and then the Sydney diocese.” By Natasha Frost and Damien Cave, The New York Times

Woman accusing prominent cardinal of sexual misconduct reveals identity
“The woman who alleges she experienced unwanted sexual touching by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet has revealed her identity, saying she wants more transparency from the Vatican and to encourage others to come forward with their stories of abuse. Paméla Groleau is one of the more than 130 people taking part in a class action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec, which includes allegations of sexual misconduct against 96 members of its clergy dating back to 1940.” By CBC News

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

LCWR leaders talk about unprecedented transformation of religious life
“The biggest issues in religious life in the United States today all revolve around the transformation it is undergoing, say leaders of the organization representing about two-thirds of the country’s Catholic sisters. That was the focus of an hourlong interview Global Sisters Report staff had via Zoom with officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2022, during a GSR staff ‘summit’ at the National Catholic Reporter offices.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

For 2023, USIG officers prioritize the synodal journey and a ‘culture of care’
“Catholic sisters are looking both deeply outward and deeply inward — affirming both ministries to help heal a broken world and accompanying people on their spiritual journeys. Those are among the takeaways from a nearly 90-minute interview Global Sisters Report staff had via Zoom with officers of the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at National Catholic Reporter offices in Kansas City, Missouri.” By Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Dolores Curran had the shocking idea that laity might lead the Catholic Church
“With a peal of laughter, the dynamic, groundbreaking Dolores Curran arrived in heaven on Dec. 4. At a time when the U.S. Catholic Church was dominated by priests and religious, she introduced the then-shocking notion that the laity might also play a part. In her groundbreaking 1985 book “Who, Me Teach My Child Religion?” she suggested the home was an arena for spirituality and that parents just might find God there. She taught that the sacred work of relationships doesn’t happen only at church or on retreat, but in kitchens, garages and bedrooms.” By Kathy Coffey, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

Safeguarding requires experts, survivors, support, cardinal says
There can be no improvising or going it alone when it comes to preventing and handling cases of abuse in the Catholic Church, said U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Everything must be considered with an accusation: ‘the rights of victim, the rights of the accused, the civil authorities, the church, the parish, the families’ and more, the cardinal told Catholic News Service in Rome Jan. 6.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicReview.org

VATICAN

French priest restricted, not defrocked, after abuse claims
“The Vatican has ordered a prominent French priest who advised the Holy See for years on matters of sex and homosexuality to cease his psychotherapy practice following allegations he sexually abused men in his therapeutic care. But the Vatican didn’t defrock or otherwise sanction the Rev. Tony Anatrella despite several well-documented complaints against him, in further evidence of the Holy See’s reluctance to invoke harsh measures to punish priests who abuse adults.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The legacy of Cardinal George Pell: Is it what the church needs now?
“Cardinal George Pell, who died this week as a result of complications related to hip surgery, was the poster boy for Pope John Paul II’s ‘heroic priesthood,’ a discernible type of prelate that was common throughout the 20th century. Conspicuous, forceful, determined, dismissive toward contrary opinions, he was a polarizing figure convinced of the need to risk polarization in order to defend the church’s teachings.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

More Americans stay away from church as pandemic nears year three
“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every congregation in the United States shut down, at least for a while. For some Americans, that was the push they needed to never come back to church. A new report, which looked at in-person worship attendance patterns before the beginning of the pandemic and in 2022, found that a third of those surveyed never attend worship services. That’s up from 25% before the start of the pandemic.” By Bob Smietana, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Diane Langberg on church leaders and abuse: ‘We have utterly failed God’
“Not long after Diane Langberg began working as a clinical psychologist in the 1970s, a client told her that she had been a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Not sure of what to do, Langberg went to talk to her supervisor. The supervisor, Langberg recalled, dismissed the allegations. ‘He told me that women make these things up,’ Langberg said. ‘My job was to not be taken in by them.’ The supervisor’s response left Langberg in a dilemma. Did she believe her client? Or did she trust her supervisor’s advice?” By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service

Benedict XVI’s quiet exit at odds with his lasting imprint on the pontificate
“Some popes go out with a bang. The announcement of Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005 reverberated around the world, and in Rome, locals will tell you that his funeral was the biggest one in memory: Cars were abandoned mid-traffic, as mobs rushed toward St. Peter’s Basilica. An estimated 3 million faithful lined up for hours on end to glimpse John Paul’s casket. By comparison, the news of Benedict XVI’s death, delivered on New Year’s Eve, was met with an unmistakable air of quiet.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Survivors of sexual abuse plead for changes in Kansas law that protects pedophiles
“Four survivors of childhood sexual abuse revealed details about the worst moments of their lives in a public rebuke of state law that protects pedophiles from criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits. Backed by a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers, the women emphasized that it can take years before a survivor accepts what happened and is willing to talk about it. Most people who are victimized as children won’t share their experiences until they are over age 50. Kansas state law requires requires survivors to file a civil lawsuit by age 21.” By Shermin Smith, Louisiana Illuminator

New Pa. speaker wants ‘work group’ after slow session start
“A week after he was a surprise choice to become speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Monday (Jan. 9) canceled sessions for the rest of the week after failing to reach a deal on his primary legislative priority. Lawmakers were brought to the Capitol for a hastily called special session designed to speed passage of a two-year window for letting some victims of child sexual abuse file otherwise outdated lawsuits.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

Child sex abuse is ‘soul murder.’ Massachusetts should lift the statute of limitations
“A recent change in Maine law has given people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s a chance to seek justice, at long last, for the sex abuse they endured as children. The measure retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in these cases, allowing victims to seek restitution from the churches and summer camps and Boy Scout troops that had failed them so grievously decades ago. Robert Dupuis, 73, is among those who have filed suit since the law changed.” By The Boston Globe Editorial Board

Part 2: Law could eliminate statute of limitations in civil cases involving sexual assault
“Churches across the country, including Corpus Christi, have survivors of sexual abuse by priests asking for information about their alleged assailant. Patrick Wilkes has requested secret files on his father, James Wilkes, who was a priest in Corpus Christi but he said they have not been provided. He also said his father sexually abused him, his siblings and others.” By Bryan Hoffman, KRIS-TV6 News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Archbishop Scicluna defends Benedict XVI’s efforts to fight abuse
“Benedict XVI’s passing has reignited talk about how adequately he addressed sexual abuse in the Church. From being the first Pontiff to meet with abuse victims, to taking action against powerful and guilty priests, to being accused of mismanaging cases in his diocese when he was a bishop in Germany, the Pope Emeritus left a mixed record, according to many observers. However, the Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, has instead strongly defended the Pope Emeritus’ efforts in various statements published by multiple media outlets.” By Isabella H. de Carvalho, Aleteia

How might the latest George Pell coverage affect child sexual abuse survivors?
“You might have wondered if the recent death of George Pell, who was jailed in 2019 for child sexual abuse and then later acquitted, would bring a sense of relief or closure for victim survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse. After all, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found Pell had failed to do enough during his time in senior church roles in Australia to stop priests who abused children.” By The Conversation

CALIFORNIA

‘Just find the truth’: How ex-FBI aagents help the LA Archdiocese vet accusations
“For 25 years, Marty Gallagher tracked down kidnappers, investigated government fraud and foreign counterintelligence, and in one case even helped send a young military contractor to prison for espionage. After retiring from his post as a Los Angeles-based FBI agent in 1988, he spent time in the private sector … Then, in the 2000s, he discovered a new calling that asked for his talents and experience: helping the Catholic Church investigate allegations of clerical sexual abuse, part of a crisis that was then shaking the institution to its core.” By Tom Hoffarth and Pablo Kay, Angelus News

KANSAS

Kansas clergy not mandatory reporters for child sex crimes
“Following a KBI report involving child sexual abuse by Catholic Clergy in Kansas, the KSHB 41 I-Team has been digging into allegations made in the past, as well as examining possible solutions to prevent this type of abuse in the future. And, what we’re hearing from some critics, is that not enough is being done to ensure these crimes are reported.” By Caitlin Knute, KSHB-TV41 News

Victims’ attorney reacts to KBI report detailing child abuse by Catholic clergy in Kansas
“The 21-page report details what KBI calls an immense investigation. It has a scope of more than 50 years, looking into all four archdioceses of Kansas. During the four-year investigation, KBI’s Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Task Force identified more than 400 victims, opened 125 criminal cases and investigated nearly 200 clergy members. The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, recommended this investigation to the Attorney General’s Office in November 2018. On Saturday (Jan. 7), they released a statement in response to the report — saying you cannot read it without your heart breaking.” By Peyton Headlee, KMBC-TV9 News

MAINE

Suit alleges sexual abuse at religious retreats in Bucksport and Bar Harbor decades ago
“An unnamed Oregon woman, ‘Jane Doe,’ who lived in a Catholic orphanage in Massachusetts in the 1950s, has filed a federal civil suit against the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate alleging sexual abuse by priests during Oblate-run retreats in Bar Harbor and Bucksport when she was a young child … The Maine Legislature in June of 2021 lifted a statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases, which is allowing the case of “Jane Doe” and a dozen others to move through the Maine civil court system.” By Jennifer Osborn, The Ellsworth American

Lawsuit alleges Bangor Catholic priest sexually assaulted woman in 1970s
“Another lawsuit has been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, alleging sexual abuse. Mary Banks, a former Cumberland resident, alleges former priest Renal C. Halle at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor sexually assaulted her while she was a member of the diocese’s youth organization, according to the Portland Press Herald. The lawsuit includes seven counts, including sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” By CBS-TV13 News

Decades-old abuse claims against Portland diocese, once blocked, pour in after state law change
“When the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino allegedly sexually abused a 6-year-old Ann Marie Burke at St. Peter Parish nearly 60 years ago, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland already was aware of at least one other girl Sabatino had reportedly abused at a different church in Lewiston several years earlier. The church moved Sabatino from Lewiston to Portland in 1958, after 6-year-old Patricia Butkowski‘s parents presented church officials with evidence the priest had sexually abused their daughter, a report from the Maine Attorney General’s office revealed 46 years later.” By Emily Allen and eric Russell, Portland Pess Herald

MASSACHUSETTS

Abuse victim speaks out
“The priest who sexually abused David Rigby in 1976 said he was giving the young student a medical exam. ‘As a naive, 14-year-old boy I didn’t realize that priests with no medical qualifications don’t have the right to give a medical exam to anybody,’ Rigby said Monday (Jan. 9). He was speaking on a corner in Andover across from St. Augustine Parish, where he was accompanied by Robert Hoatson of Road to Recovery, a charity that assists victims of sexual abuse. Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston attorney who represents clergy sex abuse victims, was present on Zoom. He said he earned a low, six-figure settlement a month ago for Rigby’s abuse and that of one other boy at the hands of the priest, Robert Turnbull.” By Will Broaddus, The Eagle-Tribune

MISSOURI

Former St. Louis priest sentenced to prison for thousands of child porn images
“A former Catholic priest was sentenced Tuesday (Jan. 10) to five years in prison after admitting to possessing thousands of pieces of child pornography and putting them into PowerPoints that he edited over the course of more than a decade. Father James Beighlie, 72, was a Vincentian priest who most recently served as an associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis. He pleaded guilty in October to two counts of possession of child pornography. In exchange, prosecutors recommended he receive a prison sentence within a federal guideline range of just over seven years in prison.” By Katie Kull, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

How much will Pa. have to pay for child sex abuse claims if lawsuit window is opened up?
“As state lawmakers decide the political costs of opening a two-year window for child sex abuse survivors to sue, much of the debate about the two-year window for those past the statute of limitations has been about the potential financial impact on the catholic church over the egregious abuse claims outlined in those grand jury reports. But that proposal would open the door for all adult victims of child sexual abuse, and a new study shows how much that could ultimately cost taxpayers.” By WJAC-TV21 News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Catholic priest who formerly served in Charleston indicted on federal sex abuse charges
“Federal prosecutors charged a Catholic priest who served for several years in the Charleston Diocese with sexually abusing an 11-year-old child. Jaime Adolfo Gonzalez-Farias, 68, was arrested Nov. 28, 2022, in Florida, court records show. The Chilean national had worked in South Carolina as a visiting priest of the Diocese of San Bernardo, Chile, between 2015 and 2020, according to church records. Prosecutors charged him in an October 2022 indictment with three counts of sexual crimes: coercion or enticement of a minor; transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; and aggravated sexual abuse of children.” By Jocelyn Grzeszczak, The Post and Courier

TEXAS

Six investigates obtains secret documents held by the Diocese of Corpus Christi
“The history of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church is widely documented. Locally, there are at least 12 pending civil cases against the Diocese of Corpus Christi. 6 Investigates obtained secret documents from the Diocese of Corpus Christi, which showed the steps they took, or didn’t take, when dealing with accusations against a local priest.” By Bryan Hoffman, KRIS-TV6 News

VERMONT

Vermont lawmaker to seek to close clergy reporting exemption
“The head of the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee says he’s going to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session to close an exemption to the state’s child abuse and neglect reporting laws for members of the clergy. Democratic Sen. Richard Sears of Bennington says he was unaware that the Vermont law requiring members of a number of professions, including doctors, teachers, social workers and the clergy, to report abuse if they become aware of it contains an exemption for members of the clergy if they become aware of abuse during a setting that is considered privileged, such as during confession.” By Wilson Ring, Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

Former altar boy’s father to press on with abuse case against Pell
“The father of a former altar boy will press ahead with legal action against Cardinal George Pell’s estate over the alleged sexual abuse of his son, his lawyers said Wednesday (Jan. 11). Shine Lawyers said they would continue to pursue the claim against any estate left by the cardinal, who died Tuesday in Rome. The former altar boy died in 2014, and his father — who has not been identified — filed the claim against Pell and the Archdiocese of Melbourne in 2021.” By Agence France-Presse, on UCANews.com

CANADA

French demonstrators demand extradition of retired priest accused of abusing Inuit children
“The French government denied Canada’s extradition request for Johannes Rivoire last fall. ‘For us as French citizen[s], it’s a real shame that our government refuses to make part of justice for Inuit people,’ said Amandine Sanvisens, who was among the demonstrators. ‘We wanted to show and to put the light on this place where he lives.’ The allegations against Rivoire stem from his time working as an Oblate priest in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s.” By CBC News

CHILE

‘Blanquita’ turns real-life case of child abuse into indictment of injustice
“In spite of her youth, Blanquita (Laura López) knows she doesn’t want to be a saint. She’s tried it before, she says, and it didn’t work out. By age 18, she’s seen enough of life’s darkest side to know being good doesn’t mean she’ll be treated justly. She has spent her life living under a care system that’s failed to care for her when she needed it most, allowing men to abuse and exploit her in myriad ways. All she wants now is a place to live with her baby daughter, the identity of the father anyone’s guess considering she’s been sexually abused repeatedly and forced to engage in sex work in order to survive.” By Jose Solis, National Catholic Reporter

FRANCE

Former archbishop of Paris under investigation for sexual assault is ‘outraged but serene’
“The former archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, is reportedly under preliminary investigation for sexual assault on a vulnerable person, according to a report from the Archdiocese of Paris in late November 2022, French news channel BFMTV reported. According to the TV channel’s report, the allegations date back to 2011 and concern a vulnerable former parishioner, subject to a judicial protection measure. Aupetit is suspected of having exchanged sexual emails with this parishioner, who suffers from a “slight mental deficiency.” By Solène Tadié, Catholic News Agency

GERMANY

Catholic Church: one year Munich abuse report
“Many who were abused by Catholic clergymen as children or young people find that too little has happened. One of them is Rolf Fahnenbruck, who experienced severe sexualized violence as a child in the diocese of Essen and now lives in the diocese of Passau. He is the spokesman for the local Advisory Board. So far, he has been compensated for his suffering with 25,000 euros. But it’s not about the money, he says in an interview BR24. Because even with the performance notice, a person affected by abuse is alone again with his problem.” By David Sadler Globe Echo World News

INDIA

Vatican replaces Indian bishop accused of serious crimes
“An Indian Catholic bishop probed by a Vatican-appointed team of bishops for alleged involvement in serious crimes like murder, rape and misappropriation of church funds, has been ordered to ‘take a period of absence from the ministry.’ Bishop Kannikadass A William of Mysore (now Mysuru) has been replaced by retired Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore as apostolic administrator of southern India’s Karnataka state.” By UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Spiritan scandal: ‘Why was Fr. Arthur Carragher moved to Canads, where he was free to abuse my 10-year-old brother?
“Pete Fischer was standing in a queue at the supermarket when the call came that turned everything he knew, or thought he knew, about his older brother Jeff on its head. It was August 2018. The Pope’s visit to Ireland was making international headlines. An Irish man was interviewed on Canadian television about the sexual abuse he’d suffered as a child in Dublin at the hands of a priest called Fr Arthur Carragher, who was later shunted off to Canada.” By Maeve Sheehan, Independent.ie

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand church leaders make commitments to abuse survivors
“The bishops and the leaders of religious orders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand have published a statement of commitments adopted in response to the continuing work of the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care. The statement is signed by Fr Thomas Rouse SSC, President of the Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa New Zealand, and Cardinal John Dew, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, on behalf of their respective members. The set of 10 commitments – along with others previously made – will become part of what the Church calls the ‘Tautoko Roadmap’ for the path the Church is taking in response to the royal commission and the wishes of abuse survivors.” By CathNews.com

PHILIPPINES

Old clerical abuse habits die hard in the Philippines
One serious case shows how some Church authorities still look to cover up sex attacks on minors—The many incidents of child sexual abuse by predator priests have shamed thousands of good bishops and benevolent clerics who have been justly angered by the rampant salacious acts of their fellow pedophile priests and in some cases by high-profile bishops and high-ranking cardinals. They feel helpless when their bishop protects the abuser priest and calls him ‘his son.’ They long for justice for the victims and wish to exonerate their own vocation and the blemished priesthood from the tyranny of abuser priests.” By UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Jan. 6, 2023

Jan. 6, 2023

TOP STORIES

Benedict XVI, first pope to resign in 600 years, dies at 95
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the shy German theologian who tried to reawaken Christianity in a secularized Europe but will forever be remembered as the first pontiff in 600 years to resign from the job, died Saturday (Dec. 31). He was 95. Benedict stunned the world on Feb. 11, 2013, when he announced, in his typical, soft-spoken Latin, that he no longer had the strength to run the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church that he had steered for eight years through scandal and indifference.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Jesuit case underscores secrecy, leniency for abuse of women
“Revelations that the Vatican let a famous priest off the hook twice for abusing his authority over adult women has exposed two main weaknesses in the Holy See’s abuse policies: sexual and spiritual misconduct against adult women is rarely if ever punished, and secrecy still reigns supreme, especially when powerful priests are involved …But under questioning by journalists, the Jesuit superior general, the Rev. Arturo Sosa, acknowledged the Congregation had prosecuted Rupnik for a separate, prior case from 2019 that ended with his conviction and temporary excommunication for one of the gravest crimes in the church’s in-house canon law: that he used the confessional to absolve a woman with whom he previously had sexual relations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Former bishop of French Guyana guilty of sex abuse, Vatican court says
“Bishop Emeritus Emmanuel Lafont of Cayenne, French Guyana, has been found guilty of sexual abuse in a canonical court and banned from public ministry, while the country’s civil authorities are investigating charges against him. ‘He is under house arrest, in a monastery on mainland France,’ the Bishops’ Conference of France told Agence France Presse. He must conduct a life of prayer and repentance. The bishops’ conference confirmed that the bishop faces a civil investigation.” By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report

ACCOUNTABILITY

Benedict was criticized for his handling of church’s sex abuse scandal
“The clerical sex abuse scandal broke under Pope John Paul II in the years that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — who would later become Pope Benedict XVI — headed the Vatican’s doctrinal office, which handled the cases of priests accused of abusing children. Presented with case files, Cardinal Ratzinger sometimes set disciplinary measures in motion, even having accused priests defrocked. But other times, the record shows, he took the side of the accused priests and failed to listen to the victims or their warnings that an abuser could violate more young people.” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

20-year church abuse probe ends with monsignor’s quiet plea
“Twenty years after city prosecutors convened a grand jury to investigate the handling of priest-abuse complaints within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the tortuous legal case came to an end with a cleric’s misdemeanor no contest plea in a near-empty City Hall courtroom. Monsignor William Lynn, 71, had served nearly three years in state prison as appeals courts reviewed the fiery three-month trial that led to his felony child endangerment conviction in 2012. The verdict was twice overturned, leaving prosecutors pursuing the thinning case in recent years with a single alleged victim whose appearance in court was in doubt.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com and The Philadelphia Inquirer

Vatican’s handling of Jesuit priest shows new dimensions of never-ending abuse crisis
“On Dec. 2, the global Jesuit order confirmed reports made in several conservative Italian Catholic blogs that Slovenian Jesuit Fr. Marko Rupnik, a famous Rome-based artist, had been quietly disciplined for allegedly abusing adult women, and had been barred from hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction … (Rupnik) had earlier been convicted by the Vatican’s doctrinal office of having used the confessional to absolve a woman of having engaged in sexual activity with him … I think the Rupnik case actually recapitulates and casts a light on new dimensions that have emerged in the abuse scandal in recent years. I want to briefly highlight 10 dimensions that I see.” By Massimo Faggioli, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican investigator says claims of Jesuit abuse true
“A Vatican-appointed investigator who helped bring to light decades-old allegations of sexual and spiritual abuse against a famous Jesuit priest is calling for the hierarchs who hid his crimes to ‘humbly ask the world to forgive the scandal.’ In correspondence obtained Monday (Dec. 19), Bishop Daniele Libanori also said the claims of the women about the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik were true and that they had ‘seen their lives ruined by the evil suffered and by the complicit silence’ of the church.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on sfgate.com

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

For synod listening sessions, U.S. bishops turned to community organizers
“When Pope Francis launched his newly invigorated process for the Synod of Bishops in 2021, he challenged Catholics worldwide to ‘become experts in the art of encounter,’ saying it was ‘time to look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say, to build rapport, to be sensitive to the questions of our sisters and brothers.’ For decades, members of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a network of local faith and community-based organizations, have in many ways been experts in such an art, most often to empower marginalized communities.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

Senior Synod official to visit Australia for lecture series
“Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, one of the most senior women working in the Vatican, is coming to Australia for a whirlwind tour in February and will speak at public forums and lectures in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. A member of the French Congregation of Xavière Sisters, Sr Natalie was appointed by Pope Francis in May 2019 as consultor to the Synod of Bishops. In 2021, she was again appointed by Pope Francis as undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops. She is the first woman to ever hold this position in the Vatican and the first woman to have voting rights in the Synod of Bishops.” By CathNews.com

Synod’s main themes come into focus as it enters its continental stage
“More than a year into Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality, the full scope of this massive, unprecedented consultation of Catholics around the world is just now beginning to come into focus, even for its organizers. ‘I find this a very interesting phase of church history,’ said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg and the general rapporteur of the synod, at a press conference Wednesday (Dec. 14) as he introduced the continental phase of the synod. In the next months, seven assemblies of bishops (in the six traditional continents, plus the Middle East) will consider a document compiled from listening sessions held in thousands of parishes and dioceses.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis extols Benedict XVI as pastor in historic two-pope Vatican funeral
“In one of the rarest of scenes in two millennia of Catholic Church history, Pope Francis on Jan. 5 presided over the funeral Mass of his predecessor, the late Pope Benedict XVI, and offered a subtle send-off to someone he extolled as a pastor who ‘spread and testified’ to the Gospel for his entire life. During a brief, seven-minute homily to a crowd of thousands gathered during a cool, foggy morning in St. Peter’s Square, Francis reflected on the life of Christ, marked by ‘hands of forgiveness and compassion, healing and mercy, anointing and blessing,’ seemingly drawing a parallel to the same devotion in which Benedict served the church.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Pope denounces psychological abuse as Jesuit case rocks Church
“Pope Francis on Thursday (Dec. 22) denounced psychological violence and abuse of power in the Church, as the case of a prominent priest accused of exploiting his authority to sexually abuse nuns has rocked the Vatican. The 86-year-old pope made his comments in his annual Christmas address to cardinals, bishops and other members of the Curia, the central administration of the Vatican. Francis has often used the occasion to decry perceived flaws in the top bureaucracy, such as gossip, cliques and infighting.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Pope Francis isn’t slowing down in 2023
“On Jan. 5, Pope Francis will preside at the requiem Mass and funeral ceremony of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The last time a pope did this was in 1802 when Pius VII celebrated a second funeral for Pius VI, whose body was exhumed and returned to the Vatican after his death and burial in exile three years prior. On March 13, he will enter the 11th year of his pontificate. At the age of 86, he is already the third oldest pope to lead the church in the last 800 years, but he shows no signs of slowing down in terms of his agenda, notwithstanding problems of mobility due to ailments in his right knee.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

2022 saw opposition to Pope Francis, plus intellectual and ecclesial shifts
“The year 2022 in the Catholic world was dominated by significant shifts in the intellectual and ecclesial landscape, accompanied by shockingly few shifts among key personnel in the Vatican Curia and at the headquarters of the U.S. bishops’ conference. Pope Francis continues to invite the church to try new approaches with the goal of retrieving our tradition more fruitfully, even while here in the United States he encounters a great deal of opposition.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Benedict remembered for pushing U.S. bishops to confront clergy abuse
“Under intense national scrutiny after the groundbreaking reporting on clergy sexual abuse and cover-up in the Boston Archdiocese in 2002, the U.S. Catholic bishops created a new lay-run review board to advise their national conference on how to better protect children and vulnerable persons from abuse. One of the group’s first tasks was to thoroughly investigate the nature of the scandal, in view of an eventual first-of-its-kind report that would detail the enormous scope of abuse in the U.S. church across some five decades. And a key ally in the task? None other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops’ rifts unlikely to ease after Benedict’s death
“Many of the conservative prelates who dominate the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops were appointed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. His recent death deprives them of a symbolic figurehead but is unlikely to weaken their collective power or end the culture wars that have divided the USCCB, according to Catholic academics and clergy. David Gibson, director of Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture, noted that conservative-leaning bishops were appointed over a 35-year period by Benedict and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and routinely prevail in voting over the relatively more liberal group of bishops appointed since 2013 by Pope Francis.” By David Cray, Associated Press

WOMEN’S VOICES

In synod discussion of women’s ordination, the diaconate is neglected
“The synod on synodality is exploding ideas all over the church. Some on the extreme right hope for Tridentine Masses. Some on the far left hope for changes in teachings on sex and gender. Folks in the middle just want more respect for and better recognition of women. To no one’s surprise, the working document for the synod’s ‘continental phase’ recognized women as the backbone of the church. It also admits that many women feel denigrated, neglected and misunderstood, symptomatic of narcissistic clericalism infecting clergyv. Many national synod reports sent to the Vatican from bishops’ conferences around the globe presented the desire for women to be present in church governance, certified as preachers and in the diaconate.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

As order ponders the role of women, recalling history’s lone female Jesuit
“However, Sosa actually briefed journalists on several matters of Jesuit business, including the progress of a commission to study the role of women in the Society of Jesus created in March 2021. He didn’t offer much detail, except to say that the commission, in collaboration with the Jesuit-sponsored Atheneum of Manila in the Philippines, is preparing a major survey about the contributions of women in the society for 2023, with an eye towards submitting recommendations in 2024.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Why laypeople and deacons – in addition to priests – are necessary for a thriving church
“The Church teaches its bishops are direct successors to Peter and the Twelve Apostles; through the sacrament of Holy Orders, a Catholic priest participates in his bishop’s apostolic ministry. Priests administer the sacraments in persona Christi, or acting in the person of Christ, when celebrating the Eucharist or hearing confessions. And yet there is more than one group of people necessary to lead the Church through what has been dubbed ‘the new Apostolic Age’ – a time when Christianity has become much like it was during the early Church, when the world wasn’t always receptive to its message of love, eternal life, absolute truth and sacrifice.” By Phil Ervin, St. Thomas University Newsroom

VATICAN

Vatican releases Pope Benedict’s spiritual will: ‘Stand firm in the faith’
“In a spiritual will written in 2006 and released by the Vatican on Saturday (Dec. 31), Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI thanked his family and friends, but chiefly God, for standing by him during his long life and career in the church. Benedict, known for his theological efforts to reconcile faith and reason, offered his last thoughts to the Catholic faithful, urging them to hold on to their faith despite social and philosophical opposition.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Pope Benedict dies
“After the ‘long nineteenth century’ (as characterized by John O’Malley) of the Catholic Church was brought to an end by the calling of the council in 1959, Benedict XVI was in some ways the last pope of the delayed conclusion of the twentieth-century Catholic Church … Joseph Ratzinger was a brilliant theologian and public intellectual, but also a provocative cleric who as pope had the courage to risk unpopularity. He will remain one of the most widely published and widely read popes in Church history, and likely one of the most controversial. Few committed Catholics will be indifferent or dispassionate about him.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

25% of Christians consider leaving church in Germany over abuse scandals: Survey
“About one in four Christians in Germany are considering leaving church due to the sex abuse scandals, a survey revealed on Thursday (Dec. 13). Mostly the members of the Catholic Church have lost faith in the clergy and church after the scandals in recent years, according to the Religion Monitor study of the Bertelsmann Foundation. Among the Germans who said that they were considering leaving the church, 66% of them were members of the Catholic Church, and 33% were the members of the Protestant Church.” By Ayhan Simsek, aa.com.tr

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic Church buys $2.4 million Seattle house as finances peak, parishes close
“Now the archdiocese’s finances have come under renewed scrutiny with the purchase of a home for Seattle’s Catholic leadership, prompting fresh criticism of the church’s transparency and money management. The archdiocese last month quietly acquired the $2.4 million property in the stately Mount Baker neighborhood. The five-bedroom, 3,460-square-foot gray-shingled home with a bright-blue door overlooks Lake Washington.” By Rebecca Moss, The Seattle Times

VOICES

A man of contradictions, Benedict leaves us two very different legacies
“A man of contradictions. A pope of colliding centuries. It’s as if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who is being laid to rest Thursday (Jan. 5) in Vatican City, has two legacies instead of one. The theologian Joseph Ratzinger was a significant architect of the theology that informed the doctrines of the Second Vatican Council, a reform effort in the 1960s that brought fresh air to the church by encouraging outreach to other religions, the use of local languages instead of Latin at Mass, support for religious freedom and much more.” By Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, on NBCNews.com

Seattle archbishop’s new residence is an insult to the Catholic Community
“One might assume that, at first blush, spending $2.4 million (plus remodeling costs) is not a huge outlay for a luxury view home in Seattle — at least for the privileged few who can afford it. Yet, the recent purchase of such a home by the Seattle Archdiocese for Archbishop Paul Etienne has caused serious concern among many clergy and lay Catholics. When he first arrived in Seattle in 2019, the archbishop declared, ‘I am a Pastor, not a Prince’ in renouncing residence at a mansion on First Hill in Seattle that had been purchased by contributions from the laity more than a century earlier.” By Clark Kimerer, Colleen Kinerk and Terrence A. Carroll, Special to The Seattle Times

Three predictions about what will make church news in 2023
“Looking ahead and venturing predictions is always a risky business, even in a church like ours in which traditional ways of doing things tend to be the norm. Still, in 2023 I will predict we will see the synodal process continue to garner attention, albeit fitfully and with a step backwards for every two steps forward, a spasm of anti-Francis sentiment coinciding with the 10th anniversary of his election in March, and the beginning of the most substantial remaking of the U.S. hierarchy since the 1980s.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

My encounters with Joseph Ratzinger – and Pope Benedict XVI
“I first met Joseph Ratzinger in June 1994 when he was the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. No, I was not being interrogated by the Grand Inquisitor. This was long before I got in trouble with the Vatican as editor-in-chief of America magazine. I was in Rome to interview him and other church officials for my book, Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. I almost missed the interview. Cardinal Ratzinger was sick the day of our appointment” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Catholics need a restorative justice approach to the church’s sexual abuse crisis
“Wounds remain. This was a chief conclusion of an independent working group on the clerical sex abuse crisis in the U.S. Catholic Church that proposed the following measures last month: Develop a national center with experts and practitioners to equip the broader church with practices of restorative justice that would accompany those who have been directly and peripherally harmed by abuse, particularly forums in which victim-survivors tell their stories and receive love, recognition and empathy.” By Daniel Philpott, America: The Jesuit Review

As CNS Washington closes, we reflect on more than 100 years of service
“Catholic News Service turned 100 years old in 2020. Unfortunately, our birthdate coincided with the start of a worldwide pandemic, and many of our celebration plans were canceled. A highlight, however, was Pope Francis meeting with the CNS Rome staff in February 2021 to mark the anniversary. At that meeting, Pope Francis praised the news service, saying it ‘has provided an invaluable contribution to the English-speaking world through its coverage of the church’s mission of proclaiming the Gospel and witnessing to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. In an age when news can be easily manipulated and misinformation spread, you seek to make the truth known in a way that is, in the words of your motto, ‘fair, faithful and informed,’’ the pope told the CNS staff.’” By Greg Erlandson, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

When Vatican II became ‘model of openness,’ it had impact on CNS reporting
“Two vast upheavals in the Catholic Church in the past 60 years spurred a dramatic transformation of Catholic News Service — from a news agency with a house organ mentality to one committing to reporting facts, even embarrassing ones concerning the church itself. The first upheaval was the Second Vatican Council. From a shaky start in 1962, which the council attempting to operate semi-secrecy, it did an about-face, opened up, and by its end in 1965 was a model of openness. This was a lesson not lost on Catholic media, notably including CNS.” By Russell Shaw, The Leaven

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

A change in Maine law prompts a wave of new church abuse allegations
“A change in Maine law has unleashed a flood of new allegations of long-ago sex abuse by priests. But now the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is challenging the legislation in court in an apparent attempt to stem the flow of lawsuits. The Childhood Sexual Abuse amendment, which was signed into law last summer, retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for lawsuits alleging childhood sex abuse in most circumstances. The result is that former altar boys and Catholic school students who are now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s can sue the church over abuse that allegedly occurred half a century ago or even earlier.” By Mike Damiano, The Boston Globe

Maryland Catholic Conference to support bill eliminating statute of limitations
“The Maryland Catholic Conference will support legislation that could potentially eliminate the statute of limitation in civil lawsuits involving cases of child sexual abuse, the MCC announced Monday (Dec. 19). The Catholic Church in Maryland will support legislation that may be introduced during the 2023 Maryland General Assembly session that prospectively eliminates the statute of limitation in civil lawsuits involving cases of child sexual abuse.” By CBS-TV News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Benedict leaves behind a conflicted legacy on clerical sexual abuse
“Before he led the Roman Catholic Church as Benedict XVI, and before he loomed over the church as a powerhouse cardinal and the Vatican’s chief doctrinal watchdog, Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich, attended a 1980 meeting about a priest in northwestern Germany accused of abusing children. What exactly transpired during the meeting is unclear — but afterward, the priest was transferred, and over the next dozen years moved around Bavaria to different parishes before he ended up in the tiny village of Garching an der Alz, where he sexually abused Andreas Perr, then 12.” By Jason Horowitz and Erika Soloman, The New York Times

Special report: Boy Scouts, Catholic dioceses find haven from sex abuse in bankruptcy
“Lawmakers around the United States have tried to grant justice to victims of decades-old incidents of child sexual abuse by giving them extra time to file lawsuits. Now some of the defendants in these cases, including church and youth organizations, are finding a safe haven: America’s bankruptcy courts. In New York, nearly 11,000 cases flooded state courts, many seeking to hold Catholic dioceses responsible for sexual abuse by clergy, after a 2019 law suspended statutes of limitations that would have otherwise barred many of the lawsuits. In response, four New York dioceses that collectively faced more than 500 sexual-abuse claims filed for bankruptcy. That halted the cases — and blocked those from anyone who might sue later — and forced the plaintiffs to negotiate a one-time settlement for all abuse claims in bankruptcy court.” By Kristina Cooke, Mike Spector, Benjamin Lesser, Dan Levine and Disha Raychaudhuri, Reuters

Hundreds of alleged clergy abuse victims come forward
Hundreds of child sex abuse lawsuits are hitting the Catholic church across California. To understand what victims now coming forward may be experiencing, the NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit spoke to San Jose’s John Salberg, who sued the Church 20 years ago after being abused as a child. Here’s his story.” By NBC-TV Bay Area News

Jesuits ask victims to come forward in artist abuse case
“Pope Francis’ Jesuit order on Sunday (Dec. 18) asked any more victims to come forward with complaints against a famous Jesuit artist who was essentially let off the hook by the Vatican twice despite devastating testimony by women who said he sexually and spiritually abused them. The Jesuits asked for new evidence against the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik, and offered a timeline about his case in an effort to tamp down the scandal. The Slovenian priest is relatively unknown among rank-and-file Catholics but is well known in the hierarchy because he is one of the church’s most sought-after artists.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Five years on from a royal commission, we must recognize legacy of abuse
“Five years on from the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the lived experiences of ‘forgotten Australians’ must be recognized and acknowledged, writes Ursula Stephens. When the royal commission presented its final report in 16 volumes in December 2017, its findings highlighted abuse, cover-ups, failures of leadership, a careless disregard for some of the most defenseless members of our community, and the life-long implications of the trauma they endured.” By CathNews.com

CALIFORNIA

He says a Bay Area priest abused him. He finally found him 55 years later
“For more than a decade, Ernie Cox went online to search the faces of priests who had been accused of child sexual abuse, looking for one man. He’d only seen the priest one day in the late 1960s when, the former altar boy alleges, the priest sexually abused him before and after mass at a Contra Costa County church. The boy was 12. The priest was visiting Immaculate Heart of Mary from another parish, and Cox, now 67, didn’t remember his name.” By Joshua Sharpe, San Francisco Chronicle

Where is Father Castillo? New answers on Oakland priest who left country after abuse claims
“Oakland priest Father Alexander Castillo seemingly vanished in the months after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor. Yet four years later, the Diocese of Oakland still won’t answer many basic questions about the incident, details about what happened, where Castillo is today, and whether the priest might be a danger to children elsewhere. While the Diocese remains silent, a letter written by Castillo in the wake of his suspension, and exclusively obtained by NBC Bay Area recently, sheds new light on the priest’s frame of mind just before he left the country. Castillo maintains his innocence and blames another priest for his suspension.” By Michael Bott, Candice Nguyen, Alix Bozovic and Jeremy Carroll, NBCBayArea.com

Tensions rise over Santa Rosa Diocese’s plan to seek bankruptcy protection in face of more than 130 abuse claims
“Scores of survivors of clergy abuse — people who had spent decades trying to escape the grief and trauma of childhood sex assault — have come forward over the past three years after deciding now is finally the time to seek justice. At least 130 — likely many more, attorneys say — have filed or will file lawsuits against the Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Diocese during a special three-year window that allows adults of any age to file personal injury cases for childhood sex abuse in California. That window closes on New Year’s Eve. But none of those cases is likely to go to trial.” By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat

KANSAS

KBI investigation of alleged Catholic clergy abuse in Kansas approaches four-year milestone
“Susan Leighnor expressed frustration on Wednesday (Dec. 21) state law enforcement agencies had yet to release findings of an investigation launched nearly four years ago by the attorney general into alleged sexual misconduct by members of the Catholic clergy in Kansas. Leighnor, who said she was abused as a child by two Catholic priests, said she had spoken to Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents regarding her memories of what transpired at the rectory and school at Church of the Holy Cross in Hutchinson. She also has testified before the Kansas and Colorado legislatures on her experiences.” By Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector

MAINE

Two more lawsuits allege abuse by priest, nun in Maine
“Two more people have filed lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic clergy member and a nun — both deceased — raising the number to over a dozen since Maine loosened the statute of limitations last year. One of the plaintiffs contended he was sexually abused by a priest and was spanked by a nun who interrupted one of the encounters in Bangor, while another said that a nun regularly spanked boys’ bare bottoms in class, and that she sexually abused him in private, according to the lawsuits.” By Associated Press in USNews

MARYLAND

Archdiocese of Baltimore sexual abuse case assigned new judge
“A case regarding the release of a report into the sexual abuse by clergy and priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore will have a new judge, according to our media partner The Baltimore Banner. The Banner reports Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert K. Taylor will now oversee the proceedings in the fight to release the 456-page report that details the sexual abuse of nearly 600 children by 158 clergy and Catholic priests in Baltimore. The report, a product of a four-year investigation by the attorney general’s official, reveals allegations dating back decades.” By CBS Baltimore Staff

Baltimore archbishop battled against release of abuse documents for nearly eight years: ‘I fought the good fight’
“As bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Most Rev. William E. Lori fought for nearly eight years — all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — to prevent the wide release of information about the history of child sexual abuse in that branch of the Catholic Church. The soft-spoken prelate argued in the case two decades ago that what was already publicly known about sexual misconduct by clergy in the diocese was all the information the public needed to grasp the scope of the crisis and understand who was responsible.” By Jonathan M. Pritts, The Daily Item, in The Baltimore Sun

MASSACHUSETTS

Worcester woman sues ex-official, diocese over coerced sex allegations
“A woman who earlier this year accused a Diocese of Worcester parish soup kitchen director of coercing her and other vulnerable women into sex has sued the now-former director for his alleged actions, as well as diocesan leadership for alleged failure to act on the complaint in a timely manner. ‘This complaint reflects the unlawful actions of the defendants relating to their tortious activity and their duty of care extended to Bell and other similarly situated individuals,’ reads the complaint, filed on December 13 in Worcester Superior Court in Massachusetts.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

MICHIGAN

Sentencing date postponed for former pastor convicted of child rape
“For the third time, the sentencing hearing for a Catholic priest convicted in October of raping a child in 2004 has been changed. Joseph ‘Father Jack’ Baker, 60, is now scheduled for sentencing by Judge Bridget Hathaway on Feb. 17, 2023 in Wayne County’s 3rd Circuit Court in Detroit. He’s held in the Wayne County Jail, denied bond. According to a court spokesperson, sentencing was postponed on request of Baker’s defense attorney.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press

NEW MEXICO

Editorial: $121M settlement provides archdiocese path toward redemption
“‘Not now, not ever.’ Those were the apropos words of Archbishop John C. Wester after the Archdiocese of Santa Fe announced a $121.5 million settlement last week with nearly 400 survivors of sexual abuse. The settlement, which could never erase the horrible stain of clergy sexual abuse but was nonetheless necessary, is one of the largest clergy sexual abuse cases involving the Catholic Church in the United States, where about 31 Catholic dioceses or archdioceses have filed for bankruptcy as a result of abuse claims.” By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board

OHIO

Alleged abuse by Catholic priest haunting, 50 years later
“A Steubenville Catholic Central High School graduate who says he was molested by a priest 54 years ago wants the Diocese of Steubenville to admit ‘it wasn’t my fault.’ The man, who asked not to be identified, alleges the Rev. Kenneth Bonadies grabbed his ‘private area’ after class and asked some inappropriate questions in the confessional 54 years ago. He said he’s looking for ‘validation from the diocese that it wasn’t my fault, I had nothing to do with that, that the diocese wasn’t doing its job.’” By Linda Harris, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

AUSTRALIA

Melbourne priest stood down over historical child sex abuse claim
“A priest has been stood down after he was accused of sexually abusing a student while he was principal at a Catholic all-boys school in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs in the mid-1990s. Father Hugh Brown is alleged to have abused the student at Whitefriars Catholic College For Boys in Donvale when he headed the school between 1989 and 1996.” By Marta Pascual Juanola, The Age

CANADA

Catholic church settles lawsuit around historical sex abuse of 210-year-old B.C. girl
“A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit involving accusations that a former Catholic priest on Vancouver Island sexually abused a 10-year-old girl during confession decades ago. The woman, now 57 and whose identity is protected, filed a notice of civil claim in 2020 against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria, in B.C. Supreme Court. She alleges that Father Gerhard Hartmann, who has since died, used his position as an authority figure to take advantage of her when she was a parishioner at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church at Nanaimo in 1976.” By Karl Yu, Terrace Standard

Former Catholic priest charged in historic sex assault, police say there may be more victims
“A former Catholic priest in Peel Region has been arrested in connection with the alleged sexual assault of an underage parishioner more than 40 years ago and police say there could still be additional victims who have not yet come forward. Peel Regional Police say that officers began an investigation in October after receiving information alleging that the suspect sexually assaulted a boy while he attended his church between 1980 and 1983. Jozef Wasik, 84, was then arrested on Thursday (Dec. 15) and charged with gross indecency and indecent assault on a male.” By Chris Fox, CP24 News

New priest named in latest clerical abuse report
“The Archdiocese of Vancouver has issued its semi-annual update on clerical sexual abuse, releasing the name of a priest who was the subject of sexual abuse allegation received in 2008. The latest report of the Implementation Working Group, the archdiocesan committee responsible for implementing the approved recommendations received from the 2019 Case Review Committee, was released Tuesday (Dec. 13) and said an accusation of sexual abuse had been received in April 2008 against Father Georges Chevrier, OMI, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Coquitlam from 1971 to 1977.” By The B.C. Catholic

FRANCE

France investigating ex-archbishop over ‘sexual assault’: prosecutors
“French authorities last month opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations that the former archbishop of Paris had committed ‘sexual assault on a vulnerable person,’ prosecutors said on Tuesday (Jan. 43, 2023). The probe was opened based on a report filed by the diocese of Paris, they said. Michel Aupetit offered to resign in late 2021 following media reports of an intimate relationship with a woman in 2012 before he took on the post, allegations he has categorically denied. Pope Francis accepted the resignation.” By Michel Aupetit, Agence France-Presse, on Yahoo.com

GERMANY

Canonical complaint filed against senior German bishop
“The German Victims’ Advisory Board has filed a canonical complaint against Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück for hushing up clerical sexual abuse. Bode is the vice president of the bishops’ conference and of the synodal way. The Victims’ Advisory Board for the north German dioceses of Osnabrück, Hildesheim and Hamburg announced its decision on Monday 12 December.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippit, The Tablet

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

University publishes new study on abuse in the Diocese of Trier
“The University of Trier today published its report on sexual abuse in the Diocese of Trier at the time of former Bishop Stein. It was also about his role. The study reveals that 81 priests have been accused of abusing more than 300 children and young people during this period. For this purpose, historians have evaluated almost 500 personnel files from the Diocese of Trier. They have also spoken to many of those affected. Something that Bishop Stein has not done in any of the cases known to him during his term of office.” By David Sadler, Globe Echo

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

How Pope Benedict ignored Vatican responsibility for child sex abuse in Ireland
“It must be acknowledged that Pope Benedict XVI was the first holder of that office to take the clerical child sexual abuse scandal seriously. That said, few in Ireland could feel wholeheartedly grateful about that. In 2001, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he circulated every Catholic bishop in the world with two letters, both in Latin, one instructing that both be kept secret, asking that they forward to him all credible allegations they had on file about clerical child sexual abuse involving their priests. He received thousands of responses, including from Ireland.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish times

Former Christian Brother jailed for five years for indecently assaulting five boys
“A former Christian brother who was convicted in October on 38 counts of indecently assaulting young boys has been sentenced to five years in prison. The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, was found unanimously guilty after a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court deliberated for four hours and twenty-six minutes. The former priest was described by one of the victims in his victim impact statement as ‘the epitome of evil.’” By Claire Henry, DublinPeople.com

Clerical abuse in Ireland ‘an open wound that has never by able to heal’ admits Archbishop Eamon Martin
“The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said he is ‘deeply ashamed’ of the horrific sexual abuse inflicted on children by members of the Spiritan Order. More than 300 people have claimed to have been abused by 78 Spiritan priests at Blackrock College and other schools and colleges in Ireland dating back to the 1980s. In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Archbishop Eamon Martin said clerical abuse in Ireland ‘is like an open wound that has never been able to heal.’” By Rodney Edwards, Irish Independent

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 16, 2022

TOP STORIES

Evidence suggests Pope John Paul II knew about abuse of minors decades before becoming pope
“A Dutch journalist based in Poland revealed evidence on Friday (Dec. 2) that Pope John Paul II was involved in covering up the abuse of minors while he was the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Krakow. The journalist, Ekke Overbeek, spent the last two years combing through archives in Poland, where he resides, and found several cases where the prominent Catholic Church figure knew about priests who abused children and helped them evade punishment, including transferring them to other parishes.” By NL Times

Vatican vendettas: Alleged witness manipulation jolts trial
“The text message to the Vatican monsignor offered forgiveness along with a threat: ‘I know everything about you … and I keep it all in my archives,’ it read. ‘I pardon you, Perlasca, but remember, you owe me a favor.’ The message was one of more than 100 newly revealed WhatsApp texts and other correspondence entered into evidence at the Vatican courthouse last week that have jolted a financial crimes trial involving the Holy See’s money-losing investment in a London property.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on ABCNews.com

Head of Cologne abuse investigation commission resigns
“The state-appointed chairman of the commission to investigate abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne has quit, saying he doubted the independence of the commission and wondered whether its main aim was to protect Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported Stephan Rixen has stepped down as head of the Independent Commission for the Investigation of Abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne and has withdrawn from the body. Rixen told KNA Dec. 5 that his initial doubts about the independence and effectiveness of the committee had been confirmed.” By Catholic News Service on USCNews.com

Study of moral injury measures ‘added weight’ of clergy sexual abuse and its concealment
“A research team from Xavier University in Cincinnati has created a tool that measures the ‘moral injury’ caused by clergy sexual abuse and its concealment by officials in the Catholic Church. In a report on the pilot study, released Dec. 12, moral injury is described as persistent psychological and emotional distress, spiritual anguish, moral confusion, social isolation, and distrust for institutions. It results from a betrayal of trust or violation of deeply held moral values.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

‘We have not hidden anything’: Jesuit superior general interviewed n abuse allegations against Marko Rupnik
“Any case like this is very painful, [but]…. we have not hidden anything,’ says Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the Society of Jesus, in a short interview … This represents the first public comments of the superior general regarding the allegations against the Slovenian artist Marko Rupnik, S.J. Father Rupnik, whose mosaics decorate chapels in the Vatican, all over Europe, in the United States and Australia, has been barred from hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction after what the Jesuits described as complaints about his ministry. The Society of Jesus released a statement on Dec. 2 responding to the allegations of abuse against Father Rupnik and describing the restrictions on his ministry.” By Antonio Marujo, America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

As Dallas Charter turns 20, abuse has become issue for much of society
“Twenty years ago, in 2002, the revelations of clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up in the Archdiocese of Boston were the metaphorical bombshell that fell on the Catholic Church in the United States. The U.S. bishops, when they met that June in Dallas, approved the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,’ a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. Its one-strike-and-you’re-out policy did just that — permanently removing from public ministry those priests against whom abuse allegations were substantiated.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Global church is seeing how pope’s vision of synodality involves everyone
“Canadian and U.S. Catholics will convene in a series of online meetings from mid-December through the end of January as part of the Pope Francis’ ongoing call to synodality in the church. The gatherings are part of the continental phase of the synodal process in advance of the first session of the Synod of Bishops on synodality scheduled next year for Oct. 4-29 at the Vatican. Pope Francis in October of this year announced a second session for October 2024, saying he did not want to rush the process of discerning how the Holy Spirit is calling the church to grow in synodality.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, in Chicago Catholic

Synod on Synodality opportunity to ‘journey together in truth’: Catholic bishops in Chad
“The ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality offer an opportunity for the Catholic Church in Chad to ‘journey together in truth,’ Catholic Bishops in the North-Central African nation have said. In their Christmas 2022 Message shared with ACI Africa Monday, December 12, members of the Episcopal Conference of Chad (CET) say reflections on the theme, ‘For a synodal Church: communion, participation, mission,’ has been at the center of many meetings in ‘all the Dioceses of our Church Family of God which is in Chad during the pastoral year 2021-2022.’” By Jude Atemanke, ACIAfrica.org

Settle pastor sees connections between synodality, Vatican II
“At a recent Vatican press conference, Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich used the words of a U.S. priest to capture the essence of Pope Francis’ ongoing synod consultation with Catholics around the world: Reading over the reports and reflecting on them, I found myself thinking how blessed I am to be pastor of a parish that is full of people who love the Church so much that they embrace it, affirm it, celebrate it, and thank God for it, but at the same time are not at all afraid to criticize it, challenge it, question it, and express anger, disappointment, and frustration with it. … I think our parish can never be quite the same as a result, and I’m willing to bet that the same is true for the entire Church.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Arkansas diocese presses ahead in effort to make church life more ‘synodal’
“While the U.S. Bishops as a whole gear up for the continental phase of the Synod on Synodality, the lone bishop of Arkansas is maintaining a diocesan focus as well, recently announcing his plan to continue the process at the local level. Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock on Dec. 1 published a ‘Post-Synod Response’ to the faithful, providing questions for synod discussions to continue while diocesan leaders meet to discuss how to implement recommendations from the local phase.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Cardinal leading Catholic’s worldwide consultation wrestles with tradition and change
“Every summit of bishops called by Pope Francis has been ripe with expectations about the possible reforms — and novelties — that it might introduce in the over 2,000-year-old institution. The pope’s latest effort, the Synod on Synodality, now underway and continuing through the end of 2024, has already fomented ardent debate on some of the most controversial topics within the church, from female ordination to LGBTQ inclusion.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

U.S. Catholics need to manage expectations about the synod
“The universal church is now shifting to the “continental phase” of the synodal process to which the Holy Father has called us, as ecclesial gatherings on every continent will reflect on the working document ‘Enlarge the Space of Your Tent,’ drafted in Frascati, Italy, and released on Oct. 27. The reactions to the report indicate that the leaders of the synodal process need to start thinking about how to manage expectations. The synodal process invites people to speak freely. In fact, no synodal process can really work without candor.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope tightens oversight of Vatican-linked foundations
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (Dec. 7) tightened control and oversight over Vatican-based foundations and associations in his latest effort to impose international standards of accounting and governance on Vatican offices and affiliated entities. A new law aims to bring the Holy See into further compliance with recommendations from the Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee, which in April 2021 flagged as problematic the lack of an overarching law governing the creation and administration of foundations registered in Vatican City.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CARDINALS

Pope’s cardinal advisers discuss Church’s efforts to prevent abuse
“At Pope Francis’ meeting with his cardinal advisers this week, Cardinal Sean O’Malley reported on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, now within the Roman Curia. The Holy See press office said on Dec. 7 that the pope met with his council of advisers for a two-day meeting at the current papal residence, the Casa Santa Marta. The members of the Council of Cardinals discussed the continental phase of the Synod on Synodality and the work of the most recent United Nations Climate Change Conference before listening to O’Malley’s briefing on the protection of minors.” By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

Top Vatican cardinal sues woman who accused him of sexual assault
“Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican’s powerful Dicastery for Bishops, has filed a countersuit against a woman who accused him of sexual assault more than a decade ago, and has promised to donate any damages won to ‘the fight against sexual abuse of indigenous peoples in Canada.’ Ouellet is seeking $100,000 in damages for ‘injury to his reputation, honor and dignity,’ according to a copy of the lawsuit, which filed on Tuesday, Dec. 13, in Montréal Superior Court. The claim stems from the period from 2002 to 2010 when he served as the Archbishop of Quebec.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Pope, Council of Cardinals meet, discuss synod, safeguarding and COP27
“Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals met in-person at the Vatican Dec. 5-6, discussing the continental phase of the synod process, safeguarding and the U.N. climate change summit, the Vatican press office said. Also, ‘the meeting was an opportunity for a mutual exchange of updates on some current affairs in different key geographical areas and for an overall assessment of the council’s progress in recent years,’ the Vatican said in a written communique Dec. 7.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

French bishops set up national church court, recommended by abuse report
“France’s Catholic bishops have set up what they believe to be the world’s first major national church court, replacing a previous network of local tribunals, although sexual abuse cases involving children will still be referred to the Vatican. ‘As a community of believers, the church has developed a comprehensive legal system, which includes the right to sanction behavior by members’ who undermine ‘the church’s spiritual and human values,’ the bishops’ conference said in a statement.” By Catholic News Service in Detroit Catholic

WOMEN’S VOICES

Are we protagonists yet?
“Whenever I read a Vatican statement on the role of women, I conduct a thought experiment. I imagine that I know nothing whatsoever about the Roman Catholic Church or its faithful. If this document were my only source of information, I ask from behind my ecclesial veil of ignorance, what basic conclusions might I draw about women in the Church? I’ve done this mental exercise with dozens of texts over the years, and one conclusion surfaces over and over: women are all exactly the same. It’s a rather astounding conclusion to draw about a tradition populated all the way down by women who lived and died in wild and unique ways … Yet there is little in Church teaching on women that does not appear to proceed from a fundamental illusion that women—the billions of us—constitute some sort of monolithic, quasi-theoretical body with an articulable essence, singular vocation, and narrow set of essentialized gifts.”. By Susan Bigelow Reynolds, Commonweal

CHURCH REFORM

Crisis of confidence over cardinal shakes Cologne Catholics
“An unprecedented crisis of confidence is shaking a historic center of Catholicism in Germany — the Archdiocese of Cologne. Catholic believers have protested their deeply divisive archbishop, and are leaving in droves over allegations that he may have covered up clergy sexual abuse reports. While Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s personal fate is in the hands of Pope Francis, the drama has reverberations nationwide, given that the Cologne archdiocese has more Catholics than any other in Germany — about 1.8 million. Its double-domed cathedral is an iconic tourist attraction and one of the oldest, most important pilgrimage sites of Northern Europe.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Paglia used charity funds to renovate apartment
“Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia diverted hundreds of thousands of euros allocated to support missionary and charitable works while he served as president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Paglia used much of the money to finance building projects in Rome, including the renovation of his personal apartment, The Pillar has learned. According to multiple independent sources with knowledge of the events, Archbishop Paglia confirmed in a 2015 memo to Holy See financial officials that hundreds of thousands of euros had been paid to an Italian construction contractor instead of going to missionary and charitable projects to support poor families and orphans.” By The Pillar

For second consecutive year, Diocese of Scranton receives top score in independent financial transparency review
“For the second consecutive year, a lay organization of faithful Catholics has named the Diocese of Scranton as being one of the most financially transparent dioceses in the United States. For six years, Voice of the Faithful has reviewed all U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency. The group’s 2022 report identifies the Diocese of Scranton as one of only five dioceses to receive an overall score of 100% in regards to transparency. This year’s other top-scoring dioceses include Charleston, Lexington, Orlando and Rochester. The Diocese of Scranton also received an overall score of 100% for financial transparency in 2021.” By Diocese of Scranton

Rockville Centre Diocese one of the least transparent: Report
“A Catholic advocacy group’s rankings place the Rockville Centre Diocese among the least transparent in the nation. According to the 2022 report by Voice of the Faithful, the Rockville Centre Diocese is tied for 166th among the 177 in the country for transparency with regard to financial issues, Newsday reports. ‘They’re doing very poorly. And even more concerning to me is they’re going down,’ Margaret Roylance, VP of Massachusetts-based Voice of the Faithful, told Newsday.’ By Jerry Barmash, Rockville Centre Patch

Which Catholic diocese has best financial transparency in Southern California
“The true wealth of the Roman Catholic Church is impossible to calculate, many have said. Vast land holdings, exquisite art collections, more than a billion members and … the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Here on the home front, though, things can be broken down into simpler pieces. There are 177 dioceses in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including 12 in California, and — in the wake of the priest sex abuse scandal — a mighty push to lay their finances bare. California’s dozen dioceses span the gamut from among the very best in the nation when it comes to financial transparency to among the worst, according to a new report by Voice of the Faithful, a national coalition of everyday Catholics seeking structural change in the Church.” By Teri Sforza, Los Angeles Daily News

After six years, Voice of the Faithful review shows come bishops clearly committed to financial transparency
“Voice of the Faithful diocesan financial transparency report for 2022 is the organization’s sixth such annual review, and the report shows some bishops are clearly committed to financial transparency. Others, not so much. This year, the overall average U.S. diocesan transparency score increased from 69% in 2021 to 70% in 2022. The number of dioceses posting current audited financial reports increased from 113 last year to 115 this year. The number posting a current list of Diocesan Finance Council members increased significantly from 84 to 95. All five top-scoring dioceses this year received a score of 100%.” By Voice of the Faithful in Digital Journal

California diocese to join growing list of U.S. Catholic bankruptcies
“Soon into the new year, the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California, will join a growing list of U.S. Catholic dioceses to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it faces a wave of sexual abuse lawsuits. Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa announced in a Dec. 2 statement that the diocese’s attorneys will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy sometime between Dec. 31 and March 1, 2023, saying the decision was ‘the inevitable result of an insurmountable number of claims.’ The diocese is facing more than 130 claims dating from 1962, when the diocese was established, through the present day, with the majority of the cases being from the 1970’s and 1980’s, Vasa said.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Michigan priest charged with stealing $830,000 from retired clergy
“A Catholic priest is accused of stealing more than $800,000 from three retired priests in the Lansing, Michigan, diocese. Father David Rosenberg was arraigned Thursday (Dec. 1) on embezzlement charges and other crimes in Clinton County, north of Lansing, the attorney general’s office said. Rosenberg, 70, was director of the St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt for six years until he retired from active ministry in 2021.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

VOICES

From lived history to living legacy: Vatican II at sixty
“On the sixtieth anniversary of Vatican II, we stand at an inflection point in the history of the council’s reception. Francis, the first pope since the council who was not himself a participant in it, has shown us what it means to treasure Vatican II not as lived history but as a living legacy, and this has become our challenge. Can we do this too? What O’Malley observed—the role of Pope Francis in changing the narrative about Vatican II—comes at a moment in history when the last of the fathers of Vatican II are passing away. To put it bluntly, the gifts of the council will either flourish in new hands or pass away along with them.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

‘Cords of human kindness’: an introduction to small Christian Communitie
“This past June, Today’s American Catholic convened a listening session in response to the ‘Synod on Synodality.’ A key point of our discernment was that people are longing for a deeper sense of community in their experience of faith. We discussed small Christian communities (SCCs) as a promising way to foster relationships and help participants be more proactive in learning about and living the gospel.” By Today’s American Catholic

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Kansas lawmaker plans to reintroduce bill removing childhood sexual abuse lawsuit limits
“Lawmakers may expand the rights of child sex abuse victims in the upcoming legislative session, renewing efforts to pass legislation that would require clergy reporting and remove time limits for lawsuit cases involving child abuse. Current state law sets a statute of limitations on filing for damages from childhood sexual abuses. Lawsuits have to be filed within three years of the survivor turning 18 or within three years of discovering an injury or illness caused by the abuse. Many have condemned the rule as unfair and fundamentally misguided.” By Rachel Mipro, Kansas Reflector

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic collective narcissism linked to acceptance of myths about child sexual abuse
“A new study has uncovered a link between high levels of Catholic collective narcissism and acceptance of myths about child sexual abuse. The findings, which were published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, could help inform efforts to combat prejudice against underaged victims of sexual abuse. ‘Even though sexual relations between priests and minors have taken place inside the Catholic Church for centuries, the Catholic hierarchy was not always prone to fight against pedophilia in an official way,’ said study author Marta Marchlewska, an associate professor and the head of the Political Cognition Lab at the Polish Academy of Sciences.” By Eric W. Dolan, PsyPost.org

Prominent Jesuit priest and artist disciplined after abuse allegations
“The Roman Catholic Jesuit order said it disciplined a prominent priest and artist who reportedly sexually and psychologically abused nuns in his native Slovenia three decades ago. The Jesuits issued a statement about Father Marko Ivan Rupnik following Italian media reports last week that several nuns had accused him of abuse in the early 1990s when he was their spiritual director at a convent in Slovenia.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Baltimore judge seals case as court weighs release of Catholic church sex abuse report
“Legal arguments will continue behind closed doors about whether a Baltimore judge should release a 456-page investigation into child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Baltimore Circuit Judge Anthony Vittoria ordered the case sealed on Friday (Dec.2). His order means all hearings will be closed to the public and all legal motions will be confidential.” By Tim Prudente, The Baltimore Banner

New map illustrates Catholic sexual abuse in Indian country
“Nearly half of all Jesuit priests and brothers credibly accused of sexual abuse against children or vulnerable adults in a ten-state region in the western United States over the past 70 years worked in Indian Country. That’s what’s depicted by Desolate Country: Mapping Catholic Sex Abuse in Native America, an interactive map that plots the years and locations of 99 priests and 13 brothers of the Jesuits West Province. Of them, 47 of the men with credible allegations of abuse against them spent time working at Native missions.” By Jenna Kunze, NativeNewsOnline.net

CALIFORNIA

New allegations of sexual abuse against a Servite High School priest surface in court
“Three former Servite High School students allege they were repeatedly sexually assaulted by a priest, according to three new lawsuits filed in court, the latest in a series of allegations against a pastor who also acted as a teacher and swim coach at the prestigious school. A total of eight former students have filed lawsuits against the private school in Anaheim and Father Kevin Fitzpatrick, who, according to the attorney for several of the plaintiffs, worked to gain the trust of young boys at the school and “commanded” a room that was being used to isolate and sexually abuse them.” By The Bharat Express News

Was a beloved Bay Area priest also a pedophile? Survivor hopes lawsuit will spark change
“On a chilly November morning, Derek Lewis sat on a bench in front of a haunted little white building, remembering. The 34-year-old Hayward man’s psychologist says it’s good to come to this quiet spot in Contra Costa County to confront the past. The structure used to house the office and living area of the head priest at the church that was once next door. Inside the building, as well as inside the church, Lewis said, the priest sexually abused him repeatedly over two years starting when Lewis was about 8 years old, inflicting trauma that set his young life on a tortuous path.” By Joshua Sharpe, San Francisco Chronicle

Bishop of Santa Rosa Diocese says ‘perfect justice’ not possible in clergy abuse cases, urges harmony, forgiveness
“‘Perfect justice’ is not possible ‘in this world,’ Bishop Robert F. Vasa told parishioners Sunday (Dec. 4), in the wake of the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese’s announcement last week that it will seek bankruptcy protection in anticipation of hundreds of new and potential clergy abuse lawsuits. ‘We recognize in this penitential season that perfect justice is still elusive — that we are not capable of achieving it in this lifetime,’ he said during a sermon at the Cathedral of St. Eugene in Santa Rosa.” By Madison Smalstig, The Press Democrat

14 Northern California clergy, religious linked for first time to Catholic sex abuse scandal
“As a deadline nears for new lawsuits in sexual abuse cases, 66 Catholic clergy and religious accused of sexual abuse have been identified in 116 lawsuits filed in Northern California. Of those, 14 have been publicly identified for the first time. These new accusations have come to light under under a 2019 California law that extended the statute of limitations for abuse cases. Assembly Bill 218 provided for a three-year window that began on Jan. 1 in 2020. The deadline to file new lawsuits is Dec. 31.” By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

ILLINOIS

Chicago priest Michael Pfleger reinstated following latest accusation of sexual abuse against him
“Father Michael Pfleger, the senior pastor of the St. Sabina Parish in Chicago, has been reinstated after an independent review board found ‘no reason’ to keep him away following the latest accusation of sexual abuse against him. Pfleger posted a picture of the letter from the archbishop of Chicago to the community on Facebook on Saturday (Dec. 10), with the caption, ‘Like MJ said. ‘I’M BACK.’’ Pfleger was previously asked to step aside in October after another allegation of sex abuse against him surfaced. His latest accuser was a man in his late 40s who filed a claim with the Archdiocese of Chicago, Eugene K. Hollander, an attorney for the accuser, told CNN affiliate WLS.” By Michelle Watson, CNN

INDIANA

Op/Ed: Priest convicted of pedophilia avoids prison. Will there be clerical consequences?
“U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has apparently prioritized their anti-LGBT stance rather than addressing their pedophile priest scandal. Here’s a recent example of how this plays out: Father David Marcotte was suspended from his ministry as an Archdiocese of Indianapolis Catholic priest in February 2019, due to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in 2016. In October 2019, Marcotte was arrested and charged with three felony counts: child solicitation (Level 5 felony), vicarious sexual gratification (Level 5 felony), and dissemination of matter harmful to minors (Level 6 felony).” By Lynn Starkey, IndyStar.com

LOUISIANA

Suspended New Orleans deacon pleads guilty to molesting preteen boy
“The clerical molestation scandal that for decades has engulfed the Roman Catholic church in New Orleans took another turn on Tuesday (Dec. 6), when a suspended deacon pleaded guilty to charges that he sexually abused a preteen boy two decades earlier, before the defendant’s ordination as a clergy member. Virgil Maxey “VM” Wheeler III, 64, pleaded guilty to four charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile filed against him in state court in Jefferson parish, which neighbors New Orleans.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian

Ex-seminarian accuses new Orleans archbishop of harassment in decades-long dispute
“A former student at a New Orleans college that trains Catholic priests has claimed he was racially and sexually harassed there – including by the city’s current archbishop – as he parries counter-allegations that he is merely trying to extort money and a green card from church officials. Over two decades, the dispute has drawn attention from Catholic officials at the highest levels in the US and worldwide. But it was not publicly known until it surfaced as part of a chapter 11 bankruptcy case the New Orleans archdiocese opened amid a wave of lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse by clerics across generations.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, New Orleans, in The Guardian

MAINE

Lawsuits mounting against the Catholic Diocese of Portland
“Cases are mounting against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, which oversaw priests who are accused of sexually abusing children decades ago. Lawsuits filed by a former parishioner at St. Joseph Church in Portland, and two brothers who served as altar boys at St. Hyacinth Church in Westbrook, allege the Diocese failed to keep children safe from clergy members who were known abusers.” By Viven Leigh, News Center Maine

Maine woman alleges she was abused by a Roman Catholic priest nearly 60 years ago
“A Cumberland County woman has filed a civil complaint against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland, alleging she was sexually abused by a priest that the Diocese knew was a predator, and who was reassigned to another parish. At a Portland news conference Thursday (Dec. 1), Ann Allen told reporters that she was 7 years old in 1964, when Father Lawrence Sabatino abused her in the basement of St. Peter’s Church.” By Carol Bousquet, Main Public Radio

MARYLAND

Sexual abuse survivors demand courts release Catholic church investigation
“Survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are demanding the courts release a 456-page report detailing the history of allegations against priests and resulting coverup in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the fruits of a nearly four-year state investigation. The survivors and their attorneys announced at a news conference Wednesday they filed a request with the Baltimore Circuit Court in an attempt to bring the confidential report to the public. ‘Only when this is out and in the open can healing really begin,’ their attorney Robert Jenner said.” By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun, on National Public Radio

‘Keepers’ survivors expand arguments on why Maryland AG report into Catholic clergy sexual abuse should be public
“Women featured in ‘The Keepers,’ a 2017 Netflix documentary series about clergy sexual abuse at a Baltimore-area Catholic girls school in the 1960s and ‘70s, expanded on their request Friday (Dec. 2) for the full public release of a report examining sexual misconduct by clergy throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Teresa Lancaster and Jean Wehner, who were victimized during their time at Archbishop Keough High School, filed their initial motion Wednesday after learning from a Baltimore Sun story that Baltimore’s Roman Catholic archdiocese is helping pay legal fees for a group of people named in the report who are asking a judge to make secret the court proceedings around its release.” By Union-Bulletin

MASSACHUSETTS

Bishop McManus: Sex abuse allegations against priest are credible
“The Rev. Alan J. Martineau, most recently of parishes in Warren, will remain on administrative leave after an investigation sought by the Diocese of Worcester deemed an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor to be credible. Martineau has been on leave since January; the diocese announced the results of its investigation Monday (Dec. 12), with Bishop Robert J. McManus ruling on the case.” By Mike Elfland, Telegram & Gazette

NEW JERSEY

Camden Diocese, clergy sex abuse survivors nearing settlement
“South Jersey’s Catholic diocese is one step closer to compensating survivors who were sexually abused by some of the diocese’s priests. In April, the Diocese of Camden agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle claims for victims of clergy sexual abuse. Officials from the diocese appeared before Judge Jerrold N. Poslusny, Jr. in New Jersey District Bankruptcy Court for 14 days of testimony to approve the settlement.” By Antoinette Lee, KYW-AM/103.9-FM Radio News

NEW YORK.

Will AG’s settlement change how Buffalo Diocese handles allegations? Some are skeptical.
“A negotiated settlement to end the state attorney general’s 2020 lawsuit against the Buffalo Diocese yielded a 30-page court order and additional embarrassing news coverage of the diocese’s handling of child sex abuse allegations. What the settlement didn’t do, according to some advocates for child sex abuse victims and child abuse prevention experts, was require the diocese to substantially change the way it operates.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

VIRGINIA

Former Catholic Priest extradited to Virginia on child sex abuse charges
“A former priest at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville, Va., was convicted today (Dec. 12) in Loudoun County Circuit Court for sexually abusing a minor during the summer of 1985 when the former priest was 29 years old, according to a release from the Office of Attorney General Jason Miyares, Scott Asalone.”” By WUSA-TV9 News on YouTube

WISCONSIN

Group calls on Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to escalate clergy sex abuse investigation
“A Madison-based secular group is calling on Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to escalate a statewide review of clergy sex abuse that launched last year. The request follows the release of names of nearly two dozen clergy by the Catholic Diocese of Superior, which it says have had credible claims of sexually abusing minors made against them. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates for separation of church and state, sent a Dec. 1 letter to Kaul asking him to increase resources for the investigation after the release of names.” By Daniells Kaeding, Wisconsin Public Radio

Abusive priest list published, four in area named as ‘credibly accused’
“Last week the Diocese of Superior released a list of 23 priests who have been ‘credibly accused’ of raping or sexually abusing children. Four priests in the Pierce and St. Croix county area were included on the list. The four priests are Ryan Erickson of Hudson, Joseph Higgins of River Falls, Donald Dummer of River Falls and James Kraker of Hammond. All have been removed from ministry. Three have died.” By Sam Fristed, River Falls Journal

AUSTRALIA

New national safeguarding standards include adults at risk
“Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd has today (Dec. 7) launched the second edition of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, covering adults at risk as well as children. ACSL has worked with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and the Association of Ministerial Public Juridic Persons to develop the NCSS Edition 2. The release of NCSS Edition 2 comes just one week before the five-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse’s final report.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

New Priest named in latest clerical abuse report
“The Archdiocese of Vancouver has issued its semi-annual update on clerical sexual abuse, releasing the name of a priest who was the subject of sexual abuse allegation received in 2008. The latest report of the Implementation Working Group, the archdiocesan committee responsible for implementing the approved recommendations received from the 2019 Case Review Committee, was released Tuesday (Dec. 13) and said an accusation of sexual abuse had been received in April 2008 against Father Georges Chevrier, OMI, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Coquitlam from 1971 to 1977.” By The B.C. Catholic

B.C. woman settles lawsuit over alleged childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priest during confession
“A Vancouver Island woman who says she was sexually abused as a child by a former Nazi turned Catholic priest has settled her lawsuit against the church. Father Gerhard Hartmann repeatedly sexually assaulted and fondled the victim over a period of three years at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Nanaimo, B.C., beginning in 1976, when she was just 10 years old, according to the notice of claim.” By Bethany Lindsay, CBC News

Officials at Archdiocese of Montreal meddled in abuse investigations, ombudsman says
“The lawyer appointed to help make the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal more transparent in the way it handles allegations of abuse against clergy says her job is being undermined by those inside the church. In a report made public Monday and obtained in advance by CBC News, Marie Christine Kirouack, the church ombudsman, said she discovered a high-ranking clergy member was leaking information about abuse complaints, and in some cases, actively discouraging complainants from contacting her.” By Leah Hendry, CBC News

Two Quebec bishops named in abuse lawsuit
“Two Quebec bishops, one deceased and one living, have been named in a sexual abuse class action against the Archdiocese of Quebec. Bishops Clement Fecteau (1933-2017) and Jean-Pierre Blais, who is Bishop of Baie-Comeau, are among the accused whose names were released by the law firm Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats. Fecteau is accused of abusing a 13-year-old victim in 1987 at the Séminaire de Quebec. He was appointed auxiliary bishop for the Quebec archdiocese in 1989 and would in 1996 be appointed Bishop of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere.” By Catholic Register

GERMANY

German bishop must face Vatican investigation, abuse council demands
“An advisory body of sexual abuse survivors on Monday (Dec. 12) called for canonical procedures against the vice president of the German Bishops’ Conference. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode should be charged under canon law for his handling of abuse cases, the advisory council said in a statement sent to media Dec. 12, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. The advisory body represents those affected by sexual abuse for the metropolitan archdiocese of Hamburg and the dioceses of Hildesheim and Osnabrück.” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

Cologne clerical abuse case opens door to compensation landslide
“Germany’s Catholic church may face a wave of clerical abuse compensation claims after the Cologne archdiocese dropped its statute of limitations defense in a closely-watched court case. On Tuesday Cologne district court began hearing the case of a man who has sued the archdiocese for €805,000 in damages. Mr Georg Menne says he was sexually abused at least 320 times during the 1970s by a Catholic priest, Erich Jansen. Until his death in 2020 the priest remained active in parish work despite being reported to archdiocese authorities at least twice – in 1980 and 2010.” By Derek Scally, The Irish Times

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Abused siblings told they can sue Sisters of Nazareth Catholic order
“Two siblings who were abused at a children’s home have been told they can now sue a Catholic order. The pair – known as ‘B and W’ – raised historic abuse claims against the Sisters of Nazareth over incidents in Lasswade, Midlothian, in the 1970s. Both legal bids were originally thrown out in January after Sisters of Nazareth claimed it could not get a fair trial due to the passage of time. But three appeal judges on Friday (Dec. 2) ruled the cases should not have been dismissed and granted the siblings permission to continue with their claim for six-figure compensation.” By Kevin Scott, News.STV.tv

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Over 300 abuse allegations to day against Spiritan priests
“More than 300 people have made abuse allegations against at least 78 Spiritan priests, a spokesman for the religious congregation has said. He also said the latter figure may increase slightly when all recent contacts have been fully processed. Some people making allegations have done so directly to the Spiritans, while others may have gone to the gardaí, “and we know that a number have gone initially to the independent expert on Restorative Justice, Mr Tim Chapman”, the spokesman said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Jesuits unlikely to be prosecuted over sexual abuse of Limerick students
“Gardi are unlikely to prosecute any members of the Jesuits over the religious order’s handling of historic allegations of child sexual abuse by one of its priests Fr Joseph Marmion. Garda sources said that enquires into allegations against Marmion of abusing pupils at Belvedere College, Clongowes Wood College and the former Crescent College in Limerick City have also run cold because Marmion died in 2000 at the age of 75. In 1977 a number of pupils at Belvedere, where Marmion taught from 1969 to1978, made disclosures to senior Jesuits of sexual abuse by Marmion.” By David Raleigh, Limerick Post

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Dec. 2, 2022

Dec. 2, 2022

TOP STORIES

Exclusive: Pope Francis denounces polarization, talks women’s ordination, the U.S. bishops and more
“On Nov. 22, 2022, five representatives of America Media interviewed Pope Francis at his residence at Santa Marta at the Vatican. Matt Malone, S.J., the departing editor in chief of America, was joined by Sam Sawyer, S.J., the incoming editor in chief; executive editor Kerry Weber; Gerard O’Connell, America’s Vatican correspondent; and Gloria Purvis, host of ‘The Gloria Purvis Podcast.’ They discussed a wide range of topics with the pope, including polarization in the U.S. church, racism, the war in Ukraine, the Vatican’s relations with China and church teaching on the ordination of women.” By the Editors at America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis wants to consider ordaining married men as priests
“Pope Francis has stirred Catholics around the world with his relatively open comments on homosexuality, abortions and climate change, but his latest statement hints he may be looking at moving the Church toward loosening one of its most stringent rules. The Pope said in an interview Thursday (Nov. 17) that he might consider ordaining married men who could work in rural areas where there are few priests, according to the Associated Press. His remarks came in an interview with the Germany newspaper Die Zeit.” By Abigail Abrams, Time

Maryland finds that for hundreds of clergy abuse victims, ‘No parish was safe’
“The attorney general of Maryland has identified more than 600 young victims of clergy sexual abuse over the course of 80 years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, according to a court document filed Thursday (Nov. 17). The filing, which broadly outlines the attorney general’s findings, requests that a judge allow the release of the full report: a 456-page document detailing decades of clergy sex abuse in Maryland. The new report marks a symbolic milestone in the long-running international abuse scandal that has shaken faith in the Catholic Church and led to some reforms and billions of dollars in settlements.” By Ruth Graham, The New York Times

Italian bishops take cautious step toward transparency on abuse
“On Thursday (Nov. 17) the Italian bishops released their first-ever report on national safeguarding efforts, revealing nearly 100 new and old cases documented in the past two years, but sharing few details about these incidents. The report spanned just two years, from 2020-2021, and found that 89 complaints had been made against 68 alleged abusers, which many observers consider a significantly high number, given that these complaints were made through diocesan-run listening centers established in dioceses throughout Italy for the specific purpose of receiving abuse reports.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Stika, Knoxville diocese to face apostolic visitation
“A Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation will be conducted in the Diocese of Knoxville next week, several sources close to the diocese. Sources told The Pillar Friday (Nov. 25) that Bishops Barry Knestout of Richmond and Michael Burbidge of Arlington have been directed to visit with priests, diocesan officials, and lay Catholics over several days, amid ongoing concern over the leadership of Bishop Rick Stika. The decision to commission an on-site assessment of the diocese comes more than 18 months after priests in the diocese reported to the Vatican concerns about Stika’s handling of reports against a former diocesan seminarian, who was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting other seminarians and a parish organist.” By The Pillar

Seattle Archdiocese criticized for buying $2.4 million home for archbishop
“Seattle Archbishop Paul Etienne will be moving from a parish rectory into a newly purchased $2.4 million home in an upscale waterfront neighborhood. Archdiocesan officials say the relocation is necessary to better accommodate guests but the decision has also garnered criticism. ‘The move is breaking a promise that the archbishop made to us in a pretty major way,’ said Tim Law, a Seattle Catholic and attorney who is a member of Heal Our Church, a Washington-based alliance calling for a lay-led review of the Seattle Archdiocese’s private records on clergy abuse.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

Bills to mandate clergy report abuses will return to the Utah state legislature
Bills that remove priest-penitent privilege when it comes to disclosures of child abuse will be run in the upcoming legislative session. Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, told FOX 13 News on Monday (Nov. 21) she has drafted and numbered a bill that would require clergy to report any disclosure of abuse by a perpetrator to law enforcement to investigate. Failure to report abuse would be a misdemeanor crime under the legislation, on par with other professions that are required to report disclosures.” By Ben Winslow, FOX-TV13 News

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synod process has faced ‘temptations’ along the way
“While some want Church ‘reform’ and others want ‘to put the brakes on the Synod process,’ those involved in preparing the next phase of the Synod on Synodality want to ‘mend’ the Church, said a top cardinal. As final plans are made for the continental phase leading to the Synod of Bishops 2023-24, the bishops and coordinators responsible for the regional meetings met at the Vatican on Monday (Nov. 28) and Tuesday. Meeting Pope Francis on Monday, the Synod’s relator general, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, said the process has faced ‘temptations’ along the way. Particularly in the media, he said, there is a temptation to politicize the Church, looking at it ‘with the logic of politics.’” By CathNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis removes Caritas Internationalis leaders, appoints temporary administrator
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (Nov. 22) removed the entire leadership of an international confederation of charities and appointed a temporary administrator to improve the organization’s management. Pope Francis issued a decree Nov. 22 appointing Pier Francesco Pinelli, an Italian management consultant, as temporary administrator of Caritas Internationalis (CI). With the same ordinance, the pope said the positions of the Catholic confederation’s leadership are to cease immediately. This decision includes Caritas Internationalis president Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and secretary general Aloysius John. The positions of the vice presidents, treasurer, ecclesiastical assistant, executive council, and representative council also end.” By ACI Prensa Staff in The Pilot

BISHOPS

Hierarchicalism is the root of U.S. bishops’ culture war mentality
“NCR’s former executive editor, Tom Roberts, referred to (James) Keenan’s writing on hierarchicalism after the June 2021 bishops’ meeting, when he opined about the conference’s proposal to deny Communion to pro-choice politicians: The move to produce a document designed to render a severe and public judgment of President Joe Biden was engineered by men who, ensconced in a culture capable of stunning depravity and cover-up, have been searching for any means to reestablish their authority. I believe that this problem of hierarchicalism is one of the most important issues that needs to be addressed at the universal synod scheduled for 2023 and 2024.” By Jim Purcell, National Catholic Reporter

Interview: Bishop Stowe wants the USCCB to take Pope Francis’ priorities seriously
“Just a few hours after its bishop-members voted down the candidacy of Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark for the number-three spot at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 16, Bishop John Stowe, O.F.M. Conv. of Lexington, Ky., was smiling through evident frustration. In a few hours he would—again—implore his fellow bishops to consider a complete rewrite of its quadrennial Faithful Citizenship statement, with the aim of reflecting the ecological and economic issues prioritized over the last decade by Pope Francis.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Archbishop Broglio, questioned on abuse, homosexuality and whether he’s a ‘Pope Francis’ bishop in first press conference as USCCB head
“If his first press conference is any indication of what is in store for him over the next three years, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the president-elect of the USCCB, may be in for a bit of a bumpy ride—and with him the church in the United States. In just a few short minutes after being introduced to the press for the first time as president-elect of the conference on Nov. 15, the archbishop was asked about his past relationship with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whether or not he still believed that homosexuality in the priesthood was among the primary drivers of the church’s clerical abuse crisis and, finally, whether his election to the U.S.C.C.B presidency signified a continued estrangement among bishops in the United States from the aims and hopes of Pope Francis for the global church.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

10 key things the U.S. bishops did at their fall meeting in Baltimore
“The U.S. Catholic bishops are headed back to their dioceses after gathering in Baltimore this week for their annual fall meeting. Here’s a summary of key actions taken at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) fall plenary assembly …” By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report

German bishops assure Vatican but vow to proceed with reform
“Germany’s Catholic bishops insisted Saturday (Nov. 19) that their reform process won’t lead to a schism and vowed to see it through, after tense meetings with Vatican officials who want a moratorium on proposals to ordain women, bless same-sex unions and rethink church teaching on sexuality … The periodic once-every-five-year visit took on far greater import this time given the demands for change and reform among Germany’s rank-and-file Catholics following the German church’s reckoning with decades of clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Bishops mark charter’s 20th year, pledge continued outreach to survivors
“Twenty years ago, the big news from the bishops’ general assembly in Dallas was the adoption of the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,’ a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. This year, at their assembly in Baltimore Nov. 14-17, they acknowledged the charter’s anniversary and said that they have made steps in addressing clergy sexual abuse and would continue to listen, care for and walk with survivors.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Accused Albany bishop asks to be removed from the priesthood
“The retired bishop of Albany, New York, who has admitted to covering up for predator priests and has himself been accused of sexual abuse, has asked Pope Francis to remove him from the priesthood. Emeritus Bishop Howard Hubbard, 84, announced the decision in a statement Friday (Nov. 18), the day the United Nations designated as the World Day for the Prevention of, and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Q&A with Sr. Anne Munley, discerning the future of religious life for LCWR
“The 2021 assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious introduced Sr. Anne Munley as the associate director for LCWR’s Emerging Future Initiative. At the 2022 assembly in August, Munley presented an update on the process, specifically the five Collaborative Leadership Hubs held across the United States between April and June in which leaders contemplated, discussed and discerned the emerging future of religious life.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Vatican appoints first lay finance chief after prefect resigns
“Pope Francis has appointed the first non-cleric to manage the Vatican’s finances after the current prefect, a Jesuit priest, resigned due to health reasons. Maximiliano Caballero Ledo, 62, a Spanish financier who has worked for the United States multinational Baxter Healthcare, becomes the Prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy, an office with authority over all economic affairs of the Holy See.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese recognized for financial transparency
“The Diocese of Allentown has been recognized for its financial transparency in a nationwide report. The findings were contained in a report by Voice of the Faithful, a group of lay Catholics focused on Church governance that conducts an annual survey of diocesan financial transparency each summer. The group produces a scorecard that rates dioceses against each other, and against the national average performance, in an effort to spur improvement. The 2022 report listed the Diocese of Allentown among the five most-improved dioceses in the nation in financial transparency.” By Diocese of Allentown

Vatican officials seek to hamstring former auditor’s $9.6 million lawsuit
“Just a week after the Vatican’s first auditor general and his deputy filed a $9.6 million lawsuit for wrongful dismissal, the Vatican’s legal system has seemingly sought to hamstring the claim by refusing to certify the plaintiffs’ chosen lawyer. Speaking to journalists Nov. 17, Libero Milone, the Vatican’s first auditor general, who appointed in 2015 and fired in 2017 along with his deputy Ferruccio Panicco, said that a week after filing their suit, their lawyer had been rejected by officials in charge of certifying attorneys to appear before Vatican courts.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Cardinal Becciu and the twists and turns of the Vatican finance trial
“As the Vatican trial against Cardinal Angelo Becciu and nine others rounds the corner in its 16th month, recent court hearings have introduced a few revelations about the case as well as possible new accusations against the Secretariat of State’s former No. 2. Here are some of the latest twists and turns in the trial to prosecute people in and around the Vatican for financial crimes.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

VOICES

U.S. bishops’ decline into irrelevance will continue
“I suppose it was fitting, in a depressing kind of way, that the U.S. bishops’ conference plenary coincided with former President Donald Trump’s announcement he is seeking the presidency in 2024. In both church and state, the future will be dominated by divisiveness and a culture war ethic for the next few years, a result that contradicts the founding mission of both. The future is grim. The church understands its most essential mission to be proclaiming Christ as ‘Lumen gentium,’ the ‘Light of nations’ in the words of the Second Vatican Council … Alas, the ‘unity of the whole human race’ is not likely going to be part of the U.S. bishops’ agenda during the tenure of Archbishop Timothy Broglio as president of the conference.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Geographic

Dear bishops: We know the church is struggling. Let the rest of us help you.
“Recently, the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced a proposal that would close more than half of its 178 parishes. The issues that the archdiocese has cited are all too familiar in the United States: decreasing attendance and an aging clergy. The fact is, in the United States, young Catholics are not coming to church … I am hardly in a position to understand what it’s like to be a bishop facing what seems like our own Catholic version of oncoming climate change disaster. But if I had one wish for the U.S. bishops right now, it is that those who are concerned or uncertain about our future would share that experience with the rest of us. As paradoxical as it may seem, I think doing so could be a tremendous source of not only hope but enthusiasm in these trying times.” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Adult survivors of past sexual abuse now have a year to sue the alleged abuser
“There is a statute of limitations for reporting adult sexual abuse. That statute is being waived for one year, which began Thanksgiving day, due to the Adult Survivors Act. The act is modelled on the Child Victims Act, which was approved in 2019. It allows people who were over 18 years of age when they experienced sexual abuse to have a one year window of opportunity to file a claim against their alleged abuser in civil court. They can bring legal action even if the statute of limitations for the crime has expired.” By Karen DeWitt, WAER-FM

CA ‘look-back’ window closing for adult victims of childhood sex abuse
“Southern California resident Patricia Egan, 65, is breathing easier, she said, after having her day in court. In November, Egan, now 65, won an $18 million lawsuit against her former brother-in-law, the man she says sexually abused her during the ’60s and ’70s, starting when she was 11 years old. Now, however, the three-year legal window that enables older adult victims such as Egan to sue for damages against their childhood sexual abusers is about to close in California.” By Ashley Ludwig, Patch.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic Church sexual abuse victims in Baltimore speak out in favor of AG report release
“Individuals abused by Catholic priests in Maryland gathered in front of the Baltimore Archdiocese office on Friday (Nov. 18) to speak out in favor of public release of the grand jury investigation into religious leaders accused of abuse. After four years of investigation, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office has gathered a 456-page report that identifies 158 priests who are accused of abusing more than 600 children over an 80 year period. Attorney General Brian Frosh is seeking a court order, as required by state law, to release the grand jury documents to the public.” By Scott Maucione, WYPR-FM National Public Radio Baltimore

CALIFORNIA

These 10 Bay Area clergy are now linked for the first time to Catholic Church sex abuse scandal
“As a deadline looms for new lawsuits to root out decades-old abuse, 14 Northern California priests — including 10 in the Bay Area — have been accused for the first time of sexually abusing children, adding to the list of dozens of disgraced clergy already exposed in recent years in a scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic church for a generation. The 14 accused priests came to light in a torrent of litigation unleashed by Assembly Bill 218, which opened a three-year window from 2020-2022 during which adults who say they were abused long ago as children are allowed to sue.” By John Woolfolk, Daily News

New lawsuits filed against Hanna Boys Cener as CA clergy abuse law deadline approaches
“More than a dozen new lawsuits have been filed against Hanna Boys Center of Sonoma by men who say they were abused by Catholic priests and staff there when they were children. We’ve been speaking to survivors, former staff, and officials now running the residential treatment center. A state law that allows survivors of clergy sexual abuse to file lawsuits — no matter how long ago it happened — expires at the end of next month. As a result, there has been a rush of new complaints. No question, Hanna Boys Center has done some good over the years, helping kids struggling with school or family life.” By Dan Noyes, ABC-TV7 News

INDIANA

Catholic Diocese of Evansville clears priest of sexual misconduct allegation
“The Rev. Bernie Etienne, a priest who had been accused of sexual misconduct, has been returned to active ministry, the Catholic Diocese of Evansville said Friday (Nov. 25). The move comes ‘following completion of a thorough investigation,’ according to a statement released Friday morning by the Diocese. Etienne’s return is effective immediately. At the time he was placed on administrative leave in March, Etienne was serving as pastor at Evansville’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 1301 S. Green River Road.” By Thomas B. Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press

MARYLAND

Baltimore archdiocese is funding attorneys seeking to seal abuse proceedings
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore confirmed Tuesday (Nov. 22) that it is helping pay the legal expenses of an anonymous group of people seeking to seal the proceedings around a report by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office on clergy sexual abuse of minors. Christian Kendzierski, an archdiocese spokesman, reiterated that the church is not seeking to suppress a 456-page report by the office of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. But, Kendzierski said, the church has unspecified obligations to a group of individuals who are named in the attorney general’s report but are not accused of sexual abuse and who have argued that their side should be heard before the report is made public.” By Fredrick Kunkle and Michelle Boorstein, The Washinton Post

Baltimore’s Catholic archdiocese will not oppose public release of AG report detailing sexual abuse
“After days of mixed signals, the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore announced Tuesday (Nov. 22) that it would not oppose the public release of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s report showing the extent of sexual abuses committed by clergy over the past eight decades. The announcement comes after Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office revealed in a court filing that it had completed a 456-page report detailing how 158 priests and other church officials had sexually abused more than 600 people — some of them as young as preschool age. What’s more, the report reveals how the church often ignored abuse reports, and often helped cover the abuses up.” By Lainey Steadman, Baltimore News Source

Maryland probe finds 158 abusive priests, over 600 victims
“An investigation by Maryland’s attorney general identified 158 Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who have been accused of sexually and physically abusing more than 600 victims over the past 80 years, according to court records filed Thursday. Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that his office has completed a 463-page report on the investigation, which began in 2019. He filed a motion in Baltimore Circuit Court to make the report public. Court permission is required because the report contains information from grand jury subpoenas. It’s unclear when the court will make a decision.” By Brian Witte, Religion News Service

NEW YORK.

Judge orders NY Archdiocese to turn over its investigative records on Hubbard
“A state Supreme Court justice has ordered the Archdiocese of New York to turn over roughly 1,400 pages of internal records related to its investigations of Howard J. Hubbard, rejecting the organization’s arguments that the documents regarding the former Albany bishop are constitutionally protected under the religious clauses of the First Amendment.” By Brendan J. Lyons, Buffalo Times Union

Insurers in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy put on notice by Rochester abuse settlement plan
“The Rochester Diocese’s novel strategy to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy by paying childhood sex abuse survivors $55 million and allowing them to sue the diocese’s insurers for additional damages may provide a template for other bankrupt dioceses in New York, including Buffalo, according to legal experts. Across the United States, insurance contributions have been a backbone of most diocese bankruptcy settlement plans over the past decade, with insurance companies paying hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid litigation in sex abuse cases.” By Jay Tokasz, Buffalo News

PENNSYLVANIA

Harrisburg Diocese settlement calls for payment of $18 million to about 60 clergy abuse survivors
“After more than two-and-a-half years of negotiation, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and a committee representing survivors of sexual abuse by its clergy have announced agreement on an $18.25 million settlement fund designed to resolve all remaining abuse claims. The settlement agreement – part of an overall reorganization plan to resolve the diocese’s bankruptcy case – was filed in federal court Friday (Nov. 18), and still needs approval from the various classes of creditors and the judge overseeing the diocese’s bankruptcy case.” By Charles Thompson, Patriot News, on PennLive.com

RHODE ISLAND

Why do sexual abuse scandals keep happening in Rhode Island?

This year, the state has been rocked by a series of child sexual abuse scandals in the schools and Catholic Church … In February, the Diocese of Providence removed two priests from ministry. Pastor Francis C. Santilli of St. Philip Parish in Greenville was placed on administrative leave after multiple allegations of sexual abuse. The diocese also removed Father Eric Silva from church assignments in Barrington and, later, in Narragansett after parents in Cranston and Barrington alleged that he asked their children questions about their sexual orientation and activity during confession, reportedly accusing them of lying if they denied being gay or sexually active.” By Ellen Liberman, Rhode Island Monthly

TENNESSEE

Chattanooga Catholics call for removal of Knowville bishop, allege mishandling of sexual abuse claims, finances
“In late October, two Chattanooga-area Catholics, Theresa Critchfield and Kristy Higgins, drove with their children to a protest outside the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Knoxville. The protest was held by SNAP of Tennessee, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Its principal organizer, Susan Vance, has for two decades agitated, often alone, for more transparency from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville. In February, after an anonymous plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the diocese claiming Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika had impeded an investigation into a sexual assault allegedly committed by a then-diocese employee, Vance called for the bishop to resign.” By Andrew Schwartz, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Widow says she was groped by Catholic priest during grief counseling session
“A Honduran asylum-seeker living in Tennessee alleges in a federal lawsuit that the Diocese of Knoxville tried to sabotage a police investigation after she accused a priest of groping her during a grief counseling session following her husband’s death. Identified in court papers as Jane Doe, the mother of three alleges in the lawsuit filed on Nov. 10 that the diocese ‘obstructed law enforcement’ and tried to intimidate her into ‘abandoning her cooperation with the criminal prosecution’ of the Rev. Antony Devassey Punnackal.” By Corky Siemaszko, NBC-TV News

WISCONSIN

Superior Diocese releases list of 23 credibly accused priests, including one man removed this year
“The Diocese of Superior has named 23 priests that it believes have been credibly accused of sexual abuse over the course of its history, including one priest removed from the ministry in September over accusations from the 1990s. According to the records, James Bartelme was placed on administrative leave on September 8, relating to a single allegation of abuse that occurred in 1990 and 1991 in Superior. According to a 2021 guest column in the Catholic Herald, Bartelme, 71, is a retired priest.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

AUSTRALIA

Law against secrecy of confession takes effect
“The law applies to Western Australia, the largest of the Australian states. Entering into force on November 1, 2022, it obliges ministers of religion to report all cases of child abuse, including those for which the information obtained would have been within the framework of the Sacrament of Penance. These changes are part of new laws introduced by the government of Mark McGowan, currently Premier of Western Australia. However, this law was passed in October of 2021.” By FSSPX.news

CANADA

As church sales continue, lawyers bicker over how millions for abuse victims should be paid
“While a Catholic archdiocese in Newfoundland and Labrador continues to sell off its properties, lawyers are squabbling over how millions in proceeds from those sales should be paid out to abuse victims. The two sides are miles apart, but only one side is talking. ‘We believe there are better ways of approaching it,’ said St. John’s lawyer Geoff Budden, who represents dozens of abuse victims, on Monday (Nov. 21).” By Terry Roberts, CBC News

FRANCE

Another retired French bishop admits to hiding past sexual abuse
“Another retired French archbishop has admitted to past sexual abuse and a parish priest was sidelined after his abuse case came to light. The fallout from recent revelations of past sexual abuse by a cardinal and a bishop continues to torment the French Catholic Church. Former Strasbourg Archbishop Jean-Pierre Grallet, 81, admitted making ‘inappropriate gestures’ to an adult woman in the past and now faces civil and canonical inquiries. The woman, prompted by calls for victims to come forward, informed French police during the summer.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

French Roman Catholic Church wants to regain faith of population
“Several cases of sexual abuse have undermined the trust in the Roman Catholic Church in France. Therefore, the French Conference of Bishops has decided to take measures to regain the population’s confidence … Marie-Jo Thiel, theologian, doctor and professor of ethics, argues for a strategy to denounce all the culprits. Furthermore, she pleads for better training for new bishops. Now, they only have to follow a 48-hour training course in Rome that should equip them for their entire episcopate.” By CNE.news

INDIA

Priest arrested under POSCO, remanded to one-day police custody
“Pune city Police on Saturday (Nov. 26) arrested Father Vincent Pereira, a priest, under sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). He was remanded to one-day police custody by a city court. Pereira was arrested in connection to a case of sexual abuse registered with Bundgarden police on Friday, said Assistant Police Inspector Shilpa Lambe. ‘There are other sexual abuse cases pending against him in various police stations,’ she told The Indian Express.” By The Indian Express

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Blackrock and Spiritan pupils look back: ‘I was never sexually abused at school, but …’
“This week, The Irish Times invited people who had attended Spiritan and other schools to share their experiences in the wake of revelations of widespread abuse at the order’s schools. They include Willow Park, Blackrock, St Mary’s and St Michaels colleges in Dublin, Rockwell College in Co Tipperary, and others in Ireland and overseas. We sought responses from people who had experienced abuse themselves, had witnessed it, or had learned only recently that it occurred in their school.” By Carl O’Brien, The Irish Times

Priest sexually assaulted boys while telling parishioners he was disgusted by church abuse
“A former priest who will be sentenced in December for a horrific series of rapes and sex attacks on a schoolboy was a serial predator who abused a number of boys while telling parishioners he was sickened by the extent of abuse within the Catholic Church. The now defrocked Denis Nolan (70) formerly of The Presbytery, Rathnew, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of anal rape, one of oral rape and five of sexual assault of the schoolboy on dates between January 2001 and December 2005.” By Alan Sherry, Sunday World

ITALY

Italy church says 600 sex abuse cases sent to Vatican
“Italy’s Catholic bishops provided their first accounting of clergy sexual abuse and revealed Thursday (Nov. 17) that more than 600 cases from Italy were on file at the Vatican since 2000. The report of the Italian bishops’ conference, which only covered complaints that local Italian church authorities had received over the last two years, did not mention the hundreds of cases. It identified 89 presumed victims and some 68 people accused.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Religion News Service

POLAND

Jesuit ministry leader accused of sexual abuse in Poland
“The Jesuits in Poland are going through a seismic upheaval after the abuse of a minor and a vulnerable adult by a charismatic youth and retreat minister was revealed by Więź magazine in mid-November. In a statement released on Nov. 22, the Southern Poland Province of the Jesuits said that Father Maciej Sz. [his full name cannot be used under Polish law] was removed from all ministry and moved to an undisclosed secluded non-Jesuit location where he is forbidden to say Mass or wear clerical garb.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Nov. 18, 2022

Nov. 18, 2022

TOP STORIES

French cardinal says he abused 14-year-old girl 35 years ago
“Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, one of France’s highest-ranking prelates of the Catholic Church, said Monday (Nov. 7) that he had abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago and is withdrawing from his religious duties. The move comes after a report issued last year revealed a large number of child sex abuse cases within the French Catholic Church. ‘Thirty-five years ago, when I was a priest, I behaved in a reprehensible way with a young girl aged 14,’ Ricard said in a written statement.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

The abuse crisis should be the center of the pope’s ongoing synodal process
“As American Jesuit historian Fr. John O’Malley wrote in one of his last articles published in America magazine last February, the history of synodality is older than you think. There are different phases in the history of the synodal institution and way to govern the church: from the very early church to the medieval times to early modern Catholicism. The current phase is part of what Vatican II had in mind for church reform: a mix of aggiornamento (or updating in light of new issues) and of ressourcement (taking a fresh look at the ancient sources of the Christian tradition). At the same time, the current synodal process initiated by Pope Francis’ pontificate cannot be understood outside of the epoch-changing abuse crisis in the Catholic Church …” By Massimo Faggioli and Hans Zollner, S.J., National Catholic Reporter

What the synod heard from Catholics worldwide
“This week on ‘Inside the Vatican,’ producer Ricardo da Silva, S.J., joins host Colleen Dulle and veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell for a roundtable discussion on what stood out in the synod document. Ricardo was struck by how the report presented feedback in the respondents’ words, including quotes from more than 70 countries, and how it raised issues that had previously been taboo. Gerry, on the other hand, thinks little was surprising in the report, and emphasizes how the document was to be read ‘with the eyes of the disciple.’ Colleen describes how the report pulled no punches when discussing sexism in the church.” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope: ‘Every time a woman comes in to do a job in the Vatican, things get better’
“A society that does not give women the same rights and opportunities as men will become impoverished, Pope Francis said at the end of a four-day visit to Bahrain. ‘Women are a gift,’ he said. After God made man, he didn’t create ‘a lapdog for him to play with. No, he created two who are equal, a man and a woman.’ ‘All the rights of women stem from this equality,’ he said, and a society that is not able to make room for women ‘does not move forward.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Former Pope Benedict to mount legal defense over abuse cover-up accusation
“Former Pope Benedict XVI plans to defend himself in a civil lawsuit lodged at a German court by a man who accuses him of helping to cover up historical abuse, a court spokesperson said on Tuesday (Nov. 8). In the latest twist in a long-running scandal engulfing the Catholic Church, a so-called declaratory action was brought in June on behalf of a man, then 38-years old, who said he was abused by a priest as a child.” By Reuters

Vatican shocked over French bishops’ abuse scandal: Officials in rome are beginning to acknowledge that the rules of secrecy surrounding canon law may need to be revised
“Was Pope Francis aware – before the French Bishops’ Conference (CEF) announced it this week – that 11 bishops in France are currently under civil or canonical investigation for committing or covering-up sexual abuse? When the 85-year-old pope was asked about the abuse cases during an inflight press conference on his return from Bahrain on Sunday (Nov. 6), he did not say so. However, he reiterated yet again that the Church is trying to ‘clarify everything.’ ‘There are people within the Church who still do not see this clearly, who do not agree with this… It is a process that we are undertaking and we are carrying it out with courage, and not everyone has courage,’ Francis said.” By Loup Besmond de Senneville, LaCroix International

Pope Francis accepts resignation of German bishop found guilty of embezzlement
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (Nov. 9) accepted the resignation of a German bishop who was convicted of embezzling money from a woman suffering from dementia. A German court found Auxiliary Bishop Johannes Bündgens of Aachen guilty of misappropriating 128,000 euros (about $128,000). Bündgens was sentenced to nine months suspended jail time and a 5,000-euro fine, CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported.” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

French cardinal’s admission renews scrutiny of church sexual abuse
“ A cardinal’s admission that he had behaved ‘reprehensibly’ with a 14-year-old girl over three decades ago was one of several revelations that threw a gathering of French bishops into turmoil this week, renewing scrutiny of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in France a little over a year after a landmark report on the pervasiveness of the issue. The admission of wrongdoing this week by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, 78, who retired in 2019 after 18 years as the archbishop of Bordeaux, was one of two recent revelations that have stunned the Catholic community in France.” By Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

CELAM document confronts the challenges of synodality
“The English text of the final document from the first Ecclesial Assembly for Latin America and the Caribbean has been released. This November 2021 meeting, convoked by CELAM, the continent-wide episcopal conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, was called an ‘ecclesial assembly’ rather than a ‘synod’ because it did not exclusively include bishops. That said, it placed itself in the direct lineage of CELAM meetings starting in Rio de Janeiro in 1955 …. For those unfamiliar with that history, the new text provides a useful historical account of the trajectory from Rio de Janeiro up to today.” By Michael Sean Winter, National Catholic Reporter

Submission portal opens for next Synod of Bishops phase
“Groups across Australia are now able to participate in the latest discernment process for the global Synod on Synodality, reflecting on the recently-published Working Document for the Continental Stage. The document, which was drawn from local and national consultation processes undertaken around the world, was published in late October. Capturing what the People of God said during the first year of the Synod journey, the document is designed to enable deeper discernment on the overall question of how the Church is ‘journeying together.’” By CathNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis says Catholic Church fighting child abuse ‘as best we can’
“Pope Francis said Sunday (Nov. 6) that the Catholic church was working ‘as best we can’ to fight clerical child abuse but admitted there were shortfalls. During a press conference on a plane while returning from Bahrain, where he had been promoting dialogue with Islam, the pontiff said child abuse inside the Church was a ‘tragic thing.’ ‘We are working as best we can, but there are people within the Church who don’t see it clearly,’ the 85-year-old Argentinian admitted on the return flight to Rome.” By Agence France-Presse on NDTBV.com

BISHOPS

U.S. bishops elect Broglio, archbishop for Military Services, as new president
“The U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference on Nov. 15 elected Archbishop Timothy Broglio, a former Vatican diplomat who has supported religious exemptions for coronavirus vaccines and has blamed gay priests for the clergy abuse crisis, as their new president. Broglio, who as the archbishop for the Military Services is essentially the nation’s chief Catholic chaplain, garnered 138 votes on the third round of voting at the bishops’ plenary assembly in Baltimore. He needed 119 votes, a majority of the 237 total votes cast.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Bishops elect anti-Francis archbishop as new president
“The U.S. bishops have sent a clear message of rejection to Pope Francis by selecting Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who heads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, as president of the bishops’ conference. The bishops’ choice of new leadership revealed the deeper ecclesiological orientation of the body. They had to decide if they wanted to be a part of the ongoing reception of the Second Vatican Council in the context of the magisterium of Pope Francis, or not, a choice made all the more obvious by the success of the synodal process so far.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Pope says women’s rights fight is ‘continuous struggle,’ condemns mutilation
“Pope Francis said on Sunday (Nov. 6) the fight for women’s rights was a ‘continuous struggle,’ and condemned male chauvinism as deadly for humanity and female genital mutilation as a crime that must be stopped. Speaking to reporters on the plane returning from a four-day trip to predominantly Muslim Bahrain, he also praised women he has appointed to managerial jobs in the Vatican, saying they had improved things there. He made no mention of campaigns to let women move on beyond that and become clergy – the pope and his predecessors have said the question of women priests is closed.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Women must be included in formation of priests, says abuse expert
“One of the church’s leading experts on safeguarding and clerical sexual abuse has said the exclusion of women from seminary formation has had ‘extremely harmful consequences,’ and this ‘needs to change.’ Jesuit Father Hans Zollner told more than 200 people at a ‘Stolen Lives’ webinar that ‘the role of women has been to clean up the mess that men have made.’ The webinar was organized by the Root & Branch lay reform movement in Britain in conjunction with Survivor Voices and Scottish Laity Network. Zollner said he regretted that workshops on safeguarding are attended mostly by women. ‘It seems that men are not only in the great majority responsible for the big mess and the hurt, but they also run away from facing that reality.’” By Sarah MacDonald, Cruxnow.com

CHILD PROTECTION

Vatican child protection leader: ‘Building credibility needs a track record’
“Fr. Andrew Small was appointed in June to one of the most important positions in the Catholic Church’s fight against abuse. The English priest was named secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors pro tempore (‘for the time being’) at a significant moment of transition for the body founded by Pope Francis in 2014. The decree establishing the commission eight years ago defined its ‘specific task’ as advising the pope on ‘the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults.’” By Luke Coppen, The Pillar

VATICAN

Vatican affirms it is opening abuse investigation of French cardinal
“The Vatican has decided to open an investigation into French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the retired archbishop of Bordeaux, who admitted in a public letter that he had abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago. ‘As a result of the elements that have emerged in the last few days and the statement made by the cardinal, in order to complete the examination of what happened, it has been decided to initiate an ‘investigatio praevia,’ or preliminary investigation,’ Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said Nov. 11.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

Ex-Vatican auditor, threatening to reveal all, sues church, alleging damage to his reputation
“Former Vatican financial auditor Libero Milone filed suit on Friday (Nov. 4) against the Vatican Secretariat of State, demanding the Catholic Church pay for damages to his reputation that he alleges followed his unceremonious firing in 2017. At a meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 8) arranged by his lawyer, Milone told reporters that Cardinal Angelo Becciu, once the third-highest-ranking official at the Vatican, was ‘the mastermind of the so-called operation eject-Milone.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

New Orleans priest accused of child rape now under scrutiny for financial crimes
“A Catholic priest who led one of New Orleans’ best-known inner-city churches until being accused of sexually molesting a child has been reported to federal authorities for possible financial crimes after an audit found he spent nearly $400,000 of his congregants’ money in questionable ways. John Asare-Dankwah ran the St Peter Claver church in New Orleans’ historic Treme neighborhood from 2014 until early 2021, when a lawsuit alleging that he raped a boy on an out-of-state overnight trip years earlier prompted church officials to indefinitely suspend him from his role.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian

VOICES

Old Latin Mass finds new American audience, despite Pope’s disapproval|
“Eric Agustin’s eight children used to call the first day of the week ‘Party Sunday.’ The family would wake up, attend a short morning Mass at a Catholic parish near their house, then head home for lunch and an afternoon of relaxing and watching football. But this summer, the family made a ‘big switch,’ one of his teenage sons said on a recent Sunday afternoon outside St. Joseph Shrine, the family’s new parish. At St. Joseph, the liturgy is ornate, precisely choreographed and conducted entirely in Latin. The family drives an hour round trip to attend a service that starts at 11 a.m. and can last almost two hours.” By Ruth Graham, The New York Times

No longer the bishops’ Church? Catholicism’s episcopal crisis
“There is little question about the importance of this fall’s plenary meeting of the USCCB. For one thing, the conference’s vice president, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, will not be the favorite in the presidential election because he won’t be a candidate … For another, it’s the first plenary since the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Finally, the new leadership will be at the helm through the 2024 U.S. presidential election, when we may learn how much American Catholic support there is for American democracy. But this bishops’ meeting is important on a deeper level as well. It comes as the Catholic Church is on its way to being, in some ways, a ‘post-episcopal’ Church—no longer a bishops’ Church. And that will likely have a dramatic impact on how Catholicism may influence and interact with American social and political values.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Essay: Can Pope Francis survive the scheming of ‘the schismatics’?
“‘The schismatics’ is not the name of a new Broadway musical, but it might as well be. Some senior cardinals, deeply unhappy with the 2021-2022 round of the Catholic Church’s worldwide Synod on Synodality, seem to want the entire project to go away. It will not. The synod is projected to be a new-old way of being ‘church,’ a permanent recovery of how the church began and grew. Francis plans it as a change that will outlast his papacy. Even so, too many Catholics still have no idea what ‘synodality’ means. No matter what the naysayers say, it is not a parliamentary event to vote on doctrinal matters of faith and morals. Rooted in the teachings and process of the Second Vatican Council, synodality is understood as ‘walking together’ – a coming to consensus – about the renewal begun following Vatican II.” By Phyllis Zagano, Sight Magazine

Links: ‘Voices of Vatican II’; synodal spirituality; a Festival of Faiths
“Catholic News Service has done a wonderful thing, collecting commentary from those who participated in the Second Vatican Council and producing a 48-minute video. My favorite story came from Cardinal Paul Poupard, who had been a theological adviser at the council. He recalled someone approaching Boston Cardinal Richard Cushing, ‘who was known to have a knack for scaring up money.’ They asked him to pay for simultaneous translation so people could understand New York Cardinal Francis Spellman. Cushing reportedly replied, ‘It’s not worth it; we don’t understand him even when he’s speaking American.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

How Vatican II failed Catholics – and Catholicism
“A couple of years ago at a party, I fell into a conversation with a friendly older gentleman, an Irish American of the baby boom generation and the greater tristate area. At some point, the discussion turned to family life and the challenges of dragging complaining kids to church, and I said something in passing about the Sunday obligation, meaning the requirement laid on Catholics to attend Mass, on pain of serious sin. He looked at me with a friendly sort of mystification. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘but you know the church got rid of that after Vatican II’ … But I think about that encounter, and others like it, as intensely relevant to my column from a few weeks ago — on the failure of the Second Vatican Council to equip the church for the challenges of late modernity, the way its reforms aimed at resilience but led to crisis and diminishment instead.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Women are now the Catholic church’s last hope
“A church must reflect the world in which it lives in order to thrive. In the Ireland of the past, that wasn’t a problem for the Catholic church. It shaped Irish society in its own image. These days that is not how things work. The church has lost the power to enforce its edicts unchallenged, and can only survive with the consent of those in the pews — and there are fewer of them now than ever before. The altar is looking equally sparse. That’s why Fr Seán Sheehy found himself on the roster to serve mass at St Mary’s Church is Listowel, Co Kerry, last weekend.” By Editorial Board of Independent.ie

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

UN sets November 18 as day o spotlight child sexual abuse
“The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Monday (Nov.7) establishing November 18th as a day to spotlight the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. The day also will be used to stress the need for prevention, for perpetrators to be brought to justice, and for victims to be given a voice as part of the long process of healing. The resolution, which was sponsored by Sierra Leone and Nigeria and co-sponsored by more than 110 countries, was adopted by consensus and a bang of the gavel by the assembly’s acting president, which was greeted with loud applause.” By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press

Catholic Church must bring abusers to justice
“It is vital that the Catholic Church, non-government organizations (NGOs), development agencies, and government put children at the heart of national and religious concerns. The Church and clergy must remember and act constantly on the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth when he made children the center of importance in the kingdom. ‘Whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me,’ he said.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, UCANews.com

ILLINOIS

Priest accused of sexually abusing 7-year-old missing from Chicago Archdiocese list, lawyers say
“The Archdiocese of Chicago last month doubled the length of a list of priests credibly accused of sex abuse, but lawyers for a man who received a six-figure payout from the church last year say the list is missing the name of Fr. George Clements. Clements, a civil rights activist who led the congregation of Holy Angels Church in Bronzeville for more than two decades, stepped down from the ministry at the request of Archbishop Blase Cupich in 2019, after he was accused of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s.” By Andy Grim, Sun-Times Media Wire

INDIANA

Suspended Indianapolis priest get home detention in teen sex abuse case
“A judge on Wednesday (Nov. 9) sentenced suspended Indianapolis priest David Marcotte to a year on home detention under a plea agreement that ends his trial on allegations he sexually abused a teenage boy six years ago. During a hearing in Hamilton Superior Court, Judge Jonathan M. Brown addressed the teary-eyed parents of the victim as he accepted a plea agreement they both begged him to reject.” By Rick Rychaert, WRTV-TV News

MARYLAND

Maryland attorney general’s investigation of child sexual abuse in Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore nears completion
“The Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s four-year investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s history of child sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests is almost finished. A spokesperson for Attorney General Brian Frosh told The Baltimore Sun the investigation is ‘nearing completion,’ but declined to share details … In 2018, the office issued a grand jury subpoena to the archdiocese for records, and Archbishop William E. Lori told clergy the state was investigating. Ultimately, the archdiocese turned over more than 100,000 pages of documents to Wolf and Special Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Embry.” By Lee O. Sanderlin and Jonathan M. Pitts, The Baltimore Sun

MASSACHUSETTS

Priest indicted on child rape, assault and battery charges
“A Roman Catholic priest from Massachusetts accused of sexually assaulting a child more than a decade ago has been indicted by a grand jury on forcible child rape and indecent assault and battery charges, authorities said Tuesday. Monsignor Francis Strahan, 89, assaulted an altar boy on two occasions from 2004 until 2008 when the boy was between the ages of 11 and 13, according to a joint statement from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Framingham police Chief Lester Baker.” By Associated Press

NEW YORK.

Bishop addresses clergy abuse settlement during Penfield mass
“The Rochester Catholic Diocese reached a $55 million settlement with over 400 survivors of sexual abuse earlier this week. Bishop Salvatore Matano addressed the settlement during Sunday (Nov. 7) mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Penfield, the first weekend since the proposed settlement was announced. In his remarks, the bishop again acknowledged the pain of those impacted. ‘The greatest of Challenges has been over past decades, where our church is plagued by a crisis so very painful. Painful to you my sisters and brothers. How necessary it is that I always in every way and whenever possible express my deep sorrow and express my apology to those so violated by those that whom they had put their trust and believed they were ministers of the lord,’ said Salvatore Matano, Bishop of Rochester Diocese.” By WHAM-TV13 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Panel explores how sexual abuse survivors can help church to heal
“Praising clergy sexual abuse survivors for their courage in bringing their painful experiences to light, a panel of current or former diocesan victim assistance coordinators urged the Catholic community to enter into ‘radical accompaniment’ with abuse victims to promote long-lasting healing. Such healing is needed not only for abuse survivors but for clergy and parishioners alike, the coordinators agreed during an online program Nov. 9 marking 20 years of the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.’” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Priest found not guilty of molesting 8-year-old boy at Plum church in 1998
“A Catholic priest in the Pittsburgh Diocese accused of molesting an 8-year-old boy at a Plum church in 1998 has been found not guilty. Court records show jurors returned the not-guilty verdict of aggravated indecent assault in the case against Father Robert Cedolia Monday (Nov. 14). Cedolia was placed on administrative leave in 2019 after the allegation was made against him through the Reconciliation and Compensation Program for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.” By WTAE-TV4 News

TENNESSEE

Alleged victim files second lawsuit against local Catholic priest
“A woman who alleges a Catholic priest in Gatlinburg sexually battered her in 2020 has filed a second lawsuit against the Knoxville diocese and the priest himself. The ‘Jane Doe’ plaintiff filed the complaint Nov. 10 in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. Earlier this year an attorney on her behalf filed a lawsuit in Sevier County that was subsequently non-suited. As a result of the woman’s accusations, Antony D. Punnackal faces indictment on two counts of sexual battery in Sevier County Criminal Court.” By WBIR-TV10 News

TEXAS

Former Pine Haven priest believed to be removed from Houston ministry
“A priest in the Somascan Order has apparently been removed from his post as pastor at a Houston parish after several New Hampshire lawsuits allege sexual abuse at the Somascan-run home Pine Haven home for troubled boys in Allenstown. Fr. Albert Zanatta, a member of the Somascan order who once served at Pine Haven, is still listed on the Houston Assumption Parish website as the pastor, though recent editions of the parish weekly bulletin indicate he is no longer serving in that capacity.” By Damien Fisher, InDepthNH.org

AUSTRALIA

Catholic church pressuring alleged victims of dead pedophile priests to accept ‘paltry’ payouts, lawyers say
“The Catholic church has adopted an increasingly aggressive approach to alleged victims of now-dead pedophile priests, using recent rulings to pressure survivors to accept ‘paltry amounts’ or risk having their claims permanently blocked, lawyers say. In June, the New South Wales courts permanently stayed a civil claim brought by a survivor, known as GLJ, who alleged horrific abuse at the hands of Father Clarence Anderson in Lismore in 1968 when she was 14. The court ruled there could not be a fair trial because Anderson was dead, leaving the church unable to properly respond to the survivor’s allegations.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Ex-Catholic brother faces child sex charge
“A former Catholic brother has been committed to stand trial on a child sexual charge after a court heard his alleged victim struggled for months to sign a police statement. Frank Terrence Keating, 80, on Monday appeared at a Brisbane committal hearing via video link charged with one count of carnal knowledge of a child. Prosecutors allege Keating committed the offence north of Brisbane in 1989.” By Laine Clark, The Times

CANADA

Sexual abuse survivors launch national day to encourage others to speak up
“For 20 years, Richard Jabara lived with the memory of his abuse — then he read an article that would change his life. His family had moved to Australia from the United States. Originally settling in Queensland, they eventually made the journey south to Melbourne. In Melbourne, Mr Jabara was groomed and raped by a Catholic priest … In Good Faith, chief executive Clare Leaney said a national day would help destigmatize the experience of survivors.” By Lucy MacDonald, ABC News

$10M settlement approved for sexul abuse survivors of Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth
“The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia approved a $10-million settlement Monday (Nov. 14) for survivors of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth. The class-action lawsuit was brought by people who allege sexual abuse by priests dating back nearly 70 years. The lead plaintiff in the action, 62-year-old Steven Gallant, said no amount of money could make up for the lifelong burden of being a sexual abuse victim.” By CBC News

He abused dozens of Indigenous children in Ontario. But did Jesuit priest’s legacy begin in Montreal?
“As a Jesuit priest in Ontario, George Epoch sexually abused dozens of children in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. But Epoch’s abuse allegedly dates back even earlier, to the 1950s, when he taught at Loyola High School, a private Catholic school in Montreal. Two students who were part of Epoch’s 1957-58 preparatory class told CBC News the priest inappropriately touched them. Alfred Martijn describes that year as a miserable one, filled with fear and unease. In those days, it was mandatory for the prep students to be boarders, so it was difficult to elude Epoch.” By Leah Hendry, CBC News

Former Coquitlam parish priest accused of sexual abuse
“A woman who alleges she was sexually groomed and abused as a child in the mid 1970s while attending Our Lady of Fatima Church in Coquitlam is suing a number of Catholic Church entities. The archdiocese of Vancouver and several other institutions associated with Chevrier’s work history are also named as defendants. L.V.’s lawsuit asserts that she had the inherent right to live out her childhood and youth ‘unaffected by the unhealthy, unsafe, and immoral interference and public nuisance of predatorial and systematic sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.’” By Patrick Pennier, Vancouver Sun

P.E.I police seek other alleged victims as Catholic priest is charged with sex crimes
“A retired Roman Catholic priest is facing multiple sexual assault charges stemming from alleged incidents on P.E.I. in the 1990s. On May 17, 2022, police were told about several alleged sexual assaults involving a person who was a minor at the time and a man who is now 69. The incidents are alleged to have occurred between 1990 and 2010 in Summerside, P.E.I., according to the RCMP. When Summerside Police Services started investigating, it learned offences had also allegedly happened in other areas of the Island, according to a news release from the force.” By Alex Macisaac, CTV News Atlantic

FRANCE

French priest indicted for aggravated rape of a minor in Paris
“A French priest has been indicted in Paris for the aggravated rape of a teenager he reportedly met on the gay dating app, Grindr. The indicted priest who officiated over the parish at the church of Saint-Louis-Marie in Brocéliande in Brittany, is suspected of having drugged a 15-year-old he met on a dating application on 3 November, before raping him in a Parisian hotel room.” By RFI.fr

French bishops note anger over case of abusive bishop allowed to retire
“The French bishops’ conference overhauled its agenda for its November plenary meeting to deal with ‘the anger, shame, powerlessness (and) incomprehension’ they and their people felt after discovering that a bishop allowed by the Vatican to retire actually was disciplined for sexual abuse. Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, president of the bishops’ conference, announced the changed agenda Nov. 3 and urged his fellow bishops to have as their first concern ‘the victims, those who spoke out two years ago and more recently, and those, perhaps, who have not yet made themselves known.’” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Catholic Primate speaks of ‘crying need for atonement’ over child abuse
“There is ‘a crying need for atonement, inner healing and hope in the aftermath of the abuse scandals,’ Catholic Primate Eamon Martin has said. He sometimes wondered, he said, ‘why it is that, when we were studying theology here [in Maynooth] in the 1980s, we didn’t anticipate what was about to happen in the Church – perhaps we should have; was it because, in our studying and reading of theology and philosophy, we didn’t engage enough in open discussion and dialogue, or really grapple with the big questions of the day for the Church and its mission?’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Horrors of Irish priests’ sexual abuse scandal continue to be uncovered
Religious orders in Ireland continue to be flooded with allegations of historic abuse in schools throughout the country. The Jesuit congregation of Ireland has received 149 allegations of abuse against 43 Jesuit priests, paying out €7.4 million in compensation to the 78 people it has reached a settlement with. A spokeswoman for the congregation told the Irish Times that she expects further allegations to be made against Jesuit members in the coming months, especially after the introduction of a redress scheme in January 2022.” By IrishCentral

NEW ZEALAND

Abuse in care inquiry: Survivor condemns lack of ‘genuine repentance’ from churches in final hearing
“A survivor of abuse says churches have missed a golden opportunity to really reflect on how Aotearoa-New Zealand came to have such an appalling record of abuse of people in care. Faith-based organizations were given a chance to respond at the recent final public hearing of the Royal Commission in to Abuse in care. Jacinda Thompson suffered sexual harassment by her Anglican minister in the early 2000’s, and she has given evidence to the inquiry. She said that while abuse itself was condemned, most church leaders failed to accept responsibility for allowing it to flourish in the first place.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

PHILIPPINES

Filipino priest arrested for abusing church volunteer
“The recent arrest of a Filipino priest for alleged sexual molestation and blackmail of a 16-year-old church volunteer has come as a surprise for the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao in the northern Philippines. Father Karole Reward Israel, 29, a newly ordained cleric who received his assignment sometime in May 2021, has been stripped of his priestly functions pending investigations and a trial. ‘The archdiocese will fully cooperate with the prosecution service towards the conduct of an unbiased preliminary investigation and will also extend its assistance to our priest,’ the archdiocese said in a statement.” By UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Oct. 21, 2022

Oct. 21, 2022

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis marks 60th anniversary of Vatican II opening by pleading for the church to overcome polarization
“Pope Francis on Oct. 11 marked the opening of the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council — a three-year period that launched landmark reforms in the Catholic Church’s relationship to the world around it and the church’s own liturgy and practices — by pleading for the church to ‘overcome all polarization and preserve our communion.’ In a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, which served as the council’s chambers during the 1962-1965 meetings, Francis said the council, which was inaugurated by Pope St. John XXIII, was ‘one great response’ to the question ‘Do you love me?’ posed by Christ to his disciples.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis extends Synod of Bishops a year, two meetings now planned
“Pope Francis announced on Oct. 16 that he is significantly expanding the timeframe for his ongoing consultation process for the world’s Catholics. The Vatican meeting of the Synod of Bishops, originally planned for next year, will now be held across two sessions: one in October 2023, and another in October 2024. The synod process, which has been underway for more than a year, has involved discussions with Catholics across the world on a range of sensitive topics. The Oct. 16 announcement indicates Francis wants the process, and the discussions, to continue on much longer than formerly planned.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Who knew? The sexual-abuse crisis and ‘epistemic injustice’
“What have we learned from the Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse scandal? What didn’t we know before that we know now? One way to answer these questions is to catalogue the revelations of the past few decades. To begin with, we now know, better than we did before, the extent of the abuse … The injustice of sexual violence is often compounded by what philosophers call ‘epistemic injustices’: wrongs done to people as knowers. One common kind of epistemic injustice is testimonial injustice, when a person’s credibility as someone with knowledge to convey is discounted because of prejudice on the hearer’s part.” By Bernard G. Prusak, Commonweal

Vatican’s mishandling of high-profile abuse cases extends its foremost crisis
“Three years ago, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church was committed to eradicating the ‘evil’ of abuse. The pope and other church leaders drew up new guidelines to handle accusations. They pledged transparency. They said victims’ needs would come first. ‘A change of mentality,’ Francis called it. But two recent major cases suggest that the church, for all its vows to improve, is still falling into familiar traps and extending its foremost crisis.” By Chico Harlan and Amada Coletta, The Washington Post

ACCOUNTABILITY

As Sex Abuse Claims Continue to Double, Catholic Church’s Bankruptcy Stalls Justice
“The sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church, although mostly under the radar in the recent past, has not gone away. In California–and elsewhere–the lawsuits are mounting — middle-aged men, saying they were sexually assaulted as children by a Boy Scout leader or a priest. A woman, now in her late 30s, detailing how she was allegedly assaulted in a center for foster children … At least 750 of those lawsuits filed since January 2020 are against Catholic dioceses, and more than 800 people are in the process of filing to beat a Dec. 31 deadline, according to lawyers involved in the cases.” By Amanda James, The Voice of New York

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synodality and the perennial temptations of power, pleasure, and wealth
“If one looks back on the Synods of Bishops during the pontificate of Pope Francis, and the controversies that have accompanied them, one can notice that even with such disparate themes as the family, youth, the Amazon, and synodality, many of the same topics have arisen again and again: divorce and remarriage, contraception, LGBTQ issues; the role of the laity in church governance, the ordination of women and married men; the role of the laity in Church governance, especially in gaining control over Church finances and property. That these same issues have bubbled up again and again is, oddly, both surprising, and not surprising at all.” By The Catholic World Report

Pope announces that synod on ‘synodality’ will be extended to 2024
“Pope Francis Sunday announced that his ongoing Synod of Bishops on Synodality will be extended for an additional year to allow, as he put it, more time for discernment and a greater understanding of the concept as a key dimension of church life. As things now stand, bishops and other participants will gather for an initial meeting of the synod Oct. 4-29, 2023, in Rome, to be followed by a year of reflection with another culminating meeting set for October 2024.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

The three most important lessons from the synod
“Now that the church has gathered together reports from nearly all of the bishops’ conferences around the world, Pope Francis has declared the first phase of the church’s two-year-long Synod on Synodality over. But that first phase of consultation with the faithful has been more than just an exercise in gathering information. It has also offered some valuable lessons. It will be crucial to keep these in mind during the synod’s second phase—meetings of “continental assemblies” from January to March 2023—and then the third phase, the international assembly of bishops at a later date.” By The Editors at America: The Jesuit Review

The Holy Spirit is guiding the synodal process. But how?
“The Holy Spirit was the guest of honor at a recent gathering of church leaders on the topic of synodality. Literally. After one panelist suggested the practice of leaving an empty chair at meetings to symbolize room for the Holy Spirit, the next panel featured — you guessed it — an empty chair. And organizers of the event were attributing to the Spirit the perfect timing that saw the U.S. national synthesis document — compiled after diocesan and other synodal gatherings throughout the U.S. — released just days before the Sept. 22-23 Catholic Partnership Summit in Washington, D.C.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN II

Vatican II didn’t fail. It’s just getting started
“I sometimes wish that I could travel back to see my parish in the 1950s in West Philadelphia. The great domed church, St. Francis de Sales, towering over Victorian houses and Edwardian apartment buildings, can seat 800, but back then it needed simultaneous Masses in the lower church and the parish hall to fit all the attendees. I wish I could still watch that many people streaming toward the church each Sunday. We are not now that strength which we once were. The loss of that strength is hard, but it can end up being the source of renewal.” By Terence Sweeney, America: The Jesuit Review

Change is not easy in the Catholic Church, whether Vatican II or Pope Francis
“Sixty years ago, about a month after I entered the Jesuit novitiate in Los Gatos, California, the Second Vatican Council opened in Rome. No one bothered to tell the novices about it. The council went on for three years, during which I took vows and studied Latin and Greek without knowing what was happening at the council. In those pre-Vatican II days, the novitiate was what sociologists call a ‘total institution,’ completely isolated from the rest of the world, with no access to newspapers, radio or television. Except when I went to the dentist, I did not talk to a woman outside my family for four years. The idea was to insulate us from the world so we could devote ourselves to our Jesuit formation.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Vatican II: Five views sixty years on
“Everybody I know seems to be writing something on Vatican II these days and I began feeling a bit left out of the fun. So, I thought I would jump into the mosh pit of pundits to offer my take. The many recent commentaries, if I’m allowed the chutzpah to summarize them, fall into five basic categories. First, there is the view that Vatican II was a wonderful Council in full continuity with the tradition. But it was implemented poorly and hijacked by progressives, who made liberal use of the mass media to spread the view that the Council was about liberalizing the Church in a culturally accommodationist direction.” By Catholic World Report

BISHOPS

Diocese confirms French bishop disciplined by Vatican for sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Créteil in France confirmed last week that its former bishop had been credibly accused of sexual abuse and ordered to live a life of ‘prayer and penance’ by the Vatican last year. Bishop Michel Santier retired in January 2021 at the age of 73, two years before the age at which bishops are required to submit a letter of resignation to the pope. Seven months prior, in June 2020, Santier had told Catholics in his diocese he would be retiring early for “health reasons,” according to a report by La Croix.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Major survey of Catholic priests finds trust issues, burnout, fear of false allegations
“A study that claims to be the largest national survey of Catholic priests conducted in more than 50 years has found that despite relatively high levels of personal well-being and fulfillment among priests as a whole, a significant percentage of priests have issues with burnout, distrust in their bishop, and fears of being falsely accused of misconduct. Conducted by The Catholic Project, a research group at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the study released at an Oct. 19 press conference used survey responses from 3,516 priests across 191 dioceses and eparchies in the United States.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

VOICES

How Catholics became prisoners of Vatican II
“The Second Vatican Council, the great revolution in the life of the modern Catholic Church, opened 60 years ago this week in Rome. So much of that 1960s-era world has passed away, but the council is still with us; indeed for a divided church its still-unfolding consequences cannot be escaped. For a long time this would have been a liberal claim. In the wars within Catholicism that followed the council, the conservatives interpreted Vatican II as a discrete and limited event — a particular set of documents that contained various shifts and evolutions (on religious liberty and Catholic-Jewish relations especially), and opened the door to a revised, vernacular version of the Mass.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

The secret to healing the church is looking outward, not inward
“Last month, I looked at the U.S. bishops’ conference national synthesis of synodal reports, concluding that the process seems to have been more successful than anticipated and commending those who wrote the report for its frankness and comprehensive quality. I also noted that one section of that report warranted greater attention, the section titled ‘Social Mission of the Church,’ and today will offer that attention. It is only one paragraph long …” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Why is San Francisco’s top Catholic shielding pedophile priests

“If you grew up under the influence of the Catholic Church, you likely know someone who was sexually abused by a priest. In my family, the destruction manifested in the form of a man who, after several years training for the priesthood, returned home and spent the next few decades preying on boys in the Central Valley. He would eventually die alone, ostracized as a registered sex offender, but his evil lives on in the anguish of the victims he permanently damaged. His name does not appear on any official list of abusive clergy, but I count his horrific crimes as part of what I consider the Catholic Church’s systematic and global campaign of child rape.” By Gil Duran, San Francisco Examiner

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

IICSA concludes with a demand for mandatory reporting of child abuse
“Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse must be enforced by UK law to protect the 13 million children in England and Wales from the ‘vile and degrading’ abuse found within institutions across the country, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has concluded. Its final report, which includes 19 other recommendations and covers all 15 of its investigations into institutional child abuse across the UK, was published on Thursday (Oct. 21). The executive summary describes child abuse as a ‘global crisis’ which has been exacerbated in recent decades by the internet — the regulation of which is a key concern in the report.” By Hattie Williams, Church Times

These Catholics are trying to work within the church to change how sexual abuse is addressed
“When a group of local Catholics decided to expand their advocacy work outside a Milwaukee living room, they had to come up with a name for their new organization. They settled on ‘Awake Milwaukee.’ As Catholics who wanted to push for change on the issue of sexual abuse from within the church, the name represented their own views as well as what they hoped to do for others. ‘We felt like we were finally awake. We were finally paying attention to something that had been there all along,’ said executive director Sara Larson. ‘It’s also what we’re aiming to do for our broader community: to help people wake up to this reality.’” By Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Clergy abuse has scarred minority Catholic communities
“The image of a white victim does not tell the complete story of clergy sexual abuse in the United States, according to a number of panelists during an Oct. 5 online forum titled ‘Neglected Voices in the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis.’ Blacks have suffered from clergy sex abuse, but ‘it’s an invisible trauma. It’s an unknown trauma because there are Black victims, survivors, of the sexual abuse crisis,’ said Father Bryan Massingale, author of ‘Racial Justice in the Catholic Church.’ ‘Yet in the Catholic imagination, we usually see a white face — a white male face, overwhelmingly.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

CALIFORNIA

Hundreds of priests with SF archdiocese accused of sexual abuse
“Victims of clergy abuse and their advocates gathered at the headquarters for the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Thursday (Sept. 29) to hand deliver a list they’ve spent years compiling, which includes the names of hundreds of priests accused of preying on children, abusing some of them for years. The list is 312 names long and goes back more than 100 years. While many of the accused predators are dead, some remain working at Bay Area churches today.” By Bigad Shaban, Michael Bott, Mark Villarreal, Alex Bozovic, Grace Galletti and Roselyn Romero, NBC-TV Bay Area News

ILLINOIS

St. Sabina Church stands by Rev. Pfleger amid new sex abuse accusation: ‘Father Mike, this is your army’
“A day after the Rev. Michael Pfleger was accused again of child sex abuse, the popular priest was absent from Sunday Mass at St. Sabina Church. But he was the focus of the service. ‘Show Father Mike what it means to be persistent in prayer,’ the Rev. Tom Walsh told the congregation during the 2 1⁄2-hour service punctuated by support for Pfleger. Walsh directed congregants to face a camera at the rear of the church broadcasting the service on the internet, where he said Pfleger would be watching.” By David Struett, Chicago Sun-Times

Archdiocese of Chicago adds dozens of new names to list of priests, clergy accused of sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago’s list of priests accused of sex abuse nearly doubled Friday (Oct. 14) with the addition of dozens of names, including priests who were accused when they were no longer alive. For years, the Archdiocese of Chicago has publicly named priests with substantiated allegations of sex abuse, but its list did not include the names of priests accused when they were deceased and clergy from different religious orders.” By Sarah Schulte and Ross Weidner, ABC-TV7 News

MICHIGAN

Catholic diocese: Brighton priest admitted to sexual relationship with teen
“The Diocese of Lansing in a statement said that a priest who the Michigan Attorney General declined to prosecute for having sex with a minor was found to have done so during a separate church investigation. The priest, Shaun Lowery, served at Brighton’s St. Mary Magdalen parish from 2019 to 2021. In the diocese statement, spokesman for the Diocese of Lansing David Kerr said: ‘Father Lowery engaged in immoral sexual acts, grievously violated his vow of celibacy, and gave scandal to the young persons involved in this case, as well as to the wider church.’” By Sophia Lada, Livingston Daily

Priest convicted of sexual assault on boy in Michigan church
“A Catholic priest has been convicted of sexual assaulting a 7-year-old boy in 2004 in a Detroit-area church. A Wayne County jury convicted the Rev. Joseph ‘Jack’ Baker on Thursday (Oct. 13) on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Baker, 60, gasped as the verdict was read, The Detroit News reported. Baker was a priest at St. Mary Parish in Wayne when Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged him in July 2019 with sexually abusing a minor.” By Associated Press

MISSOURI

6,000 child pornography photos found on retired St. Louis priest’s electronics, court documents say
“A retired priest from St. Louis pleaded guilty to federal charges of possession of child pornography. According to court documents, James Beighlie, 72, admitted in court that colleagues of his at the Congregation of the Mission in St. Louis found compromising images of him on a church printer on May 17, 2021. The church launched its own investigation and called the FBI when videos of minors performing sex acts were found on electronics used by Beighlie. Investigators found 6,000 images of child sexual abuse on one computer, including 3,000 photos of child pornography and 2,992 images of child erotica. Another computer had 236 photos and 40 videos of child sexual abuse.” By KMOV-TV4 News

RHODE ISLAND

Former R.I. Catholic priest facing child-pornography charges is back behind bars
“A Catholic priest formerly of Providence who was granted bail last year after being charged with possessing and transferring child pornography is back behind bars after authorities alleged he violated the conditions of his pretrial release while living in Kansas. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan last week ordered The Rev. James Jackson detained after a separate child pornography investigation in Kansas this summer led police to search a home in Leawood, Kansas, where Jackson, former pastor at St. Mary’s on Broadway, was staying with a relative.” By Tom Mooney, The Providence Journal

SOUTH DAKOTA

Native Americans recall torture, hatred at boarding schools
“After her mother died when Rosalie Whirlwind Soldier was just four years old, she was put into a Native American boarding school in South Dakota and told her native Lakota language was ‘devil’s speak.’ She recalls being locked in a basement at St. Francis Indian Mission School for weeks as punishment for breaking the school’s strict rules. Her long braids were shorn in a deliberate effort to stamp out her cultural identify. And when she broke her leg in an accident, Whirlwind Soldier said she received shoddy care leaving her with pain and a limp that still hobbles her decades later.” By Matthew Brown, Associated Press

BANGLADESH

Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale sentenced for sexual abuse of boys at Mortlake
“Prolific pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale has been sentenced for the sexual abuse of two boys in western Victoria in the 1980s. The 88-year-old appeared in the Warrnambool County Court on Wednesday (Oct. 19) afternoon via video link from Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat. Ridsdale pleaded guilty in July to 13 charges relating to the sexual abuse of two teenage boys in 1981 and 1982, when they were aged under 16.” By ABC News

NEW ZEALAND

Former Catholic bishop of Auckland questioned over recommending priest facing abuse allegations
“The former Catholic Bishop of Auckland has come under intense questioning at the abuse in care inquiry over recommending a priest, who had three allegations of abuse made against him, for a teaching job. The Catholic Church appeared at the Royal Commission hearing in Auckland on Monday. Bishop Patrick Dunn was responding to complaints made about Tongan priest Sateki Raass. Raass was convicted in March 2019 for assaulting a person under 16, and he was sentenced to do 100 hours of community service. He later resigned from the priesthood.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

PORTUGAL

Historic Portugal church sex abuse ‘truly endemic’ at times
“The head of a lay committee looking into historic child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church said Tuesday (Oct. 11) the problem in the past had been ‘widespread’ and on some occasions reached ‘truly endemic’ proportions. Pedro Strecht, a psychiatrist who heads Portugal’s Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church, said his panel has compiled a list of 424 alleged victims. Before the committee started its work in January, senior church officials had claimed that only a handful of cases had occurred.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Oct. 7, 2022

Oct. 7, 2022

TOP STORIES

Time for more transparency in Vatican handling of sex abuse
“A Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop alleged to have abused teenaged boys during the 1990s was sanctioned by the Vatican, which limited his movements and prohibited him from contact with minors or with his home country of East Timor. Meanwhile in Yakima, Washington, after a whistleblower raised concerns about the previous bishop’s handling of sexual abuse allegations, the now-retired bishop received a formal reprimand from the Vatican. Though the details of these two cases differ, what they share in common is that the consequences to the church leader under investigation — and even the fact of the investigation itself — were kept secret. That is, until news media shared the truth.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Is net finally closing on U.S. priest who allegedly abused ‘countless’ children?
“In arguably the clearest sign yet that he is under active criminal investigation, a retired Catholic priest from New Orleans who has been publicly accused of molesting ‘countless’ children but never charged has acknowledged that the FBI recently questioned him. Lawrence Hecker, 91, declined to elaborate on exactly when FBI agents met with him or what they asked him as they reportedly lead an investigation into whether clerics serving a Louisiana region that is home to nearly half a million Catholics took children across state lines to abuse them. But, in a brief conversation with the Guardian, Hecker admitted that FBI agents had spoken with him.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian

U.S. Catholic bishops’ report to the Vatican shows a church split by politics
“Catholics in the United States are deeply divided over issues as disparate as LGBTQ inclusion, clerical sexual abuse and celebrating the liturgy, according to a summary of consultations carried out in dioceses across the country in recent months as part of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality. ‘Participants felt this division as a profound sense of pain and anxiety,’ the U.S. bishops wrote in a summary released Monday (Sept. 19) to the public after being sent to the Vatican last month.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Australian archbishop investigating retired bishop on abuse allegations
“Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge will conduct an investigation into retired Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome, using a process established by Pope Francis in 2019. Young Aboriginal men from towns and bush communities in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia accused Saunders of sexual misconduct. The bishop has denied the allegations. Local media reported the inquiry in February, but it was not confirmed until late September. Brisbane’s Coleridge is president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Churches defend clergy loophole in child sex abuse reporting
“It was a frigid Sunday evening at the Catholic Newman Center in Salt Lake City when the priest warned parishioners who had gathered after Mass that their right to private confessions was in jeopardy … In the following days of February 2020, Utah’s Catholic diocese, which oversees dozens of churches, says it collected some 9,000 signed letters from parishioners and sent them to state Rep. Angela Romero, a Democrat who had been working on the bill as part of her campaign against child sexual abuse. HB90 targeted Utah’s ‘clergy-penitent privilege,’ a law similar to those in many states that exempts clergy of all denominations from the requirement to report child abuse if they learn about the crime in a confessional setting.” By Jason Dearen and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

ACCOUNTABILITY

Vatican’s quiet reprimand of U.S. bishop raises concerns about Pope’s clergy abuse law
“Earlier this year, the retired bishop of the Diocese of Yakima, Washington, received a formal reprimand from the Vatican for how he handled clergy abuse allegations — and possibly for how he treated a whistleblower. Victim advocates have praised the Vatican’s actions on that case as a rare rebuke of a bishop. Yet the dearth of information about both the investigation and subsequent reprimand appears to reinforce advocates’ concerns about one of Pope Francis’ landmark achievements on clergy abuse. Last week’s report that retired East Timor Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo was secretly sanctioned for alleged abuse has raised similar critiques. Vos Estis Lux Mundi (“You Are the Light of the World”), issued by Francis in 2019, is a sweeping set of laws that includes a system to evaluate reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops. Bishop Carlos Sevilla, who led the central Washington diocese from 1996 until retiring in 2011, was investigated under the system put in place by Vos Estis, according to reporting by the Yakima Herald-Republic.” By Ketie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Pope meets group that prepared text for next phase of synod
“Pope Francis personally expressed his thanks to the four-dozen people who read through hundreds of reports about the listening phase of the Synod of Bishops and, after 12 days of prayer, reflection and discussion, drafted a working document for the continental stage of the synod process. The pope welcomed the cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay participants to the Vatican Oct. 2, the last day of their work. At the heart of the work were the 112 syntheses submitted by national bishops’ conferences from around the world, as well as syntheses from the Eastern Catholic churches, religious orders, church organizations and movements, offices of the Roman Curia and individuals.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Synod on Synodality had its doubters, but it’s proving to be balm for ‘enduring wounds’
“In preparation for the Synod on Synodality, which will bring the world’s bishops to Rome a year from now, Pope Francis called for Catholics to meet in their parishes and dioceses to listen to one another and discern a path forward for the church. Many of the laity in the United States were excited by the opportunity … Despite these reservations, the U.S. bishops reported to the Vatican, ‘many were surprised by a level of engagement and richness that surpassed their expectations. It was frequently noted how much agreement participants found when they listened to each other.’” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Head of Vatican Synod office: ‘Let us trust in our people’
“The head of the Vatican’s synod office says that when it comes to hot-button issues such as the reception of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and the blessing of same-sex couples, discussion cannot be limited to doctrinal concerns, but must also include pastoral considerations. ‘These issues are not to be understood simply in terms of doctrine, but in terms of God’s ongoing encounter with human beings,’ said Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

National synod report raises question: ‘Now what?’
“The U.S. bishops’ conference issued its ‘National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod.’ The document is exceedingly well done, bringing together into one, concise and readable document the results of 22,000 reports from 30,000 listening sessions, in which the conference estimates some 700,000 people participated. Those numbers are staggering, a rebuke to the naysayers who viewed this process with suspicion … So, kudos to everyone who participated in this enormous undertaking and to the staff at the bishops’ conference who brought it all together. Now what?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican’s synod chief tells U.S. Church leaders to ‘listen to others’
“Cardinal Mario Grech encouraged more than 200 U.S. Catholic leaders to continue the process of listening called for by the Synod on Synodality, even as it moves out of the local phase, and to consider the contributions of all people of goodwill, in a recent presentation. “When we say that we are listening to the others, we are also saying that we are listening to the Holy Spirit, and for me, this is something sacred and it was about time that we came around to recognize this wealth, this richness in the church,” said Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope names new members to commission for protection of minors
“Pope Francis reconfirmed the leadership of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and expanded its membership from 17 to 20 people, naming 10 new members and reappointing 10 returning members. U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the commission, said, ‘Coming from all over the world with varied backgrounds and a common passion for the well-being of children and vulnerable people, the members announced today (Sept. 30) include advocates and practitioners of prevention and protection to the many areas in which the church ministers to children.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Canadian bishops say they’ll follow pope’s example with Indigenous
“Canada’s bishops wound up their first in-person meetings in three years with discussion of concrete steps toward reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians. At the end of four days of plenary meetings of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Cornwall, Ontario, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith told a news conference that the bishops are following the example of Pope Francis and the priority he placed on meeting with Indigenous people.” By Michael Swan, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Leading German bishop to stay in post despite damning report
“A leading German bishop said on Thursday (Sept. 22) that he will remain in office despite a damning report on the handling of abuse cases in his diocese. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode told journalists at a press conference on Sept. 22 that he had discussed whether to resign as bishop of Osnabrück, northwestern Germany, with the safeguarding expert Fr. Hans Zollner, S.J. Zollner is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the founding president of Rome’s Centre for Child Protection.” By Luke Coppen, The Pillar

WOMEN’S VOICES

New Zealand Catholic women display ‘pink shoes’ to call for equality in the church
“Hundreds of Catholic women in New Zealand contributed to a provocative public art protest on Sept. 18 calling for equality of women in the church. The event took place in Auckland, the nation’s largest city, and Wellington, its capital. Called ‘Pink Shoes into the Vatican,’ the event consisted of an installation of hundreds of pairs of shoes donated by women around the country that were lined up on the streets leading up to both cities’ cathedrals. Tied to each pair of shoes was a label from its owner describing their contribution to or aspirations for the church.” By Peter Kirkwood, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Will laity by granted voice at next October’s synod
“I was pleasantly surprised that the U.S. bishops’ national synthesis for the Synod on Synodality explicitly named ‘hot button’ issues such as women’s ordination, LGBTQ+ inclusion and the need for freedom to speak up on controversial issues without fear of being silenced. Synthesis writers are to be congratulated for compiling a comprehensive, transparent document featuring input from ‘over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and groups.’ Many other important ecclesial issues are also named that I shall not address here, but the text is well worth the read.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

First graduate of Child Safety Certificate Program serves diocese
“When she began facilitating safe environment training in the Diocese of Palm Beach in 2005, Donna Eurich did not know that child protection would become her vocation and full-time work in the future. She was a middle school religion teacher at the time. Now she is the director of child and youth protection and the victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma, and the first graduate of the online Certificate in Child Protection and Safe Environments offered by the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America.” By The Catholic University of America

CHURCH FINANCES

Former Holy Cross Catholic Church official arrested in embezzlement case in Vero Beach
“A former parish administrator at Holy Cross Catholic Church was arrested Monday (Sept. 19) after police accused her of using nearly $550,000 of church donations over several years to pay off her personal lines of credit, according to records obtained Tuesday (Sept.20). Deborah Lynn True, 69, who has a listed address in Frederick, Colorado, was arrested on a charge of organized fraud over $50,000 after a Vero Beach police investigation that began in December 2021.” By Will Greenlee, TCPalm.com

VOICES

Theologian Gaillardetz warns against over-critique of church in ‘last lecture’
“Theologians from across the U.S. gathered here (Boston College) Sept. 23-24 for a conference celebrating the legacy of Richard Gaillardetz, one of the country’s foremost experts on the exercise of authority in the Catholic Church, who is receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer … In an hourlong discourse that was at turns autobiographical, theological and deeply personal, the theologian encouraged his colleagues to continue the work of ‘meaningful and lasting ecclesial reform’ and to seek out a middle path between over-critiquing the Catholic Church as an institution and being over-trustful of its leaders, especially after the clergy sexual abuse scandals.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The Catholic Church is increasingly diverse – and so are its controversies
“There is a lot of talk about ‘synodality’ in the Catholic church these days. Synodality refers to a process in which bishops and priests consult with lay Catholics about issues in the church. In 2021, Pope Francis called for the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ a worldwide discussion of issues that impact the church, which will culminate with a bishops’ meeting in Rome. A final report is scheduled for October 2023. The Catholic Church in Germany has also moved forward with a national ‘synodal path’ to restore trust after its own sexual abuse scandal.” By Matthew Schmalz, Religion News Service

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Curran Center Award winner explores healing power of voice
“There is healing power in using your voice. That was one of the lessons of ‘A Theology of Voice: VOCAL and the Catholic Clergy Abuse Survivor Movement,’ an article by Brian Clites, Ph.D., chosen by Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies in May as the winner of its third annual New Scholars essay contest … Clites said that when he first began working on the paper, which is part of a larger book project, in 2011, he was struck by how little academic research had been devoted to the sexual abuse crisis, and how often the concept of the voice was referenced in contemporary Catholic survivor groups, such as ‘Voice of the Faithful’ and ‘Speak Truth to Power.’” By Patrick Verel, Fordham News

Bishop Hart accuser discusses abuse with clergy at Wyoming film screenings
“A priest stood up and asked Ed Gavagan how he found hope after all that he’s endured. As a room full of Catholic clergy looked on, Ed told the priest that he had none. None at all. Gavagan had been shaken when he walked into the community room attached to Sheridan’s Holy Name Catholic Church on Monday (Sept. 19). The seats were filled by 50-some priests, plus a half-dozen nuns, all gathered to watch a documentary that follows Gavagan and five other men as they work to heal from the trauma they say they suffered at the hands of priests decades ago.” By Casper Star Tribune

CALIFORNIA

Four more former California all-boys Catholic school students allege priest sexually assaulted them
“Father Kevin Fitzpatrick’s first 25 years in the service of the Order of Servants of Mary were commemorated by a page dedicated to the popular priest in Servite High School’s 1980 yearbook. The page features a photo of Fitzpatrick, the school’s swimming and water polo coach, poolside. There’s a picture of Fitzpatrick, known to the Servite community as simply Father Fitz, sticking out his tongue at the photographer and another of him grabbing a Servite student by the front of the boy’s shirt in mock anger.” By Scott Reid, By The Mercury News

Catholic priest who served in Atlanta faces rape, abuse warrants for three different victims
“A catholic priest who once served in Atlanta is now accused of rape, with warrants out for his arrest in California.The Atlanta Archdiocese confirmed the allegations Monday (Sept. 26). According to the Diocese of Sacramento, where the charges stem from, he left California in 2005 and served in the Atlanta area until leaving for his home diocese in Colombia in 2008. According to the Sacramento Diocese, 70-year-old Father Roberto Jaramillo faces criminal warrants for three instances of alleged sexual abuse going back more than two decades – the alleged ‘repeated’ rape and abuse of a girl between 1996 and 1999, kissing a juvenile boy in 1999 and sexually abusing an adult male in 2001.” By Kaitlyn Ross, 11Alive-TV News

Former Sacramento priest accused of child sex abuse. Here’s when and where he served.
“A priest who formerly was with the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has been added to the list of clergy accused of child sex abuse, and authorities are searching for him. Roberto Jaramillo, who served at multiple churches in the Sacramento region for 10 years, is accused of rape and other sexual assault involving a girl under the age of 14 between 1996 and 1999. The Sacramento Police Department confirmed on Saturday that a felony warrant had been issued.” By Mathew Miranda, The Sacramento Bee

ILLINOIS

Archdiocese of Chicago asks three retired priests to remain out of ministry pending investigation of nearly 50-year-old allegations of sexual abuse of minors
“ The Archdiocese of Chicago today announced that it has asked three retired priests to remain out of ministry while its Independent Review Board investigates allegations of sexual abuse of minors against them. The priests are: Father John J. Rudnik, 87, Father James E. Flynn, 80 and Father John W. Clemens, 75. Each has one allegation against him, all dating from nearly a half century ago and all are cooperating fully with the process. The persons making the allegations have been offered the services of the Archdiocese Victim Assistance Ministry and civil authorities have been notified. In addition, parishioners in the parishes where these priests served have been notified.” News Release by Archdiocese of Chicago

MARYLAND

Garrett Park priest placed on leave pending sexual abuse allegations
“A priest at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Garrett Park has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of sexually abusing minors in another diocese decades ago. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington notified parishioners last Friday (Sept. 30). According to church officials, the sexual abuse allegations against Reverend Robert Buchmeier were first reported to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington on Sept. 30. After reviewing the preliminary information, the Diocese of Arlington notified Alexandria City Police and the Archdiocese of Washington — where Buchmeier is incardinated.” By MyMCMedia.org

MASSACHUSETTS

Judge to reexamine her decision on release of Eagle reporter’s notes in Springfield clergy abuse case
“A Hampden County Superior Court judge is poised to decide whether a reporter for The Berkshire Eagle must provide information the newspaper says would violate a promise of confidentiality to an anonymous source. That information is needed to allow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, its lawyer says, to defend itself against a civil lawsuit filed by a man who says he was raped by clergy, including former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.” By Heather Bellow, the Berkshire Eagle

MINNESOTA

Retired priest removed from ministry as abuse allegation is investigated
“A retired priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Father Michael Ince, has been placed on a leave of absence from priestly ministry while an allegation of abusing a minor in the 1980s is investigated. ‘In accordance with archdiocesan policies, the archdiocesan Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment promptly reported this to law enforcement, who advised that they are investigating the allegation,’ Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a statement Sept. 26. Once law enforcement completes its investigation the archdiocese will follow its processes to determine next steps.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

MISSOURI

‘Slap in the face.’ Sex abuse victims outraged over priest’s return to Kansas City.
“A former Kansas City priest and retired Wyoming bishop whose numerous sexual abuse allegations were dismissed by the Vatican but deemed credible by two current U.S. bishops is moving back to the metro area. Joseph Hart, who left Kansas City more than four decades ago to become Bishop of Cheyenne, will be residing in a senior living facility, The Star has learned. Hart, who turned 91 last month, has a brother — also a priest — who lives in Kansas City. One of Hart’s victims told The Star that he was contacted last week by Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, to let him know Hart would be returning.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Priest convicted of sex abuse claimed ex-police detective McLaughlin erased tapes
“Gordon MacRae, the Catholic priest now serving a state prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting four boys, once claimed in a lawsuit that the evidence against him was destroyed by a zealous investigator out to railroad him. The cop who pursued MacRae was then-Keene Police Detective James McLaughlin. The old lawsuit brought by the convicted child sex predator against McLaughlin is newly relevant now that McLaughlin’s recently released personnel file shows the decorated investigator was once accused by his own department of doctoring evidence.” By Damien fisher, InDepthNH.org

NEW JERSEY

Questions as accused former pastor relocated
“A former pastor at St. Andrew Church in Westwood who resigned in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct from over three decades ago has been reassigned as chaplain to a Catholic resource facility in Newark that offers services to help pregnant, post-abortion, and sexual abuse victims ‘who need a safe and supportive environment.’ Former pastor James Weiner was found to be working at The Mercy House, a ‘family-oriented resource and referral center in the heart of Newark with a focus on assisting pregnant and parenting women who need a safe and supportive environment.’” By The Press Group

OHIO

Former Cincinnati Catholic priest told rape victim ‘I don’t have a clue what you could be talking about’
“In a ‘chilling’ phone call to then-Rev. Geoff Drew, the Catholic priest who raped him three decades ago, Paul Neyer said he was so unnerved that he grabbed a table and felt like he could ‘squeeze through it.’ At the request of detectives investigating his case, Neyer called Drew on July 31, 2019, one day after investigators from Green Township and Cincinnati interviewed him about being raped, according to previously unreleased police records from the investigation.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News

RHODE ISLAND

Details emerge about Father James Jackson’s alleged pre-trial release violations
“Father James Jackson, a Rhode Island priest who was arrested in October on federal and state child pornography charges, admitted Monday (Oct. 3) in federal court that the government could prove that he violated certain conditions of his pre-trial release. The conditions of Jackson’s pretrial release were set in November 2021 before he was allowed to leave Rhode Island to reside with a family member in Kansas. He was arrested in July by the U.S. Marshals in Kansas. He is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island.” By Joe Burkuras, Catholic News Agency

AFRICA

Catholic priest arraigned for allegedly sodomizing 10 children
“A Catholic priest in Moshi, Sostenes Soka, who was being held by the police has been arraigned today, September 26, at the Resident Magistrate’s Court for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children. He was arrested on September 20. The children are pupils whose identity has been protected are in Standard Six and Form One who were attending the teachings for the first communion and confirmation.” By Florah Temba, The Citizen

CANADA

B.C. man reaches settlement over priest sex abuse allegations
“A man who alleged he was sexually abused by Mission Roman Catholic priests and a seminary employee has reached an undisclosed settlement to end the case. Mark O’Neill was seeking damages for sexual abuse he alleges he suffered as a teen during his time at a Mission Roman Catholic seminary from 1974 to 1978. He was 13- to 17-years-old at the time. The defendants listed in the suit included the Seminary of Christ the King; Westminster Abbey Ltd.; the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, a Corporation Sole; Emerick Lazar; Harold Vincent Sander, a.k.a. Dom Placidus Sander; Shawn Rohrbach; and John Doe.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique News Magazine

GERMANY

German court asks Benedict XVI to testify after complaint by a victim of abuse by a priest
“ The Traunstein Regional Court in Bavaria has requested a deposition of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI over a lawsuit filed by a man who was abused by a priest, court spokeswoman Andrea Titz has confirmed. “The defendants have the opportunity to indicate their willingness to defend themselves within two weeks, after which they have four weeks, or one month, to respond,” she explained. As reported by German media when the complaint was filed, the plaintiff is a 38-year-old man from Bavaria who alleges he was sexually abused by the priest as a child.” By Daniel Stewart, News 360

GUAM

Catholic Church in Guam begins processing abuse victims’ compensation claims
“The chief judge of the US district court of Guam Frances Tydingco-Gatewood has approved the final revision to the compromise agreement that would bring closure to the clergy abuse victims’ civil action against the Catholic Church. The settlement amount for victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse will be in the range of between US$34 million and US$45 million, but Catholic church officials said the final amount would depend on the actual sum that the sale of respective archdiocese properties would bring in.” By Radio New Zealand

INDIA

Indian family seeks dismissal of priest accused of abuse
“An Indian Catholic priest already under suspension following sex abuse complaints has fresh charges of sexual assault being lodged against him by a minor boy and his father, sparking calls for his dismissal from the priesthood. Father Vincent Pereira, 55, was originally suspended from public priestly ministries after police arrested him in September 2018 for sexually assaulting a teenage boy in a school where he was the principal. Released on bail in March 2020, he now lives in the pastoral center of the Pune diocese in western India.” By Michael Gonsalves, UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Sex beast priest caught in another breach of sexual offenses prevention order
“One of Northern Ireland’s most notorious pedophile priests has admitted yet another breach of his life-long sexual offences prevention order. A court has been told the case of Daniel Gerard Curran ‘is to proceed by way of a guilty plea’ to the single charge against him. In August this year, the creep breached his lifelong SOPO by ‘loitering’ around Tollymore National Outdoor Centre in Newcastle.” By Paul Higgins, Belfast Telegraph

LEBANON

Lebanese pedophile priest Mansour Labaki defrocked by Vatican
“Mansour Labaki is believed to have sexually abused more than 50 individuals. The Vatican defrocked the former Lebanese priest and convicted pedophile on Tuesday (Sept. 27), ten years after he was found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors. The Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon issued a statement saying that Pope Francis decided that both Labaki and Priest George Karim Badr, will be ‘returned to their secular state.’” By The New Arab

PORTUGAL

Portugal abuse cases mount amid questions over Nobel bishop
Clergy sexual abuse cases are casting a pall over the Catholic Church in Portugal, ensnaring senior officials even as authorities scramble to explain why shelter was given to a Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop at the center of sexual misconduct allegations. Senior Catholic leaders apologized over the weekend for the hurt caused by decades of alleged abuse and cover-up — current estimates number around 400 cases — with the archbishop of Lisbon begging the faithful to not lose faith in the church.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com

SPAIN

Spain’s ombudsman urges Catholic bishops to collaborate in sexual abuse investigation
“The Spanish ombudsman on Tuesday (Sept. 26) said he ‘hasn’t noticed a lot of enthusiasm’ from parts of the Catholic Church as he looks into sexual abuse cases and urged bishops to collaborate with his investigation. ‘If they say they won’t, I will make very concrete requests about what happened in specific cases, congregations and what’s going on with certain archives,’ Angel Gabilondo said at the New Economy Forum in Madrid.” By Alyssa McMurtry, Anadolu Agency on aa.com.tr

TIMOR-LESTE

‘What I want is apologies’
“For years, Timor-Leste’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo has been sexually abusing boys, survivors and others claim. Meanwhile, the Catholic church imposed travel restrictions on Belo. ‘We have to talk about it, and shout it out louder to the world.’ By Tjitske Kingsma, De Groene Amsterdammer

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Sept. 23, 2022

TOP STORIES

U.S. diocesan synod reports highlight ‘enduring wounds’ in Church
“Throughout the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality, U.S. Catholics consistently highlighted several ‘enduring wounds’ that plague the nation’s church, including the still-unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, divisions over the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, and a perceived lack of unity among the nation’s bishops. The feedback was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 19, in a national synthesis of the diocesan synod phase. The synthesis is the culmination of diocesan Synod reports and contributions from other Catholic entities since last fall.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

South African Catholics: End clericalism, open ministry to women, be inclusive
“Widen the preaching circle to women and other laypeople, change the leadership style from autocratic and bureaucratic, move away from clericalism, and build more inclusive and welcoming communities, say Southern African Catholics. These were some of the major themes that emerged in the synthesis document for the synod on synodality released by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference at the end of August. The conference represents the Catholic bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Eswatini. The secretary general of the bishops’ conference, Fr. Hugh O’Connor, said that the synthesis aimed to reflect the wide range of opinions mentioned in the diocesan reports.” By Russell Pollitt, National Catholic Reporter

Bill eliminating statute of limitations for child sex abuse civil suits heads to Biden’s desk
“The House on Tuesday (Sept. 13) passed a bill eliminating the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse who seek to file civil claims, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk for final approval. The chamber cleared the bill, titled the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, by voice vote, a strategy reserved for non-controversial, popular measures. The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent in March. The measure calls for removing the statute of limitations for minors filing civil claims relating to a number of sex abuse crimes, including force labor, sex trafficking, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.” By Mychael Schnell, KGET-TV News

Finding the bishops we need
“There was considerable excitement in some quarters this summer when Pope Francis appointed three women as members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope for episcopal appointments in much of Latin-rite Catholicism. Whether this innovation will make any significant difference at the final stage of a long, complex process remains to be seen; given the byzantine ways of the Roman Curia (and its boys club atmosphere and dynamics), I have my doubts. But we shall see. In any event, deep reform in the process of selecting bishops in the Latin-rite Church would begin by bringing women, not to mention laymen, into the process at a much earlier stage.” By George Weigel, The Pilot

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Exclusive: Cardinal Grech on drafting the first global synod synthesis—and what’s in store for phase 2
“Even though the first phase of the Catholic Church’s two-year-long Synod on Synodality convened by Pope Francis only ended in mid-August, ‘We can already see the fruits of the synodal process,’ Cardinal Mario Grech, the general secretary of the synod, told America’s Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, in an exclusive interview conducted for America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast at the Jesuit Curia in Rome on Sept. 14. Cardinal Grech gave the interview before leaving Rome for two weeks starting today, Sept. 21, with a team of 35 people ‘summoned from all continents’ to study and analyze the feedback from the first phase, also known as the consultation phase, of the synodal process.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Synodality and its issues
“Persons worried about the current ‘synodality’ process in the Catholic Church have good reasons to be anxious. The car wreck of the German Catholic ‘synodal path’ on matters of sexuality and Church governance is one of them. Other key problems with Rome’s 2023 Synod on Synodality are the personalities and behaviors of some of the loudest people advancing it. More on that in a moment. The idea itself – synodality – is worth considering. But be warned and caffeinated: Roman documents ahead.” By The Catholic World Report

The synodality report
“What is synodality? Bishop (Harry) Silva defines it this way: “The Church always must defer to its Head, who is Jesus Christ. He is sacramentally represented by his bishops and priests, who act in his name as pastors, overseers and servants. But the clergy are not as wise or holy as the Head, and the Body must always be in communication with the Head. So while the Church is not a democracy, it is essential that the pastors be in touch with the thoughts, aspirations, needs and dreams of the members of the Body. Thus, we have pastoral councils, finance councils, priests’ councils, deacon councils, and a host of other consultative bodies so that the flow of communication between head and members may always be healthy. Synodality is the recognition that every member of the Body is important and contributes to the welfare of the whole body. It also offers concrete mechanisms by which this can happen.’” By Patrick Downes, Hawaii Catholic Herald

Synod on Synodality organizers: ‘Trust the process’
“The Synod on Synodality, Pope Francis’ massive consultation of all Catholic dioceses, parishes and organizations on the state of the church, completed its first phase, with Vatican officials receiving reports from countries around the world on their findings. As the second phase begins, and amid doubts that the results will be representative, the synod’s chief organizer, and even some participants, are encouraging Catholics to trust the process. ‘It’s the first time in the history of the church but also for humanity to have such a consultation,’ said Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary for the General Secretariat for the Synod at the Vatican. ‘It’s a huge achievement.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Sex and gender dominate German church debates. But Catholics in the Global South have difference challenges—and values
“There is a lot of talk about ‘synodality’ in the Catholic church these days. Synodality refers to a process in which bishops and priests consult with lay Catholics about issues in the church. In 2021, Pope Francis called for the ‘Synod on Synodality’… The Catholic Church is often assumed to look and feel the same everywhere. But Catholicism is culturally quite diverse. The most public disagreement involves African Catholics and those in the United States and Europe. For example, Ghanaian Catholic bishops have criticized advocates for LGBTQ rights for imposing ‘their so-called values and beliefs.’ Other African bishops have said they feel betrayed by liberal sentiments in European Catholicism, such as the push to allow Holy Communion for divorced church members.” By Mathew Schmalz, America: The Jesuit Review

Personal reflections on the synod on synodality
“Over the centuries, men and women religious have practiced synodality through chapters, community meetings, and conversation groups to prepare for chapters of elections and affairs, house meetings and more. Decisions are made through prayer, dialogue (sometimes intense), and contemplative discernment to come to a decision or a way forward. The synod handbook, or vademecum, states that ‘Synodal listening is oriented towards discernment. It requires us to learn and exercise the art of personal and communal discernment.’ As religious, we know that synodality and discernment is a way of life … The charism and rule of each institute creates the environment for both synodality and discernment to take place.” By Donna L. Ciangio, National Catholic Reporter

Germany’s synodal assembly ends with far-reaching proposals
“The fourth plenary assembly of Germany’s Synodal Way in Frankfurt has concluded with a series of far-reaching reform resolutions. They concern, for example, the position of women and trans people in the Church, sexual morality, gay priests and the future national leadership structure of the Church. It said all texts involving changes to Church doctrine were formulated as proposals for consideration by the Pope and not as independent dogmatic changes by the German Church.” By CathNews.com

BISHOPS

Finding the bishops we need
“There was considerable excitement in some quarters this summer when Pope Francis appointed three women as members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope for episcopal appointments in much of Latin-rite Catholicism. Whether this innovation will make any significant difference at the final stage of a long, complex process remains to be seen; given the byzantine ways of the Roman Curia (and its boys club atmosphere and dynamics), I have my doubts. But we shall see. In any event, deep reform in the process of selecting bishops in the Latin-rite Church would begin by bringing women, not to mention laymen, into the process at a much earlier stage.” By The Catholic World Report

PRIESTS

The future of the priesthood: Boston College theologians edited book on priestly ministry
“The priesthood is deeply cherished and lies at the heart of Catholic faith and people, but a fresh conversation is needed around the formation of priests in order for ordained ministry to flourish going forward, according to the new book Priestly Ministry and the People of God (Orbis Books), co-edited by three Boston College theologians. Priestly Ministry and the People of God presents a collection of essays from a variety of voices—a cardinal, bishops, seminary rectors, ordained and lay ministers, and academic theologians—who have put forth their best hopes for the future of the priesthood. The essays are faithful to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the best of Catholic tradition, while also responding to the needs of the Church today, say co-editors Richard Gaillardetz, Thomas Groome, and Rev. Richard Lennan.” By Kathleen Sullivan, University Communications, Boston College

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Will religious life rise again – and should it?
“The question this column purports to answer is a clear one: Will religious life rise again? Yes? But is it sensible in this day and age to even think of such a thing? The answer is actually a simple one but a potentially life-changing one at the same time. Several ancient stories long ago illuminated both the purpose and the spirituality of what it means to be a religious. Even now, even here. The first of those stories is from the tales of the desert monastics. One day, Abbot Arsenius was asking an old Egyptian man for advice on something.” By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Two historians track down Jesus’ women disciples
“When you hear the word disciple, what do you think of? Probably the 12 apostles, maybe some of the greater crowd following Jesus in the gospels. A few readers may perhaps picture Mary Magdalene. But overall, our image of the disciples is of a group of men sharing Jesus’ life and listening to his teachings. Joan Taylor and Helen Bond, both professors of Christian origins, decided to challenge this dominant picture of who the disciples were and what they looked like … Instead, Taylor and Bond say that there were just as many women as men in this group. Indeed, it would have been impossible for the gospel to spread as far as it did otherwise.” By U.S. Catholic

Deacons decision on hold
“Top advocate says Rome statement on women deacons won’t come soon. The Vatican is unlikely to make any statement on the possibility of women to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church until after the conclusion of the international bishop’s Synod on Synodality next year, said international expert Dr Phyllis Zagano. Dr Zagano was one of 12 scholars appointed by Pope Francis in 2016 to the commission to study the diaconate as it existed in the early Church to ascertain the possibility of women deacons. The Pope said their research was inconculusivew and in 2020 reconvened a new commission to examine the question.” By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the Church
“ Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the church on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, for an event aptly named “VOTF’s 20th Year Commemoration: 20 Years of Keeping the Faith, Changing the Church.” VOTF’s friends and supporters will gather to pray, learn, plan, and socialize as a community honoring its two-decade commitment. Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., professor of theology and religious education at Boston College and an internationally known author and religious education expert, will offer attendees an interactive keynote address called Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church. “I would like to spark people’s own thoughts about why Catholics often think of Church or Pope or Sacraments as the ‘heart’ of their faith and seldom Jesus,” Groome said.” By Voice of the Faithful on Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

St. Louis Archdiocese releases parish financial data as closures loom
“Catholics across the region can now take a detailed look at their church finances, Mass attendance and school enrollment as the Archdiocese of St. Louis moves to restructure its parishes. The archdiocese released data Thursday on all 178 parishes ahead of hundreds of listening sessions in October and November. At the meetings, parishioners will be shown two to four different models reflecting potential church closures or consolidations. The proposed plan for school closures is expected to be released early in 2023.” By Blythe Bernhard and Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Catholic cardinal calls for an end to celibacy in clergy
“A recent damning report into child sex abuses in the archdiocese of Catholic Cardinal Reinhard Marx in Germany led him to call for the lifting of the celibacy requirement for Catholic priests and Bishops. According to the influential Catholic archbishop of Munich and Freising, many priests would prefer to get married. Last year, a damaging independent report found that 235 people — including 173 priests — sexually abused 497 people between 1945 and 2019 in the Munich and Freising archdiocese.” By CTN News

VOICES

Through study and prayer, it’s not too late to get Vatican II right
“Sixty years ago, on Oct. 11, 1962, Pope St. John XXIII solemnly opened the Second Vatican Council. Addressing the council fathers, he said, ‘The major interest of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred heritage of Christian truth be safeguarded and expounded with greater efficacy.’ Referring to the sweeping political and economic changes that had occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries, John XXIII rejoices that the Church would have the opportunity to return to the essentials of the spiritual life, particularly the instruction of the faithful. Free from ‘worldly fetters that trammeled her in past ages,’ Holy Mother Church had a new opportunity to preach and catechize.” By Father Patrick Briscoe, Our Sunday Visitor

Americans lack confidence in some churches’ abilities to handle sexual-abuse allegatioins
“Three churches have made headlines recently for their alleged roles in covering up claims of sexual abuse. In May, leaders of the country’s largest protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, published a review alleging that reports of sexual abuse were suppressed by top church officials for two decades. In mid-August, Southern Baptist leaders announced that the church is under federal investigation for sexual abuse. Less than two weeks earlier, the Associated Press published an analysis of sealed records from a child sexual-abuse lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as the Mormon church) in West Virginia, revealing how the church’s helpline allows church leaders to divert abuse accusations away from law enforcement and toward church attorneys. The Catholic Church has long faced allegations of sexual abuse by its leaders, which continue to surface; last week, Pope Francis addressed these claims, saying he takes personal responsibility for ending the problem.” By Taylor Orth, Today.YouGov.com

An epic struggle for the soul of Catholicism
“(Author John T.) McGreevy begins his story with the near-death experience of the French Revolution, when a very Catholic country turned with bloodlust on the keepers of the faith. Priests were murdered, convents and monasteries closed, property seized. For a time, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris was renamed the Temple of Reason. Clergy members were required to take an oath of loyalty to the new regime or risk the guillotine. During this period of “dechristianization,” as it was called, the revolutionaries created new calendars, and renamed streets and public squares.” By Timothy Egan, The New York Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

ILLINOIS

Suburban priest Father David Ryan faces allegations of sexual abuse of a minor again
“A suburban priest is facing two allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. The Archdiocese of Chicago has asked Father David Ryan of Lake Zurich to step aside — again — while it conducts an investigation. In a letter Saturday (Sept. 17), Cardinal Blase Cupich called the news “upsetting” and said Ryan has agreed to cooperate. In late 2020 Ryan was asked to step aside amid an investigation into sexual abuse of minors 25 years prior. He was reinstated in 2021.” By CBS-TV2 News

MINNESOTA

Warrant issued for former southern Minnesota priest charged with sexual assault
“A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a former Catholic priest accused of sexually assault, after he missed his first court appearance Thursday (Sept. 8). Winona County District Judge Mary Leahy issued the warrant to hold Ubaldo Roque Huerta, 50, without bail after he failed to show up for the hearing. Roque Huerta is charged with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly performing sexual acts on another person without their consent. Roque Huerta was going through laicization — the process of leaving the priesthood — with the Diocese of Winona-Rochester when he allegedly assaulted a person in December 2020.” By Trey Mewes, Minneapolis Star Tribune

NEW MEXICO

Sex abuse settlement may disrupt plans for new church
“Another parish is feeling the pain of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s $121.5 million settlement in a bankruptcy case that stems from hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. Some congregants at San Isidro Catholic Parish in the village of Agua Fría had been told the parish would be receiving half the proceeds of a land sale to build a new church. But now there are doubts the parish will retain the building funds amid the archdiocese’s efforts to settle its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.” By Daniel J. Chacón, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

New York Archdiocese: ‘Vos estis’ Hubbard records can’t be turned over in sex abuse lawsuit
“The Archdiocese of New York argued in an Albany courtroom on Friday (Sept. 9) that records compiled during a Vatican-ordered investigation into a retired bishop are protected by the First Amendment, and cannot be turned over in response to a subpoena in a sexual abuse lawsuit. The case raises questions about the confidentiality of the Vos estis lux mundi process, promulgated by Pope Francis in 2019 as a mechanism for investigating allegations of abuse or misconduct against bishops.” By The Pillar

Summary judgment closes case against Catholic Diocese of Brownsville
“A state district judge in Cameron County has issued a summary judgment in a case brought against the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville that alleged church officials tried to protect a priest accused in the alleged sexual assault of two siblings. The case had been scheduled for a jury trial Monday (Sept. 12) but was canceled following the summary judgment signed Aug. 25, by 445th state District Judge Gloria Rincones, which closed out the case, court records show. The Brownsville Herald has reached out to the Diocese and the attorney representing the siblings for comment. As of late Monday afternoon, neither have replied to a request seeking comment.” By Laura B. Martinez, The Brownsville Herald

WISCONSIN

Next steps: Recommendations from Awake Milwaukee for our archdiocese
“Sexual abuse is a persistent evil that cannot be eliminated from our Church with limited, one-time interventions. Instead, an effective response requires Catholics to undertake an ongoing journey down two paths. First, we must accompany and support victim-survivors in their pursuit of truth, accountability, and healing. Second, we must work proactively to prevent future abuse. As committed Catholics, we believe that the duty of walking these two paths is not some abstract obligation that belongs to the narrow subset of church officials who are tasked with addressing the abuse crisis in their professional capacities. It is a concrete responsibility that falls on the shoulders of every member of the Body of Christ.” By AwakeMilwaukee.org

AUSTRALIA

‘I needed to step up’: former Surf Coast mayor sues church over alleged abuse
“A police officer and former Surf Coast mayor has launched legal action against the Vincentian order almost 50 years after he was allegedly abused by a priest while boarding at a former Catholic college in Bendigo. Brian McKiterick, 61, has claimed in a writ filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria that he suffered appalling sexual abuse at the hands of Father Murray Wilson, who was the dean of discipline, a maths teacher and football coach at St Vincent’s College.” By Cameron Houston, The Age

CANADA

Moncton archdiocese, insurer reach settlement in lawsuit over sex abuse compensation
“Although the details of the agreement with the Co-operators General Insurance Company are subject to a confidentiality clause, the resulting funds will be used to pay claims for sexual assaults that occurred in the archdiocese between 1955 and 1984, according to a statement issued by Archbishop Valéry Vienneau. ‘The settlement made does involve some compromise, but it provides immediate certainty, particularly in light of advice that the pending court hearing would be put over for another year due to a shortage of judges,’ he said.” By Bobbi-jean MacKinnon, CBC News

Oblates dismiss Rivoire as retired priest denies abuse allegations at meeting with Inuit
“As Inuit delegates from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. prepared to meet with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in France Wednesday (Sept. 14), they had a shock: the man they’ve accused of sexually abusing Canadian children would be there, too. The delegates have been in France all week to call for the extradition of retired priest Johannes Rivoire, who has been charged in Canada with sexual assault dating back to his time in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s. The meeting with Rivoire was one the delegation had sought, but hadn’t received any word about until they were nearly at their destination in Lyon, France.” By April Hudson, CBC News

Acclaimed podcast Stolen spurs lawsuit against estate of dead Catholic priest
“A British Columbia woman claims she was told the late Father Georges Chevrier had no history of the kind of sexual abuse complaints she was bringing forward. Then she listened to an acclaimed podcast titled Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s. Now she’s suing. The woman — known as LV — filed a B.C. Supreme Court claim this week against Chevrier’s estate and the corporation of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, which she accuses of failing to tell her the dead priest had a ‘known history of allegations of sexual abuse’ when she first asked for compensation.” By Jason Proctor, CBC News

Settlement proposed in class action on behalf of victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Halifax and Yarmouth
“A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against the Catholic Dioceses of Halifax and Yarmouth on behalf of victims of sexual assault by Priests. The action was certified as a class proceeding on March 31, 2020. This class action alleges that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Yarmouth are legally liable for sexual abuse committed by their Priests between April 14, 1954 and March 31, 2020. Both sides have agreed to a settlement.” By Yahoo.com

B.C. victim sues estate of priest sex offender and Catholic church officials
“A B.C. man who claims he was one of 17 young men who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest over a period of 25 years is suing the perpetrator’s estate and Catholic Church officials for damages. The victim, who is only identified by initials in the lawsuit, says that while on assignment in and around Terrace in 1981 or 1982, Father Harold Daniel McIntee sexually abused him and two other young men. He says that while staying overnight at the Secret Heart rectory with McIntee, he was experiencing abdominal pain and McIntee asked him to remove his pants to see if he had a swollen testicle.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

FRANCE

Inuit group ‘implores’ France to extradite priest accused of child sex abuse
“A group of Canadian Inuit have come to France to push for the extradition of a retired French priest accused of sexually abusing several Inuit children when he worked as a missionary in the north of Canada more than 40 years ago. The five-person delegation from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI) head to the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday to argue the extradition of Johannes Rivoire – a former Roman Catholic priest who lives at an Oblates nursing home in the southern city of Lyon.” By Allison Hird, rfi.fr

GERMANY

New German study finds Osnabruck Diocese ignored rights of abuse victims
“Church leaders in the northern German Diocese of Osnabrück failed over decades to fulfill their duties in responding to accusations of sexual abuse, according to a study presented by the University of Osnabrück Sept. 19. The German Catholic news agency KNA said the study found that, until recently, officials had neglected to conduct adequate monitoring of clerics after they had been removed from their posts following accusations of abuse. The main area requiring improvement was communication with victims, the project leaders said. In addition, the diocese had been defensive and bureaucratic in its handling of cases and “stingy” in its recognition payments.” By Catholic News Service on TheCentralMinnesotaCatholic.org

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Sexual abuse victims welcome apology from missionaries
“A victim of child sexual abuse at a priest training school has said missionaries ‘begged for forgiveness’ at a meeting. Mark Murray was one of several abuse survivors who met the Comboni Missonaries in London on Tuesday (Sept. 20). The 66-year-old from St Asaph, Denbighshire endured repeated abuse by a priest while at St Peter Claver College in West Yorkshire. The Comboni Survivors Group said it was “deeply moved” by the meeting.” By BBC News

Man who claims he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest settles High Court damages action for €350,000
“A man who claimed he was sexually abused by a Catholic Priest almost 50 years ago has settled his High Court damages action for €350,000. In his judgement on Friday Mr Justice Garrett Simons approved the settlement of the now 60-year-old man personal injuries claim, who currently resides in the UK, against The Sacred Heart Missionary Education Trust and his alleged abuser. The case was settled by the Trust, without an admission of liability by either of the defendants.” By Aodhan O’Faolain, Independent.ie

GUAM

Clergy sex abuse claimants vote on payout plan
“Survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults have a few days left to vote for or against the Archdiocese of Agana’s bankruptcy exit plan, which includes settlement of the abuse claims estimated at $37 million to $101 million. Their ballots must be received by the U.S. District Court of Guam clerk by Sept. 19 to be counted as a vote to accept or reject the disclosure statement, which is the plan to get the archdiocese out of bankruptcy. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood approved the adequacy of the third amended disclosure statement filed on July 19, giving each claimant a chance to be heard by their vote.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Pacific Daily News

Vatican: Questions to pope in Guam clergy abuse case ‘improper’
“The Vatican said judicial inquiries directed to the pope as a head of state are ‘improper,’ after a federal judge ordered the Holy See’s counsel to report on whether Pope Francis could meet with all survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults to help settle abuse claims. Attorneys for the Vatican, led by California-based Jeffrey Lena, also said the Holy See ‘has given no indication that it is currently inclined to settle the case at bar,’ or participate in similar lawsuits. All this is part of an ongoing case filed by a man seeking to hold the Vatican liable for the actions of Guam’s former archbishop, Anthony Apuron, who allegedly raped him when he was a minor student at Father Dueñas Memorial School in 1994-1995.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

Two late clergy sex abuse claims will be accepted
“Two men who were sexually abused by priests as children but filed their claims past the Aug. 15, 2019 deadline will get their full share of the Archdiocese of Agana’s compensation plan. This comes two weeks before a hearing on the archdiocese’s bankruptcy exit plan, a key part of which is paying out hundreds of abuse claimants. In the offer, the archdiocese and its creditors’ committee propose to pay abuse survivors $37 million to $101 million, plus a free burial plot and Catholic education for their children.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilver, Pacific Daily News

INDONESIA

Indonesian Church urged to tackle sexual abuse head-on
“A forum of priests, nuns, laypeople, and activists in Indonesia has urged the Catholic Church hierarchy to tackle sexual abuse head-on and to end the practice of cover-up for the sake of protecting the church’s image. The online discussion was held in collaboration between Let’s Talk About Sex and Sexualities, and Yayasan Sesawi dan Kawal Gereja (Mustard and Church Watchdog Foundation), a lay Catholic group, on Sept. 9. The organizers said the event sought to encourage Church leaders to be serious and proactive in investigating sexual violence within the church, in line with Pope Francis’ commitment to zero tolerance for sex abuse.” By UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former priest accused of breaching sexual offences prevention order
“A former priest who was a serial sex abuser for almost 20 years was yesterday accused of breaching his Sexual Offences Prevention Order. Almost four years to the day since he last appeared in court, Daniel John Curran (72) was charged at Downpatrick Magistrates Court with breaching his lifelong SOPO on August 12 this year. It is alleged that Curran, from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, breached the SOPO in that he ‘remained / loitered at Tullymore National Activity Centre which by its nature is likely to attract or be frequented by children under 16 years without permission of your designated risk manager.’” By The Irish News

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand child abuse survivors call for intervention from Pope Francis
“A New Zealand group representing survivors of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has called on Pope Francis to intervene in the redress process, claiming that church authorities were mishandling it and retraumatizing victims. In a letter sent to the Vatican and seen by Reuters, the New Zealand chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a global organization for child abuse victims, accused church officials in New Zealand of breaching procedures for managing abuse complaint cases.” By Praveen Menon, Reuters

SPAIN

Pope Francis orders new canonical process in abuse case at Opus Dei school in Spain
“The complaints of abuse against the teacher date to 2009 and 2011. After a long judicial process, the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in prison in 2020, but since it was his first conviction and did not exceed a two-year sentence, he wasn’t imprisoned. Bishop Joseba Segura Etxezarraga of Bilbao, Spain, has announced that Pope Francis has ordered a new canonical process for a case of abuse that took place at a school run by the prelature of Opus Dei. The announcement states that the Holy Father was aware in December 2014 of allegations of abuse against José María Martínez Sanz, a numerary member of Opus Dei and a teacher at Gaztelueta School.” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

Ex-priest gets 30 years in prison for child abuse in Spain
“Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday (Sept. 13) sentenced a former priest to 30 years in prison for abusing seven minors at a Catholic boarding school nearly a decade ago when he worked as their tutor. Allegations of child abuse by Catholic clergy and possible cover-ups by the church have surfaced in recent months in Spain, years after similar scandals rocked the Church in other countries such as the United States, Ireland and France.” By Reuters

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Sept. 9, 2022

TOP STORIES

Pope creates 20 new cardinals, including San Diego bishop
“In a ceremony to create 20 new cardinals, Pope Francis encouraged the College of Cardinals to have the same spiritual zeal for all people, whether they are in positions of power or ordinary Christians. ‘A cardinal loves the church, always with that same spiritual fire, whether dealing with great questions or handling everyday problems, with the powerful of this world or those ordinary people who are great in God’s eyes,’ the pope said Aug. 20 during the consistory, a prayer service during which he personally welcomed 20 churchmen into the College of Cardinals. Those who have this apostolic zeal are compelled ‘by the fire of the Spirit to be concerned, courageously, with things great and small,’ he said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Pope Francis exhorts San Diego’s McElroy, new cardinals to practice ‘unassuming power’
“Pope Francis on Aug. 27 elevated 20 Catholic prelates from around the world — including San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy — to the rank of cardinal, exhorting that those who are often referred to as princes of the church must instead exercise an ‘unassuming power’ and preach the Gospel with an openness to all people ‘without exception.’ ‘The Lord wants to bestow on us his own apostolic courage, his zeal for the salvation of every human being, without exception,’ Francis said. ‘He wants to share with us his magnanimity, his boundless and unconditional love, for his heart is afire with the mercy of the Father.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal McElroy’s elevation has ‘enormous significance’ for U.S. church
“As you can imagine, I am not often speechless. But when I finally reached the end of the receiving line at the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See’s residence to greet Cardinal Robert McElroy on Aug. 26, I couldn’t find the words. It has been three months since the news of his elevation to the cardinalate arrived — three months for it to sink in — and I was still not sure what to say. Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, knew what to say. ‘Ecstatic’ was how he described what so many Catholics were feeling at this moment. Wester spoke at a dinner for McElroy’s family and friends after the Mass of thanksgiving on Aug. 28. In discussions with pilgrims from San Diego, friends of McElroy’s from San Francisco or from college and seminary, and his brother bishops, ‘ecstatic’ was the exact word.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Poland’s Catholics complain of deep divide between clergy, laity
“A new report by the Polish bishops, summarizing the results of consultations with both the leadership and the rank and file of the Polish church, points to a deep division between clergy and laity and an urgent need to rebuild he relationship between the two groups. ‘It not a report about the state of the church,’ Archbishop Adrian Galbas, coordinator of the synodal process in Poland, told Crux, referring to a synthesis of the results of widespread consultations published Thursday (Aug. 25). ‘It’s a very personal document, giving an image of the church,’ Galbas said – and the image is fairly harsh.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Pope Francis’ big gamble: the Synod on Synodality
“Pope Francis’ synod on synodality, which will take place in October 2023, is the greatest gamble of this papacy. It may succeed in bringing greater unity to the church, or it could result in greater conflict and division. Synods under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were stage-managed affairs, where the agenda and debate were carefully controlled. Curial cardinals instructed the gathered bishops what topics could not be brought up or discussed. Although the purpose of the synod was to advise the pope, speakers spent most of their time quoting the pope to himself: ‘As you so wonderfully said …’” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Non-diocesan Catholic groups submit their own synod reports to the U.S. bishops
“Inmates, college students, climate activists, LGBTQ people, clergy sex abuse survivors, health care professionals, church reform advocates and older Catholics are among those who have participated in their own listening sessions for the grassroots consultation that has been held ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome. In all, 110 non-diocesan Catholic groups—universities, advocacy nonprofits, religious congregations, ministries and private associations of individuals, among others — submitted their own synodal ‘synthesis’ reports this year to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Julia McStravog, a consultant helping to coordinate the bishops’ synodal work.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Church at Crossroads: bishops, priests, and lay Catholics speak out
“The story of Jesus meeting a skeptical Samaritan woman at the well told in the Gospel of John is, for many Christians, a story of encountering Jesus and choosing his well as the source of eternal life. As the Irish Church faces a crossroads ahead, with many big decisions to be made, Bishop William Crean of the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne wonders what wells sustain the Irish people today. The increasingly secularized nation has found new watering holes after decades of Church scandals.” By Conor Capplis, The Irish Examiner

The CCCB submits its national Synod synthesis to the Holy See
“The first phase of the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ listening at the diocesan level, has concluded. Synthesis Reports were prepared by each of Canada’s four Regional Episcopal Assemblies – Western, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions. These four regional reports were then received by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and used to draft a national synthesis, which has been submitted to the General Secretariat of the Synod of the Holy See on 15 August 2022. The national synthesis document is divided into 11 sections, collectively reflecting on the major themes of this process and the voices heard. This report is the culmination of a sincere listening exercise that occurred in every diocese across the country.” By The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholics see synod listening sessions as significant for the entire church
“Evangelizing the whole church, taking personal responsibility for the mission to evangelize, engaging youth and young adults better, accompanying families, asking parishes to become more welcoming, understanding the experience of LGBTQ+ Catholics and allowing more women in church leadership roles. These are some common themes that surfaced in a sampling of U.S. dioceses’ synthesis reports on listening sessions they held in preparation for the world Synod of Bishops on synodality in October 2023.” By Catholic News Service

Synodal process described as an invitation to leadership in the church
“The synodal process that is underway is an invitation to people in the Catholic Church to listen to each other and can lead to greater leadership by laypeople within the church, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, told a webinar audience. ‘One of the most important fundamental intentions of the synodal process around the world, and particularly the U.S., is that we really do need to learn how to listen to each other again. We may think we do, but we really don’t,’ Bishop Flores said Aug. 25. He made the comments during the online program assembled by the Catholic Apostolate Center and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Cardinal Grech: ‘Synodality, theme for reform of Roman Curia
“As the Cardinals of the universal Church arrive in the Vatican to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia, synodality will be an important element of their discussions. In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Mario Grech, the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, made this observation as he discussed synodality in the Church. He was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference on Friday (Aug. 26) at the Holy See Press Office presenting the second phase of the synodal process: the Continental Phase of the Synod on synodality, on the theme ‘For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.’” By Deborah Castellano Lubov, Vatican News

POPE FRANCIS

Pope declares ‘zero tolerance’ for Catholic Church abuse, saying he takes personal responsibility for ending it
“Pope Francis says he has taken it on himself to rid the Catholic Church of sexual abuse, telling CNN’s partner channel CNN Portugal that he was ‘responsible that it doesn’t happen anymore.’ In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview in Rome last month, the Pontiff said the church had ‘zero tolerance’ for abuse and said that ‘a priest cannot remain a priest if he is an abuser.’ The church’s response to sex abuse scandals has become one of the defining themes of Francis’ time as Pope, and he told CNN Portugal that every case of abuse within the church ‘hurts’ him.” By Ivana Kotasová, CNN

CARDINALS

Conservative cardinal calls for conclaves to be limited to Rome-based cardinals
“German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a once influential conservative prelate known to be at odds with several aspects of the Francis papacy, has asked that the right to vote in a conclave be limited to those residing in Rome. Brandmüller said that there are too many cardinals who come from faraway places, so they lack experience with the Roman Curia and do not know one another, making them vulnerable to lobbies attempting to push a specific candidate forward.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

World’s cardinals meet with Pope to reflect on Curia reform
“Just under 200 cardinals, out of the College’s 226, are participating on Monday and Tuesday (29-30 August) in closed-door meetings convened by Pope Francis to reflect on the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, the document reflecting the Pope’s reform of the Roman Curia. The event will most likely mark the Pope’s largest and most attended meeting with the College of Cardinals. In almost ten years of his pontificate, never has such a meeting been held, and such wide attendance was seen only eight years ago when the Pope called the synod on the family (2014-15), inviting some 180 Bishops and Cardinals.” By Salvatore Cernuzio, Vatican News

New cardinal says opposition to Vatican II ‘not Catholic’
“England’s new cardinal says those who are ‘stubbornly opposing’ the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council are in danger of adopting a position that is no longer Catholic. Cardinal Arthur Roche, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, was among 20 prelates admitted to the College of Cardinals on Saturday, with 16 of them under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a future conclave. He has one of the most sensitive and demanding jobs in the Church’s central government, requiring him to work closely with the Pope and with the world’s bishops in overseeing Catholic worship.” By CathNews.com

New cardinals feel honored, humbled, ready to promote renewal of church
“Becoming a member of the broad, unique body of the College of Cardinals is both a great honor and an invitation to help promote a renewal of the Catholic Church’s mission of evangelization, some new cardinals said. With 20 newly created cardinals representing 16 countries, and with the entire college of 226 members representing more than 90 countries, some also said they see their elevation as a way to help their home dioceses better comprehend the universality of the Catholic Church.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

BISHOPS

A proposed agenda for U.S. bishops
“In mid-November the American bishops, gathered in a general assembly, will choose a successor to Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles to serve a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A new vice president and chairmen of several conference committees also will be elected during the meeting. Except by the bishops themselves plus a handful of habitual bishop-watchers, the USCCB elections will probably not be much noted. But there are several issues of major importance for the future of the Church that need to be on the bishops’ agenda, and the results of the upcoming vote could go a long way to determining whether they make it there. Three issues in particular stand out.” By Russell Shaw, Our Sunday Visitor

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Q&A with Sr. Marueen Geary, new president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
“Maureen Geary didn’t see herself joining religious life. In her late 20s, she was an attorney and an accountant at a great law firm where she was happy. But something kept telling her that her gifts could best be put to use with the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the sisters who taught her from second grade on. Finally, in 1987 at the age of 31, Geary joined the Order of Preachers as a candidate — but kept working part time at the law firm, just in case. Now, she is president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80% of the nuns and sisters in the United States.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

She was an early church deacon. Catholic women now want to reclaim her example.
“On Saturday (Sept. 3) Amman and 55 other pilgrims from four countries gather in Mexico City at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe to celebrate St. Phoebe’s feast day. In the presence of an archbishop, several priests and nuns and a host of Catholic lay women, the pilgrims will honor the little-known saint who makes a solitary appearance in the New Testament’s Letter to the Romans as an associate of St. Paul and a female deacon of the early church.” By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Lay Vatican leadership reportedly key topic at pope’s meeting with world’s cardinals
“While an official communique at the end of Pope Francis’ Aug. 29-30 meeting with the world’s Catholic cardinals only said that participants ‘freely discussed many aspects,’ participants told NCR that discussions centered around the extent to which lay individuals can be granted authority in church governance, term limits for Vatican officials, and the city-state’s finances. While the gathering took place behind closed doors, participants from four different continents said in interviews that much of the meeting took place in small group discussions, similar to the format used at Vatican meetings of the Synod of Bishops.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Vatican cardinal decries criticism of German ‘Synodal Way’ as ‘denunciation’
“The chief organizer of the Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality has decried as ‘denunciation’ the number of public criticism of the German ‘Synodal Way.’ Cardinal Mario Grech said he did ‘not agree with the method used by the critics’ of the German process in an interview with the German publication ‘Herder Thema.’ The secretary general for the Synod of Bishops added that he disapproved of the style: ‘I think a fraternal correction and dialogue is very positive. But why a public denunciation? It doesn’t help. It only polarizes further.’” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

St. Louis Archdiocese continues planning to reduce 178 parishes to about 100 parishes
“Roman Catholics from throughout the St. Louis region are reluctant to cross highways and rivers to worship God in different places than they are accustomed to. That was one piece of feedback from a group of about 220 priests recently gathered to see dozens of potential ways to restructure parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. ‘It was a great first round of conversation,” the Rev. Christopher Martin, who is helping oversee the ‘All Things New’ initiative, told the Post-Dispatch on Thursday (Aug. 25) about the five-hour meeting.” By Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Young Poles abandoning ‘frozen’ Catholic Church
“It is still one of Europe’s most Catholic countries but Poland is seeing a rapid secularization — particularly among younger generations. ‘The children on my courses barely know who Adam and Eve were,’ said Dawid Gospodarek, a journalist from the Catholic press agency who teaches ethics and religious culture at a school in Warsaw. According to the latest polls by the CBOS institute, 84 percent of Poles say they are Catholic and 42 percent say they are practicing. Among 18-24-year-olds, only 23 percent say they are practicing — compared to 69 percent in 1992.” By France24.com

New San Diego cardinal says political divisions are flowing into Church
“The only American in Pope Francis’s new crop of cardinals has pushed back against characterizations that he is somehow in rivalry with other local prelates who didn’t receive the red hat, saying such depictions are the result of a problematic polarization in U.S. Catholicism. Speaking to Crux during a sit-down interview in Rome, Cardinal-Designate Robert McElroy of San Diego, who will get his red hat from Pope Francis on Saturday (Aug. 27), said one of the most problematic trends in American Catholicism is ‘polarization along ideological lines, mostly within the Anglo community.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

VOICES

The ‘People of God’ and the continued battle over Vatican II
“‘The real problem with popes,’ a friend once said to me, ‘is that they die.’ What he meant was that no matter how consequential a particular papacy might be, it is still at the mercy of the next pope, who might have a radically different ecclesial agenda and a whole different set of emphases, theological and pastoral. And given the fact that the memory is a faculty which both remembers and forgets, with the forgetting often leading to a creative ‘misremembering’ (theologian Cyril O’Regan’s famous term) of the now past papacy, the door is left wide open for the revisionists to ply their trade in the interests of discrediting previous papacies in order to promote the agenda of the new guy in Rome.” By The Catholic World Report

A Eucharistic revival that renews the Church
“The Catholic bishops of the United States have launched a eucharistic revival over the next three years. Pope Francis has made a singular contribution to that effort with the recent release of his powerful and theologically rich apostolic letter on the liturgical formation of the people of God, ‘Desiderio Desideravi’ (‘I have earnestly desired’). He tells us that his aim is to ‘invite the whole Church to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration’ as a means of more fully appreciating ‘the beauty of the Christian celebration and its necessary consequences for the life of the Church.’” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, ChicagoCatholic.com

Rome consistory showed Pope Francis’ vision is taking root
“The Barque of Peter is currently floating along several currents. Pope Francis’ pontificate has brought about a renewed focus on pastoral theology, bringing the insights of the post-conciliar church in Latin America to the center of the universal church. It has placed concern for the environment at the heart of the church’s social teachings, and reoriented the work of the Roman Curia, as embodied in the apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium. It has emphasized the church as the bearer of God’s tenderness, rather than as a bastion of doctrinal clarity. And, perhaps most importantly, it has revived synodality as a means of church governance.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

A lawsuit window for Pa. survivors of childhood sexual abuse could open as early as next May
“State legislative leaders are pledging to vote early next year on a constitutional amendment giving adults who say they survived sexual abuse as children two years to sue their alleged abusers and any institution that sheltered them. A 2018 Grand Jury report showed the statute of limitations may have closed for hundreds of Pennsylvanians who were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests as children decades ago. That report recommended lawmakers give all abuse survivors more time to sue.” By WITF.org

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

When words hurt instead of heal. What never to say to someone who has survived abuse by Catholic clergy
“As the daughter of a clergy abuse victim-survivor and a lay person who works for the Church, Jerri von den Bosch speaks often with fellow Catholics about her family’s experience with the abuse crisis: In June of 2021, I wrote 10 Things Never to Say to Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse that covered some of the hurtful things people sometimes say to clergy abuse survivors. Included were some more supportive things they might say instead. Many people read it and several clergy abuse survivors, including my mom, responded with additional things that they have heard from Catholics and would add to the list. I believe that most people who say these things are well intentioned; they are just not aware of how to walk with someone who has experienced trauma. So I present 6 Things Never to Say About Clergy Abuse Survivors, along with some things that you, as a supporter of abuse survivors, can say in response.” By Jerri von den Bosch, Milwaukee Independent

ALASKA

A priest left California after he was accused of sexual misconduct involving a parishioner. Now he’s in Fairbanks
“A Catholic priest who faced allegations in a civil lawsuit that he engaged in a sexual relationship with a ‘vulnerable’ adult parishioner is now working in Alaska. The Rev. Gerardus Hauwert arrived in Alaska this summer to serve Catholic parishes in the Fairbanks area, Robert Fath, vicar general of the Diocese of Fairbanks, announced to parishioners in an email in July. Hauwert is now a priest at Immaculate Conception Church, which describes itself as Interior Alaska’s oldest Catholic church.” By Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News

ARIZONA

Ruling that bankruptcy negates sexual abuse lawsuit is under challenge
“The Arizona Court of Appeals has agreed to hear arguments on whether federal bankruptcy law precludes a victim from suing the employers of the two Catholic priests who allegedly sexually abused her as a child several decades ago. The woman, referred to in court records as Jane HM Doe, is now about 50. She filed a nine-claim lawsuit in February 2020 against the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Phoenix, St. Mark Roman Catholic Parish Phoenix, and the Society of the Divine Savior USA Province concerning sexual abuse she alleges she suffered as a student at St. Mark in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” By Arizona Daily Independent

MASSACHUSETTS

A Cheshire woman’s long wait to see her abuser named by the Springfield Diocese is over
“A year ago, Sheri Biasin of Cheshire was still waiting for the Catholic priest who molested her to be listed as ‘credibly accused’ by the Springfield Diocese. The diocese, in a spirit of disclosure and healing, had just changed its policy to include priests who died before those accusations surfaced. But that new and more complete list, released in June 2021, did not mention the Rev. Daniel Gill. Now it does. The diocese said Wednesday (Aug. 31) it added Gill to its online roster Aug. 1, ‘based on a credible finding by the diocesan Review Board.’ By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Diocese issues quarterly report on update to list of credibly accused clergy
“As part of its ongoing commitment to provide regular communications regarding its Safe Environment efforts, the Diocese of Springfield is today (Sept. 6) issuing a quarterly report on an update made to the online listing of ‘Finding of Credibility of Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.’ On Aug. 1, 2022, the name of the late Father Daniel L. Gill was added to the list based on a credible finding by the diocesan Review Board. Father Gill was ordained in 1958 and passed away in 1995. The abuse reported in this allegation dates back to 1967 to 1971 and involved a minor.” By IObserve.org

Former St. Mary’s pastor named among ‘credibly accused priests’
“A priest who once worked at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Padanaram is among those added to the Diocese of Fall River’s list of ‘credibly accused’ clergy last week. The diocese said the Rev. John Gomes, who retired from St. Mary’s in 2012, is accused of sexually abusing a minor. The alleged abuse happened ‘decades ago’ and did not occur at St. Mary’s or involve the parish, Rev. David Frederici said. Gomes also served in Fall River, Somerset, and Taunton, according to the diocese.” By Morgan Beard, Dartmouth Week

New Bedford priest accused of sexually abusing boy in Massachusetts and Maine
“A former altar boy and student at St. Anthony of Padua School is accusing a former priest of sexually abusing him in the rectory, in his car, and during an overnight trip to Maine more than 30 years ago. The Diocese of Fall River from the ministry in February and added his name to the list of clergy who were credibly accused of sexual abuse of children. Now, an Acushnet man is alleging that Degagne had molested him repeatedly when he was 12 and 13 years old in 1988 and 1989.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe, on Boston.com

Man who went to Arlington Catholic High School sues three former archdiocese officials he says hired the vice principal he charges molested him
“A former student at Arlington Catholic High School yesterday (Aug. 25) sued two former priests in the Archdiocese of Boston – and a third, as yet unidentified priest – whom he blames in part for the times he says the school’s then vice principal came into the room where he was serving detention and molested him. The suit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday (Aug. 25) by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has spent much of the last 20 years in  both in the Archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere.” By UniversalHub.com

MISSOURI

Roman Catholic priest gets record expunged in dropped St. Louis sodomy case
“A St. Louis judge Thursday (Aug. 25) granted a Roman Catholic priest’s petition to expunge his 2014 arrest record in a St. Louis statutory sodomy case dropped by city prosecutors in 2015.

Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser found that the Rev. Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang, 39, had met his legal burden to have the April 2014 arrest record expunged. Police arrested Jiang based on a boy’s accusation that Jiang molested him in the restroom at St. Louis the King school, the elementary school at the Cathedral Basilica.” By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW YORK.

Diocese objects to 74 non-diocesan claims
“On July 22, the Diocese of Rochester filed objections asking the court to disallow and expunge 74 claims (including several duplicates) asserted in its chapter 11 bankruptcy case. In an affidavit filed with the bankruptcy court, Father Daniel J. Condon, diocesan chancellor, noted that ‘A number of claims allege that the survivor was abused by a member of a religious order, a lay employee, volunteer, resident or student of a school or facility owned and operated by a religious order or other non-Diocesan entity.’’ By Karen M. Franz, Catholic Courier

With little explanation, diocese has reinstated 17 priests accused of sexual abuse
“Seventeen of the 29 Buffalo Diocese priests put on administrative leave since 2018 due to a sex abuse allegation involving a minor were later allowed to resume their priestly activities. The diocese publicized the priests’ returns to ministry by stating that a review board had examined the claims and found them to be ‘not substantiated.’ Diocese officials maintain that the review process is rigorous, independent and designed to protect children from potential abuse.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

New York Archdiocese goes to court to block probe of sex abuse involving Bishop Howard Hubbard
“The Archdiocese of New York has gone to court to keep under wraps hundreds of pages of records involving an Albany bishop accused of sexually abusing children. The records pertaining to Howard Hubbard, who served as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany between 1977 and 2014, are being sought in connection with a lawsuit brought against him and another former priest. Both have been accused of numerous child sex abuse claims, according to an Albany Times Union report. Hubbard has vigorously denied the allegations, and the former priest — Francis Melfe — is now dead.” By Isabel Vincent, New York Daily Post

WASHINGTON

Yakima diocese priest arrested for rape
“A Yakima Diocese priest has been arrested in Benton County on suspicion of third-degree rape with an aggravating factor of being a person of trust. Reverend Tomás Vázquez Téllez, 49, was arrested on Wednesday, Sept. 7th. He is now in the Benton County Jail awaiting his charges. The arrest follows a Kennewick Police Department investigation of a reported rape that occurred August 19th and 20th at the suspect’s home in the city.” By KIMA-TV News

WISCONSIN

‘We have to hold people to justice’: Clergy abuse victim opens up; AG Kaul shares what the state is doing
“As a number of protesters gathered outside of Rembert Weakland’s funeral, who was archbishop of Milwaukee from 1977 to 2002 after a sexual abuse scandal, a survivor of clergy abuse is speaking up and his concern with the statewide Clergy and Faith Leaders Abuse initiative. ‘We have to hold people to justice no matter who they are,’ said Peter Isely, director of Nate’s Mission and survivor of clergy abuse. At just 13 years old, Isely said his abuse began less than a week after attending a minor seminary. The abuse done by one of his faith leaders.” By Yukare Nakayama, KAKE.com

Victims of clergy sexual abuse to hold press conference objecting to public funeral celebrating former Archbishop Robert Weakland
“In 2019, the Archdiocese removed Weakland’s name and statue from the downtown Cathedral acknowledging his guilt in protecting abusive clergy. This is why victims expected a private funeral mass after the announcement of his death last week. But Archbishop Listecki rejected this option in favor of a public celebration, inviting city leaders, the public, and the press to attend. During his tenure as Archbishop of Milwaukee, Weakland transferred dozens of known sex offenders into new assignments where they were warmly welcomed by trusting Catholic families. These offenders then proceeded to abuse their children.” News Release from NatesMission.org

AUSTRALIA

Families of clergy abuse victims’ new legal precedent paves way for litigation
“A Supreme Court ruling in relation to a lawsuit levelled against the Catholic Church has been heralded as a potential new precedent for loved ones of alleged victims of clergy abuse. The court this week ruled the Catholic Church could not use a legal argument pertaining to the so-called Ellis defense. The defense was named for choirboy and prevented abuse survivors from suing unincorporated organizations such as the church.” By Laura Mayers, ABC Ballarat

CANADA

Sex misconduct suit hangs over Ouellet
“Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s legal battle over allegations he made unwanted sexual advances toward a young intern over a decade ago might place him between the Church’s Code of Canon Law and Canadian law. Between the Church’s long and complex tradition of law and Canada’s common law system, there’s not much agreement on what constitutes sexual assault or how allegations are investigated and brought to trial, one of Canada’s most senior canonists told The Catholic Register, Msgr. Roch Pagé, professor emeritus of Canon Law at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.” By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Though Harper government agreed to ‘forever discharge’ Catholic Church of settlement obligation more can be done
“A 2015 decision by Canada may have released the Catholic entities from their $25 million settlement for residential school survivors, but that doesn’t mean the Catholic corporation still can’t do something substantial, says Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, chair of the Governing Circle for the National Truth and ‘Maybe it’s not going to be $25 million. Maybe it’s going to be the churches are going to say ‘in lieu of the money, maybe we can do something … about the Doctrine of Discovery’, because that was very much part of the discussion when the Pope was here,’ said Wesley-Esquimaux.” By Shari Narine, Regina Leader-Post

COLOMBIA

Catholic Church reveals list of 26 alleged pedophile priests in Columbia
“The Catholic Church in Colombia has released the names of 26 priests who were investigated for alleged sexual abuse of minors there, local media reported Saturday (Aug. 27). The Archdiocese of Medellin revealed the list of those accused between 1995 and 2019 in response to a court ruling in favor of Juan Pablo Barrientos, a journalist investigating an alleged network of pedophile clergy. “Most of these priests … were suspended for a little while, and went back to being priests again,” said Barrientos, who has been investigating sexual assaults by priests for years, in a video released Saturday (Aug. 27).” By Agence France-Presse on MacauBusiness.com

GERMANY

Priests transferred by German diocese continued to abuse
“A German diocese transferred priests who were alleged or convicted perpetrators of abuse to new locations in and outside the diocese, where they reoffended against young people and children, according to a new report. German Catholic news agency KNA said the independent commission’s interim report on abuse in the diocese from 1946 to 2021 showed 513 victims of abuse in the Trier Diocese’s area of responsibility ‘could be identified by name or anonymously’ for the period from 1946 to 2021.’In a large number of cases at least … no measures were taken on the part of the diocese to protect potential victims from sexual abuse,’ the commission said.” By CathNews.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

I once looked up to my uncle, the Jesuit priest and teacher – then I discovered the monstrous truth
“On a summer evening in the first decade of the new millennium, I had arranged to meet a friend at a gastropub in London. I walked into the large, open-plan room, a crowd already at the counter. There was no sign of my friend, so I went to the bar to get a drink while I waited. ‘You next?’ asked the man beside me. He had traces of silver in his hair, somewhere in his 50s. ‘No, after you,’ I said, before we started to chat. I told him my name. I wasn’t expecting what came next.” By David Orr, The Guardian

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Every single victim of this monster deserves justice, says brave abuse survivor as more complaints against ‘Fr. Filth’
“Evil pedophile and former ‘singing priest’ Fr Tony Walsh is at the center of five new complaints to Gardai, The Irish Sun on Sunday (Aug. 28) can reveal. The fiend — now known as ‘Fr Filth’ — is being investigated by the Protective Services Bureau over the abuse of five boys in the 1970s and 1980s. Statements have now been taken by the abuse victims and a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.” By Stephen Breen, The Irish Sun

NICARAGUA

Nicaraguan judge sentences priest to 49 years for rape
“A judge in Nicaragua sentenced a Roman Catholic priest to 49 years in prison Friday (Sept. 2) for the rape of a 14-year-old girl. Judge Edén Aguilar Castro sentenced Rev. José Leonardo Urbina to 24 years in prison on two counts of abuse and 25 years for one count of rape. However, Aguilar Castro ruled that Urbina would serve only 30 years. Nicaraguan law limits maximum sentences in most cases to 30 years.” By Associated Press

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