Posts Tagged cardinals

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


January 31, 2020

TOP STORIES

New database of abusive clergy will ‘put pressure’ on bishops to improve transparency
“A new, independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse was launched this week(link is external), marking what some observers say is a sign of a new era of transparency in the Catholic Church and others labeling it the “privatization of justice” after years of church leaders blocking such efforts. The database, which was activated on Monday (Jan. 27), was a yearlong effort by ProPublica, ‘a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.’ The launch comes after the 2018 release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which sent shock waves through the U.S. Church as it chronicled seven decades of abuse of more than 1,000 victims at the hands of 300 priests.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Vatican orders sex abuse investigation of Brooklyn bishop
“The Vatican has ordered an investigation of a sexual abuse allegation against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio(link is external), who was previously named by Pope Francis to investigate the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York received instructions on Jan. 7 to begin an investigation of allegations that DiMarzio molested a child while he was a parish priest in New Jersey in the mid-1970s, according to a statement released over the weekend (Jan. 18) by Dolan’s spokesman Joseph Zwilling.” By Associated Press

10 years after Vatican reform, Legion in new abuse crisis
“The administrator of the elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, used to take the girls out of class and send them to the chapel, where the priest from the Legion of Christ religious order would sexually abuse them(link is external). ‘As some were reading the Bible, he would rape the others in front of them, little girls aged 6 to 8 or 9,’ said one of his victims, Ana Lucia Salazar, now a 36-year-old Mexican television host and mother of three. ‘Afterward, nothing was the same, nothing went back to the way it was,’ she said through tears at her home in Mexico City.” By Maria Verza and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Rome summit to examine clerical sex abuse
“Rome is to host a summit examining how the clerical sexual abuse crisis is forcing the Church to go back to its core mission and re-think its model of the priesthood(link is external). The gathering of around 90 theologians from across the world, hosted by the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, will look at the ecclesiological impact of abuse, in a way that is not simply legal, or procedural. The 11-14 March meeting is to look clericalism, ecclesial reform and rediscovering the mission of Jesus in Church structures.” By Christopher Lamb, The tablet

Appeals court acquits French cardinal of sex abuse cover-up
“A French appeals court on Thursday (Jan. 30) acquitted a French cardinal of covering up the sexual abuse of minors in his flock(link is external). The appeals court in the southeastern French city of Lyon gave no explanation on Thursday for its ruling. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, had been convicted in March and given a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report a predator priest to police. But Pope Francis refused to accept the cardinal’s decision to resign until the appeals process is complete.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Catholic leaders promised transparency about child abuse. They haven’t delivered
“Over the last year and a half, the majority of U.S. dioceses, as well as nearly two dozen religious orders, have released lists of abusers currently or formerly in their ranks. The revelations were no coincidence: They were spurred by a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, which named hundreds of priests as part of a statewide clergy abuse investigation. Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests. But even as bishops have dedicated these lists to abuse victims and depicted the disclosures as a public acknowledgement of victims’ suffering, it has become clear that numerous alleged abusers have been omitted and that there is no standard for determining who each diocese considers credibly accused(link is external).” By Lexi Churchill, Ellis Simani and Topher Sanders, Pro Publica

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis remakes the American hierarchy, one bishop at a time
“As archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput was not afraid to take a different line from the pope on issues facing the church. In 2016, after Pope Francis opened the possibility of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, Chaput added a stipulation: In his diocese, such couples who wanted to receive the Eucharist would have to abstain from sex … A Catholic bishop, even one who disagrees with a new pope, cannot just be fired and replaced. The pope must wait until the bishop reaches retirement at 75 years of age before appointing a successor. But if change is slow, the direction is clear, and Francis, like popes before him, is slowly filling the American hierarchy with bishops who reflect his values and priorities(link is external).” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

Pope Francis replaces conservative archbishop of Philadelphia
“Pope Francis sought to shift the ideological balance of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States on Thursday, replacing one of his most prominent conservative critics as the archbishop of Philadelphia(link is external). Pope Francis announced in a statement that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia was retiring, and that Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Cleveland, a former Philadelphian and relative newcomer to the national scene, would assume the role.” By Jason Horowitz and Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times

CARA study finds bishops are satisfied with their life and ministry
“Catholics may be surprised to learn that many U.S. bishops describe their lives as both all-consuming and satisfying, a priest-researcher said(link is external). ‘These are guys who generally get up very, very early in the morning, pray about two hours every day and work about 10 hours a day,’ Father Stephen Fichter, a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in Washington, which conducted the survey. ‘(They) just really do some interesting things and there are a lot of difficulties that they’re dealing with all the time.’” By Susan Klemond, Catholic News Service, The Pilot

PRIESTS

Priests in group shut down by Vatican accused of sex abuse
“Nine priests and brothers of a Catholic group recently shut down by the Vatican are under investigation by Italian authorities for allegedly sexually abusing two brothers(link is external), officials and news reports said Wednesday (Jan. 29). Prato Bishop Giovanni Nerbini confirmed that Prato criminal prosecutors had opened an investigation after he reported the case to police against members of the Disciples of the Annunciation community. He pledged the church’s cooperation with the investigation.” By Associated Press in The New York Times

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Vatican women’s magazine blames drip in nuns on abuses
“The Vatican women’s magazine is blaming the drastic drop in the number of nuns worldwide in part on their wretched working conditions and the sexual abuse and abuses of power(link is external) they suffer at the hands of priests and their own superiors. Women Church World dedicated its February issue to the burnout, trauma and exploitation experienced by religious sisters and how the church is realizing it must change its ways if it wants to attract new vocations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Salt Lake Tribune

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Woman’s place at Pope Francis’ right hand
“Pope Francis opened 2020 with a strong call to acknowledge the dignity of women, end violence against them and stop the exploitation of women’s bodies(link is external). His homily on January 1 was not generic: it referenced prostitution, rape, coerced abortion, pornography and even advertising. The Pope called for the involvement of women in decision-making processes in civil society, specifically when it comes to promoting peace.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in Scottish Catholic Observer

CHURCH FINANCES

Priest sued over church’s missing $500,000
“The Church has launched legal action against a priest accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish(link is external) as it seeks to recoup the missing money. Fr Joe Walsh, who led the parish of Subiaco in Perth’s western suburbs, was charged by police last year with stealing and is due to appear in court tomorrow to determine a date for his criminal trial. Documents filed in the West Australian Supreme Court show the Perth Archdiocese was seeking details of amounts held by Fr Walsh in four NAB accounts and a term deposit, as well as money tied up in Perth-based property investment group Primewest.” Paul Garvey, The Australian, on CathNews.com

Dioceses come under scrutiny as they change legal structures
“As dioceses across the country continue to face multi-million dollar payouts related to clerical sex abuse, some bishops have relied on advice from lawyers to reconfigure the property of their dioceses into charitable trusts(link is external). The practice – which has been implemented by several dioceses after the clerical sex abuse revelations of the early 2000s – creates significantly different outcomes for dioceses and abuse victims in the case of bankruptcies.” By Jack Lyons, Cruxnow.com

Vatican rejoins financial intelligence network after raid
“A global network of financial intelligence units has readmitted the Holy See after a two-month suspension(link is external) sparked by a Vatican police raid on the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency. The Holy See said Thursday (Jan. 23) that the Egmont Group had revoked its suspension after Vatican prosecutors signed a memorandum of understanding about the treatment of confidential documents that were seized in the raid.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Sex and the (Vatican) City: a brief history of clerical celibacy
“In a scene that wouldn’t be amiss in Netflix’s The Two Popes, a standoff between the current Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, is playing out across the world. The pontifical sticking point is the sexual relations of priests(link is external) – or, lack thereof. In his forthcoming book, From the Depths of Our Hearts, the Pope Emeritus and his co-author, Cardinal Robert Sarah, issue a warning against relaxing the rules on Catholic priesthood as the rainforest runs dry of priests in some remote South American areas.” By History Extra

Cardinal at center of two popes storm doubles down on celibacy
“A Vatican cardinal at the center of a storm over a book about celibacy and the Catholic priesthood is denouncing the ‘brutality’ of criticism directed at him and hiSs collaborator, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio published Saturday (Jan. 25), Cardinal Robert Sarah doubled down on his argument in the book, ‘From the Depths of Our Hearts,’ that the Catholic priesthood is incompatible with marriage(link is external).” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Roman Catholic priests have been celibate for a thousand years – but this could change
“For almost a thousand years, Roman Catholic priests have been required to be celibate. But this age-old practice is now under fire(link is external), with the suggestion that the rules should be relaxed for the Latin American Catholic church. In response to such rumblings, a new book sets out a vigorous defense of priestly celibacy against the ‘fashionable errors’ of its detractors. The book is particularly notable for being described as co-authored by Cardinal Robert Sarah and the former pope, Benedict XVI, who since his resignation in 2013 has avoided public intervention in the time of his successor, Pope Francis.” By Helen Parish, The Conversation

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Germany’s synodal assembly a step to rebuilding church’s credibility
“Catholic leaders in Germany have compiled responses from lay Catholics in areas related to who holds power in the church, sexual morals, the role of priests and the place of women in church offices in preparation for an upcoming synodal assembly(link is external) to debate church reforms. More than 940 suggestions and questions had been submitted by early January in advance of the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 assembly in Frankfurt, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service

As Dutch parishes close, some Catholics just quit going to church
“A Dutch Catholic newspaper warned churches will continue to close in the Netherlands, where half of all Catholic parishes have already been dissolved amid plummeting church participation(link is external). ‘It’s never good to panic, but there are grave concerns about the way things are going here,’ said Peter Doorakkers, an editor at the Katholiek Nieuwsblad weekly. ‘It’s been hoped people would draw the obvious conclusion — that if you want your church to stay open, you don’t just need to support it financially, you also have to attend it more. But if you look at the numbers at Mass now and average ages, it’s obvious more churches will close in the near future.’” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

VOICES

Editorial: Dolan investigating DiMarzio points up flaws in ‘Vos Estis’
“We have long held unabashed admiration for Pope Francis. But events keep raising issues about the shortcomings of Vos Estis Lux Mundi, his signature intervention to address the church’s sex abuse crisis(link is external). Latest case in point: According to press reports and statements from the dioceses involved, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, under Vos Estis provisions, is investigating Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, his neighbor across the East River. DiMarzio has been publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor dating back 45 years to a parish in Jersey City, when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey … Our problem is with making Dolan responsible for leading an inquiry.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Pope Francis put a woman in a top Vatican role. It shows how little power Catholic women hold.
“Recently, the Catholic Church took two small steps for womankind: This month, Pope Francis named the first woman to a managerial position in the Vatican’s most important office, the Secretariat of State. And in October, the world’s bishops suggested that Francis reconvene a commission he had created, at the urging of nuns, to study the ordination of women as permanent deacons … Yet these reforms only make clear how little power women hold in the church(link is external), where they constitute about half of Catholicism’s 1.2 billion adherents.” By Celia Viggo Wexler, NBC News

Requiring clergy to report abuse is a thorny issue, but protecting kids makes it worth it
“Rep. Angela Romero’s inbox has been a busy, hostile place for a few weeks. Since the Catholic League issued a call to action to its members about a week ago, Romero estimates she has received somewhere between 400 and 600 emails. A sampling: ‘You are doing the work of Satan and will not prevail.’ ‘Disgusting anti-Christian politicians like you … attack Christianity relentlessly.’ It goes on from there. She incurred the unholy wrath by sponsoring legislation that would require members of the clergy to notify law enforcement when they receive information about child abuse or neglect— even if it happens in a religious confession(link is external).” By Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune

Why do child sex abuse victims in Missouri have only 10 years to file civil lawsuits?
“An outdated Missouri law limits civil claims arising from sexual abuse offenses committed against children to a 10-year window(link is external). House Bill 1411 would finally lift the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in child sexual abuse cases. The measure, which is sponsored by state Rep. Sheila Solon, a St. Joseph Republican, is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday (Jan. 21). In 2018, Missouri lawmakers removed the statute of limitations for criminal child sex abuse offenses. Just as a time limit for criminal charges was misguided, so, too, is imposing an expiration date limiting survivors’ ability to seek justice through civil lawsuits.” By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Theologians to examine Church response to abuse
“The Center for Child Protection at Gregorian University in Rome and Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church, an international network of moral theologians, will host the March 11-14 theological ‘laboratory.’ The organizers, including professors James Keenan SJ from Boston College and Hans Zollner SJ from the Centre for Child Protection, have invited more than 70 ecclesiologists and ethicists. The meeting has been called a ‘laboratory’ to emphasize active engagement of all participants in advancing theological thought, reflection and leadership in response to the crisis(link is external), with a view to supporting the global Church in its response.” By CathNews.com

ALASKA

Archdiocese commission accuses 14 Southcentral Alaska clergy and church employees of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Anchorage for the first time has named 14 Southcentral Catholic clergy members accused by church investigators of sexually abusing children and vulnerable adults(link is external). The report released Thursday (Jan. 23) is the result of a 15-month investigation by an independent church commission into allegations of sexual abuse by clergy, church employees and volunteers over a 54-year period.” By Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News

CALIFORNIA

Anaheim priest named in lawsuit alleging sexual abuse
“A judge today (Jan. 29) cleared the way for the public identification of a Roman Catholic priest named in a lawsuit alleging he molested a 6-year-old boy(link is external) at a Catholic school in Stanton in 1994. Father Edward Poettgen had previously been listed anonymously in the lawsuit filed in June. An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled today that the plaintiff could publicly identify the priest.” By KFIAM640.com

First Catholic diocese child sex abuse case settled since passing of new law
“A California Catholic Diocese on Tuesday (Jan. 28) settled the first child sexual abuse case since the passing of the Child Victims Act(link is external) back in September 2019. Attorneys representing Richard Barrios, 47, allegedly abused as a child by convicted pedophile priest Lawrence Lovell, announced a $1.9 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Lawrence Lovell and the Claretian Missionaries. In the lawsuit, Barrios alleged that he was sexually abused by Father Lawrence Lovell throughout a two-year period from 1982 through 1984 when the victim was 9 to 11 years old.” By 23ABC Digital Staff

COLORADO

Even if Colorado gives child sex assault victims unlimited time to sue, it may be too late for those already abused
“Colorado lawmakers plan to bring legislation this year that would give child sexual assault victims unlimited time to sue their abusers and the institutions that protect the predators(link is external). But for people abused in the past—including the more than 150 victims of Catholic priests identified in a recently released report on sexual misconduct in Colorado — the change may be coming too late.” By Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun

FLORIDA

Priest child sex abuse laws continue to change in Florida
“At a 2018 press conference, then Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a statewide investigation into child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests(link is external) saying, ‘Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the Church and a threat to society,’ Shortly before the investigation was announced 15 victims had already contacted authorities. Now after more than a year victims are continuing to come forward yet the state has been tight lipped about the number of tips reported through the statewide hotline.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

LOUISIANA

One year after releasing names of abusive priests, Baton Rouge Diocese adds two more
“At the one-year anniversary of releasing a list of clergymen credibly accused of abuse, the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has added two more priests who served in Ponchatoula to their list of those with credible claims against them(link is external). Diocesan officials announced Wednesday morning that they were adding two priests from religious orders who served in the diocese to their list, which has grown since its initial release a year ago. The additions of the Rev. Richard Raphael Archer, a Dominican friar, and Rev. Lawrence Dark, a Congregation of the Holy Cross priest, bring the total of Catholic clergy members who worked in and around Baton Rouge and were credibly accused of abuse to 45.” By Andrea Gallo, The Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Victims’ lawyer releases credibly accused clergy list for Fall River Diocese
“The Diocese of Fall River is being pressured to release a list of clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). On Tuesday (Jan. 21), Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, well known for representing sexual abuse victims in claims against the Archdiocese of Boston, released his own list of nine priests and one Catholic Church employee within the Diocese of Fall River that he says have been ‘accused of sexually abusing one minor in which this office has successfully brought child abuse claims against.’” By Kiernan Dunlop, South Coast Today

Diocese of Fall River suspends retired Catholic priests James Buckley, Edward Byington over claims of child sex abuse
“Two retired Catholic priests were suspended from the ministry over allegations they sexually abused children(link is external) decades ago, the Diocese of Fall River announced Sunday (Jan. 19). The suspended priests, James F. Buckley and Edward J. Byington, are not assigned to a parish but have assisted with masses at various churches since their retirements in the 2000s, the Diocese of Fall River said in a statement.” By Jackson Cote, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Clergyman sentenced to jail after restraining teenager
“The second priest to be convicted through Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s clergy abuse investigation was sentenced on Monday (Jan. 27) to jail time after he pleaded guilty to holding a teenage boy against his will(link is external) in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in 2013. The Rev. Brian Stanley was sentenced to 60 days in Allegan County Jail, with credit for two days served, five years’ probation and must register as a sex offender for 15 years.” By Oakland County Legal News

MINNESOTA

Tuesday’s hearing ends civil action between Ramsey County and archdiocese
“Officials in Ramsey County and the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis go to court Tuesday (Jan. 28) to mark the end of a nearly four-year civil case(link is external). In 2016, Ramsey County prosecutor John Choi dropped criminal sexual abuse charges against the church. The church was allowed to admit guilt and institute a plan, overseen by Choi’s office, to ensure children’s safety.” By WCCO Radio Newsroom

Archdiocese to hold conference for clergy abuse survivors
“The daylong conference in Lake Elmo, east of St. Paul, will include Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi providing an update on the impetus for the conference: The settlement of civil charges filed by the county in 2015 alleging the archdiocese was negligent in the case of an abusive priest(link is external). “Mr. Choi always felt restorative justice should be part of the archdiocese taking accountability for its actions and providing a means of healing for the community,” said Stephanie Wiersma, an assistant Ramsey County attorney who will participate in the conference and has been involved in the case since the beginning.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

NEW JERSEY

Catholic fund has paid out million to N.J. priest sex abuse victims. Friday is the last day to apply.
“More than 500 people have applied to receive cash settlements from a new Catholic Church fund created to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey(link is external), said the program’s managers who plan to accept the last new applications Friday (Jan. 31) … As of early this month, the program has paid out more than $10 million in settlements to New Jersey victims, though only 86 of the 552 applications had been decided, said Camille Biros, co-administrator of the fund.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

New lawsuits against Newark Archdiocese accuse former Rutherford priest of sex assault
“A pair of lawsuits filed under new state law have been filed against the Archdiocese of Newark by men saying they were sexually abused nearly four decades ago by a late Catholic priest(link is external). The men accuse the church of failing to protect them from the Rev. David Ernst, who was assigned to Saint Mary’s in Rutherford and taught at Our Lady Help of Christians parochial school in East Orange.” By Valerie Musson, Dsily Voice

New Jersey Catholic school priest suspended during sexual abuse investigation
“A Catholic priest assigned as chaplain at Oratory Catholic Preparatory School in Summit has been placed on leave pending investigations(link is external) by Union County authorities, and school and church officials said. Rev. Salvatore DiStefano is currently on administrative leave as the Union County Prosecutor’s Office investigates ‘complaints issued in the past several days,’ Maria Margiotta, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a statement.” By Katie Kausch, NJ Advance Media, on nj.com

NEW MEXICO

Former priest accused of sex crimes heads to trial
“Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday (Jan. 29) in the trial of an ex-priest accused of raping a first grader at a parochial school in Santa Fe County(link is external) in the late 1980s. Marvin Archuleta’s criminal trial is the first to come out of state Attorney General Hector Balderas’ ongoing investigation into claims of child sex abuse in Roman Catholic churches throughout New Mexico. The state intends to bring Thomas P. Doyle of Virginia, a national expert on clergy sex abuse, to testify in the case, according to a witness list.” By Phaedra Haywood, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK

Court papers: put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand for questioning in abuse cases
“He wants to be identified only by his initials, the same identity he uses in the lawsuit he filed against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester. ‘The victims need to know. We have a right to know,’ he said about new developments in the case. Attorneys for child sexual assault victims are asking a judge to put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand(link is external). He ran the diocese for 33 years.” By Jane Flasch, WHAM-TV13 News

Three victims come forward with allegations of child sex abuse against priest
“Three new victims are coming forward with allegations of child sex abuse against a Catholic priest(link is external) who previously pleaded guilty to forming a sex club and molesting dozens of children. Convicted child molester Father Edward Pipala is once again at the center of a child sex abuse scandal and alleged church cover-up. ‘For decades, he was given license and permission by the Archdiocese and top officials to continue one of the most predatory paths we’ve seen,’ says attorney Jeff Anderson.” By News12 Westchester

OHIO

Ohio priest pleads not guilty to child-porn related charges
“An Ohio Catholic priest pleaded not guilty to 21 child pornography-related counts(link is external) in a Cleveland courtroom on Wednesday (Jan. 22). The Rev. Robert McWilliams, 39, was indicted last week by a Cuyahoga County grand jury. He was arrested last month at a parish in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville after the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force searched his living space using a warrant from neighboring Geauga County.” By Associated Press in The Washington Times

Columbus bishop creates task force, hires attorney to tackle allegations
“Bishop Robert Brennan, of the Diocese of Columbus, has started a task force to look into diocesan policies regarding sexual abuse of minors by priests(link is external). The diocese has also hired a local law firm to look into its records and see if more priests should be added to a list of 50 clergy members who have been accused thus far. Columbus Bishop Robert Brennan says he wants to look at the sexual abuse of minors by clergy members with ‘new eyes.’” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

OKLAHOMA

Retired Oklahoma City priest added to clergy abuse list
“Archbishop Paul Coakley announced Tuesday (Jan. 21) the addition of a now-retired Oklahoma City priest who served in churches across the state to the list of priests who have had a substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor(link is external). According to the investigation, the archdiocese was contacted in 1993 by a former parishioner of Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Enid who reported allegations of abuse against Father Marvin Leven, 94, that started when the victim was age 15 and recurred as a young adult at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.” By Kaylee Douglas, KFOR-TV4 News

TENNESSEE

Documents contradict Knoxville diocese’s timeline of knowing about sexual abuse allegations against priests and teacher
“After months of publicly discrediting and denying sexual abuse allegations against prominent priests and a diocesan employee(link is external), documents obtained by the Times Free Press suggest the Diocese of Knoxville may have known about those allegations for almost a year before suspending the accused employee.” Wyatt Massey, Chattanooga Times Free Press

TEXAS

Ex-Dallas-area Catholic priest accused of molesting a child
“A 78-year-old former Roman Catholic priest whose whereabouts remain unknown has been accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child(link is external) while serving as a priest in North Texas, according to a police affidavit. Dallas police obtained a warrant Tuesday for the arrest of Richard Thomas Brown, a priest who served at five North Texas churches before he was removed in 2002 and recently defrocked. The affidavit accused Brown of sexually molesting a child on July 5, 1989.” By Associated Press in Washington Times

Corpus Christi priests accused of credible abuse file appeal in defamation case
“A lawyer is arguing retired Corpus Christi priests were wrongly included in a list of clergy ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external),’ especially when one was exonerated multiple times. In an Appellants’ brief submitted Monday to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals, attorney Andrew M. Greenwell argues retired priests Michael Heras and John Feminelli were included in a Diocese of Corpus Christi list of priests ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.’” By Alexandria Rodriguez, Caller Times

WASHINGTON

Prominent Catholics together call for review of Seattle Archdiocese’s secret clergy abuse files
“A group of prominent Catholics announced Tuesday (Jan. 28) that it’s pursuing a ‘lay-led,’ independent review of the Seattle Archdiocese’s secret clergy files(link is external) to fully expose the breadth and depth of the church’s sexual abuses in Western Washington and find a path forward for healing the damage caused to generations of the religion’s followers.” By Lewis Kamb, Seattle Times

WISCONSIN

La Crosse Diocese names 25 former priests who abused children
“At least 25 priests who served in the Diocese of La Crosse over the past several decades sexually assaulted children(link is external), the diocese disclosed Saturday (Jan. 18). The disclosure, posted at 4 p.m. on the diocese website at diolc.org, brings the total number of Catholic priests with substantiated accusations of sexual abuse in Wisconsin to nearly 160. The La Crosse diocese serves nearly 200,000 Catholics in counties across central and western Wisconsin, including those in Marathon, Portage and Wood counties.” By Laura Schulte, Wausau Daily Herald

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church attempts to stop one of its own priests from suing it for child abuse
“The Catholic church is attempting to stop one of its own priests from suing it for child abuse because he took too long to come forward(link is external), prompting criticism that it has learned nothing from the royal commission. The Lismore diocese plans to seek a permanent stay in the New South Wales supreme court to prevent one of its priests from suing for abuse he suffered as a 12-year-old altar boy. Court documents allege the altar boy was abused in the 1960s by Clarence “David” Anderson, a now-dead priest.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Christian Brothers child sex abuse survivor John Lawrence said attacker made him feel ‘worthless’
“An elderly man who was sexually abused by the Christian Brothers as a child(link is external) has described the pain and fear he experienced being repeatedly raped as a nine-year-old boy at a group home for vulnerable children. Perth man John Thomas Lawrence, 75, has become the first child sex abuse survivor to testify about his ordeal in court since Western Australia removed time limits on such cases being heard.” By Eliza Borrello, ABC News

Religious privilege: priest confessed to child abuse 1,500 times
“Father Michael McArdle wrote in a 2004 affidavit that he made confessions of child abuse 1,500 times over 25 years(link is external). Each time, he walked out of the confessional booth with his sins absolved. Rockhampton Bishop Brian Heenan barred McArdle from contact with children in 1996 after hearing allegations from victims. Although McArdle never denied the allegations, Heenan failed to contact the police.” By Destiny Rogers, qnews.com.au

CHILE

Catholic clergy abuse victim leads drive to shakeup establishment politics in Chile
“James Hamilton, a doctor who was one of the first people in Chile to come forward claiming he was the victim of child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), has called his party Dignity. The name is a reference to the public square in the Chilean capital where protesters have gathered over the past three months to denounce inequality and high living costs. Hamilton is seeking to unite his countrymen around “principles” rather than ideologies of left and right.” By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda, Reuters

FRANCE

French trial exposes how church covered for predator priest
“One of the first people to notice Bernard Preynat’s unhealthy obsession for young boys was the supervisor at the seminary where, still a teen, the future priest started training for his career in the church. ‘At 14, 15 years old, I became interested in the youngest boys and the supervisor summoned me to tell me that I was abnormal and sick,’ the self-confessed child abuser said at his trial in France this past week. ‘I explained this to the bishop.’ And yet, after a two-year church-imposed course of psychotherapy, Preynat was still ordained into the priesthood(link is external).” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press

GERMANY

On abuse-scandal efforts, German bishops urge patience
“German bishops urged patience toward their efforts to deal with the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external). The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops, meeting in Wurzburg, said the plans that resulted from the latest investigations needed time. Their appeal came 10 years since the first revelations of the abuse emerged. ‘We need this time and we hope for understanding; we will not be absolving ourselves from the responsibility,’ they said Jan. 28.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

GUAM

‘Greatest measure of justice’: $21M for survivors, other claimants in Archdiocese plan
“Guam’s clergy sex abuse survivors and other claimants may be able to receive some $21 million in restitution(link is external) from the Archdiocese of Agana, if the church’s reorganization plan to solve its bankruptcy gets court approval. This is the first public disclosure of the amount the archdiocese and its insurers plan to pay claimants, including those allegedly molested and raped by bishops, priests and other clergy dating back to the 1950s.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

SLOVENIA

Catholic group calls on Ljubljana archbishop to resign over inaction on multiple rape allegations against priests
“A Catholic civil society group dedicated to fighting sexual abuse in the Slovenian Roman Catholic Church has called for the resignation of Slovenia’s most senior cleric, Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore, due to the church’s persistent failure to tackle sexual abuse allegations against members of the clergy(link is external). The church keeps adopting and updating recommendations on how church workers should deal with allegations of sexual abuse, but ‘everything remains dead ink on paper,’ said Igor Vovk, a senior member of the Dovolj.je (It’s Enough) group and director of the Catholic pro-life NGO Zavod Iskreni.” By Total Slovenia News

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Retired Washington cardinal out of ministry after credible abuse accusation
“In a shocking announcement, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who served as the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., before retiring in 2006, has announced that he is stepping down from active ministry after allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) were found ‘credible and substantiated.’ The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Pope removes Chile bishop accused of abuse cover up
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a controversial Chilean bishop(link is external)accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse, making it the first such accepted resignation since all the country’s bishops offered to step down in May … The Vatican announced Francis’s decision on Monday (Jun. 11), and said Bishop Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo, an auxiliary bishop from the capital Santiago, would serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese. Two other bishops also had their resignations accepted: Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt and Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Bishops’ prosecutions may point to new phase in church’s sex abuse crisis
“Pope Francis has been dealing over recent months with what has seemed like an unending saga of the Catholic clergy sexual abuse(link is external) crisis in Chile. After being criticized for saying abuse victims had committed ‘calumny’ during his January visit to the country, the pope has since admitted making ‘serious mistakes,’ met with Chilean victims in Rome, and received offers of resignation from most of the country’s bishops … But if Francis’ response to clergy abuse in Chile has appeared unending, recent developments across the world indicate that an examination into how the global Catholic Church has handled, or mishandled, sexual abuse is just beginning to ramp up.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Expanded background checks among changes to child protection charter
“Incremental changes to the U.S. bishops’ guiding document(link is external) on addressing sexual abuse of minors by clergy were approved Thursday (Jun. 13) during the prelates’ annual spring assembly, marking the first modifications since 2011. In the first of six votes set for day two of the gathering, the bishops voted 185-5, with one abstention, to approve a series of revisions to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Australian prelate: laity could have prevented ‘catastrophic’ abuse crisis
“Arguably, few people in Australia can say they are more on the front lines in picking up the pieces after the recently concluded Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse that was highly critical of the Catholic Church than Archbishop Mark Coleridge, elected as president of the country’s bishops’ conference last month. Despite the challenges, which also include trials of two of Australia’s most renowned clerics … Coleridge is convinced that when it comes to fighting clerical sexual abuse, a ‘change in culture’ is needed and is already in motion(link is external).” By Inés San Martin, John L. Allen, and Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

CLERGY ABUSE CRISIS IN CHILE

The clergy abuse crisis in Chile is sending shockwaves through the Catholic community there and reverberating throughout the world as potential changes to how the Church handles such abuse are discussed. Here are some of the news stories that have appeared in addition to those we cite elsewhere in this issue of Focus:

ACCOUNTABILITY

#MeToo, earlier scandals mean pending sex abuse report can’t be ‘a small problem’
“In the mid-2000s, when then-Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham launched an investigation into clergy sex abuse and cover-up in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, she was assailed for waging a campaign against the Roman Catholic Church. It was a virtual repeat of what had played out just a few years prior in 2002 in Boston … At times, both in Philadelphia and Boston, Catholics rallied behind the church and defended their faith as legions came to terms with revelations of the assaults. Nearly a decade later, a pending grand jury investigation report into clergy sex abuse allegations and cover-up across six dioceses in Pennsylvania stands against a markedly changed landscape(link is external).” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

Report on Pennsylvania roman Catholic priest sexual abuse to be most extensive ever
“The results of a lengthy probe into the handling of sexual abuse claims by Roman Catholic dioceses(link is external) throughout Pennsylvania, which victim advocates say will be the biggest and most exhaustive ever by a U.S. state, could be made public within weeks. A statewide grand jury spent nearly two years looking into the abuse scandal, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has said he plans to address the panel’s findings by the end of June. The grand jury investigated six of the state’s eight dioceses, which collectively minister to more than 1.7 million Catholics. The report is expected to reveal details of widespread abuse and efforts to conceal and protect abusive priests.” By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press

Chile prosecutors raid Catholic Church offices amid sex abuse probe
“Chilean police and prosecutors on Wednesday (Jun. 12) launched separate and unexpected raids on Roman Catholic Church offices(link is external) to seize documents relating to mounting claims of sexual abuse and cover-up. The raids came just hours before Vatican abuse investigators sent by Pope Francis met the country’s top prosecutor to discuss collaborating on civil and canonical probes.” By Aislinn Laing and Dave Sherwood, Reuters

Church praised for proactive response on abuse but warned of complacency
“Despite groundbreaking steps the U.S. Catholic Church has taken to prevent the sexual abuse of minors in the past 16 years, a potential ‘complacency’ in following safety protocols could pose a challenge(link is external) to those hard-won advances. Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, shared that view with diocesan safe environment and victims’ assistance coordinators attending the Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference in New Orleans.” By Peter Finney, Jr., Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Abuse survivors launch global bishop accountability effort
“Some of the most prominent figures in the fight against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are joining forces in a new international effort to end abuse(link is external) and the impunity of bishops and religious superiors who enable it. The multinational initiative, End Clergy Abuse, was announced Thursday at a press conference in Geneva. One after another, more than a dozen members held up their national flags and denounced an individual bishop who had mishandled a case, from the Americas to Africa and Europe in between.” By Associated Press in Tampa Bay Times

Priests who don’t report sex abuse confessions could be fined
“Some Catholic priests across the Tasman will soon be facing a $10,000 fine if someone confesses child sex abuse to them and they don’t report it to the police. Both South Australia and ACT have law changes coming to crack open the confessional(link is external). It is expected that the confession-breaking laws could spread nationwide, as part of the federal government’s recently released response to the Royal Commission into child sex abuse’s recommendations.” By Phil Pennington, Radio New Zealand

Guam’s archbishop, Anthony Apuron, appeals Vatican verdict on sex-abuse charges
“Guam’s controversial archbishop, removed from office in March and barred from living in the U.S. territory, has appealed a Vatican tribunal’s ruling that found him guilty(link is external) of ‘certain accusations’ involving the sexual abuse of minors, the Archdiocese of Agaña said Thursday (Jun. 14). During the last week of April, Rome notified new Archbishop Michael Byrnes, tapped to replace Anthony S. Apuron on March 16, about Apuron’s appeal, according to Tony Diaz, director of communications for the archdiocese.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News, on 13NewsNow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis is finally starting to get it
“The world has heard it again and again — heartfelt, ringing pledges by Pope Francis and his predecessors that the Vatican, at long last, has gotten the message on the global epidemic of clerical sex abuse. These often have been followed by half-measures, equivocations, inertia and even outright contempt for accusers, who in most cases were victimized as children. Now, five years into his papacy, there are signs, at last, that Pope Francis is starting to get it(link is external).” By The Washington Post Editorial Board

Pope Francis to be briefed on institutional abuse ahead of Ireland visit
“Pope Francis ‘will be briefed’ before he arrives in Dublin about the abuse of women and children in Catholic-run institutions(link is external) in Ireland, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said. ‘It’s a challenge for all of us in the Irish church to recognize the way people have been damaged, the way the church has been damaged,’ Dr Martin said in Maynooth on Monday (Jun. 11) as he announced details of the pope’s visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

In letter to Chileans, Francis decries church’s ‘culture of abuse and cover-up’
“Pope Francis has become the first leader of the Catholic Church to publicly decry a ‘culture of abuse and cover-up’ in the global institution(link is external), admitting in a strikingly blunt letter to the people of Chile that clergy sexual abuse has continued because church leaders have not taken victims seriously. In an eight-page May 31 message addressed to ‘the Pilgrim people of God in Chile,’ the pope also says Catholic leaders must work to better respect the voices and opinions of non-clerics ‘to promote communities capable of fighting against abusive situations, communities where exchange, discussion, confrontation are welcome.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Council of Cardinals finalizes draft of new document on Roman Curia
“Pope Francis will review a finalized draft of the apostolic constitution that would govern the Roman Curia(link is external), the Vatican spokesman said. The document, provisionally titled ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (“Preach the Gospel”), was reviewed by the international Council of Cardinals, and the draft will be ‘given to the Holy Father for the considerations he deems opportune, useful and necessary,’ said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, June 13.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

BISHOPS

Vatican replaces archbishop convicted of concealing child sex abuse
“The Vatican on Sunday (Jun.3) announced a temporary replacement for an Australian archbishop who was convicted of concealing child sex abuse(link is external) by a fellow priest in the 1970s. Pope Francis said in a statement that Greg O’Kelly, the current Bishop of Port Pirie, in the state of South Australia, would temporarily replace Philip Wilson, the Archbishop of Adelaide, who stepped aside after being convicted of covering up abuses last month.” By Delia Gallagher and Sheena McKenzie, CNN

What to expect when the U.S. bishops meet in Florida this week
“While the June meeting of the U.S. bishops(link is external) is often considered to be the more lackluster of their two annual gatherings, at least in terms of news content, as they meet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this week (Jun. 12), major topics are on the agenda including healthcare, immigration, and religious liberty – all of which correspond to pressing issues on the national scene.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON YOUTH

Vatican’s synod document takes inclusive tone towards youth who disagree with church
“The Vatican document outlining the initial working positions for October’s global meeting of Catholic bishops on the needs of young people focuses on considering how church leaders can better help the rising generation deal with unique 21st century challenges(link is external) such as the part-time economy, digital dependency, and even so-called ‘fake news.’ The document, which will guide the opening discussions of the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops in Rome, also takes a notably inclusive tone towards both young Catholics who express disagreement with church teachings and young gay people.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Vatican reports ‘crisis of vocations’ as seminarian numbers fall worldwide
“The number of seminarians has fallen(link is external) amid what a Vatican document calls a ‘crisis of vocations.’ Between 2012 and 2016, the number of men in seminary training for the priesthood fell by nearly 4,000, to 116,160. The decline has been especially concentrated in the Americas and Europe. In Africa seminary numbers have steadily increased, with Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania and Madagascar (an outlier with a 66 per cent rise) providing an especially large number of future priests.” By Dan Hitchens, Catholic Herald

The Vatican is facing a priest shortage
“The Vatican called Friday (Jun. 8) for courageous proposals to cope with a shortage of priests in the Amazon(link is external), and said it wouldn’t rule out debate on whether married men could step in to fill the ‘precariously-thin presence’ of the Catholic Church in the vast region. In a preparatory document seeking input from South American bishops for the Vatican’s 2019 meeting on the Amazon, organizers also said the church must identify new ‘official ministries’ for women to play in the region.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in Bloomberg News

VATICAN

Vatican’s top sex abuse investigators promise action in Chile
“The Vatican’s top sex abuse investigators arrived in Chile on Tuesday (Jun. 12) saying they had orders from Pope Francis to ensure the Roman Catholic Church responds to “every case of sexual abuse of minors(link is external) committed by clergymen” in the South American nation. New abuse accusations have emerged in recent weeks against the Church in Chile, including allegations against the pope’s own Jesuit order. They follow the resignation of three bishops after an abuse and cover-up scandal that has damaged the Church’s reputation in the country.” By Aislinn Laing, Reuters

Vatican open to official role for women and married men in Amazon
“The Vatican says it is open to discussing the ordination of married men and an official role for women,(link is external) to address a shortage of priests in the Amazon region. A document prepared for a meeting at the Vatican on the issue, due to be held in October 2019, suggests examining what “type of official ministry can be conferred on women.” The meeting is also expected to discuss a previously-mooted suggestion that older married men could serve as priests in the region.” By Delia Gallagher and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Vatican denies protecting Peruvian accused of sex crimes
“The Vatican is denying it is protecting the founder of a Peru-based conservative Catholic community who is accused of sexual and psychological abuse against minors(link is external) and is being sought by Peruvian prosecutors. A letter from the Vatican’s office of religious orders acknowledged it had instructed Luis Figari to stay away from the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae community and required him to seek permission before leaving Rome, but said it never impeded his return to face charges.” By Associated Press in Tampa Bay Times

CHILD PROTECTION

As archdiocese builds new system to address clergy sex abuse, trust grows
“Tim O’Malley moved into a tiny, windowless office in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2014 facing a daunting task: To overhaul the often secretive way it addressed child sex abuse(link is external) by priests. O’Malley, former head of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, assembled a team of law enforcement leaders that scoured hundreds of abuse files from the past 60 years. They chased paper trails, interviewed witnesses, and laid the foundation for what is now seen as one of the nation’s most comprehensive archdiocesan child-protection systems.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Minneapolis Star Tribune

‘Dark Secret’ documentary now on Amazon
“Dark Secret, a documentary about the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s clergy sex abuse coverup(link is external), is now available on Amazon. It’s released just in time for the newest Grand Jury Report that will detail more coverups in several other Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses. It previously aired on PBS and I’m honored to have been interviewed for it. Documentarian Anne MacGregor worked tirelessly to bring the facts forward. It serves as yet another call to action for Catholics, the PA legislature and voters. Please watch and share with anyone who has or cares about children.” By Susan Matthews & Kathy Kane, Catholics4Change.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Jesus founded a movement led by both men and women
“Sometimes it is really difficult to be both female and Catholic. On the one hand, I couldn’t be prouder of the creative leadership taken by the University of Notre Dame and Pope Francis in working with oil executives to address climate change … On the other hand, I am dismayed by yet another statement from the Vatican prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the non-ordination of women to the priesthood. I have been tracking Vatican statements on women priests since the 1970s. They are invariably ahistorical and biblically naive(link is external). It is embarrassing. Worse, they bear false witness to the Jesus of history and are ultimately destructive to the body of Christ, especially the distaff side.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Vatican asks for ‘new ways’ for access to Communion in Amazon region
“A Vatican document meant to help prepare for a special meeting of Catholic bishops from the Amazon rainforest focuses on how the church’s ministry in the nine-nation region is overextended and calls for consideration of ‘new ways’ to allow laypeople(link is external) ‘better and more frequent access to the Eucharist.’ The 14-page preparatory paper for the 2019 special assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Amazon, released June 8, references the issue of overextension several times. At one instance, it states frankly that the church’s pastoral care in the region ‘has been spread precariously thin.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Polish bishops avoid Communion row in Amoris Laetitia guidelines
“Poland’s bishops have released their long-awaited guidelines on Amoris Laetitia(link is external), sidestepping questions on Communion for the divorced and remarried. The bishops said last year that Amoris had not changed Church doctrine on Holy Communion, and that those in ‘irregular unions’ should be led to ‘true repentance and sacramental reconciliation’ with their spouse.” By Nick Hallet, Catholic Herald

CHURCH FINANCES

Several thousand dollars in collection money stolen from Catholic Church
Thousands of dollars were stolen(link is external) over the weekend from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. Father Tony Vilano of St. Francis of Assisi said it happened overnight between Sunday (Jun. 17) night and Monday morning. ‘After we finished our last Mass, sometime in the evening, someone came in and broke into St. Francis of Assisi,’ said Vilano. ‘(They) broke into this parish and went straight for the collections.’” By Stephanie Serna, KSAT-TV News

Priest stood aside amidst parish funds probe
“The Catholic Archbishop of Perth has stood aside a priest and called in police to investigate long-running financial concerns(link is external) at one of Western Australia’s oldest churches he Perth Archdiocese released a statement to The West Australian yesterday (Jun. 12) in which it revealed it had stood aside Father Joe Walsh and referred an internal financial investigation to WA Police.” By CathNews.com

Catholic church administrator accused of embezzling thousands of dollars
“A former employee of a Catholic church in Tuscola County is heading to trial, accused of embezzling money(link is external). Investigators believe Alma Moreno-Babcock, who was the church’s liturgy coordinator, may have been stealing money for at least a couple of years, if not longer.” By Terry Camp, ABC12 News

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Time is running out to help abuse victims
“With only days left in this legislative session, the Republican majority in the state Senate seems determined to acknowledge the plight of young victims of sexual abuse only if it can protect those who are responsible(link is external). That’s quite a trick, but it is at the heart of the GOP alternative to the Child Victims Act which has repeatedly passed the Assembly, which has Democratic support but lacks the vote of even one Republican including those retiring at the end of this term who could go out with this humane accomplishment as part of their legacy.” By Times Herald-Record Editorial Staff

Push for legislation to follow report on Church sex abuse
“A renewed push for legislation to abolish Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations(link is external) in sex abuse cases will follow the publication of a sweeping grand jury report on allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-ups within six Roman Catholic dioceses around the state, a lawmaker said Tuesday (Jun. 12). Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, said he will be prepared to seek a vote in the state House of Representatives on legislation that carries provisions sought by victims.” By Mark Levy, Associated Press, in U.S. News & World Report

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Hans Zollner: two keys for priests to avoid sexual abuse
“This expert from the Vatican commission for the Protection of Minors explains that to prevent priests from sexual abuse(link is external), two aspects must be stressed. The seminary must closely review candidates before accepting; and once these men have been ordained, they must never lose their spiritual guidance.” By RomeReports.com

Former senior Catholic diplomat charged with sharing ‘large quantity’ of child pornography
“A Catholic priest who once was one of the church’s top diplomats in Washington was indicted by the Vatican on accusations of possessing and sharing ‘a large quantity’ of child pornography(link is external). In a statement obtained by Reuters, the Vatican said Monsignor Carlo Capella would face a trial starting on 22 June. He is being held in a cell in the Vatican’s police barracks.” By Cleve Wootson, Julie Zauzmer, Independent

FLORIDA

Priest shielded from testifying in sexual abuse case
“Pointing to a state religious-freedom law, an appeals court has shielded a priest from testifying(link is external) about his discussion with a teenage girl during the Catholic sacrament of confession about the girl being sexual abused. The ruling Friday by a panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal in an Orange County case sided with priest Vincenzo Ronchi, who argued that the Catholic Church bars priests from disclosing any aspects of communications during confession — more formally known as the sacrament of reconciliation — and that disclosure could even lead to excommunication from the church.” By Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida, on News4Jax.com

LOUISIANA

Lafayette Diocese priest accused of abuse of a minor
“The Diocese of Lafayette was informed this week of an allegation of abuse of a minor(link is external), the Diocese said in a statement released Saturday (Jun. 2) at 4 p.m. According to the statement, the alleged incident occurred several years ago, and the alleged victim is now an adult. The Diocese and the alleged victim have reported the allegation to law enforcement authorities and the Diocese is assisting and cooperating fully with the civil investigation.” By The Daily Advertiser

Lafayette bishop won’t say whether he’ll release names of accused priests; dozens of U.S. dioceses already do
“Dozens of Roman Catholic dioceses around the U.S. have released the names of priests who sexually abused minors(link is external), but the Diocese of Lafayette has so far opted against the practice — and the bishop has declined to say whether he plans to do so in the future. The recent announcement of a sexual-abuse investigation into St. Landry Parish priest Michael Guidry has reignited calls to the Diocese of Lafayette — including from survivors of such sexual abuse — to release the names of abusive priests from the area.” By Lanie Lee Cook, KATC-TV News

MARYLAND

Second allegation of child sexual abuse made against Highlandtown priest
“A few weeks ago, we shared some difficult news with you about Father Luigi Esposito and an allegation of child sexual abuse(link is external) against him from the 1970s. Since then, we have received another allegation from an individual who also claims to have been sexually abused by Father Esposito in the 1970s. This second individual was approximately 15 years old when the abuse occurred. Both alleged victims are females and were members of Our Lady of Pompei at the time the abuse occurred. The second allegation, which was prompted by public reports about the initial allegation, has been reported to civil authorities. The Archdiocese has extended an offer of counseling assistance to both alleged victims.” By Jerri Burkhardt, Archdiocese of Baltimore

MINNESOTA

Archdiocese needs $40M for sex abuse settlement. Here’s where it’s looking.
“The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is crafting a plan that leans on budget cuts, property sales and the generosity of Catholics to help the church emerge from bankruptcy and move beyond a clergy sex abuse scandal(link is external) that has plagued it for years. The archdiocese has committed to pay $40 million of the historic $210 million settlement with clergy abuse survivors that isn’t covered by insurance. Officials on Friday (Jun. 8) shared the basics of their proposed payment plan with MPR News.” By Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio

NEW JERSEY

Former Delbarton teacher admits he had sex with 50 boys; school settles five sex abuse suits
“The Catholic order that runs the Delbarton School in Morris Township has settled lawsuits brought by five men who alleged they were sexually abused by five monks(link is external) — including a former headmaster of the school. Six additional lawsuits are pending against the Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey and St. Mary’s Abbey, which runs the school — three filed on Tuesday (May 29). Details of the settlements, made over the past couple of months, were not disclosed.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK

Editorial: Malone’s words matter
“Call it what you want – spin control, crisis management or welcome candor – but Bishop Richard J. Malone deserves credit for addressing the clergy sex-abuse scandal head-on(link is external). In last week’s interview with The Buffalo News, Malone addressed many of the questions surrounding the Diocese of Buffalo’s handling of the scandal that has been troubling the Catholic community. At least 58 priests who worked in the Buffalo area have been linked to sex allegations.” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

Lawyer calls on Catholic church to release ‘secret’ records in Rochester priest scandal
“Saying it is time for ‘the church to stop these evil acts’ a Boston attorney who has spent decades representing victims of sexual abuse called on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester and its bishop to release records it may hold concerning allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) of children by clergy. Mitchell Garabedian stood on the steps of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester on Wednesday (Jun. 13) and named eight priests from the Rochester diocese who are accused of sexually abusing minor children.” By Sean Lahman and Meaghan M. McDermont, Democrat & Chronicle

Parish wonders what happened to pastor removed three years ago
“Nearly three years ago, the Buffalo Diocese abruptly removed the Rev. Dennis A. Fronczak as pastor(link is external) of Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Lancaster. Nobody at the parish was told why. A diocese representative announced Fronczak’s departure at Masses at the church in October 2015, recalled Dick Wagner, 80, a long-time parishioner.” By Dan Herbeck and Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Here’s what churchgoers are saying about sexual abuse claims against priest
“Members of St. Patrick’s Parish in Owego are reacting to the sexual abuse allegations against a local priest(link is external). Thomas Valenti is one of eight priests accused of sexually abusing children in the Rochester Catholic Diocese. He now serves as a parochial administrator at Blessed Trinity, which includes St. Patrick’s. Valenti is accused of abusing a 15-year-old from 1975 to 1977. During that time, he was a deacon at St. Mary’s in Ontario, New York.” By Nicholas Phillips, Spectrum News

Diocese of Rochester has paid $1.6M to 20 sex abuse victims
“At least 20 children, and probably more, have been sexually abused by 24 priests(link is external)in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester since 1950. Over the years, the diocese has paid $1,616,000 in compensation to those victims. The number of victims is likely higher because not all victims accept financial compensation. Some of the payouts date back decades, although most were settled since the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in 2002.” By David Andreatta, Democrat and Chronicle

OHIO

Alleged victim speaks out after sexual abuse case against priest
“It’s been over a week since the Diocese of Steubenville removed retired priest, Monsignor Mark Froehlich after allegations of sexual abuse were deemed ‘credible(link is external).’ But Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, officials and alleged victims are now claiming the Diocese knew about the complaint since January. There is an active investigation ongoing with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office regarding the issue, but according to SNAP, they want to see more being done.” By Falicia Woody, WTRF-TV News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania abuse survivor calls on Pope Francis to intervene
“Mark Rozzi can remember the feeling of the tall grass brushing against his bare legs on the day he and a close friend desperately ran out of the rectory in Hyde Park, Pennsylvania. Rozzi, who was 13 at the time, had just been raped by his priest(link is external), the Rev Edward Graff, and remembers thinking in that moment, as he ran through a field, that he would take his terrible new secret to his grave.” By Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian

TEXAS

Former Texas Catholic priest arrested in El Paso on sexual assault of a child charge
“El Paso police arrested a former Texas priest who, during an El Paso Catholic Diocese investigation last year, allegedly admitted to sexually abusing a child(link is external). Miguel Luna, 68, was arrested Monday (Jun. 11) afternoon in front of his home in the 3500 block of Keltner Avenue in Northeast El Paso, police said. He was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, according to jail records.” By Daniel Borunda, El Pas Times

AUSTRALIA

Priest who confessed to abuse 1500 times ‘proves need for change’
“A paedophile priest who admitted to child abuse on more than 1500(link is external) occasions but was just told to “pray more” should be a ‘prime example’ for the Catholic Church to allow breaking the seal of confession, advocates have told The New Daily. Father Michael McArdle made an affidavit in 2004 stating he had confessed 1500 times to molesting children to 30 different priests over a 25-year period.” By Lucie Morris-Marr, The New Daily

Mother of abuse survivor to sue the Catholic Church
“The mother of clergy abuse survivor, Paul Levey, may be the first parent and secondary victim to sue the Catholic Church(link is external). Anne Levey, who is haunted daily by knowledge of Paul’s horrific abuse by laicized and jailed priest Gerald Ridsdale, said she will be pursuing a case against the Catholic Church as a secondary victim because of the damage and pain suffered.” By Leanne Younes, the Courier

Parish priest stood down over child safety concerns
“A Catholic priest who presides over two parishes in Melbourne’s south has been ordered to take leave while he is investigated for allegedly breaching child safety laws(link is external). Archbishop Denis Hart has asked Father Paul Newton, the parish priest for St Kevin’s Ormond and St Patrick’s Murrumbeena, to take a period of administrative leave while parishioners’ concerns are probed.” By Henrietta Cook, The Age

Australia state makes it easier for abuse victims to sue churches
Survivors of clerical abuse(link is external) in the Australian state of New South Wales will be able to directly sue churches under proposed legal changes announced on Sunday (Jun. 10). Mark Speakman, the attorney general, said the new legislation was in response to Australia’s royal commission into institutional abuse. New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state, and the home of the country’s largest city, Sydney.” By Cruxnow.com Staff

The Catholic Church should not stand in the way of this vital reform
“It is hard to know where to begin with Archbishop Christopher Prowse’s plea on behalf of the Catholic Church for the ACT government to preserve the seal of religious confession, even in instances where a child is being sexually abused(link is external). Thankfully, the ACT Assembly wasn’t swayed as it voted last week to introduce Australia’s toughest new mandatory reporting laws, making it a leader in child safety.” By Michelle James, The Canberra Times

BANGLADESH

Police say prominent Bangladeshi priest had string of relationships
“The mysterious disappearance of a Bangladeshi priest just days before Pope Francis visited the country has taken a new turn. Police suspected that Fr. Walter William Rozario had been kidnapped by radical Muslims when they found his abandoned motorbike and discovered that his mobile phone was switched off. But ucanews.com reported their investigation revealed that the 41-year-old priest allegedly had been involved in a string of relationships with women and at least one girl under 18(link is external), the age of consent in Bangladesh.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Former Bangladesh nun: anti-sex abuse crusader
“Bangladeshi human rights activist Rosaline Costa says reports of clergymen abusing women and children(link is external) have been around Christendom for years. ‘In recent years the media has been very open in this respect and so many victims are coming out and even risking their lives with their claims,’ Costa said. After ucanews.com reported the case of Bangladeshi priest Father William Walter Rozario, the former Maria Bambina nun answered the following questions about the situation in Bangladesh …” By Rock Ronald Rozario, UCANews.com

CHILE

Pope’s abuse investigators headed back to Chile June 12-18
“In what amounts to Pope Francis’s latest attempt to resolve a massive clerical sexual abuse crisis(link is external), the Chilean bishops’ conference announced Wednesday (Jun. 6) that his top two investigators will return to Chile June 14-17, visiting a diocese where a controversial bishop has been accused of covering up acts of abuse. The bishops’ statement said that Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, a former official of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, a current official of the congregation, will be in the diocese over those three days.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Urgent call for interim report on Catholic Church by national sex abuse inquiry
“We say that the Catholic Church, including Ealing Abbey, is not a safe place for children and it is not something we should wait to act upon. Lawyers have called on Professor Alexis Jay, chair of the national inquiry into child sexual abuse(link is external), urgently to produce an interim report on the Catholic church, saying it is ‘structurally, culturally and doctrinally incapable of implementing and enforcing the minimum standards of safeguarding.’” By The Tablet

GRENADA

Bishop Harvey – Child sexual abuse is unacceptable
“Grenada’s Roman Catholic Bishop, Trinidad-born Clyde Harvey has expressed grave concerns over the rampant occurrence of Child Sexual Abuse(link is external) in the country. Making an appearance on a local radio station, Bishop Harvey said he is hopeful that Catholics are not involved but are exuding better morals than what is being displayed very often in the country with sexual abuse of children. However, he said that while he holds out hope, he will not be fooled into thinking that members of the Catholic church are not involved in this depraved act.” By The New Today

GUAM

184 claims of Guam clergy abuse moving toward mediation
“One hundred eighty-four people said they were sexually abused by members of Guam’s Catholic clergy(link is external) or others associated with the church, but 10 of them decided not to sue, attorneys said at Tuesday’s (Jun. 12) court hearing on the status of efforts to settle the cases through mediation. Mediation is set for Sept. 17 to 21, which is two days longer than initially anticipated.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Pope Francis ‘to meet church abuse victims during summer visit to Ireland’
“Pope Francis will meet victims abused by the Church(link is external) in hellhole institutions during his summer visit to Ireland, top clergymen have predicted. Details of the Pontiff’s €20 million, two-day trip were unveiled today, but he will not be venturing across the border into Northern Ireland. Instead, hundreds of thousands of faithful will turn out to greet him at Knock in Co Mayo and in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.” By Cate McCurry, Irish Mirror

Big spike in Church child abuse cases
“A significant rise in the number of allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external) relating to the Catholic Church was recorded in the last year, a report by a safeguarding body reveals. However, the allegations received related to historic cases with the most recent alleged incident dating to 2002. The National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) said the figures did not suggest the Church was becoming less safe for children.” By Joe Leogue, Irish Examiner

MEXICO

In Mexico, SNAP and the Church join forces to fight abuse
“When it comes to fighting clerical sexual abuse(link is external), unity creates strength. At least, that’s what the Archdiocese of Mexico City and the local chapter of the Survivors Networks of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) believe, as the two recently announced they will join forces to protect children and young adults.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

PERU

Vatican denies protecting founder of Peruvian movement accused of abuse
“Vatican officials have denied protecting the founder of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Peru-based religious movement, who is accused of sexual, physical and psychological abuse(link is external) of minor and young adult members of the group. In a communique dated May 25 and released by the Peruvian bishops’ conference at a news conference June 1, the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life said it was responding to claims that it had ‘hidden’ Luis Fernando Figari in Rome and was ‘protecting him.’” By Barbara J. Fraser, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

SWITZERLAND

New group campaigns to end Catholic Church child abuse
“Child abuse victims and human rights activists from 15 countries, including Switzerland, have launched a new pressure group to campaign against abuse by Catholic clerics(link is external). ‘The church has got away with crime for too long,’ said Peter Saunders, a British survivor of abuse, announcing the creation of the Ending Clerical Abuse (ECA) group at a media conference in Geneva on Thursday (Jun. 7). ‘ECA stands to compel the Roman Catholic church to end clerical abuse, especially child abuse, in order to protect children and to seek justice for victims,’ added Saunders, a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.” By Agence France-Press on TheLocal.com

Swiss arrest Catholic priest on sex abuse allegations
“Swiss authorities say they have arrested a Catholic priest under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct(link is external) that was brought to their attention by church leaders. Maurus Eckert, a spokesman for canton (state) prosecutors in Graubuenden, said Thursday (May 24) that the priest was taken into custody amid an ongoing investigation of alleged sexual abuse of an adult victim. He declined to provide any further details.” By Associated Press on LeaderPost.com

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1 Comment

Criticism of Pope Francis rooted in misunderstanding of Vatican II / National Catholic Reporter

N.B.: This is part one of a three-part series discussing the theologies of the papacies of Pope Francis and Pope Paul VI. Links to parts two and three of the series are listed below.

The opposition to Pope Francis is unprecedented. There have been disagreements in the life of the church before: How could there not be? And, in recent times, we have even seen some cardinals voice disappointment or even disagreement with directives coming from Rome. For example, Belgian Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens was not shy in voicing his concern about the manner in which the first synods of bishops after the Second Vatican Council were conducted. But claiming an apostolic exhortation is not magisterial? Publishing detailed challenges to the pope’s teaching? This is uncharted territory.

“I believe that the opposition to Francis is rooted in a flawed understanding of the post-conciliar era and, more specifically, where we are in the process of receiving the council. Francis, just last month, in an interview with Italian daily Avvenire, noted that it takes about 100 years to fully receive a council, and he is right. Some people thought that process was completed, and that they had mastered all the riddles of the Catholic faith in the post-conciliar age. They are very upset that their assumptions and some of their conclusions have been challenged.

“Last week marked the 51st anniversary of the close of Vatican II. In the past four years, we marked the opening of the council, commemorated the promulgation of key conciliar texts, held conferences to explore the meaning of the documents, and appropriately so, because Vatican II remains the most determinative event in the life of the Catholic church in our living memory.

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this first article in Winters’ three-part series.

Click here to read the second article in this series, “Pope Paul VI’s greatness lies in his church leaderhsip after Vatican II.”

Click here to read the third article in this series, “Different popes, different personalities — and underlying continuity.”

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Pope Francis dismisses critics of his teachings / National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis is firing back at foes of his efforts to make the Catholic church more open and pastoral in its ministry, telling an interviewer that ‘they are acting in bad faith to foment divisions.’

“The pontiff’s lengthy interview in Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian hierarchy, was published Friday and followed days of news coverage of demands by four hard-line cardinals who have grave concerns about Francis’ approach.

“The four say that focusing on ministering to people in their particular circumstances is eroding the church’s doctrinal absolutes and that Francis must dispel any ambiguities or face serious consequences.”

By David Gibson, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story, and click here to read NCR’s Joshua J. McElwee’s story “Flour cardinal challenge Francis over ‘Amoris Laetitia.'”

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Four cardinals openly challenge Francis over ‘Amoris Laetitia’ / National Catholic Reporter

Four semi-retired cardinals have publicly questioned Pope Francis’ most recent teachings on family life, issuing an open letter to the pontiff with five yes or no questions about how he understands church teaching following the publication of his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetita.

“While the cardinals say they are writing the note in ‘an act of justice and charity’ to allow the pope to ‘dispel all ambiguity’ about his exhortation, they take a defiant tone and pit Francis’ document against others written by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

“Publication of such an open challenge to a Catholic pontiff from some of his cardinals, who normally act as the pope’s staunchest defenders, is exceedingly rare.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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New cardinals signal a shift away from U.S. culture wars / America

The pope’s decision to make two American archbishops cardinals is a message to other U.S. prelates that the church needs leaders less concerned with culture war issues and who are instead focused on building bridges and making the church a more welcoming place.

“In a move that will further shake up how the American hierarchy operates, Pope Francis on Sunday (Oct. 9) announced the creation of 17 new cardinals, including three American bishops: Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis and Bishop Kevin Farrell, the former bishop of Dallas who was appointed by the pope to lead a new Vatican department on family life earlier this year.

“The impact on how the church operates in the United States could be immense.”

By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The National Catholic Review — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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Pope Francis names 17 new cardinals, including three Americans / The New York Times

Pope Francis on Sunday (Oct. 9) named 17 new cardinals, including three Americans, adding prelates from developing countries to give them a greater voice in selecting the next pope. Francis’ American appointments elevate moderates in the church hierarchy, bypassing doctrinal conservatives from large archdioceses.

“The three Americans, the most Francis named from any one country, are Archbishops Blase J. Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis and a former Dallas bishop, Kevin Farrell, whom Francis recently reassigned to the Vatican to lead a new department for family, laity and life. Francis had skipped over the United States in two previous rounds of appointments.

“The pope announced the new cardinals from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica at the end of a special Mass on Sunday, saying their diversity represents ‘the universality of the church’ and ‘the mercy of God in every corner of the world.’ He said he will elevate the cardinals on Nov. 19.”

By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story, and click here to read, “Pope Francis’ cardinal choices bring surprises,” by David Gibson, Religion News Service

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