Posts Tagged accountability

This April 2023 help Voice of the Faithful mark National Child Abuse Prevention Month

By Patricia T. Gomez, Ph.D., Voice of the Faithful Trustee and Protection of Children Working Group Co-Chair

The Voice of the Faithful Protection of Children Team continues its work to ensure the safety of children in our faith communities. Building on early VOTF efforts, we call attention to the importance of ongoing local efforts to maintain safe environments during April, which the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In recent years POC members have noted a de-emphasis on maintaining safe environments in our faith communities. This de-emphasis diverts us from the shame and horror that abuse of children occurred and persisted for so many years in our parishes. But the need to safeguard our children and those at risk remains constant.

This annual observance in April is a powerful reminder that urges ongoing Child Abuse Prevention efforts! Moreover, timely reminders prompt us to remain vigilant and renew our safe environment efforts. Especially during this month, we renew our commitment to protect children and the vulnerable among us in every diocese and faith community.


What can you do? Here are a few suggestions.

At the diocesan level: The POC team recommends looking at the abuse prevention measures posted on your diocesan website. Does your diocese promote the annual observance of National Child Abuse Prevention month in April? If not ask your diocesan safe environment coordinator to do so on the diocese’s website. Here is a link to resources on the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference website — Moreover, this is a timely reminder for us in the pews to evaluate diocesan child protection measures and to determine whether we are living out those measures in our local parish communities.

At the local level: Are the posted diocesan measures for abuse prevention and safe environments comprehensive and, most importantly, are they carried out in your faith community? Call your parish safe environment coordinator and start a conversation. A good place to begin is asking if your faith community provides annual abuse prevention training to catechists, lectors, and eucharistic ministers. Become an advocate for safe environments in your parish!

The VOTF Safety Sunday project provides short tips for publication in parish bulletins, especially during National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. Safe environment coordinators in many parishes have continued to utilize VOTF resources. Here is a link to April: Child Protection Month on VOTF’s webpage — Child Protection – Voice of The Faithful (

At the national level: VOTF calls for the enforcement of standards set in the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Essential Norms. And we call for transparency and change in faulted structures and attitudes that foment clericalism, especially the insular and authoritarian culture fostered in many dioceses.

Recently, the POC Team investigated how the U.S. institutional church presents efforts to prevent abuse and respond to those abused. We completed the first diocesan website review for Child Protection and Safe Environment efforts last spring. The review scored the performances of the 176 dioceses in the U.S. on a series of thirty-three questions. A link to the detailed findings from that review is available on VOTF’s Child Protection webpage — Child Protection – Voice of The Faithful ( The second annual review will take place later this year.

Results of this first review indicate the need to enhance diocesan child protection policies and safe environment measures. Actions by all are essential to keep children safe in our faith communities:

  • Clearly-stated, publicly-available, and comprehensive diocesan guidelines for safe environments will provide measurable standards that can be modeled in parishes and are essential to prevent further child abuse.
  • The USCCB should more frequently update its Charter and Norms.
  • The USCCB National Review Board should more closely monitor compliance with the bishops’ own standards for child protection by augmenting annual audits.
  • VOTF will continue to monitor diocesan child protection measures on annually.

Parishioners have a key role to ensure the protection of children in our parishes. We need to work with diocesan and parish safe environment personnel to bolster child protection guidelines at the diocesan level and ensure that safety measures are carried out in their faith communities.

Alive in the life of Jesus, the entire People of God can transform into a sacramental community where children, youth, and the vulnerable are nurtured and protected in safe environments.

Keep the faith; change the church!

Click here to read Voice of the Faithful’s Child Protection webpage …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Mar. 16, 2023

Mar. 16, 2023


A look back at Pope Francis’ legacy as he marks 10 years of papacy
Pope Francis marks 10 years of his papacy on March 13. The 86-year-old pontiff has pushed the Catholic Church to the left, cheering many Catholics but also angering traditionalists. Tomorrow, Pope Francis will mark 10 years as leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics. NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports on the papacy that, over the last decade, has steered the church leftward after more than three decades of conservative leadership.” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio

Does the Catholic Church really believe women are people?
“It can seem simplistic to say that the life and dignity of people within the Church begins with baptism and must be respected. But when the Church makes statements that imply or directly state that women cannot image Christ, the Risen Lord, there is much to be criticized. While it may seem incomprehensible in current times to say that women cannot—do not—image Christ, this is the bedrock of the argument that women cannot receive sacramental ordination. The implications of this statement or belief are enormous. Its errors are equally enormous.” By Phyllis Zagano, U.S. Catholic

Illinois bishop’s provocative essay suggests Cardinal McElroy is a heretic
“In a provocative essay published Feb. 28 at First Things magazine, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, appears to accuse San Diego Cardinal Robert McElroy of heresy, citing the cardinal’s views on how the Catholic Church should minister to LGBTQ people and Catholics who have been divorced and remarried. Paprocki, a hardline conservative prelate and canon lawyer, does not mention McElroy by name in the essay, but quotes directly from a Jan. 24 article the cardinal wrote at America magazine. Repeating a phrase in an October document from the Synod of Bishops, McElroy had called for a church that favors ‘radical inclusion’ of everyone, including those whose personal situations may not strictly conform with church doctrine.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Future Pope John Paul covered up child sex abuse while cardinal: report
“The late Polish pope John Paul II knew about child abuse in Poland’s Catholic church years before becoming pontiff and helped cover it up, private broadcaster TVN reported Sunday (Mar. 5). Michal Gutowski, the investigator behind the broadcast, said that Karol Wojtyla, as he then was, knew of cases of pedophile priests within the church while still a cardinal in Krakow. He transferred the priests to other dioceses — one as far away as Austria — to ensure no scandal ensued, he said.” By Agence France Press in Barron’s

Papal advisor says ‘Vos estis,’ Francis’ key clergy abuse reform, ‘not working’
“One of Pope Francis’ key advisors on clergy sexual abuse admitted that the pontiff’s signature effort to confront abuse and cover-up is ‘very often’ not working, as part of a virtual conversation with Catholic abuse survivors on March 2. Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner spoke about Vos estis lux mundi, a sweeping set of laws issued by Francis in 2019, as part of a question-and-answer session with survivors of clergy sexual abuse sponsored by Awake Milwaukee, a Catholic group focused on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.” By Aleja Hertzler-McCain, National Catholic Reporter


Judge approves public release of Baltimore Catholic church sex abuse report with redactions
“A Baltimore Circuit Court judge ordered the redactions submitted by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office must be included in the report regarding sexual abuse in the Baltimore Archdiocese.” By WJZ-TV CBS News, Baltimore

Adams says ending exception for child abuse reporting forces clergy to choose between faith, jail
Lawmakers have proposed several bills this session that would end the clergy exception for reporting child abuse, but with less than a week before the Utah Legislature adjourns, none have been granted a public hearing. When asked why the bills — all of which were publicly released before the legislative session began in January — have yet to come up for discussion, Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said he doesn’t want to force clergy to choose between breaking a tenet of their faith or breaking state law.” By Bridger Beal-Cvetko,


Bishop Daniel Flores named to synod preparatory commission
“Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod, has named Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, and six others to be members of the preparatory commission for the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October. According to the apostolic constitution for the synods, the secretary-general establishes the commission ‘for further exploration of the theme and for the redaction of any documents that may be issued prior to the Synod Assembly.’” By OSV News in America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic Church: Germany’s controversial Synodial Way
“A small revolution? No, but the German Synodal Way has paved the way for reform to change Church practices on same-sex couples and lay preaching. ‘The Holy Spirit expresses itself, above all, in the wisdom of an assembly,’ said the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, at the end of the plenary assembly of the Synodal Path in Frankfurt Cathedral on Saturday. Three years ago, at the end of January 2020, a service in the same building marked the beginning of the first assembly of the Synodal Path: a long conversation between Christian laity and bishops to make the Catholic Church, which had been heavily shaken by a series of abuse scandals, more credible and fit for the future.” By Christof Strack, Deustche Welle

A gentle warning for Pope Francis critics (and cheerleaders): The Synod is about conversion, not winning an argument
“Recent heated conversations among Catholic leaders about inclusivity and the church’s teaching on sexual morality, particularly in response to Cardinal Robert W. McElroy’s recent articles on these subjects for America, raise a question: What is the point of the Synod on Synodality? If the point is clarifying theological debate, then it seems like an inefficient and painful way to rehash old arguments in moral theology. But is that the call of the Spirit to the church right now? If the point of the Synod – and more broadly a synodal way of the church – however, is conversion, then we desperately need that.” By Bill McCormick, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

The synod is missing something essential: other churches
“The unprecedented worldwide consultation now underway in our church promises to be the most influential religious event of the 21st century … Never before has our church’s leadership so clearly desired to learn ‘the sense of the faithful.’ Never before has it implemented such a detailed, methodical process to discern that sense … The ‘National Synthesis’ reveals, however, that we have drastically limited our vision of reform and the resources available to accomplish it. We have ignored the gifts and graces of our sisters and brothers in other churches.” By Jon Nilson, America: The Jesuit Review

Bishops, theologians talk frankly about synodality at Boston College conference
“For the second consecutive year, dozens of theologians and bishops from across the United States gathered together to discuss how the Catholic Church can better live out the synodal path that Pope Francis has said is what ‘God expects of the church of the third millennium.’ The conference, “The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality,” was held March 3-4 at Boston College. Several bishops over the event’s two days were forthright in describing their thoughts and experiences during the local consultative process of the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops on synodality, noting challenges during the process and some resistance to the synod.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Official of Synod of Bishops advocates for ‘an African theology of synodality’
“The Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops is advocating for ‘an African theology of synodality,’ which he says would have a positive impact to the Catholic Church across the globe. In his speech at the ongoing Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on Thursday, March 2, Mario Cardinal Grech acknowledged with appreciation the ‘significant resources’ on the African continent that can benefit the Universal Church.” By ACI Africa Staff

The most defining characteristic of Francis’ papacy is synodality
“In assessing the pontificate of Francis at the 10-year mark, we have looked at his self-understanding of the papal role as a pastor, his placement of mercy at the heart of his teaching, and his efforts to reform the church. All three themes find their fullest ecclesial expression in Francis’ commitment to synodality. Commonweal senior writer Paul Baumann recalled a written symposium sponsored by The Wall Street Journal in the weeks after Pope Benedict XVI resigned but before Francis was elected. Several Catholic writers (including myself) were asked what the Catholic Church needed in its new pope. George Weigel said we needed a ‘culture warrior.’ In a sense, Weigel got his wish, albeit not in the sense he intended!” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Pope Francis’ decade of division
“Lent is with us, and so is the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ ascent to the papal throne — an appropriate conjunction, since these are days of tribulation for his papacy. There is the two-front war that Rome finds itself fighting on doctrine and liturgy, trying to squash the church’s Latin Mass traditionalists while more gently restraining the liberal German bishops from forcing a schism on Catholicism’s leftward flank.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Pope Francis’ papacy in his own words
“Below are some memorable quotes from Pope Francis, who marks the 10th anniversary of his election as pontiff on March 13. The quotes are arranged according to subjects that have cropped up during his papacy, in chronological order within each theme.” By Reuters

Catholic paradigm shift: 10 years of Pope Francis dismantling the papal court
“Just months after his election in 2013, Pope Francis announced he would break with 400 years of tradition and would no longer spend summer holidays at Castel Gandolfo, a papal villa outside of Rome, instead preferring to remain at the Vatican and work through the summer months. In a January 2023 interview with the Associated Press, Francis cited his decision not to move to the summer palace, saying, ‘Castel Gandolfo was a bit of a court. The court spirit. In June, the court was moving there as from London you go to Scotland, the court. It’s that kind of court idea. It’s the last absolute court in Europe.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

The evolution of Pope Francis on women: some movement, but more needed
“Pope Francis is a synodal pope. It may have taken the church 10 years to recognize that, but his papacy has been a constellation of synods leading the church both into and out of darkness … Francis is a man who has changed his mind. Call it dialogue, encounter, accompaniment or whatever buzzword you like; Francis has modeled leadership that listens. While not the fireworks of change that many pray for, nor the revolution that women need, it is movement. Particularly after decades of spiritual stagnation and silencing endured under previous papacies, Francis is equally on the journey he calls the church to embark on through synodality.” By Kate McElwee, national Catholic Reporter

Close friend, aide says Pope Francis has left pastoral imprint on the Church
“One of Pope Francis’s closest friends and aides has said that after ten years, the pontiff has left an indisputably Jesuit mark on the church and has propelled Catholicism into a more open conversation with the world, eliciting criticism but also distinguishing himself as a pastor and a global moral authority. Speaking to Crux, fellow Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, Editor in Chief of the Jesuit-run periodical La Civiltà Cattolica, said he believes that as the tenth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election approaches, ‘it seems that a great parrhesia has developed in the church, which is exactly what the pope asked and is asking for.’” By Elise Ann Allen,

‘Sorry’ is not enough: Abuse victims need answers, support, pope says
“It is not enough to ask people who have suffered abuse for their forgiveness, Pope Francis said.
They also must be offered ‘concrete actions to repair the horrors they have suffered and to prevent them from happening again’ as well as the truth, transparency, safe spaces, psychological support and protection, the pope said in a video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network March 2. ‘The church must serve as a model to help solve the issue and bring it to light in society and in families,’ he said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis dedicates March to praying for victims of abuse
“In his latest prayer video, Pope Francis dedicated the month of march to praying for victims of abuse, saying simply asking forgiveness is not enough, but the church must put victims first and avoid coverup. In his video, released March 2, Pope Francis said that in response to abuse cases, specifically abuse committed by members and representatives of the church, ‘it’s not enough to ask for forgiveness.’” By Elise Ann Allen,


Cardinal McElroy on how Pope Francis has changed the church – and why some U.S. bishops are opposed to it
“‘In Pope Francis’ pontificate, the global south is present in a radically new and prominent way in the life of the church,’ Cardinal Robert W. McElroy told Gerard O’Connell, America’s Vatican correspondent, in an exclusive hourlong interview via Zoom on March 4. ‘There has been a fundamental shift in perspective, of cultures, and sometimes of priorities, within the life of the church.’ Cardinal McElroy reflects on the first 10 years of Francis’ leadership of the Catholic Church, shares his impressions of the Argentine pope as a person and the changes he has ushered for the papacy, the Roman Curia and the universal church over the past decade.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Cardinal Cupich on 10 years of Pope Francis: women, LGBT Catholics, sex abuse and what comes next
“When Pope Francis named Blase Cupich as archbishop of Chicago in 2014, some interpreted the appointment as a signal that the pope sought to reorient the U.S. hierarchy. Francis, who was elected pope 10 years ago on Monday (Mar. 13), has spent the last decade reforming the Vatican bureaucracy and trying to implement his vision of a church that acts as what he describes as a field hospital, responding with mercy to the needs of ordinary Catholics. In the United States, home to a vocal group of Catholics who have challenged Francis’ vision, Cardinal Cupich has proven a key papal ally, acting as an interpreter of the pope’s message for Catholics here and advising Francis on key matters, including the appointment of new bishops and the church’s handling of sexual abuse allegations.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope renews cabinet of cardinal advisors, adds new members
“Pope Francis has renewed his cabinet of cardinal advisers from around the world, naming a handful of new members Tuesday (Mar. 7) and reconfirming others to help him run the Catholic Church. Francis instituted the Council of Cardinals one month into his papacy, on April 13, 2013, with a primary goal of advising him on the reform of the Vatican bureaucracy. After nearly a decade of consultation, Francis issued a new blueprint for the Vatican bureaucracy last year.” By Associated Press in Religion News Service

Cardinal McElroy responds to his critics on sexual sin, the Eucharist, and LGBT and divorced/remarried Catholics
“In January, America published an article I wrote on the theme of inclusion in the life of the church. Since that time, the positions I presented have received both substantial support and significant opposition … I seek in this article to wrestle with some of these criticisms so that I might contribute to the ongoing dialogue on this sensitive question—which will no doubt continue to be discussed throughout the synodal process.” By Robert W. McElroy, America: The Jesuit Review


Implications of fall-off in priest numbers outlined in two rural Catholic dioceses
“The stark decline in the number of priests has been outlined in a Lenten pastoral letter by Bishop of Achonry Paul Dempsey, while the Bishop of Ferns, Ger Nash, has appealed to people to personally attend Masses as they did before the Covid-19 pandemic. Achonry diocese, one of the smallest and most rural in Ireland, covering parishes in Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon, has had no ordination in 10 years and has no seminarian currently studying for the priesthood. ‘At best, there will be 12 priests serving in the 23 parishes of our diocese in 10 years time,’ Bishop Dempsey said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Bishop says priests would rather go to jail if state requires violation of confessional seal
“Two states are currently considering legislation that amends mandatory reporter laws to force Catholic priests and other religious clergy to divulge information about sexual abuse, even when the priest learned of the abuse while hearing a confession. Bills currently under consideration in the Washington and Vermont legislatures would make all clergy in the state mandatory reporters of sexual abuse and would remove so-called clergy-penitent privilege, which otherwise exempts religious ministers from reporting anything that is heard in confession.” By Jeremiah Poff, Washington Examiner


Pope Francis understands, appreciates and trusts women religious
“‘What would the church be without religious sisters and consecrated laywomen?’ These were the words of Pope Francis in a video released Feb. 1, 2022, to mark his prayer intention for the month to be for consecrated women. Pope Francis insisted in the video that ‘the church cannot be understood without them’ — religious women and consecrated laywomen! Again, Pope Francis encouraged women religious to fight when they are treated unfairly, even within the church. This is a bold move from the pope of a church whose culture over the centuries has ensured women maintained a low profile with regard to crucial decision-making.” By Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


On Women’s Day, church challenged to open new forms of leadership
“As the world observed International Women’s Day, the Catholic Church was challenged to open more space for women in leadership, with some groups calling for access to priestly ordination and the ability to preach at Mass, as well as modifications to teachings on sexual morality. Pope Francis himself observed International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, during his Wednesday general audience, during which he thanked women ‘for their commitment to building a more human society through their capacity to welcome reality with a creative gaze and tender heart.’” By Elise Ann Allen,

Pope says equal opportunities for women are key to a better world
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Mar. 8) decried violence and prejudice against women and said granting equal pay and opportunities could help create a more peaceful world, as a new survey of Catholic women showed that many felt the Church discriminated against them. In a book preface published by the Vatican News website on International Women’s Day, Francis stressed the differences between men and women but called for ‘equality in diversity’ on ‘a playing field open to all players.’” By Gavin Jones and Philip Pullella, Reuters

Small victories as women challenge Vatican patriarchy
“Once a rare sight in the Vatican’s halls of power, women are increasingly being seen in senior posts under Pope Francis, but the gender battle is far from won. The centuries-old institution has an inherently patriarchal image, from the Swiss Guards at the gates to the cardinals seated in St Peter’s Square. It reflects the wider Roman Catholic Church, which outlaws divorce, abortion and the ordination of women.” By Agence France Presse

Women play decisive role in Vatican diplomacy, says official
“Women play an increasingly ‘decisive’ role in Vatican diplomacy and promoting peace worldwide, said the undersecretary in the Vatican’s foreign ministry office. In an interview published March 3 by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Francesca Di Giovanni reflected on her tenure as the first woman named to a managerial position in the Secretariat of State. Pope Francis appointed Di Giovanni to her role in January 2020, after working in the Secretariat of State for 27 years.” By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service, on

Catholic women’s cries for change to be heard at the Vatican on International Women’s Day
“The most extensive global survey of Catholic women ever undertaken, detailing experiences of women in the church, will be presented by Australian researchers in-person at the Vatican this International Women’s Day. The newly published International Survey of Catholic Women (ISCW) comprises more than 17,000 responses from participants across 104 countries. Led by Drs Tracy McEwan and Kathleen McPhillips from the University of Newcastle, Australia, the report details 20 key findings and further presents 14 key recommendations from the responses.” By The University of Newcastle News


Diocese renews commitment to be a ‘leading light’ for safety
“Parramatta Diocese has become the first Catholic entity to be accredited as a safe environment for children and adults at risk. Over the past 12 months, the diocese’s chancery office participated in Quality Innovation Performance’s (QIP) Standards for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults pilot program. The chancery was audited against measurable standards based on the 10 principles for child-safe organizations recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.” By


Catholic Church and reform
Most Catholic Church leaders in Germany are convinced of the urgent need for change as record numbers of followers quit. Last year, 350,000 Catholics left the church. But the Vatican is putting the brakes on the reform process.” By Deutsche Welle

Vatican draws new red lines in dispute over church reforms in Germany
“The conflict between Catholic reformers in Germany and the headquarters of the church in Rome continued to escalate as the Vatican issued a new stop signal at the start of the spring plenary meeting of the German Bishops’ Conference in Dresden on Monday (Feb. 27). The pope’s ambassador to Germany, Nuncio Nikola Eterovic, reiterated Roman concerns in his welcoming address and drew new red lines. The president of the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, had insisted shortly beforehand that the bishops wanted to stick to the reform process despite all the opposition to it.” By KNA International in America: The Jesuit Review


The way forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality
“A major conference at Boston College earlier this month, co-hosted by the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, is believed to be the largest gathering of Catholic leadership at a college campus in the nation’s history. ‘The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality,’ which took place March 3-4, brought together 80 participants—including cardinals, bishops, and other Catholic Church leaders, as well as theologians, historians, and journalists—to discuss synodality, the call by Pope Francis for the universal Church to ‘walk together,’ to continue the reception of Vatican II, and to embrace the ecclesiological challenges facing the Church.” By Phil Gloudemans, University Communications, Boston College

German Catholic bishops back blessings for same-sex couples
“Delegates of a synodal assembly on the reform of the Catholic Church adopted a paper to allow blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples from 2026. The Synodal Assembly — which is focused on reforming the Church — adopted a paper in Frankfurt on Friday (Mar. 10) to allow for same-sex couples to have their relationships blessed by the German Catholic Church from 2026. Of the 202 members of the Synodal Assembly, 176 voted in favor of the paper, while 14 against and 12 abstained.” By Deustche Welle

Vatican statistics show decline in clergy, religious women, worldwide
“The number of Catholics and permanent deacons in the world rose in 2021, while the number of seminarians, priests, and men and women in religious orders declined, according to Vatican statistics. At the end of 2021, the number of Catholics in the world reached 1.378 billion, up 1.3 percent from 1.36 billion Catholics at the end of 2020, according to the Vatican’s Central Office of Church Statistics. By contrast, the world’s population increased by 1.6 percent over the same period. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published a brief overview of the global numbers March 3. The number of seminarians, priests, and men and women in religious orders declined in 2021, according to the Vatican’s Central Office of Church Statistics, which released its latest numbers March 3, 2023.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Review


Dramatic week for financial reform answers old questions, asks new ones
“Pope Francis’s campaign for financial reform in the Vatican continued this week on multiple fronts, from the courtroom to new legislation, appearing both to answer old questions and raise new ones in roughly equal measure. In the Vatican’s ongoing ‘trial of the century,’ featuring charges of financial corruption against ten defendants, including Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Thursday (Mar. 9) brought the release of 2021 correspondence between Becciu and Francis, in which the pontiff refused to endorse Becciu’s version of events on two transactions at the heart of the present trial.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,


Pope Francis says married priests possible, calls celibacy a ‘temporary prescription’
“Pope Francis has called celibacy for priests a ‘temporary prescription,’ signaling a potential end to a centuries-old requirement of the Roman Catholic Church that the clergy should not marry. The Argentine-born pontiff made the comments in an interview Friday (Mar. 10) just before he marked the 10th anniversary of his elevation to the papacy, a tenure marked by laical and clerical disputes over homosexuality, the ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal, Communion for pro-choice politicians and the traditional Latin Mass, among other contentious issues.” By Mark Kellner, Washington Times


I’m an abuse survivor. Pope Francis met with me and changed my life.
“When I try to describe what Pope Francis means to me, I immediately think that I should write something a theologian would say, smart and peppered with citations. I am no theologian, but my story with Francis does have an episode from the New Testament that serves as a lens for me and is probably familiar to all of you. Jesus was called to Bethany by his friends Martha and Mary because their brother Lazarus had died. He had been dead for four days, and when Jesus went to the grave, he resurrected him, and Lazarus continued his life. So yes, I do feel like Lazarus. I am a regular person who has received way too much; therefore, I have a duty to return all I can.” By Juan Carlos Cruz Chellew, National Catholic Reporter


After years of defeat, Senate committee gives near unanimous recommendation to move child sexual abuse bill to full chamber
“As each Maryland senator with the Judicial Proceedings Committee cast their yes vote, David Lorenz cried and embraced his wife, Judy. That’s because the committee voted 10-1 on Friday (Mar. 10) to advance a bill that would retroactively, as well as prospectively, repeal statutes of limitation on lawsuits by plaintiffs who claim they suffered child sexual abuse. Lorenz, who pushed to get this legislation passed for 15 years, suffered abuse as a teenager when he attended a private school in Kentucky.” By William J. Ford, Maryland Matters


Catholic watchdog names bishops tied to sex abuse and urges pope to act
“Prominent researchers of accountability for clergy sexual abuse called on Pope Francis on Wednesday (Mar. 15) to release the names of bishops investigated by the Vatican since the implementation of 2019 rules that overhauled how the church responds to abuse accusations. The watchdog group,, criticized the pope at a news conference for failing to give a ‘full accounting’ of the impact of the revised rules, which they called a landmark effort to combat abuse. The organization also released a list, based on news reports from around the world, of 40 bishops who have been investigated under the four-year-old law.” By Marisa Iati, The Washington Post

Pope Francis tells bishops of Latin America, where new sex abuse protectioins aren’t in place, to make it a priority
“Pope Francis has again emphasized the importance that all the local churches fully implement the norms to protect minors and combat sexual abuse in the church that he issued in the 2019 decree ‘Vos Estis Lux Mundi.’ He did so today in a message to participants at the second Latin American Congress on the prevention of abuse that is being held in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, March 14 to 16. ‘Your work in favor of protection of the most vulnerable is urgent and essential,’ he said.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis has done many great things. But on sex abuse, he hasn’t done enough.
“My mother used to say that a man will sit in his living room and talk about how to save the world, while his wife is outside with a hammer and nails, fixing the front steps. Ten years into the Francis papacy and this is how I feel, as a member of the church, and specifically as a woman in the church. We’ve been hearing these living room lectures for a decade now. We’ve heard about openness and going out to the margins and smelling like the sheep and not judging, and we’ve heard about reform.” By Simcha Fisher, America: The Jesuit Review

NOW is the Time Sexual Abuse Victims Can Get Justice in New York
“As of November 24, the Adult Survivors Act (ASA) went into effect in New York State, allowing survivors of sexual offenses one year to file civil claims for cases that occurred even decades ago. The Adult Survivors Act was signed into law in May and removes the statute of limitations for certain civil claims regarding past sexual offenses between November 24, 2022, and November 24, 2023, regardless of when the alleged crime took place. If you were raped or abused, at or after age 18, anywhere in New York state, at any time, by anyone, you now have a chance to file a civil lawsuit … The Adult Survivors Act does not reopen the opportunity for a criminal prosecution, but victims can seek justice through the civil court system. This may sound ‘too good to be true.’ But believe us, it is not.” By Adam Horowitz Law on


Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese files for bankruptcy citing child sexual abuse cases
“The Diocese of Santa Rosa filed for bankruptcy Monday (Mar. 13), citing new lawsuits from more than 200 survivors of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests. In this petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed this morning, the Diocese of Santa Rosa estimates its assets between $10 and $50 million, and its liabilities to be the same because of a flood of new lawsuits from survivors of clergy sexual abuse. ABC7 News spoke with Santa Rosa’s bishop but also to survivors and their attorneys who believe the church is trying to avoid responsibility for horrific abuse by priests.” By Dan Noyes, ABC-TV7 News


Diocese condemns Delaware bill requiring priests to break the seal of confession
“The Delaware General Assembly is considering a bill that would require Roman Catholic priests to break the seal of confession to report child abuse and neglect, prompting condemnation from the Diocese of Wilmington. House Bill 74, the sponsors of which include state Senate President Pro Tempore David P. Sokola, could be heard before the House Judiciary Committee within weeks, according to OSV News.” By Jon Brown, Fox News


South suburban Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing minor decades ago
“A Catholic priest in south suburban Evergreen Park has agreed to step aside from ministry while authorities investigate an allegation that he sexually abused a minor as a layman decades ago, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Rev. Paul Guzman serves as associate pastor Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Evergreen Park. Archbishop Blase Cupich informed parishioners of the claim in a letter, saying the Archdiocese was informed of the allegation while Guzman was overseas on military duty.” By Matt Stefanski, NBC Chicago


Six more women sue the Main Catholic diocese for allegations of sex abuse
“Six more women have sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, alleging that a Portland priest abused them between 1958 and 1967 when they were between 5 and 11 years old. Ann Allen, 64, of Scarborough filed a suit in December, saying that the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino had assaulted her in the 1960s and that the church failed to prevent it. Allen’s suit names the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and its head, Bishop Robert Deeley, as defendants.” By Julie Harris, Bangor Daily News

Commentary: For how much longer can the Portland diocese play dumb?
“People are fond of saying, ‘That wouldn’t happen today.’ Occasionally this is offered in wistful remembrance of one or other bygone practice. More often it’s said with relief, a reassuring statement, some clear contemplation of how much more we know, now, how far we have come, how thresholds of acceptability have changed. Six civil complaints filed last week allege that the late Rev. Lawrence Sabatino abused plaintiffs in Lewiston and Portland when they were between 5 and 11 years old in the 1950s and 1960s. This brings to 20 the number of childhood sexual abuse lawsuits recently filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.” By Siobhan Brett, Editorial Page Editor, Portland Press Herald


An investigation of abuse by 150 priests of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will soon be released
“The Archdiocese of the Baltimore Catholic Church has been the subject of an investigation for sexual abuse. After a four-year grand jury investigation, a judge will soon release details of what children and young adults endured over the past 80 years. Member station WYPR’s Scott Maucione has our report … What we heard from survivors was that the abuse changed their lives. It marked them for life.” By Scott Maucione, National Public Radio


Michigan priest sentenced to prison for sexual abuse of second-grader
“A priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit has been sentenced for the rape of an elementary student at the Catholic school attached to the parish he served as pastor in the mid-2000s. ‘We trust the judgment of the court. We pray for everybody involved,’ Ned McGrath, director of public affairs at the Archdiocese of Detroit, told CNA March 2. ‘Our priority in all of these cases is always the victim-survivors.’” By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency


Albuquerque priest cleared in 2019 church abuse case
“A man who filed a 2019 lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused at a Downtown Albuquerque church has admitted that he misidentified a Jesuit priest he named as his abuser, resulting in the case’s dismissal, court records show. A district judge tossed the suit in February after the plaintiff — identified as John Doe 124 — admitted last year he had misidentified the Rev. J. Patrick Hough as his abuser.” By Olivier Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal


NY diocese facing flood of lawsuits files for bankruptcy
“The embattled Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany became the latest diocese in New York to seek bankruptcy protection Wednesday (Mar. 15) as it faces hundreds of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger announced the Chapter 11 filing after months of negotiations between the upstate New York diocese and lawyers representing plaintiffs over a potential settlement. The Albany diocese, like others in the state, is dealing with a deluge of lawsuits dating to when New York temporarily suspended the statute of limitations to give victims of childhood abuse the ability to pursue even decades-old allegations against clergy members, teachers, Boy Scout leaders and others.” By Michael Hill, Associated Press

Defrocked, ex-con priest who stole $300K heads NYC nonprofits with city contracts
“A defrocked, ex-con priest who was a diocesan spin doctor at the height of the Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal now heads a pair of New York City nonprofits which have raked in millions in taxpayer cash. Edward Bolognini, who used to be a high-ranking New Hampshire holy man named Edward Arsenault, pled guilty in 2014 to stealing some $300,000 from a Catholic hospital, his diocese and a dead priest’s estate.” By Melissa Klein, New York Post


Diocese of Steubenville adds former priest to list of those credibly accused of abuse; critics say it’s too little, too late
“The Diocese of Steubenville announced on March 3 that they added a former priest to their list of clergy who were credibly accused of abuse, but SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused By Priests, says this declaration is ‘far too little and far too late.’ Jeffrey M. Monforton, Bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville announced in the diocese’s newspaper, The Steubenville Register, that Monsignor Mark J. Froelich, a retired diocesan priest, was added to the Diocese of Steubenville’s List of Priests Accused of Abuse.” By Karen Compton,


Sexual abuse investigation of Rapid City priest ends
“The investigation of a Catholic priest who was accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in South Dakota has ended; and while the allegation couldn’t be proven, the Church stated the priest will ‘remain out of public ministry.’ Rev. Michel Mulloy was removed from public ministry in August 2020 following the allegation presented to the Diocese of Rapid City that a minor was abused in the early 1980s. Mulloy had served in the dioceses of Sioux Falls and Rapid City, where he was vicar general. The allegation came around the time Mulloy was named bishop-elect of the Diocese of Duluth. He resigned from that post the next month, September 2020.” By KVEN-TV News


Documentary on priestly abuse of children focuses on Wisconsin
“In her documentary, Manufacturing the Clerical Predator, director-activist Sarah Pearson puts the spotlight on Southeast Wisconsin, especially through the experience of Kevin Wester. Although he was molested repeatedly at age 12 by a Roman Catholic priest, he took the vows himself and served in the ministry for more than 10 years before being released from the priesthood in 2007. His account of the abuse he endured is harrowing, his fear of speaking up (it happened during the ‘70s in a small Catholic town) is revealing, and his eagerness to pursue the vocation a testimony to blinding power of faith.” By David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express


Catholic church uses pedophile’s death to try to block NSW survivor’s lawsuit
“The Catholic church is attempting to use the death of a pedophile, who had been jailed for the abuse of 17 children, to shield itself from further civil claims from his survivors. In recent months, the church has adopted an increasingly aggressive approach to survivors in cases where pedophile clergy have died. It has sought to capitalize on a recent decision in New South Wales’s highest court that ruled a priest’s death meant the church could not receive a fair trial in a claim brought by a woman known as GLJ.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian


Nearly 200 church sex abuse victims get compensation from France’s Catholic Church
About 190 victims of child sexual abuse by priests or other church representatives have been promised financial compensation so far from France’s Catholic Church under a sweeping reparations program, the independent body in charge of the process said Thursday (Mar. 9). A report from the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation, or INIRR, said 11 other people received other types of reparations. Hundreds of other cases are still awaiting review. More than 1,180 victims of priests or other church representatives have come forward to claim compensation since the body was established.” By Associated Press on FOX News


Peterborough priest Dennis Finbow jailed for child sexual abuse
“A 74-year-old Catholic priest has been jailed for abusing a young girl in the 1980s despite trying to dismiss the claims as ‘nonsense.’ Dennis Finbow was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault against a girl aged between 10 and 13 while he worked in Dogsthorpe in Peterborough. Judge Philip Grey told him he had been ‘unmasked for what you really were.’ Finbow, of Bealings Road, Martlesham, near Ipswich, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.” By BBC News

Pedophile Catholic priest spared jail after abusing four your girls at Glasgow churches and his home
“A shamed priest who sexually abused four girls walked free from court today. Father Neil McGarrity, 58, 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 city’s Maryhill, also touched and rubbed the girls with one victim claiming he hugged her while sat on a couch.” By Connor Gordon and Harry Williamson, The Scottish Sun


Irish bishops ‘welcome’ government inquiry in abuse in schools run by religious orders
“Bishops in Ireland have welcomed the announcement by the Irish government of a ‘scoping inquiry’ to shape the government’s response to revelations of historical sexual abuse in schools run by religious orders. Minister for Education Norma Foley announced the inquiry on Tuesday (Mar. 7), saying it is ‘vitally important that survivors of historical child sexual abuse have the opportunity to be heard in full, and with appropriate respect and sensitivity.’” By Charles Collins,


Poland’s Catholic church to appoint ‘team of independent experts’ to investigate abuse
“Poland’s Catholic episcopate will appoint a group of experts to investigate the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. The decision follows new claims that the future Pope John Paul II was negligent on the issue while serving as archbishop of Kraków. ‘The bishops have decided to start work on appointing a team of independent experts to undertake an investigation into the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy in the church in Poland,’ announced Archbishop Wojciech Polak, who is the primate of Poland.” By Notes from Poland

Pope John Paul II’s handling of sex abuse needs ‘further research,’ says Poland’s Catholic church
“Further research is needed into John Paul II’s response to cases of child sex abuse in order to establish a ‘fair assessment,’ Poland’s Catholic episcopate has announced in the wake of a new report alleging that the future pope showed neglect in dealing with the issue while serving as the archbishop of Kraków. One Polish archbishop, however, has offered a sterner response, describing the new claims as an attempt by ‘gender ideologists, supporters of abortion’ and other enemies of the church to ‘destroy’ John Paul II’s legacy. Poland’s prime minister has also come to the late pope’s defense.” By


Portuguese bishops offer mixed reactions to abuse report
“Two dioceses in Portugal decided to suspend priests accused of child abuse by an independent commission investigating decades of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The Diocese of Angra, in the Azores, suspended two priests. The Diocese of Evora received charges against two priests as well, but one of them is deceased. The cases involve the sexual abuse of seminarians.” By Eduardo Campos Lima,

Portuguese bishops announce steps to end sexual abuse in the Church
“The bishops of Portugal on Friday (Mar. 3) began taking concrete steps to respond to a damning investigative report last month that estimated well over 4,000 children have been victims of sexual abuse within the country’s Catholic Church since the 1950s. Meeting in a plenary assembly in Fátima, the Portuguese Episcopal Conference announced the creation of all-lay diocesan commissions and a memorial to victims that will be unveiled during World Youth Day, taking place in Lisbon Aug. 1–6, among other measures.” By Clara Raimundo, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report


Spain’s ombudsman registers 445 church sex abuse complaints
“Spain’s ombudsman said Monday (Mar. 13) that an independent commission set up a year ago to investigate historic sex abuse by the Catholic church has collected testimonies from 445 victims, as the nation tackles an issue other European countries acted on long ago. Spain’s parliament voted on March 10, 2022, to open the first official investigation, led by ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo, into the extent of sexual abuse committed by priests and church officials. The government was forced to act after allegations of abuse involving more than 1,200 victims were published in Spanish newspaper El País, provoking public outrage.” By Associated Press

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Mar. 2, 2023

Mar. 2, 2023


New archive of Santa Fe clergy abuse documents hailed as unprecedented
“An unprecedented public archive of clergy sexual abuse documents is being established at the University of New Mexico thanks to a collaborative agreement between abuse survivors and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. The archive, documenting one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s epicenters of sexual abuse and coverup, is the result of a commitment Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester made to the creditors’ committee that represented clergy sex abuse claimants in the archdiocese’s concluding Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.” By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, National Catholic Reporter

The Catholic Church in crisis
“As the shockwaves of last week’s revelations about child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Portugal subside somewhat, it is worth remembering that Catholicism has been at the forefront of atrocious behavior towards children for centuries. The Catholic Church has certainly not been the only religious or political entity involved in inhumane activity, and historical records are just a backdrop to the moral misconduct in recent decades that has at last been highlighted by those Catholics who have courageously lifted the veil of silence on abuse.” By Len Port,

New suit alleges San Diego Catholic diocese transferred assets to avoid sex abuse claims
“A law firm representing alleged sexual abuse victims in California is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, claiming the diocese fraudulently moved around real estate assets in an attempt to hide its wealth and avoid paying child sex abuse claims. The suit, filed Tuesday (Feb. 21) by the Zalkin Law Firm in San Diego County Superior Court on behalf of more than 100 plaintiffs, alleges that the diocese transferred at least 291 real estate parcels, with a total tax-assessed value of more than $453 million, to parish corporations in order to defraud creditors at a time when the diocese was aware of ‘significant claims’ by victims of childhood sex abuse.” By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

Pope Francis has opened the door to real Church reform but hasn’t stepped through
“The 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis offers an opportunity to consider the contributions and missteps of this remarkable pontificate. As a comprehensive assessment is impossible, I will consider the related contributions of this pontificate to the theology, structure, and exercise of ministry and authority. From the beginning of his pontificate Francis has emphasized the priority of Christian baptism … For the pope, ‘laicity’ is not a negative term, identifying the non-ordained; rather it identifies the fundamental missionary calling conferred upon all of us in baptism.” By Richard Gaillardetz, National Catholic Reporter


Synod process in North America coming to close, shows ‘deep love for Jesus Christ and church,’ says bishop
“The latest phase of the 2021-24 Synod on Synodality is coming to a close, with a final document to be written over the next six weeks and submitted to the Vatican by March 31. On Feb. 17, the North American Synod Team, led by bishops from Canada and the United States, wrapped up a weeklong retreat in Orlando, Fla., to synthesize the results of synod listening sessions throughout the two countries. The team — eight bishops, three laywomen, two priests, two laymen and two women religious — spent time in prayer, discernment and discussion to distill responses for inclusion in the text, which forms a response to the Document for the Continental Stage issued by the Vatican’s general secretariat of the synod in October 2022.” By Gina Christian, OSV News, on

Is the Holy Spirit leading you – or driving you – into synodality?

“The question isn’t whether or not we are all going to be changed by the synodal process, which is what many people hope for and some others fear. The question is whether we trust in the divine action of the Holy Spirit among the body of Christ. Do we actually believe in the sensus fidelium, the ‘sense of the faithful’ that is a gift shared by all the baptized? Or do we mistakenly think that only ordained clergy or vowed religious or Christians of a certain ideological stripe have access to the inspiration of the Spirit?” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

Francis & the ‘elitist’ German synod: why the pope’s criticism is so striking
“Pope Francis has given countless interviews, but over the past few years he has rarely spoken to the public at large about the ongoing synodal process that he initiated in 2021. One exception is the January 25 interview he gave to the Associated Press, in which he talked about the Synodal Path in Germany. He didn’t delve into the specifics of the calls for reform the German bishops are addressing, such as the teaching on sexuality, new roles for women in Church leadership and ministry, or new structures of governance.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Continent by continent, Pope’s Synod on Synodality gathers steam
“Around the world, Pope Francis’s Synod on Synodality is moving full steam ahead as bishops gather at the continental level to discuss the concerns and priorities of their local churches, ahead of a major gathering in Rome later this year. Formally opened by Pope Francis in October 2021, the Synod of Bishops on Synodality is officially titled, ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission,’ and is a multi-stage process that will culminate in two Rome-based gatherings in October 2023 and October 2024.” By Elise Ann Allen,


Francis the reformer is rooted in Vatican II. Full stop.
“As we approach the 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, his role as pastor shines through first and foremost, followed by his understanding of his role as teacher of the faith, specifically re-centering the core proclamation of God’s mercy. Both, in turn, shape the third aspect of this pontificate that warrants attention: Francis the reformer. To understand Francis as a reformer, it is first necessary to clean up a misunderstanding about his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Some commentators and bishops have invoked Benedict’s 2005 address to the Curia to claim the pope demanded a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ between the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II church. In fact, while Benedict deprecated a ‘hermeneutic of rupture,’ he called for a ‘hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

For 10 years, Pope Francis outlasts the conservative resistance
“The dubia cardinals. The “Pachamama” affair. The Viganò dossier. Regular criticisms of his pontificate on the Eternal Word Television Network. Pope Francis’ 10 years on the chair of St. Peter have been marked in large part by persistent criticisms and tenacious resistance from the conservative wing of the Catholic Church, particularly in the Anglophone world, where formerly ardent papal defenders have lashed out against the current pontiff in ways once thought unthinkable.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

As synodality summit looms, navigating a papacy’s imperial phase
“When Pope John Paul II marked his 25th year in office in 2003, American Catholic theologian Richard McBrien spoke for many liberal critics in opining that the pontiff’s legacy was decidedly mixed, with the biggest negative being ‘his re-centralization of authority in the papacy at the expense of the [Second Vatican Council’s] teaching on collegiality’ … The presumption in many quarters was that with the transition to the more progressive Pope Francis, the Vatican II vision of collegiality, meaning shifting control over many matters away from Rome and toward local bishops, finally would be realized.” By John Allen, Jr.,

The Francis revolution: Over the past 10 years, the pope has recovered the church’s true power
“The path was signposted at the start, but looking back after 10 years, it can be seen more clearly: Pope Francis has sought a transformation of the internal life and culture of the Catholic Church, at the heart of which is a conversion of power … But as he has spent the past decade teaching and enabling, all true authority in the church is the participation in that same divine power. From Rome, through the college of bishops, and extending through the synods, to the whole church, the recovery of that divine power that serves has been the hallmark of his reform. And its fruits are visible.” By Austen Ivereigh

Pope Francis reaffirms authority of Vatican’s worship office to limit Latin Mass
“Pope Francis on Feb. 21 reaffirmed that the Vatican’s worship office has been given full authority to limit the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, in what may be seen as a major blow to some U.S. bishops seeking to circumvent the office’s decisions on the matter … In recent months, however, a number of U.S. bishops have cited a provision from the church’s Code of Canon Law, arguing that it allows for local bishops to offer a dispensation when deemed necessary for the good of their diocese. The pope’s latest clarification reiterates that such decisions must be approved by the Vatican’s worship office.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


Former U.S. cardinal McCarrick seeks to dismiss sexual abuse case, citing dementia
“Lawyers for former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick on Monday (Feb. 28) asked a Massachusetts judge to dismiss a criminal case charging him with molesting a 16-year-old boy in 1974, saying the 92-year-old is not mentally competent to face trial due to dementia. McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., last July became the only current or former U.S. Catholic cardinal to ever face child sex abuse charges after prosecutors charged him with three counts of indecent assault and battery.” By Nate Raymond, Reuters


Canadian bishops outline plans for reconciliation with indigenous peoples
“With 26 commitments across three separate pastoral letters, the Canadian bishops have, albeit only in broad strokes, outlined how they plan to honor a pledge to embark ‘into a new era of reconciliation’ with the nation’s indigenous peoples. The pastoral letters, released by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Feb. 8, were sent to the First Nations, the Inuit of Canada, and Métis Indigenous Peoples. The commitments made vary slightly from letter to letter, but largely focus on deepening dialogue, working with community leaders to address social challenges, education, engaging indigenous youth and supporting advocacy efforts.” By John Lavenburg,


A shortage of Catholic priests is why the largest congregation in the U.S. is so big
“The largest Roman Catholic parish in the nation is now in California’s Central Valley. The recently opened St. Charles Borromeo congregation serves tens of thousands of worshippers each week. Church leaders say the size of the parish is caused in part by a shortage of priests.” By Esther Quintanilla, National Public Radio

A priesthood for all: Synodal church requires new look at ministry
“If the goal of a ‘synodal’ church is to have all the baptized recognize their responsibility for the life and mission of the Catholic community, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said that necessarily means taking a new look at priesthood. The cardinal, outgoing prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, organized an international conference on the theology of priesthood in February 2022, which drew some 500 priests, religious and theologians to the Vatican. Yet one year later, he and other conference organizers said that coming to grips with the clerical abuse crisis and trying to promote a real understanding of the vocation of all the baptized — priests or laity — is an exercise that cannot be limited to priests and theologians.” By Justin McLellan, Catholic Review


Partners in mission: Dicastery promotes ‘co-responsibility’ of clergy, laity
“For too many Catholics, ordained or lay, the responsibilities of the laity are those ‘delegate’ by the priest or bishop. As the continental assemblies for the Synod of Bishops make clear that hot-button issues — like sexuality, climate change and the role of women in the church — are not going away, the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life is pointing at a more fundamental issue at stake in learning to be a ‘synodal church’: What responsibility comes from baptism and unites all Catholics? And, related to the synod’s goal of promoting a church where people listen to one another and work together to share the Gospel and care for the poor, the dicastery is asking: How do clergy and laity walk and work side by side?” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis: Laypeople are not guests in the Church
“The Church is a home that priests and laypeople need to care for together, Pope Francis said on Saturday (Feb. 18). ‘It is time for pastors and laypeople to walk together, in every area of the Church’s life, in every part of the world,’ he said in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall on Feb. 18. ‘The lay faithful are not ‘guests’ in the Church, they are at home, so they are called to take care of their own home,’ he said. ‘The laity, and especially women, need to be more valued in their human and spiritual skills and gifts for the life of parishes and dioceses.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, ACI Africa

Conference explores shared mission for clergy and laity
“Archbishop Christopher Prowse says a gathering at the Vatican this week will help clergy and lay people alike better understand how they can work together to carry out God’s mission. Archbishop Prowse, chair of the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry, is attending the conference, which has the theme ‘Pastors and Lay Faithful Called to Walk Together.’ Clara Geoghegan, the Bishops Commission’s executive secretary, and Malcolm Hart, director of the National Centre for Evangelization, are also in Rome for the event.” By


Pope Francis: Conduct by some Church members have made Vatican trials ‘painfully necessary’
“Pope Francis said Saturday (Feb. 25) that Vatican trials for cases of grave financial mismanagement have become unavoidable in recent years. ‘The problem is not the trials, but the facts and conduct that determine them and make them painfully necessary,’ the pope told a group of Vatican magistrates on Feb. 25. ‘In fact,’ he added, ‘such behaviors by members of the Church seriously harm its effectiveness in reflecting divine light.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Jesuits impose new restrictions on Rupnik as questions linger on Vatican role
“Pope Francis’s Jesuit order has decided to prohibit a prominent member, whose prized murals adorn churches and chapels around the world, from further artistic activity following fresh allegations of sexual misconduct. Slovene Jesuit Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, 68, has been accused of sexual misconduct with nuns and barred by his order from public ministry.” By Elise Ann Allen,


A shortage of Catholic priest is why the largest congregation in the U.S. is so big
“The largest Catholic congregation in the U.S. is now in California’s Central Valley. It serves more than 14,000 families. Its size correlates with the dramatically falling number of Catholic priests. The largest Catholic parish in the nation is now in California’s Central Valley. The recently opened St. Charles Borromeo congregation serves tens of thousands of Catholics each week. Church leaders say the size of the parish is caused in part by a priest shortage. From Valley Public Radio, Esther Quintanilla reports from Visalia.” By Esther Quintanilla, National Public Radio


Pope Francis reinforces centralization of Vatican finances
“In an apostolic letter on Thursday (Feb. 23), Pope Francis reaffirmed that the property and assets of the Holy See are ‘ecclesiastical public goods,’ not private property. ‘The universal destination of the Holy See’s assets gives them an ecclesiastical public nature,’ the pope wrote in the Feb. 23 motu proprio. ‘The entities of the Holy See acquire and use [the assets] not for themselves, like the private owner,’ he continued, ‘but, in the name and authority of the Roman Pontiff, for the pursuit of their institutional purposes, which are likewise public, and thus for the common good and at the service of the Universal Church.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Indiana church employee sentenced after stealing $574k for gambling, vacations: ‘fueled by pure greed’
“A 72-year-old Indiana woman will spend two years in federal prison after transferring nearly $574,000 from a Catholic Church and its associated school to her personal accounts for gambling and month-long vacations. The Department of Justice announced Monday (Feb. 20) that Marie Carson, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to wire fraud after 13 years of handling money as a business manager for the parish … Carson was the sole staff member responsible for processing checks received from parishioners and conducting financial transactions on behalf of the church and school for over a decade.” By Elizabeth Pritchett, Fox News


As Francis reinforces limits on Latin Mass, it’s past time to embrace Vatican II
“The implementation of Traditionis Custodes, the motu proprio from Pope Francis that limited the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin liturgy or ‘extraordinary form,’ should not be so hard, should it? As I wrote at the time, the liberalization of access to the old rite that Pope Benedict XVI had granted in 2007 had become a movement, even an ideology, in which the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council was increasingly questioned.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

A downward slide: how the Church got here on sex abuse
“Temptation works like gravity. When you’re trying to walk uphill, it pulls you downhill. Worse, at the bottom of the hill are places you think you want to go and at the top of the hill are places you don’t want to go — you want the place with the great ribs rather than the gym. It’s easier to go downhill, and you want to go downhill … We have a sad example in our own Church’s sex abuse scandal. The pain of publicly dealing with a predator could be avoided by not dealing with him, by not removing him from office and by not telling his people and possible victims — and therefore the newspapers and all the Church’s enemies — what he’d done.” By David Mills, U.S. Catholic


The Pa. House is back Tuesday to kick off ‘a week for the victims’
“The Pennsylvania House will return Tuesday (Feb. 21) for the first time in more than a month to vote on two measures to help childhood sexual abuse survivors seek justice from their abusers and the institutions that protected them. In what House Speaker Mark Rozzi (D., Berks) called ‘a week for the victims,’ he called the House back into a special session where they’ll be tasked with voting on only two bills: one that would propose an amendment to the state constitution and another that would change state law; both would create a two-year window for adult victims of childhood sexual assault to file civil lawsuits against their abusers or the institutions that protected them.” By Gillian McGoldrick, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Kanakuk survivors testify to support Seitz abuse bill
“Survivors and family members of victims of sexual abuse at Kanakuk camps testified at a hearing before the Missouri House Judiciary Committee regarding a bill proposed by local state Rep. Brian Seitz to change laws to help survivors of childhood sexual assault. The bill, H.B. 367, creates a cause of action for vulnerable victims to allow filing civil actions at any time before the victim is 55-years-old, and for situations which had been dismissed because of statute of limitation issues before the passage of the bill to be revived.” By Jason Wert, Branson News


Bills requiring clergy to report abuse disclosures won’t advance in Utah legislature
“House Minority Leader Angela Romero confirmed to FOX 13 News on Friday (Feb. 17) she’s been told her bill and others mandating clergy report abuse disclosures to law enforcement will not be advancing in the legislature. There were four bills introduced in the legislature on the topic following reports of sexual abuse within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not being handed to law enforcement.” By Ben Winslow, FOX-TV13 News


Diocese of Sacramento considers bankruptcy due to sex abuse lawsuits
“For the second time this month, a California diocese has announced that bankruptcy is possible as it figures out how to best address hundreds of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. Bishop Jaime Soto announced Feb. 26 that the Diocese of Sacramento faces more than 200 lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of minors, and that while nothing is set in stone, bankruptcy is one of multiple options being explored to adequately address the claims.” By John Lavenburg,

Church sex scandal widens: hundreds more Catholic clergy accused across California
“An NBC Bay Area analysis of nearly 700 lawsuits filed against Catholic institutions across Northern California over the past three years suggests the church’s child sexual abuse scandal in the region is significantly worse than the public previously knew. More than 200 of the clergy and lay employees of the Catholic Church named in the wave of lawsuits have never been publicly accused of being sexually abusive towards children and teenagers until now, NBC Bay Area’s investigation found. Some of the newly accused continue to work as priests.” By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott, Mark Villarreal and Michael Horn, NBC-TV News


Benedictine order admits keeping cleric at Marmion Academy for years after child sex abuse accusations
“The Catholic religious order that runs Marmion Academy in Aurora is acknowledging for the first time that one of its members had ‘established allegations’ of child sex abuse in the 1970s and remained at the school for years. During that time, Brother Jerome Skaja was accused of more sexual misconduct involving minors. The Benedictines long hid the fact that Skaja, who died in 2016, had been accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a Marmion student in the 1980s, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported in October — and also that they reached a secret financial settlement with the accuser when he threatened to sue when he turned 18.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times


Judge upholds Maine law on retroactive lawsuits, says Catholic diocese challenge has a point
“A Maine judge has upheld a state law that retroactively eliminates the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse lawsuits, though he acknowledged that attorneys for the Catholic Diocese of Portland raised “serious” constitutional concerns in their legal challenge. Justice Thomas McKeon of Cumberland County Superior Court upheld a 2021 law that allowed retroactive legal claims regarding sexual abuse allegations.” By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency


Judge orders release of redacted report on child sex abuse in Baltimore Archdiocese
“Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Robert Taylor Jr. ruled Feb. 24 that a redacted version of the Maryland Attorney General Office’s report on child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore must be released publicly. The judge ordered the attorney general’s office to redact more than 200 names from the report and submit it to the court by mid-March. ‘Ever-aware of the pain endured by survivors of child sexual abuse, the archdiocese once again offers its sincere apologies to the victim-survivors who were harmed by a minister of the church and who were harmed by those who failed to protect them and who failed to respond to them with care and compassion,’ said Christian Kendzierski, archdiocesan spokesman.” By George P. Matysek, Jr., National Catholic Reporter


Five years after Buffalo Diocese sexual abuse scandal erupted, victims still waiting for compensation
“The lid on the Buffalo Diocese’s long-held secrets about clergy molesters was pried open in 2018 when a Catholic priest admitted he had sexually abused dozens of boys. Five years later, despite promises to do right by abuse victims, the diocese has not paid a penny in damages to an estimated 900 people who filed claims alleging they were sexually abused by priests or other diocese employees. Despite pledges of greater transparency, the diocese has yet to make public internal documents on its handling of abuse cases. And no one connected with the diocese has been charged with any crimes related to child sex abuse or its cover-up in the past five years.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Buffalo diocese substantiates abuse allegations against two priests
Allegations of sexual abuse of a minor were substantiated against two Catholic priests in the Diocese of Buffalo Friday (Feb. 17). Rev. Daniel Palys and Rev. Msgr. Ronald Sciera were previously removed from ministry following allegations of abuse, according to the diocese. Both priests are now retired. Rev. Palys was removed from ministry in 2018 as result of an allegation of abuse that had been substantiated. Msgr. Sciera was placed on administrative leave in September 2021.” By Sean Mickey, WKBW-TV7 News


Group demonstrates on behalf of victims in Chickashaw
“A group of five demonstrators gathered on Sunday morning in support of abuse victims in the Chickasha community. The group’s spokesperson, Christopher Coutts, said the group gathered in support of victims from all walks of life who have been abused. ‘We are here today to stand for victims of all kinds, whether it be mental abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse. We do not care your identify, your age, your race, your sex, your beliefs, your politics,’ Coutts said. ‘It is simply that the citizens of our town deserve better than to be abused in any way shape or form.’” By Jessica Lane, The Express Star


Harrisburg Diocese’s bankruptcy case ends with $18M trust for victims of clergy sex abuse
“A federal bankruptcy court on Wednesday (Feb. 18) approved a plan calling for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg to establish an $18 million trust to pay settlements with victims of clergy sex abuse. The so-called reorganization plan approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania also establishes stipulated child protection protocols.” By Ivey DeJesus,


Men claim in lawsuit that Texas nun gave them alcohol before priest abused them as children
Two men have sued the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and a charity in Texas over the alleged cover-up of their sexual assault. The victims, who have not been named in the lawsuit filed last week, say they were sexually assaulted by Reverend Henry McGill at the Dunne Memorial Home for Boys orphanage between 1962 and 1971, the Dallas Morning News reported. They claimed a nun by the name of Sister Mary Bridgette would give them alcohol before leaving them in a dark basement, where they were then assaulted.” By Andrea Blanco,


Victims urge debate, though Utah child sex abuse reporting bills may be dead
“Several plans to change state law on clergy reporting of child sex abuse, including one that would remove the ‘clergy exemption,’ seem dead at the Utah State Capitol — though two child abuse victims, one of them a rabbi, urged the measures get a hearing in the waning days of the legislative session.” By Brian Mullahy, KUTV-TV14 News


Senate panel gets first look at bill to scrap clergy exempions for reporting child abuse and neglect
“A proposal to do away with clergy exemptions for reporting child abuse and neglect got a first look Wednesday (Feb.22) from a Vermont Senate committee. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee took no action on the bill, S.16, after listening to several witnesses speak about it. The senators said they wanted to hear from more witnesses, including constitutional scholars. Vermont law says members of the clergy are obligated to report abuse and neglect, but the law adds exemptions for what they learn while hearing a confession or acting as a spiritual adviser.” By Alan J. Keays, Vt. Digger


Former DeForest church staffer enters guilty plea in sexual abuse case
“A former St. Olaf Church staff member accused of sexual misconduct with a young parishioner pleaded guilty to a single count of child enticement in a Feb. 20 hearing, with sentencing to be decided in April. Rajnal Rehmat, 31, entered the plea in a hearing in Dane County Circuit Court on Monday. As part of a plea agreement, a separate charge of sexual assault was dismissed, but read into the record. Prosecutors agreed not to seek additional charges, while seeing a sentence of two years in prison and three years of extended supervision. Sentencing will be decided in an April 5 hearing.” By Johathan Stefonek, DeForest Times-Tribune


Serial pedophile priest charged with indecent assault
“Pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale has been charged with indecently assaulting a boy during the late 1980s. Ridsdale, who has sexually assaulted dozens of child victims, was excused from appearing in Horsham Magistrates Court on Monday (Feb. 20). The 89-year-old is facing one charge over an allegation he indecently touched the child at St Brigid’s College in Horsham between July 1987 and May 1988. Ridsdale, who is behind bars, is due to face Ballarat Magistrates Court on March 2.” By Melissa Meehan, The Canberra Times


Court dismisses Vatican from church sex abuse lawsuit
“The Vatican has been dismissed from a sexual abuse lawsuit filed by an alleged victim of disgraced former archbishop Anthony Apuron. The Guam District Court found that the Holy See is absolved of certain responsibilities by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. But the 35-page decision and order does provide explicit details of the allegations against the now-defrocked Apuron. The Holy See, also commonly referred to as the Vatican, was one of several Catholic Church defendants in the lawsuit, which alleged that it was aware of numerous similar sexual abuse acts by then-Archbishop Apuron, and should share in the responsibility.” By Nestor Licanto, KUAM News


Future Pope John Paul II allowed priest to return to work after child sex abuse conviction
“The future Pope John Paul II allowed a priest to return to priestly duties after he had served a prison sentence for self-confessed multiple cases of sexually abusing 10- and 11-year-old girls, according to archival documents and interviews published in a new book. The revelations come amid debate in Poland over the legacy of John Paul II – a national hero not only for his spiritual leadership but also for the role he played in inspiring opposition to the communist regime – with regard to historical abuse cases in the Catholic church.” By

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Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego accused of fraudulently transferring assets to foil sex abuse liability / Los Angeles Times

The total tax assessed value of those properties is $453 million, Irwin Zalkin, a San Diego lawyer who represents about 120 sex-abuse claimants, said at a news conference Wednesday (Feb. 22).

By Greg Moran, Los Angeles Times

“A sweeping lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court accuses the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego of a scheme to fraudulently transfer hundreds of properties to avoid potentially large payouts stemming from a new wave of lawsuits alleging abuse by clergy members.

“The suit was filed on Tuesday, less than two weeks after the diocese held a news conference warning it might have to file bankruptcy for the second time since 2007, because of the threat from potentially large payouts to approximately 400 people who have sued alleging they were abused years ago.

“The latest lawsuit said that the diocese transferred 291 properties into real estate holding companies in late 2019, just after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that opened a three-year window for people who claimed they were victims of past sexual abuse to file new claims, long after the legal timeline had passed.”

By Greg Moran, Los Angeles Times — Read more …

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New archive of Santa Fe clergy abuse documents hailed as unprecedented / National Catholic Reporter

The archive agreement states that the archive will include documents ‘including but not limited to’ clergy personnel files, other perpetrator personnel files, victim files, investigative files, investigative transcripts, depositions, clergy risk assessments, minutes of Personnel Board and Permanent Review Board meetings, assignment records, seminary records, statements given to investigators or law enforcement, and under oath proof of claim forms from the Chapter 11 case.

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, National Catholic Reporter

“An unprecedented public archive of clergy sexual abuse documents is being established at the University of New Mexico thanks to a collaborative agreement between abuse survivors and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

“The archive, documenting one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s epicenters of sexual abuse and coverup, is the result of a commitment Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester made to the creditors’ committee that represented clergy sex abuse claimants in the archdiocese’s concluding Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

“The archdiocese, five participating religious orders and their insurers are funding the $121.5 million settlement trust, finalized in December 2022. In addition, the religious orders will contribute more than $7.7 million for specific claims against their members.

“Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall, along with law partner Levi Monagle and co-counsel Lisa Ford, represented 145 abuse survivors in the bankruptcy — more than one-third of the 395 claimants. Hall told NCR he hopes Santa Fe’s abuse document archive will become a template for current and future Chapter 11 cases involving sexual abuse.”

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Feb. 16, 2023

Feb. 16, 2023


More than 4,800 victims of sexual abuse uncovered in Portugal’s Catholic Church
“An independent commission looking into the sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church says it had documented cases pointing to at least 4,815 victims. Set up by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference to examine abuse in recent decades, the commission added this was the tip of the iceberg. Presenting the report, the commission’s president, child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, described its objective as ‘giving voice to the silence’ of victims. He paid tribute to the hundreds who contacted its staff to provide testimony. ‘They have a voice; they have a name,’ he said.” By BBC News on YouTube

Catholic Church in Germany has paid $43.5 million to more than 1,800 victims of abuse
“The Catholic Church in Germany has so far paid more than $43.5 million (40 million euros) to victims of sexual abuse, German Catholic KNA agency has reported. The Independent Commission for Recognition Payment approved an average amount of $24,000 (22,150 euros) in 1,809 cases. The commission’s annual report was presented in Bonn Feb. 3. There have been a total of 1,839 applications from victims of sex abuse seeking compensation from the Catholic Church.” By OSV News in America: The Jesuit Review

Irish Catholic Church in ‘terminal decline’ after sexual abuse scandals
“Ireland was once regarded as the most catholic Country in the World. That, though, is no longer the case. Mark Vincent Healy was sexually abused by a member of the Spiritan Order while at school during the 1960s and 70s. He says the sexual abuse he experienced destroyed his life. ‘It had a profound psychological effect on me and the way that I made decisions in things that I wanted to do with my life, even more recently and obviously when this matter came forward and it surfaced in my life, everything changed,’ he revealed to Euronews.” By

Which U.S. dioceses have declared bankruptcy? Here’s a map
“Cardinal Robert McElroy announced last week that the San Diego Diocese may have to resort to a declaration of bankruptcy in 2023 to manage the cost of hundreds of new abuse claims. The Santa Rosa Diocese in California might also declare bankruptcy, according to local media reports. At issue, McElroy said, is a mounting number of abuse claims filed under a three-year window opened by California’s governor, which began in 2020 and expired on Dec. 31, 2022. Some of the new abuse claims brought to the diocese date back 75 years, the cardinal wrote.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency


Child sex abuse in the Catholic Church
“Portugal on Monday (Feb. 13) will become the latest country to issue an independent report into clerical sexual abuse, an issue that has dogged the Catholic Church for years and undermined its moral authority. From Australia to Ireland via the United States, thousands of priests, bishops and cardinals have been caught up in abuse scandals, as well as lay members of the Church such as Catholic school teachers or youth group leaders … Between 1950 and 2018, the US Catholic Church received credible complaints of child sex abuse involving 7,002 members of the clergy, according to the website” By Agence France-Presse on

New York debates whether clergy should be required to report abuse
“If a member of the clergy suspects that a child in the congregation has been abused, is the clergyperson legally required to report it? In New York state, the answer is no. But some advocates, clergy members and lawmakers think that should change. The issue is at the heart of the Child Abuse Reporting Expansion Act, a bill making its way through the state legislature that, if passed, would make clergy mandated reporters.” By Kathryn Post, The Washington Post


Irish delegates call for radical change in European assembly of churches
“An assembly of the Catholic Church in Europe has been told that members in Ireland want women to be admitted to the diaconate and priesthood. In island-wide consultations ‘many women communicated their pain at being denied their agency in the life of the church and spoke of feelings of exclusion and discrimination. Women play a critical role in the life of the church but so many men and women have spoken of the church excluding’ the fullness of the gifts of women,’ representatives of the Irish church said. In Ireland there was ‘a deep longing for a more inclusive and welcoming church.’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

After synodal assembly Europe’s bishops pledge to ‘work tirelessly’ to enlarge Catholic tent
“‘Something special happened here,’ Archbishop Eamon Martin, president of the Irish bishops’ conference, said at the close of a continental assembly of the European Catholic Church held this month as part of Pope Francis’ ongoing process to reinvigorate the Synod of Bishops. As in-person participants, among them the representatives of 39 bishops’ conferences across Europe, filed out of the assembly venue in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, the leader of the Irish church said in a video statement that there had been ‘huge diversity, a huge range of opinions’ and ‘a strong acceptance that the body of Christ is wounded and in need of healing in so many ways.’” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter

Oceania/Fiji Islands – Assembly of the Bishops of Oceania wants to ‘listen to the people of God’
“The Assembly of the Federation of the Four Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) was inaugurated yesterday, Sunday 5 February, with a Mass in the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Suva, capital of Fiji. Present at Suva Cathedral were hundreds of local faithful, dozens of bishops, priests and religious, and other assembly participants. Referring to the Gospel of the Day, Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, said: ‘To be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we must rediscover the power of being brothers and sisters in Christ.’” By Agenzia Fides on, Information Service of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Reform and renewal – Prague gathering aims to chart new pathway for global Catholic Church
“Delegates representing the Catholic Church in Ireland will join another 200 in-person and 390 online delegates from around Europe at an assembly in Prague today (Feb. 7) to hammer out recommendations on reform and renewal for global Catholicism. The ground-breaking European Synodal Assembly in the Czech capital is the next stage in a radical process of widespread consultation within the church initiated by Pope Francis in 2021.” By Sarah Mac Donald,

Tobin says ‘doctrinal change’ not the point of Synod on Synodality
“While two of his fellow American bishops clash over possible doctrinal changes as a result of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality, one US cardinal is calling a focus on outcomes rather than process a ‘red herring.’ ‘There are certainly voices that would suggest the need to change Catholic doctrine, but I don’t think that’s what the Holy Father has in mind in this whole process,’ said Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark in an interview with Crux. ‘It’s much more about how we walk together.’” By John Lavenburg,


Francis is ‘light years ahead’ of other popes in tackling abuse scandal, says pioneering journalist
“An American journalist who was one of the first reporters in the world to expose the clerical child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church says Pope Francis ‘has gone far beyond his two predecessors in confronting’ the issue. Jason Berry (73), an author and documentary-maker, said the current pope ‘has made his share of mistakes, not heeding Ireland’s survivor leader Marie Collins on genuine reform, and his failure initially to believe news reports about the scandals in Chile. But he did change, sacking a third of the Chilean hierarchy and getting to know survivors like Juan Carlos Cruz [a prominent international campaigner on the issue].’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


Enlarge the tent by rethinking women’s ordination
“The recently released Working Document for the Continental Stage, or DCS, of the Synod on Synodality is like a breath of fresh air, according to most women. It mentions that reports from all over the world display an urgency to critically rethink women’s fullest participation in the life and mission of the church as ‘baptized and equal members of the People of God.’ This implies greater involvement in significant decision-making and administrative processes. Hope of women receiving the sacrament of holy orders is also expressed in synodal reports.” By Nameeta Renu, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican’s most senior woman says Catholic Church ‘failed’ child abuse victims
“The Vatican’s most senior woman says the Catholic Church has ‘failed’ victims of child abuse, and the church must become more modern and inclusive to stay relevant. Sister Nathalie Becquart, the first woman to receive voting rights in the Synod of Bishops, is on a tour of Australian Catholic dioceses, advocating for the church to listen more to its congregation.” By Isobel Roe, ABC News

Church encourages women in South Sudan to break through cultural barriers
“In South Sudan, the cultural expectations for women are clear: They’re to get married young, have children, and stay at home to watch over and support their families, giving little thought to things such as an education and a career … However, increasingly, South Sudan women are pushing back. Martha Malok Acingath, 18, is a graduate of the secondary school Treacy runs in Rumbek, and is eager to begin university classes in Kenya in another years’ time, with ambitions to pursue a degree in criminal law.” By Elise Ann Allen,


Stop prioritizing powerful institutions and focus on the safety of the children
“I signed up to speak at Rep. Rozzi’s ‘listening tour’ event on 1/27/23 as a public commenter. Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected and didn’t get that opportunity. I stayed publicly silent for 32 years after being sexually abused as a child. Then, I shared my story with Philadelphia Magazine in 2018, detailing my life at ages 12-14 when I was groomed and then repeatedly sexually abused by a teacher at my middle school.” By Liz Goldman, ChildUSA


Roman Catholic Diocese sent out letter from bishop amid possibility of bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego could be facing bankruptcy in the coming months, according to a letter signed by the Bishop of San Diego, Robert Cardinal McElroy. Reverend Efrain Bautista told CBS 8 they mailed the letters out to parishioners this weekend to keep them informed on the situation. However, many parishioners CBS 8 spoke to at mass Sunday (Feb. 12) said they never received the letter in the mail … The idea of potentially filing for bankruptcy comes after Assembly Bill 218 lifted the statute of limitations.” By Ariana Cohen, CBS-TV8 News

‘Pure greed’: Indy woman, 72, who stole nearly $547,000 from Catholic church gets fed time
“It took Marie Carson 13 years to embezzle nearly $574,000. Now the 72-year-old will spend two years in federal prison and was ordered to pay it all back. Carson pleaded guilty to wire fraud after being accused of illegally transferring the money from the business accounts of Saint Matthew Catholic Church and School in Indianapolis to her personal bank accounts, a news release from the United States Department of Justice states.” By Jen Guadarrama, IndyStar

Steubenville diocese announces external audit as part of merger reflection
“Bishop Jeffrey Monforton announced on Feb. 2 that the Diocese of Steubenville has commenced an external financial audit, part of a process of charting a viable future for the diocese, which may include a merger somewhere down the line. Monforton provided the update in the Steubenville Register. It comes about four months after he announced his desire for the diocese to merge with the neighboring Diocese of Columbus, which was met with swift backlash that ultimately tabled a November U.S. bishops vote on the idea.” By John Laenburg,


Vatican conference aims to empower laity without ‘clericalizing’ them
“Ahead of a high-profile Vatican conference on collaboration among laypeople and clergy, several Vatican officials stressed the importance of empowering laity without ‘clericalizing’ them or, in the case of women, trying to ‘stake a claim’ or to fill gender quotas. Speaking to journalists Tuesday, American Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, spoke of ‘co-responsibility’ between clergy and laity, saying, ‘Co-responsibility is exactly what it says…It does not mean that the laity in the church have to become clerics, and clerics in the church have to become laity.’” By Elise Ann Allen,


Pope Francis is redefining ‘the spirit of Vatican II’
“The phrase ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ gets tossed around a lot lately, especially by people with clear political agendas. It’s become a cudgel for both the left and right, tangled up in the culture wars consuming America. That spirit either signals pent-up hopes for the church’s future or utter despair —depending on which side of the aisle you stand. What ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ means for Catholics today may come into focus over the next few weeks.” By Joe Ferullo, National Catholic Reporter


Judge upholds Main law allowing older sex abuse lawsuits
“A state judge on Tuesday (Feb. 14) upheld a Maine law that eliminated the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, allowing survivors to pursue lawsuits for sex crimes that happened decades ago. An attorney for more than a dozen plaintiffs who have brought civil lawsuits since the law went into effect praised the decision. ‘Survivors have suffered a lifetime of pain that has affected their relationships at home, at work, and in the world. Now survivors are empowered to face those who allowed such heinous abuse and hold them accountable,’ attorney Michael Bigos said in a statement.” By David Sharp, Associated Press

California lawmakers seek to end civil statute of limitations on childhood abuse claims
“Childhood victims of sexual abuse in California would no longer face deadlines to file civil claims against their alleged abusers under a new bill announced Monday (Feb.. 6) by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) and Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). The Justice for Survivors Act seeks to end the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, including claims against institutions that may have enabled or covered up abuse. Under the state’s current law, survivors are required to file claims in civil court by their 40th birthday, or in some cases, within five years after discovering their abuse as an adult.” By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott and Mark Villarreal, NBC-TV Bay Area News

R.I. high court weighs whether law allows Providence Diocese to be sued in older child sexual abuse cases
“Victims of childhood sexual abuse by priests asked the state Supreme Court in oral arguments Wednesday (Feb. 1) to revive their lawsuits against the Diocese of Providence, arguing that a state law passed in 2019 allowed them to sue the institution and its leaders. The case comes down to whether the Diocese of Providence and its leaders can be considered ‘perpetrators’ of childhood sexual abuse under a 2019 law. The victims argue that the conduct of the diocese and its leaders was so egregious that they could be considered a ‘perpetrator,’ the same way the driver of a getaway car can be criminally charged in a bank robbery.” By Brian Ameral, The Boston Globe


Six key details in the new report on Jean Vanier’s abuse
“Earlier this week, a commission of French scholars released the results of their two-year investigation, nearly 900 pages of information, on sexual and spiritual abuse by Jean Vanier, his mentor Thomas Philippe, and their mystical-sexual sect that played a role in the founding of L’Arche, a worldwide organization that supports people with intellectual disabilities. The report includes historical, sociological, psychological, theological, and religious analysis, drawing from more than 200 hours of interviews and numerous documents from the archives of two L’Arche communities, L’Arche International, the French Dominicans, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Vanier’s personal archives, and more.” By Mitchell Atencio and Betsy Shirley, Sojourners


Catholic church agrees to settlement in alleged East Hartford child sexual abuse, attorney says
“An attorney representing a woman who alleges she was sexually abused as a child by a Catholic priest in East Hartford said they reached a settlement with the church. The woman’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said the claim was outside of the statute of limitations and was settled ‘in the low six figures.’ The settlement was finalized in January, he said. Garabedian said his client, who is now an adult, was repeatedly sexually abused by Toribio Villacastin, a priest assigned to St. Isaac Jogues Parish in East Hartford from 1969 to 1970.” By Peter Yanbkowski, CT Insider


Department of Children and Families investigating Pensacola church volunteer deacon
“The Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating claims made against a volunteer deacon at Little Flower Catholic Church in Pensacola, according to the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee says Little Flower Catholic School received a complaint from three students about the deacon who oversees mass at Little Flower Catholic Church. The deacon will not serve the ministry until the investigation is complete.” By WEAR-TV3 News


Lake Zurich pastor again reinstated after archdiocese finds insufficient evidence of abuse
“The pastor of a Catholic parish in Lake Zurich has again been reinstated to the ministry after an Archdiocese of Chicago panel found no sufficient evidence he had sexually abused a minor, Cardinal Blase Cupich announced in a letter to parishioners Saturday (Feb. 11) night. The Rev. David J. Ryan, who stepped aside when the allegations surfaced in September, can return immediately to his duties at St. Francis de Sales Parish, Cupich wrote.” By Charles Keeshan, Daily Herald

Letter from Cardinal Blasé Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on Father David Ryan
“Dear Parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Parish: Last September, I informed you of new allegations the Archdiocese of Chicago received, accusing Fr. David F. Ryan of sexually abusing a minor. In keeping with our procedures, he once again was asked to step aside from his pastoral duties until a thorough investigation and process could be completed. He has fully cooperated with civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago during these months. After numerous attempts, those making the accusations have refused to cooperate with both civil and church investigations.” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich

A priest scandal rocked Belleville Diocese 30 years ago. How have things changed?
“What a difference 30 years makes. The watchdog organization Voice of the Faithful recently ranked the Catholic Diocese of Belleville the seventh most ‘financially transparent’ diocese in the United States. The lay organization’s 2022 report states that, while financial transparency wouldn’t have prevented clergy sexual abuse in the past, it would have kept the Catholic Church from secretly paying cash settlements to families of child victims in exchange for their silence.” By Teri Maddox, Bellville News-Democrat


Three words: How the Catholic Church and allies altered a bill to protect it from sex abuse lawsuits
“(Kathleen) Hoke (former assistant attorney general) understands better than most the consequence of a bill passed by state lawmakers — unwittingly, some legislators say — to create a statute of repose for lawsuits over child sexual abuse. Five years later, the implications are still coming into focus. Authorities recently told the courts they finished a nearly four-year investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore and uncovered a history of child sexual abuse by priests. The revelation set off a groundswell of support for survivors. In Annapolis, there’s more political will than ever before to remove a legal barrier for adult survivors to sue the church. There’s just one problem — those three words (statute of repose).” By Tim Prudente, The Baltimore Banner

‘I’m a survivor’: parishioner finds strength in faith even after abuse
“Patty Ruppert was trembling so badly she wasn’t sure she would get through her talk. Standing in front of her fellow parishioners at the conclusion of an evening Mass in December, the faith formation director at Immaculate Heart of Mary revealed a painful secret few knew about her: she is a survivor of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. “I stand here to try to help others put a face to this horrible reality of abuse,” said Ruppert, who gave the same address at all the liturgies that weekend.” By George P. Mastysek, Jr., Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Review


Diocese of Worcester releases report on allegations of cleric abuse of minors
“A new report by the Diocese of Worcester identified 173 credible allegations of cleric abuse of minors since the diocese was established in 1950. The diocese said the report by Bishop Roberth McManus serves as an update to the 2004 report by then-Bishop Daniel Reilly. The total number of allegations made in the review, including allegations deemed unsubstantiated false or withdrawn, was 209.” By Spectrum News


Two former SLU priests accused of abuse
“St. Louis University has learned that two of its former priests have been ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse. The regional Jesuits’ Province added the men’s names to a list tracking highly probable abuse incidents. One priest, the late Daniel Campbell, was a faculty member in the late 1950s. The other, David V. Meconi, was working at SLU as recently as 2021. According to the Province, the timeframe of the abuse allegations against him was from 2015-2016. Meconi directed the university’s Catholic Studies center. In a letter to the SLU community, president Fred Pestello said the university is coordinating support for those who were affected. He also urged people to report any instances of abuse.” By KMOX News Radio


The challenge for the archdiocese: looking forward, but never forgetting
“Archbishop John C. Wester has seen the Archdiocese of Santa Fe through a cataclysmic clergy abuse scandal, a bankruptcy of more than $121 million, and worst of all, the unscrubbable stain of the damage done to hundreds or thousands of New Mexico Roman Catholics, most of them children. The clip file is huge and painful. But if you look at the calendar, much of it is in the past. Or is it? Not by a long shot. My source? Archbishop John C. Wester. ‘You know, sometimes people say, ‘Well, I guess we’ve settled that,’ Wester said in a recent interview. ‘I say, ‘Oh, no, we haven’t settled it at all.’” By Phill Casaus, Santa Fe New Mexican


New Details: Jamestown priest arrested on sexual exploitation charges
“A priest with The Diocese of Fargo was arrested Wednesday (Feb. 1) on suspicion of committing sexual exploitation by therapist in Stutsman County. The Diocese says on Jan. 14, Father Neil Pfeifer was removed from active ministry, pending an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct. ‘Today I have learned that Father Pfeifer was arrested. Father Pfeifer remains out of ministry as pastor of the Basilica of St. James in Jamestown, St. Margaret Mary in Buchanan and St. Mathias in Windsor, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation,’ said the Most Reverend John Folda, Bishop of Fargo. ‘Please pray for all involved.’” By Kortney Lockey, Valley News Live


Harrisburg diocese bankruptcy finalized: restitution set for abuse survivors
“A federal judge gave final approval Wednesday (Feb. 15) to a bankruptcy settlement that will require the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and its insurers to provide $18.25 million in restitution to survivors of child sexual abuse in the church. Negotiations over the settlement spanned almost three years, with the diocese and a committee representing sexual abuse survivors reaching an agreement in November. Patrick Duggan, an abuse survivor who served on this committee, called Wednesday’s legal resolution ‘bittersweet’ — noting that it secured money for damages and numerous commitments from the diocese but also leaves some survivors without the chance to confront church representatives in court.” By Bethany Rodgers, York Daily Record


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, KnoxNews

Knoxville diocese asks judge to allow it to keep documents secret, cites Knox News reports
“The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville is asking a judge to grant greater secrecy as the church continues to defend itself in an explosive sexual abuse lawsuit. The effort is in large part due to the reporting of Knox News. The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has asked a judge to allow it to keep secret internal documents as it defends itself in an explosive sexual abuse lawsuit.” By Tyler Whetstone,


Congolese survivors of abuse by Catholic priests demand Pope take action
“On Thursday (Feb. 2), protesters gathered outside Kinshasa’s Notre Dame Cathedral to denounce systemic sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Advocates are drawing attention the case of a 14-year-old girl who was raped by a priest in the DRC, and demanding the church apply a 2019 law enacted by the pope to hold bishops accountable for sex abuse or for covering it up.” By


Funding scheme offers healing for victims of Church abuse
“People who have been abused or harmed in Church or other settings and are seeking healing may be eligible for a new funding scheme available in 2023. The Grief to Grace team in Perth is making funds available to cover anyone in Australia who wants to attend the healing retreat program overseas. The program has been offered in Australia three times, however COVID-19 and other issues have made it difficult to continue offering the program locally. This is why the Perth site has decided to release funds to help people living in Australia to attend the program at established Grief to Grace sites in the UK, US and Europe.” By

Secondary victims in abuse cases – developing law in Australia and England
“The Australian Victorian Supreme Court has permitted a claim for damages by a secondary victim of abuse and effectively confirmed the extension of liability to secondary victims … The claim was brought by a father whose son had allegedly been abused by George Pell, the second defendant to the proceedings and a Vatican official, in 1996 when Pell was appointed as an assistant priest, bishop, auxiliary bishop and cardinal in Australia. The claim was also brought against the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, the first defendant.” By Amanda Do, Alastair Gillespie, Lucinda Lyons and Katherine Neal, Clyde & Co., on

Safeguarding expert’s meetings with local leaders ‘an encouraging opportunity’
“International safeguarding expert Fr Hans Zollner SJ says his latest visit to Australia has been an encouraging opportunity to strengthen the global network of individuals committed to safeguarding children and vulnerable people from abuse. Fr Zollner is the director of the Institute of Anthropology, Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care (IADC) at Pontifical Gregorian University. His 10-day trip to Australia concluded on Saturday (Feb. 11).” By


Parents learn of sex abuse case against teacher six months after hearing
“Parents of students at a Catholic high school in Perth, Ont., are only now being told about a historic sexual abuse case, nearly half a year after the province’s regulatory body for teachers deemed it credible. The Ontario College of Teachers ruled last summer that Edward (Ted) Michael Oliver was guilty of professional misconduct after it investigated allegations that he sexually abused a 17-year-old female student while he was teaching at St. John Catholic High School. The regulator revoked Oliver’s teaching certificate after verifying complaints through its internal disciplinary process.” By Giacomo Panico, CBC


Church in Costa Rica to compensate four victims of ex-priest serving 20-year sentence
“The Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference and the Archdiocese of San José announced that an agreement has been reached to compensate four victims of sexual abuse by ex-priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence. The bishops said in a Feb. 1 statement that in order to close the legal proceedings for damages against the victims, “an agreement has been reached” that is “satisfactory to all parties.” By Catholic News Agency


Abusive German priest with links to late pope to face trial in March
“The civil lawsuit by a German abuse victim against a convicted abusive priest with links to the late pope Benedict XVI and representatives of the Catholic Church is now due before court on March 28. The Traunstein Regional Court in the southern state of Bavaria set the trial date on Thursday (Feb. 9) in a case which is considered one of the most prominent in the abuse scandal involving the German Catholic Church. The priest, a repeat offender convicted of sexual abuse identified by the initial H under Germany’s strict privacy laws, must appear in court.” By Gwinnett Daily Post


Sexual abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church reached ‘epic proportions’
“On February 13, the final report of the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church will be released. In October, the commission had already validated testimony from 424 witnesses, but most had already expired in legal terms. However, Pedro Strecht, President of the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church, says what they have is compelling: “The witness reports present a lot of identical information, a fact that reinforces the consistency of the testimonies and outlines serious situations existing over decades that become more evident the further you go back in time, and in some places, they assumed truly endemic proportions.” By Filipa Soares,

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A priest scandal rocked the Belleville Diocese 30 years ago. How have things changed? / Belleville News-Democrat

Recognition for transparency in the Belleville Diocese is significant, particularly considering its reputation in the early 1990s, when victims, advocates, journalists and others complained that it had kept clergy sexual abuse hidden from the public.

Teri Maddox, Belleville News-Democrat

“What a difference 30 years makes.

“The watchdog organization Voice of the Faithful recently ranked the Catholic Diocese of Belleville the seventh most ‘financially transparent’ diocese in the United States.

The lay organization’s 2022 report states that, while financial transparency wouldn’t have prevented clergy sexual abuse in the past, it would have kept the Catholic Church from secretly paying cash settlements to families of child victims in exchange for their silence.

“‘The horror of clergy sexual abuse … would have been reported, not covered up, and abusers would have been called to account for their crimes,’ the report stated. ‘Victims of serial abusers would have been protected.’

“Recognition for transparency in the Belleville Diocese is significant, particularly considering its reputation in the early 1990s, when victims, advocates, journalists and others complained that it had kept clergy sexual abuse hidden from the public for decades.

“The Belleville News-Democrat published its first story on the issue in February 1993. By 2002, the diocese, which covers 28 counties in southern Illinois, had removed 15 priests and one deacon from ministry.”

By Teri Maddox, Belleville News-Democrat — Read more …

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


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


‘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


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

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


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


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


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,


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,


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


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 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


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,

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


$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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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,


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


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,

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


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


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,

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


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


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

‘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


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


‘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,


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


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


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

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


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,

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Jan. 20, 2023


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


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


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,

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 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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


‘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 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


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


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


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


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


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


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 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


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


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


‘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


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


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


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


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,


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


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

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Hierarchy’s sacramental betrayal in abuse scandal obstructs synodality / National Catholic Reporter

Members of the hierarchy appear not to realize the depth to which the effects of the scandal have seeped into every level of the institution. If they did, they would be acting far differently.

Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

“It was in late spring, 1985, when I received a call from NCR’s then-editor Tom Fox. I think he said he hoped I was sitting down.

“Fox and I often exchanged calls when we thought that one of our publications had something of interest for the other. At the time, I was news editor of what was then called Religious News Service, headquartered on a floor in the former Jesuit residence at 56th Street and Sixth Avenue in New York.

“I was sitting at my desk when he told me that NCR’s next edition would contain an extensive and rather explosive report detailing the abuse of children by Catholic priests and the failure of hierarchy to do anything about it.

“That conversation was a jarring introduction to corruption and evil that continue to reverberate to this day. That first national story to be published about the scandal was extensive, detailed, and the accompanying editors’ commentary saw far into the future.

“What I eventually came to understand about the scandal affected not only my career (I landed at NCR in 1994) and how I would spend my time in the world of religion reporting. 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 Robert, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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