December 7, 2020
Vatican sued over alleged sex abuse in wake of its report on disgraced ex-cardinal McCarrick
“A week after an explosive report by the Vatican detailing decades-long allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick involving the sexual abuse of young boys, seminarians and fellow priests, the first federal lawsuit stemming from that report has been filed against the Roman Catholic Church(link is external). A stunning 85-page complaint filed in New Jersey on behalf of four unidentified men against the highest echelons of the church charges the Vatican knew McCarrick ‘was a suspected abuser and child molester’ and a danger to its members, but did nothing to stop him.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
McCarrick report is one small step to dismantling clerical culture
“The steps not yet taken involve much deeper, interior work on the part of those still greatly invested in and rewarded by the culture than they’ve yet been willing or able to face. They must be willing to ask themselves fundamental questions about the meaning of ordination, the role of the ordained in the larger community, the consequences of prohibiting women from the realm of the ordained, the role of privilege and secrecy in church governance. They have to decide whether the model for bishops is prince or servant, and what that decision portends for their credibility and leadership in the future(link is external).” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter
- Setting the record straight on NCR and McCarrick coverage(link is external), By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter
This archbishop has become the first African American cardinal in Catholic history
“For the past week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, was holed up in a Vatican guesthouse, receiving meals at his door. On Saturday (Nov. 28), Gregory stepped out of his quarters and into history, becoming the Catholic Church’s first African American cardinal(link is external) during an installation ceremony in Rome. Gregory was one of 13 men — and the only American — elevated to the College of Cardinals during Saturday’s ceremony … Gregory, 72, already the highest-ranking African-American Catholic in US history, told CNN this week that he has been praying, writing homilies and letters to well-wishers, and reflecting on his new role.” By Delia Gallagher, CNN, on WKTV-TV2 News
- With ceremony at the Vatican, Wilton Gregory becomes 1st black American cardinal(link is external), By Matthew S. Schwartz, National Public Radio
Pope named as defendant in Australian legal claim
“Pope Francis has been named as a defendant in a Victorian Supreme Court damages claim by three Aboriginal men who say they were sexually assaulted as young boys by pedophile priest(link is external) Michael Glennon, according to The Age. It is the first known case in Australia in which survivors of clerical sexual abuse have sought to hold the Pope personally responsible for the Church’s failure to take decisive action against predators in its ranks. The three plaintiffs, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, all claim to have experienced significant, ongoing impacts from their childhood abuse, including drug addiction, homelessness and unemployment.” By CathNews.com
Lawsuit says Buffalo Diocese, bishops covered up failures on abuse
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Nov. 23 against the Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop Richard J. Malone, who headed the diocese from 2012 to 2019, and newly retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz. The suit alleges a two-decades-long cover-up of how the diocese failed to deal with numerous priests accused of alleged sexual abuse(link is external).” By Mike Matvey, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com
The modern vision of Pope Francis in a medieval church
“Pope Francis issued his third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, indicating his deep spiritual affinity with the founder of the Franciscan movement. The encyclical deepens the pope’s vision of integral ecology laid out in his 2015 work, ‘Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home’ now extended to the social order on the level of fraternity and social friendship. The pope’s writings are comprehensive in his depth of analysis of ecological, social and technocratic structures that have created systems of separation, manipulation and disregard for the poor(link is external). He begins Fratelli Tutti by taking his cue from the ‘Admonitions’ of Francis of Assisi, who writes in his 25th admonition: ‘Blessed is the servant who would love and respect his brother as much when he is far from him as he would when he is with him; and who would not say anything behind his back which in charity he could not say to his face.’’’ By Ilia Delio, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis challenges the Catholic left
“It is one of the saddest facts about a certain kind of liberal Catholic that, as the pope said, with nothing but goodwill, they take a wrong path with an agenda that may be defensible or even laudable on other grounds, but is no longer a Catholic path(link is external). They consider the doctrines that have defined our church for centuries as so much silly putty in their hands, to be stretched any which way to achieve an objective that may not be reconcilable with the Catholic faith. I have said it before and will say it again: Just because a Catholic has a thought does not mean it is a Catholic thought that has been had.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Pope creates 13 new cardinals, including Washington archbishop
“One by one 11 senior churchmen, including two U.S. citizens — Cardinals Wilton D. Gregory of Washington and Silvano M. Tomasi, a former Vatican diplomat — knelt before Pope Francis to receive their red hats, a cardinal’s ring and a scroll formally declaring their new status and assigning them a ‘titular’ church in Rome. But with the consistory Nov. 28 occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis actually created 13 new cardinals(link is external).” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot
Cardinal Pell says he feels ‘vindicated’ by Vatican finance corruption being investigated
“The pope’s former treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, said Monday (Nov. 30) he feels a dismayed sense of vindication as the financial mismanagement he tried to uncover in the Holy See is now being exposed in a spiraling Vatican corruption investigation(link is external). Pell made the comments to The Associated Press in his first interview since returning to Rome after his conviction-turned-acquittal on sexual abuse charges. Pell told the AP that he knew in 2014 when he took the treasury job that the Holy See’s finances were ‘a bit of a mess.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review
What the McCarrick report means for the church
“The report is unprecedented, reading like no other Vatican document I can recall. It is not clothed in dense church-speak or vague references to misdeeds. It is at times graphic and always revealing. As a whole, it is a devastating portrait of personal deception and institutional blindness, of opportunities missed and faith shattered(link is external). For those of us who have experience with Vatican documents and Vatican investigations, the report is amazing in its efforts to be transparent. At 449 pages, the report is exhaustive and at times exhausting. Not only were over 90 interviews conducted, but extensive quotations from relevant Vatican correspondence and documents reveal the internal back and forth between individuals and offices.” By Catholic News Service
- Vatican’s McCarrick report casts a dark cloud over Pope John Paul II’s legacy(link is external), By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio
Blame to share
“In the weeks since the Vatican released its report regarding disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the blame game has been in full swing. How is it possible, both critics and friends ask, that such a man as McCarrick could ever rise to the highest levels of the Church?(link is external) It’s a good question, with not a lot of good answers. The 460-page report does not lay blame on any one person or group. Instead, it has carefully followed the trail of facts and communiques inside and outside the Vatican regarding who knew what and when and how about the allegations of sexual misconduct against McCarrick. The issue of guilt isn’t addressed in the report; that had been decided by an investigation two years ago that found ‘credible’ evidence against him. He was subsequently removed from the priesthood.” By The Catholic Register Editorial Board
U.S. Catholic bishops’ response to McCarrick report is sad but predictable
“The discussion of the Vatican report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick by the U.S. bishops at their annual fall meeting was sad but predictable(link is external) — sad because the bishops failed to communicate that they understood the report’s implications; predictable in that some bishops defended John Paul II against the report’s finding that the pontiff shared culpability in the McCarrick case. The report, released Nov. 10, acknowledged that despite it being known that McCarrick was sleeping with seminarians, he was promoted to the Archdiocese of Washington and made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis names new bishop of scandal-ridden Buffalo diocese
“Pope Francis Tuesday (Dec. 1) appointed Bishop Michael Fisher, an auxiliary of Washington, to be the next bishop of the scandal-ridden Diocese of Buffalo, New York(link is external). Fisher, 62, will take over leadership of Buffalo as the diocese faces a new lawsuit from the State of New York for failing to protect children from clergy sex abuse. The diocese also filed for bankruptcy in February of this year, after it was named in hundreds of clerical abuse lawsuits filed in New York courts. Fisher will be the 15th bishop of the western New York diocese, following Bishop Richard Malone, who resigned amid controversy in December 2019.” By Catholic News Agency
Canadian Catholic bishop resigns at age of 64 ‘for the good of the Church’
“Pope Francis accepted Sunday (Nov. 29) the resignation of a Canadian Catholic bishop at the age of 64. The Holy See press office said that the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Bourgon of Hearst-Moosonee on Nov. 29 … Radio-Canada reported Nov. 29 that Bourgon faced criticism following the dismissal of two priests facing charges of fraud. It added that following protests by parishioners, who believed the priests to be innocent of wrongdoing, Pope Francis mandated a visitation by Bishop Serge Poitras of Timmins, Ontario.” By Catholic News Agency
Seminaries need clear sexual harassment guidelines to prevent clerical abuse
“When the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was bishop of the diocese of Metuchen, N.J., he routinely asked seminarians to join him at his vacation home, visits that regularly included the bishop sharing a bed with young men. Any reasonable standards would characterize those episodes, in which a powerful authority figure even suggested sharing a bed with students, as instances of sexual harassment(link is external). Stories like these led to Mr. McCarrick’s downfall, as was laid out in a recent Vatican investigation into allegations of harassment and abuse.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review
LAITY & THE CHURCH
The complicated legacy of Bishop John England
“Amid all the heart-searching that the Catholic Church is doing in response to the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance, the realization that laypeople need to be engaged in structural reform is central(link is external). No group should ever police itself, and that includes the bishops. The 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law made some progress in recognizing the rights and responsibilities of the laity, but it never got beyond allowing them a consultative role in the decision-making process. That this could change is clear, because the heartening truth about canon law is that it is subordinate to the Gospel; it must reflect and support Gospel priorities.” By Paul Lakeland, Commonweal
Vatican launches website dedicated to ‘Fratelli Tutti’ encyclical
“Beginning Tuesday (Dec.1), Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Fratelli tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship, will be more readily accessible by the faithful(link is external). The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announces a special website dedicated to the Encyclical which can be accessed either from the homepage of the Dicastery www.humandevelopment.va(link is external) or directly from the URL www.fratellitutti.va(link is external).” By Vatican News
South Dakota Catholic priest steals nearly $260,000 from three churches, jailed for three years; also faces sex charges
“Most people are familiar with the phrase ‘caught with your hand in the cookie jar.’ However, a Catholic priest from Rapid City, South Dakota, earned himself a sentence in federal prison for being caught with his hand ‘in the offertory bag(link is external).’ Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, 42, was sent to prison for 7 years and 9 months on Monday (Nov. 30) for stealing nearly $260,000 from three parishes in Rapid City.” By Jeevan Biswas International Business Times
Swiss court orders full access to records for Vatican financial investigation
“Vatican investigators have been granted full access to Swiss banking documentation related to long-time Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso. The newly announced decision by a Swiss federal court is the latest development in the ongoing financial scandal(link is external) surrounding the purchase of a London building by the Secretariat of State in 2018. According to Huffington Post, the decision was issued on Oct. 13 but only published this week. The documents to be turned over to the Vatican include financial records of the company to Az Swiss & Partners. Az Swiss owns Sogenel Capital Holding, the company Crasso founded after leaving Credit Suisse in 2014.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency
The implosion of clericalism dramatized in Leonard Berstein’s ‘Mass’
“I find myself again lamenting the abysmal sinfulness of the Catholic clerical system(link is external). The long-anticipated release of the McCarrick report sheds harsh light on the failure of complicit bishops and Pope John Paul II to believe then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s victims even after New York Cardinal John O’Connor warned the pope not to make him Cardinal Archbishop of Washington. The painful mendacity of the clerical system was also on depressing display at FutureChurch’s 30th anniversary celebration, where theologian Doris Wagner Reisinger received the organization’s Young Catholic Leaders Award. Reisinger spoke about her abuse as a young nun and her efforts to bring a prominent Vatican priest to justice. In her experience, Catholic sisters have too often been entrapped in a conspiracy of silence that protects abusing priests.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter
FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
Switzerland’s Catholic bishops lament record exodus from Church in 2019
“Bishops in Switzerland lamented Wednesday (Dec. 2) a record exodus of Catholics from the Church in 2019(link is external). In a statement after their virtual plenary assembly Dec. 2, the bishops acknowledged new figures showing that last year saw the highest annual number of ‘church exits’ on record.” By Catholic News Service
Dozens of Catholic churches merging to create 14 new ones in the Diocese of Pittsburgh
“Fourteen new merged parishes will be created in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh on Jan. 4, the diocese announced Saturday (Nov. 28). Forty parishes will be part of the mergers and will bring the number of parishes in the diocese from 107 to 81(link is external), the release states. ‘For two years, you have journeyed together on a road that is intended to unite you on the mission to bring the Good News of Jesus to your neighbors and to strengthen all of you in faith,’ Bishop David Zubik said.” By WPXI-TV11 News
The media is not the church’s enemy
“Yes, media outlets need to tell the whole truth, the good news as well as the bad. But as professional journalists, we also have to respect news values in our coverage, and often that involves some sort of conflict(link is external) … In his comments calling for transparency, Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, may have inadvertently promoted the work of journalists. “We as a church need to use all the resources that are available to us, and in many instances that will be found in lay people, who are skilled and qualified in investigating these kinds of accusations and helping us evaluate the facts,” he said. Exactly. The media are not the enemy. We are professionals, trying to do our jobs, in the service of the truth.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter
Confessions of a Vatican source: Jason Barry on the McCarrick report
“When Pope John Paul II made Theodore McCarrick a cardinal in 2001, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., was a silk-between-the-fingers fundraiser(link is external). A year later, when the pope summoned the U.S. cardinals to Rome to confront the abuse crisis, McCarrick took the lead at press conferences — a bold move, given his revelation to The Washington Post and CNN that accusations against him had been investigated and found false. In the ensuing years, McCarrick traveled the globe as an unofficial church diplomat, and rumors spread that he had slept with seminarians while a bishop in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, using a beach house on the Jersey Shore. Rumors no journalist could pin down.” By Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter
Who’s at fault? New reports on clergy sex abuse offer different views
“On the same day last week (Nov. 10), two reports on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church made headlines. The first report, released by the Vatican, is the so-called ‘McCarrick report’ … The second report was released by an independent commission in the U.K … What the reports have in common is long lists of sexual abuse victims and their broken families(link is external). The testimonies of survivors are instructive for the quality of their demand for justice and yet, to paraphrase Tolstoy, each unhappy survivor story ‘is unhappy in its own way.’ Each story is unbearable in its details of the physical and psycho-spiritual torture and the chronic wounds that remain.” By Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners on Sojo.net
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
Prominent priest, EWTN contributor accused of sexual assault
“A floor mosaic inscribed with the words ‘The Truth Above All Things’ welcomes visitors to the Church of St. Michael in midtown Manhattan where popular priest Fr. George Rutler has served as pastor since 2013. Yet Rutler now stands accused of sexually assaulting a female security guard after she allegedly filmed him watching gay pornography(link is external) last month. Those allegations have shocked parishioners and associates of Rutler, as they seek to reconcile the accusations with their own experience of the politically and theologically conservative priest known for his regular appearances on EWTN and prolific writings where he derided ‘abortionists and the sodomites,’ advocated for traditional liturgical practices and regularly criticized Pope Francis.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
Priests’ defamation suits are the latest wrinkle in sex-abuse fallout
“As U.S. dioceses continue to pay out big settlements for lawsuits, the church is facing another nettlesome problem stemming from the abuse scandal: Priests who say they were falsely accused are suing for defamation(link is external). In August 2018, shortly after a Pennsylvania grand jury report listed more than 300 priests in six dioceses in the state who had been credibly accused of abusing more than 1,000 minors since 1947, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson asked the three dioceses in his state to turn over files on church personnel credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1978.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter
Further investigation into Colorado Catholic Church IDs 46 more victims, nine more abusive priests—including Denver’s Father Woody
“Father James Moreno sexually assaulted a teenage boy dozens of times over two years after they met at a Denver Catholic school(link is external) — including in the rectory of the city’s most prominent church. Moreno assaulted the boy more than 60 times between 1978 and 1980. He groomed him, gave him alcohol and marijuana, and raped him, according to a report released Tuesday Dec. 1) by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The abuse happened all over Denver: in the rooms of St. Andrew’s Preparatory Seminary High School, in Moreno’s car, in the boy’s home, in the rectory of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of Denver, one block from the state Capitol.” By Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post
- Catholic Church pays $7 million to victims in Colorado of sexual abuse by priests(link is external), By Keith Coffman, Reuters
- Roman Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children in Colorado from 1950 to 2020(link is external), Special Master’s Supplement on bishop-accountability.org
What can Florida do about 51 Catholic priests who abused kids? Nothing
“The state attorney general’s office has concluded a two-year investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Investigators believe the systemic abuse has been largely weeded out. That’s the good news. The bad news is investigators say they have enough evidence to prosecute dozens of priests, and here’s what they plan to do about it: Nothing(link is external). They can’t. Statute-of-limitations laws make the alleged criminal untouchable.” By Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board
Suburban Lake County priest investigated for past child sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago is investigating allegations that a suburban priest sexually abused children(link is external) 25 years ago. Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote a letter to parishioners on Saturday (Nov. 28) saying he asked the Rev. David Ryan to ‘step aside from ministry’ after the archdiocese received the allegations. Ryan, pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich, has been ‘directed to live away from the parish’ during the investigation and ‘is fully cooperating with this direction,’ Cupich said in the letter.” By NBC-TV5 News
Abuse trial delayed for ex-Catholic Church friar
“The trial for a former Catholic Church friar accused of sex abuse at a Mississippi school has been postponed(link is external). Paul West, a former member of the Franciscan religious order, was supposed to face trial on Tuesday for allegations that he sexually molested students in the 1990s at Greenwood’s St. Francis of Assisi School. No new trial date was immediately set, Kelly Roberts, senior deputy clerk of the Leflore County Circuit Court, told The Greenwood Commonwealth.” By Associated Press on WJTV-TV12 News
Over a year, more than 230 sex abuse suits have been filed in NJ against the Catholic Church
“The lawsuits filed over the past 12 months in New Jersey alleging sex abuse by Catholic priests have been numerous — there are more than 230 of them — and varied(link is external). One man said that when he was a student at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale and told a vice principal that he’d been abused by a religious brother, the administrator struck the student over the head with a 500-page book, warned him never to speak of it again and imposed a five-day suspension.” By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com
New York attorney general sues bishops Malone, Grosz and Buffalo Diocese for failing to protect children
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Monday (Nov. 23) sued the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and former bishops Richard J. Malone and Edward M. Grosz for failing to protect children and for engaging in a decades-long cover-up of sexual abuse by diocesan priests. New York’s top prosecutor also filed a motion that seeks to force a full public disclosure of predatory priests and their actions against those whom they were entrusted with spiritual care, and is seeking a court-appointed monitor that would ensure that interim Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger complies with sexual abuse policies and procedures.” By Charlie Spect, WKBW-TV7 News
- Attorney general shows complicity by Malone in shielding accused priests,(link is external) By The Buffalo News Editorial Board
Allentown Diocese has paid $16 million to abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has paid nearly $16 million to victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy(link is external), it reported Tuesday (Nov. 24), as the program to compensate victims draws to a close. The payments, totaling $15.85 million, were made to 96 abuse victims through the diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, according to a final report by an independent committee appointed to oversee the program.” By Peter Hall, The Morning Call
Utah priest abuse lawsuit poses new challenge to time limits on old cases
“What began as a routine visit to the deli aisle last year ended in a revelation for Guy Platt. Platt spotted the Colosimo name on a pork sausage label and wondered if it belonged to a member of the family he recalled from childhood. But an online search turned up a series of mugshots and a more profound connection. The man he said he remembers sexually abusing and threatening him(link is external) five decades earlier hadn’t been a schoolmate’s father like he’d thought.” By Annie Knox, Deseret News
Catholics angered, saddened by Montreal church’s mishandling of abusive priest
“People who tried to warn Montreal’s Catholic Archdiocese about a pedophile priest say they’re sad, angry and overwhelmed by an explosive report outlining the church’s repeated failures to heed their warnings(link is external). The Montreal archdiocese asked retired Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo to investigate the church’s handling of allegations against former priest Brian Boucher, who was convicted in January 2019 of sexually abusing two young boys.” By Leah Hendry and Steve Rukavina, CBC News
- Report says Montreal Archdiocese covered for abusive priest for decades, By Francois Gloutnay(link is external), Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com
‘My world was the Church,’ abuse survivor Andrew Madden on his journey to recovery
“Andrew Madden was an altar boy. He had always enjoyed going to the Church and wanted to become a priest. But aged 12, he was abused by Father Ivan Payne. That abuse lasted for several years(link is external).In Ireland, he was the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public with his story in 1995. As part of an Unreported Europe episode focusing on the survivors of Ireland’s child sex abuse scandal at the hands of Catholic priests, Euronews spoke to Madden his personal healing journey.” By Euronews
Child abuse in the Catholic Church—a scandalous approach to scandal
“Standing on the banks of the Rhine river, practically in the shadows of Cologne’s cathedral, Karl Haucke says he has lost faith in the Catholic Church. His story begins in the early 1960s, when he was sent to boarding school in the West German capital at the time, Bonn. From the age of eleven, he was regularly abused by a priest for four years—at least once a week(link is external). But the abuse was not just of a physical, sexual nature. The priest made him relate the stories during the weekly confession.” By Deutche Welle
German survivors accuse Cardinal Woelki of ‘abuse of abuse victims’
“The two abuse survivors who resigned as spokesmen of the victims’ advisory board in the Cologne Archdiocese have accused Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of a ‘renewed abuse of abuse victims(link is external).’ The board had been ‘completely overrun’ by Cardinal Woelki’s treatment of the Cologne abuse studies, Patrick Bauer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in comments published Nov. 19. ‘We were meant to deliver the certificate: approved by the advisory board,’ said Karl Haucke.” By Catholic News Service
GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES
New pupils barred from top UK Catholic school after abuse scandal
“The government has ordered one of England’s most prestigious Catholic boarding schools, Ampleforth college, to stop admitting new pupils as a result of ‘very serious’ failings. Scandal has surrounded the private school in recent years and an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse published a highly critical report in August 2018 that said ‘appalling sexual abuse [was] inflicted over decades on children as young as seven(link is external).’” By Mattha Busby, The Guardian
IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND
Sins of the fathers: Ireland’s sex abuse survivors
“Ireland has one of the largest Catholic communities in Europe. The Church is rooted into the culture of the country, but when Pope Francis visited Dublin in 2018 his words divided the nation. Since 2002, multiple reports and investigations have shed light on nearly 15,000 cases of sexual abuse committed in Ireland between 1970 and 1990(link is external). The pontiff had come to apologise for those crimes carried out by members of the Church’s clergy. For many survivors, the visit and remorse that came with it was far too late.” By Euronews
Stop blaming children for the behavior of sexual predators
“Two headlines this week have perturbed me considerably, not only because of the stories they refer to, but because it points to an alarming inability by some fellow members of the press to comprehend how important it is to report sex abuse stories using the right terminology(link is external). This is not about being ‘politically correct’, which has become a hackneyed phrase, and is often being used with negative connotations, much in the same way we sneer at people for being ‘snowflakes’, i.e., overly sensitive and easily offended.” By Josanne Cessar, Malta Today
Catholic Church abuse: Victim says church refused to strip honors from abuser
“A woman who was sexually abused at a Catholic school(link is external) says the church refused to strip her abuser of any honors or remove his name from a school classroom despite evidence he had abused multiple people. It also never told her to go to police and instead offered her $6000 in compensation – which she rejected. Frances Tagaloa, 52, gave her evidence before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care this morning (Nov. 29), as hearings began on abuse in faith-based institutions.” By Isaac Davison, New Zealand Herald
“The government-mandated Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom revealed that along with systemic sexual abuse, the church rushed more quickly to save its image than it did to respond to the plight of survivors. According to the report, over a half-century, the Catholic Church in England and Wales had received complaints alleging more than 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse against 936 people associated with the church, among them priests, vowed religious and volunteers.” (America: The Jesuit Review)
“On the night before her confirmation, Sue Cox was sexually abused by a Catholic priest at a convent where she was attending summer school to improve her catechism. She was 10. When she was 13, the same priest again raped her in the bedroom of her own home.
“My mother caught him and told me to pray for him and to offer it up,” Ms. Cox, who is from Warwickshire, England, told America. Listening to the advice her adoptive mother gave after she walked in on the priest, “I felt sacrificial,” she said.
“‘We were told that he could do no wrong,’ and that he had ‘sacred hands,’ said Ms. Cox, an award-winning addiction specialist and acupuncturist. ‘Worse than that, we were told that priests were next to God—that they were ontologically changed at ordination.’
“Ms. Cox, who is 73 years old and today describes herself as an atheist, said that this was the belief that her ‘fiercely superstitious Catholic family’ ingrained in her as a young child. ‘Well,’ she added. ‘I can tell you that a child is ontologically changed when she is abused at that age.'”
By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …
“The Catholic Church is afflicted with a rigged clerical system incapable of monitoring itself. It is tempting to despair of the ‘Catholic’ brand, which many of us were once quite proud to claim. It may be time to own our despair. The clerical system isn’t working anymore. Perhaps it was never meant to work, only we didn’t realize it.” (National Catholic Reporter)
“I find myself again lamenting the abysmal sinfulness of the Catholic clerical system. The long-anticipated release of the McCarrick report sheds harsh light on the failure of complicit bishops and Pope John Paul II to believe then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s victims even after New York Cardinal John O’Connor warned the pope not to make him Cardinal Archbishop of Washington.
“The painful mendacity of the clerical system was also on depressing display at FutureChurch’s 30th anniversary celebration, where theologian Doris Wagner Reisinger received the organization’s Young Catholic Leaders Award. Reisinger spoke about her abuse as a young nun and her efforts to bring a prominent Vatican priest to justice. In her experience, Catholic sisters have too often been entrapped in a conspiracy of silence that protects abusing priests.
“In November 2018, Reisinger and two other survivors shattered that silence. They were helped by NCR’s Joshua McElwee, who reported that Reisinger’s abuser — Fr. Hermann Geissler — still held his high ranking position at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Days after the story ran, Geissler resigned and Pope Francis requested the Vatican’s highest court — the Apostolic Signatura — to investigate the accusations.”
By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
In the United States, Voice of the Faithful, a group of lay Catholics founded in 2002 to respond to survivors and ensure a greater voice for laypeople following the revelations of child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston, has long called for reforms to the process for selecting bishops. The group drafted a document calling for the pope “to restore a role for the laity in the selection of their bishops by expanding the recommendation processes at diocesan and archdiocesan levels to require formal consultation with groups of committed Catholic men and women.” (America: The Jesuit Review)
“More than a report about culpability for sexual abuses spanning decades, the Vatican’s report on Theodore McCarrick is an indictment of institutional knowledge and decision-making in the Catholic Church. The report, issued on Nov. 10 by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, not only charts who knew what and when about the disgraced former cardinal. It also gives us keen insight into the people, decisions and processes that enabled his rise to posts of authority in the church, despite knowledge of his crimes of the abuse of power and sexual abuse—from bishop, to archbishop and then cardinal.
“Is there a better way to select bishops? Can the process of vetting candidates for episcopal promotion in the Catholic Church be more transparent?
“Whistleblowers sounded their concerns before Mr. McCarrick’s ascendancy to the rank of archbishop—and again to the cardinalate. We now know that allegations of sexual misconduct were repeatedly overlooked or explained away by those who had the power to ensure protection and justice for his victims and to stop his rise through the ranks.”
By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …
“On the same day last week (Nov. 10), two reports on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church made headlines. The first report, released by the Vatican, is the so-called ‘McCarrick report’ … The second report was released by an independent commission in the U.K … What the reports have in common is long lists of sexual abuse victims and their broken families. The testimonies of survivors are instructive for the quality of their demand for justice and yet, to paraphrase Tolstoy, each unhappy survivor story ‘is unhappy in its own way.’ Each story is unbearable in its details of the physical and psycho-spiritual torture and the chronic wounds that remain.
“Both reports released last week reveal water made toxic by clericalism, or the misuse, overreach, or outright idolatry of clergy’s authority. This leads to abuse of power, which leads to religious violence, sometimes in the form of sexual abuse, but most often in the form of spiritual and moral domination of women, laity, children, and other vulnerable or dependent adults. ‘Clericalism is our ugliest perversion,’ Pope Francis told seminarians in 2018.
“The abuse of power within the Roman Catholic hierarchy has caused many who seek God “to stumble” (see Mark 9:42). Not only is the Church’s moral authority to address key social issues undermined, but individual souls seeking a spiritual anchorage are left adrift — or they reject God altogether.”
By Rose Marie Berger, Senior Editor, Sojourners Magazine, on Sojo.net — Read more …
In this article by Elise Ann Allen, which appeared today (Nov. 19) on Cruxnow.com, she says: “A long-outspoken critic of market capitalism and neoliberalism, Pope Francis offered a clear picture of his vision for global economics in a post-pandemic world in his recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti, which, among other things, criticized nationalist populism and argued in favor of multilateral accords.”
Our view parallels Pope Francis’, and also that of Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr, who quoted author Sharon Harper* in his meditation today:
“Evidence of the presence of the Kingdom of God is thick wherever and whenever people stand on the promise of God that there is more to this world—more to this life—than what we see. There is more than the getting over, getting by, or getting mine. There is more than the brokenness, the destruction, and the despair that threaten to wash over us like the waters of the deep. There is a vision of a world where God cuts through the chaos, where God speaks and there is light. There is a vision where there is protection and where love is binding every relationship together.”
Those who deny Pope Francis’ view of this world and treat Christendom as an imperial system impede the coming of the Kingdom of God into this world. For the umpteenth Advent season, this Advent we’ll hear sermon after sermon about the humility of Jesus being born in a manger. Will that truth, whether myth or fact, sink into your soul, or will it sink no deeper than water sinks into a rock in a river.
*Lisa Sharon Harper, The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right (Waterbrook: 2016), 205.
Despite financial stress, many, but not all, U.S. dioceses post audited financial reports
Despite financial stress from the COVID-19 pandemic and clergy sexual abuse settlements, the number of dioceses posting audited financial reports to their websites rose 5% in the past year, according to Voice of the Faithful’s 2020 study of U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency.
However, 43 dioceses posted no financial information at all, and overall, diocesan transparency dropped slightly from 65.11% in 2019 to 64.76% in 2020. Relatively stagnant overall scores resulted, at least in part, from the change of one word in Question #8. The reviewers added the word “current” to Question #8, which refers to lists of Diocesan Finance Council members. Dioceses scoring zero on Question #8 almost doubled from 2019 to 2020, going from 68 to 113 out of 177 dioceses and offsetting major gains in scores overall. According to the study’s authors the importance of the DFC and lay membership cannot be overstated. Lay members “represent the laity of the diocese in ensuring that their donations advance the mission of the Church,” VOTF’s study says.
VOTF’s fourth annual review of all dioceses comprising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was conducted between June 1 and Aug. 31 by three independent reviewers and their report, “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2020 Report,” found that:
- 70% of U.S. dioceses posted audited financial reports on their websites;
- U.S. dioceses posting audited financial reports increased from 65% in 2019 to 70% in 2020;
- 6% of the dioceses provided only unaudited reports, and 24% posted no reports at all;
- 93% of dioceses now post a central finance page on their websites, making it easier for members of the faithful to find available financial information.
The top five dioceses, each of which received a perfect score of 100%, were the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland, and, for the second consecutive year, the Archdioceses of Anchorage, Alaska, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Dioceses of Erie, Pennsylvania, and Rochester, New York. The five lowest scoring dioceses were Camden, New Jersey; Crookston, Minnesota; Lubbock, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
VOTF’s annual review continues to emphasize the importance of financial transparency, especially in an era of continually tightening finances and dioceses’ attempts to minimize the effects of clergy abuse settlements.
VOTF’s 2020 report points out:
“Every Catholic shares in the responsibility to ensure that funds donated for Church work actually go toward those purposes. Without access to financial reports and information on diocesan finance councils, budgets, and the overall financial health of a diocese, ordinary Catholics cannot exercise their full responsibility of stewardship or verify where their donations go … This 2020 report and the three that preceded it provide tools that faithful Catholics can use to understand how their diocese uses their donations and to help them exercise good stewardship of the gifts God has given them.”
You can read VOTF’s previous annual reports on diocesan online financial transparency by clicking here.
The McCarrick Report confirms it: clericalism powered the sex abuse crisis / America: The Jesuit Review
“Even more, it (McCarrick Report) gives us a close-up view of concentric layers of plausible deniability and culpable ignorance, powered by clericalism, that allowed McCarrick to evade discovery or accountability.” (America: The Jesuit Review.)
“People have been scouring the 461 pages of the McCarrick Report, looking for a smoking gun that definitively explains what went wrong and who should be held responsible for the church’s long-standing failure to take allegations of abuse by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick seriously. But there is no single smoking gun. Instead, the report documents decades worth of smoke during which almost no one went looking for the very real fire producing it. Even more, it gives us a close-up view of concentric layers of plausible deniability and culpable ignorance, powered by clericalism, that allowed McCarrick to evade discovery or accountability.
“There are, to be sure, specific events in the report that are particularly shocking, most especially Pope John Paul II’s irresponsible decision to accept McCarrick’s protestations of innocence over the counsel of multiple advisors when transferring him to become archbishop of Washington, D.C. But even if John Paul II had refused to promote him, McCarrick would have remained the archbishop of Newark, with the hope—made explicit by those recommending against his appointment—that the rumors swirling around him would simply fade into the background, never to be further investigated.
“This dark and deceptive hope, focused on avoiding scandal, is perhaps the single most common theme in the report. It shows up when McCarrick is passed over for appointment to Chicago and New York, when he is chosen for Washington and when the Vatican spends years unsuccessfully attempting to limit his public activity and travel. Over and over again, shepherds of the church, were faced with persistent and proliferating rumors and eventually even specific allegations that one of their brothers had abused and mistreated those entrusted to his care.”
By Sam Sawyer, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …
Click here to read Voice of the Faithful’s “Clericalism: Reality and Concerns.”
November 10, 2020
Voice of the Faithful has long called for holding bishops accountable when they have covered up clergy sexual abuse or, as in the case of disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, were themselves guilty of using their positions of power to abuse minors and vulnerable adults. The Vatican today released its long-awaited report into McCarrick’s case.
As the summary of the Vatican’s report shows, the line of bishops complicit in covering up, and at least implicitly condoning, his behavior stretches from his peers in the USCCB all the way to the Vatican.
“Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI both knew of the credible allegations against McCarrick,” VOTF President Mary Pat Fox said, “and the report summary names the bishops and curial officials who also knew. Clear repudiation and sanctions are needed against those still in office to demonstrate some effort at holding bishops accountable.”
Fox continued, “We also hope that Pope Francis will demonstrate his own sorrow for accepting the word of other bishops before, finally, ordering this investigation. An excellent demonstration would be accepting the resignations of all those involved.”
Vatican’s explosive McCarrick report largely places blame on John Paul II / National Catholic Reporter
“In an explosive report that calls into question the decision-making of three Catholic popes, the Vatican has revealed a series of institutional failures that led to the repeated promotion of now disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite rumors of his alleged sexual misconduct with young men as early as the 1990s.
“The Vatican places an abundance of responsibility on Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick as archbishop of Washington in 2000 and made him a cardinal in 2001.
“The report reveals that the late pontiff, now a Catholic saint, made those appointments despite being warned in 1999 by then-New York Cardinal John O’Connor that McCarrick had been the subject of anonymous allegations and was known to invite seminarians to sleep in the same bed as him.
“The executive summary of the expansive 450-page text suggests that John Paul may have been blinded by his own prior friendship with McCarrick in the 1970s, and by his experience in communist Poland, where authorities would sometimes level false accusations against bishops in order to try and damage the church’s reputation.”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …