Posts Tagged catholic bishops

Defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teenager in 1970s / The Boston Globe

“Until now, McCarrick appeared beyond the reach of the criminal courts.”

The Boston Globe

“Defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged Wednesday (Jul. 28) with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College in the 1970s, making him the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the United States to face criminal charges in the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

“McCarrick, 91, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who fraternized with popes and presidents before he was expelled from the priesthood over sexual abuse allegations, is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 in a criminal complaint filed by Wellesley police in Dedham District Court.’

“A summons had been issued ordering McCarrick, now living in Missouri, to appear at the court for arraignment Sept. 3. McCarrick’s attorney, Barry Coburn of Washington, D.C., said Thursday (Jul. 29) that ‘we will look forward to addressing this issue in the courtroom.’

“Until now, McCarrick appeared beyond the reach of the criminal courts. Several men have filed civil lawsuits in New York and New Jersey, alleging that McCarrick sexually abused them in those states when they were children between the 1970s and the 1990s. But the statute of limitations has expired in those cases, preventing authorities from pursuing criminal charges.”

By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

July 26, 2021


Multimillion-dollar maze: Vatican trial to test finance reforms
“The alleged mishandling of millions of dollars of church funds will bring several high-profile individuals to a makeshift Vatican courtroom(link is external) set up in a multifunction room of the Vatican Museums. The surprise announcement July 3 that Vatican prosecutors indicted 10 individuals and entities, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, former prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, on a slew of charges related to financial mismanagement and malfeasance was the latest twist in the seemingly unending saga of the Vatican’s controversial investment in a property in London’s Chelsea district.” By Catholic News Service in The Catholic Sun

Three years after the 2018 ‘summer of shame,’ what do American Catholics think about the sex abuse crisis?
“Nearly three years after a searing report issued by a Pennsylvania grand jury detailed the sexual abuse by clergy of thousands of children and the extensive cover-up by church leaders that followed, America asked the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University to survey Catholics nationwide about their understanding of the crisis, its emotional impact and how it has affected their faith(link is external).” By Mark M. Gray and Thomas P. Gaunt, America: The Jesuit Review

Connecticut diocese files for bankruptcy amid abuse claims
“A Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut filed for federal bankruptcy protection on Thursday (Jul. 15) to resolve dozens of lawsuits alleging the abuse of teenage students(link is external) decades ago at the former Academy at Mount Saint John School, a residential treatment center for troubled youth in Deep River. Documents filed by the Diocese of Norwich, which oversaw the facility, indicate it has $50 million to $100 million in estimated liabilities owed to 50 to 99 creditors. To date, nearly 60 former residents of the school have sued the diocese and a former bishop for damages, exceeding the diocese’s current financial ability to pay, according a statement issued by the diocese.” By Susan Haigh, Associated Press

Synod theologian says laity must make decisions, not just implement them
“Looking ahead to a looming Synod of Bishops on the concept of ‘synodality,’ a lay Venezuelan theologian says the time has come for bishops to grasp one key point: Lay people aren’t just called to implement decisions in the Church made by others, but to make those decisions themselves(link is external). Layman Rafael Luciani, who divides his year between Venezuela and Boston, where he works at Boston College, is one of three Latin American theologians who were chosen as consultants for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the matter of Synodality, to which he hopes to contribute ‘from a non-clerical vision.’” By Inés San Martín,

LatAm webinar says in anti-abuse fight, buck stops on the bishop’s desk
“Some 165 bishops from across Latin America are taking part this week in an on-line seminar on abuse prevention that includes top-level experts from both the region and Rome, based on the premise that although fighting abuse requires various forms of commitment and expertise, as far as the Catholic Church goes, the buck still stops on the bishop’s desk(link is external). ‘Following the crisis that became public in the Church with regard to abuse, in recent years much emphasis has been placed on the role and responsibility of bishops, not only for the correct treatment of cases that come to their attention, but also with regard to the prevention of these situations,’ said Argentine laywoman Maria Ines Franck, a bioethics and canon law expert who helped organize the seminar.” By Inés San Martín,


Justices deal blow to outdated claims of child sexual abuse
“Pennsylvania’s high court on Wednesday (Jul. 21) dealt a blow to victims of child sexual abuse(link is external), throwing out a lawsuit by a woman whose lower court victory had given hope to others with similarly outdated claims who’d sued following a landmark report that documented decades of child molestation within the Catholic church in Pennsylvania. The 5-2 decision ended plaintiff Renee Rice’s legal effort to recover damages from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown for allegedly covering up and facilitating sexual abuse she said had been inflicted on her by a priest in the late 1970s.” By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

DOJ: ‘Uneven’ response from Catholic dioceses in statewide inquiry of clergy abuse
“The head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice says the state’s five Catholic dioceses are not all cooperating in a statewide inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy and other faith leaders(link is external). Attorney General Josh Kaul held a press conference Tuesday (Jul. 20) to provide an update on his office’s review of clergy and faith leader abuse. Kaul said they’ve received more than 100 reports of either sexual assault or how faith organizations have responded to abuse since launching the investigation in April.” By Hope Kirwan, Wisconsin Public Radio

NDAs Kept These Christians Silent. Now They’re Speaking Out Against Them.
“A growing number of ministers, missionaries, Christian workers, abuse victims, and victims’ advocates are publicly objecting to the non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses used by major religious organizations(link is external). They say the legal tools that were designed to protect tech industry ‘trade secrets’ are widely misused to conceal abuse, preserve secrets, and protect powerful reputations without regard for the human cost.” By Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today


Canadian Bishops convey commitment to healing and reconciliation
“The Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) released a statement on Friday (Jul. 16) noting its support to Bishops of Saskatchewan who have issued an ‘Appeal for Support of Healing and Reconciliation’ in favor of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada(link is external). The project aims to generate fundraising to promote healing and reconciliation. It also foresees cemeteries on the sites of former residential schools, as well as educational and cultural support. The goal of the campaign, according to the Bishops of Saskatchewan, is to ‘support Indian Residential School survivors and their communities, and to engage more deeply in our own ongoing commitment and response to the Truth and Reconciliation process.’” By Vatican News

Abuse allegations against the late Bishop Sullivan deemed ‘credible’
“The Diocese of Lansing has deemed as credible two allegations of sexual abuse leveled against the late Bishop James Sullivan(link is external) (1929 – 2006). Bishop Sullivan was Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing from 1972 to 1985 before becoming Bishop of Fargo in North Dakota from 1985 to 2002. Both accusations stem from the mid-1960’s when then-Father Sullivan was living in residence at a parish in Lansing. Both victims were boys who were subject to sexual grooming and inappropriate contact by Sullivan.” By Diocese of Lansing Michigan

Buffalo Auxiliary Bishop Grosz accused of molesting child at confirmation
“Retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, who for many years played a key role in the handling of sex abuse complaints against priests in the Buffalo Diocese, is accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy(link is external) after a confirmation service in 1990. A Genesee County man told The News on Monday (Jul. 12) that Grosz repeatedly groped him at a gathering in a church hall following the confirmation ceremony inside St. Brigid Church in Bergen. Grosz is the highest-ranking clergyman in the Buffalo Diocese to be accused of child sex abuse.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

With looming retirements, Francis can pick up the pace on naming U.S. bishops
“If personnel is policy, then a vote last month by the U.S. bishops to draft a controversial document on Communion that the Vatican had cautioned against reveals Pope Francis may have considerable work ahead of him in his efforts to get the American Catholic hierarchy to embrace his priorities(link is external) … Yet if Francis, who turned 84 in December and was hospitalized last week for the first major health scare of his papacy, is seeking to pick up the pace of episcopal appointments with bishops more aligned with his agenda, he does have a number of opportunities on the horizon. To date, three dioceses in the U.S. are currently vacant, another nine bishops have already passed the age of 75, when bishops are required to submit their resignation to the pope, and there are several other dioceses that will soon open.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


Catholic priest who has spoken out about clergy abuse faces removal as Richmond Bishop with petition to the Vatican
“A Virginia priest could be removed from the priesthood. He continued to blog about the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals(link is external) even after the Catholic Diocese of Richmond Bishop ordered him to keep quiet. Father Mark White at first obeyed an order to stop blogging. However, he restarted the online conversation once COVID hit and in-person church services halted. That has now prompted Bishop Barry Knestout to take their battle to Pope Francis.” By Kerri O’Brien, ABC-TV8 News


Women believers changed the Roman Empire — now we must change the Roman Church
“On the feast day of the ‘apostle to the apostles,’ St. Mary of Magdala, I want to reflect on something I suspect this first witness to the Resurrection and foremost leader in the early Jesus movement might find puzzling. Namely, what is the big deal about recognizing women’s leadership in today’s Catholic faith communities?(link is external) We live in a very different cultural context than did Mary of Magdala and other early Christian women, but our own times are no less in need of Christ’s healing energy than the ones in which they lived. The Jesus movement spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire because of the initiative of female prophets, evangelists, missionaries, heads of house churches and widows, and financial support from Christian businesswomen such as Mary of Magdala and Joanna (Luke 8:1-3(link is external)) as well as Lydia (Acts 16:11-40(link is external)), Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2(link is external)), Olympias,(link is external) a fourth-century deacon (whose feast day is July 25) and others.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter


Plans for next synod continue at Vatican
“The Vatican released the names of members of two commissions charged with assisting the leaders of the Synod of Bishops’ general secretariat in reviewing documents, drafting resources and developing best practices. According to the synod website, the theological commission and the methodology commission will include religious and lay experts from around the world(link is external). The theme chosen by the pope for the next synod is: ‘For a synodal church: communion, participation and mission.’” By

Prosecutor seeks sentences in Vatican youth seminary sex abuse trial
“A prosecutor on Thursday (Jul. 15) asked a Vatican court to sentence a man who is now a priest to six years in prison for alleged sexual abuse committed in a youth seminary in the Vatican(link is external) before he was ordained. Father Gabriele Martinelli, now 28, is accused of having forced a person known only as L.G. to have sex, mostly while they were both minors between 2007 and 2012. The alleged abuse took place in the Pius X Pre-Seminary, which houses altar boys who serve Mass in St. Peter’s, including for popes, and are thinking of becoming priests.” By Reuters on KFGO-AM 790 Radio News


Vatican financial watchdog reports on its 2020 activities
“The Vatican’s financial watchdog agency said that in 2020 more financial transactions were flagged as suspicious by Vatican offices, but after investigation it did not have to suspend any transactions or freeze any accounts(link is external). The 2020 annual report of the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority, published July 15, said it received 89 suspicious activity reports, 85 of which came from the Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly called the Vatican bank. In 2019, 64 suspicious activity reports were filed.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Lessons from Pope Francis’ financial reform efforts
“Cleaning up the Vatican’s finances has been a long, complex and personally costly process for Pope Francis. Despite many obstacles, he has persevered, and that determination is starting to pay off. On July 3, the Vatican announced it would prosecute 10 individuals, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, for alleged financial crimes. This is an unprecedented moment and marks a potentially decisive chapter in Francis’ reform efforts(link is external) … Church sources have often told me that a root cause of the difficulties is an outdated system in which multi-million-dollar investments are overseen or managed by prelates who have not been financially trained.” By Christopher Lamb, Chicago Catholic


Authority in a wounded church: Leaders see ‘synodality’ as way forward
“Since his election in March 2013, Pope Francis has called for a true conversion within the Catholic Church(link is external), one in which all the baptized become ‘missionary disciples,’ where ordination — as a priest or bishop — means service and not power, and where anyone who is suffering finds a listening ear, a merciful heart and a helping hand. In many countries, hundreds or thousands of cases of clerical sexual abuse have made the need for conversion painfully obvious and have led to a reckoning with how power is viewed, exercised and protected within the church.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on

The church in the West is in decline―and nationalism won’t save it
“I was 17 years old when I heard the Lord’s Prayer spoken in public for the first time. It was in November 1989 during the Velvet Revolution, which brought freedom to Communist Czechoslovakia. The crowd of almost 500,000 people chanted and cheered while the dissidents spoke. But when the Rev. Václav Malý started praying the Our Father, it grew quiet. After two generations of religious suppression and intense Communist indoctrination, few people could recite the prayer by heart(link is external). Many had never heard of it. But everyone understood it was a solemn moment.” By Kamila Valenta, America: The Jesuit Review


Bankruptcy adds to sad legacy of Catholic Church scandal
“The past moral bankruptcy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich has led inevitably to its financial bankruptcy(link is external). Last week the diocese serving the Connecticut counties of New London, Middlesex, Windham and Tolland, as well as Fishers Island, N.Y., filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal Bankruptcy Code. Along with Catholic dioceses across the nation and the world, the Norwich Diocese shares a shameful legacy of placing the protection of the church’s reputation above protecting children, above acting lawfully, and above the Great Commandment to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” By The Day Editorial Board

Time to put the ‘catholic’ back into the Catholic Church
“What does the reaction to Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis’ motu proprio restoring the restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass that existed before 2007, tell us about the necessity of the document? And what about the prospects for ecclesial unity that Francis cited as his rationale for taking this decision?(link is external) It is important to distinguish between those who simply found the antiquity of the old rite a comfort in a fast-changing world, or those for whom the traditional Latin Mass offered an aesthetic that served to mediate the divine, and those for whom the Tridentine liturgy was a kind of ideological statement displaying their opposition to the Second Vatican Council.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: How you see the sexual abuse crisis
“The Catholic Church still has a trust problem, as shown by the results of a comprehensive survey of U.S. Catholics commissioned by America Media and featured in this issue. (Look for more results in our September issue.) Seventy-six percent of respondents to the survey, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in May and June, said that the sexual abuse of minors by clergy has hurt the reputation of the church at least somewhat(link is external), and about one-third said they were ‘embarrassed’ to tell others that they were Catholic because of the crisis.” By Editors at America: The Jesuit Review

Sexual Abuse by Clergy: The evil of and in the Church
“The alarming reports of sexual abuse by Catholic priests of minors and vulnerable adults(link is external) in most parts of the world is a shocking truth about the rot that exists within the religious institution. Sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults happens in most institutions in the world – religious or non-religious including families and is not a vile habit of some priests in the Catholic Churches alone.” By Savio Rodrigues, The Goa Chronicle

Bishops’ meetings won’t heal the U.S. church. We need a Fourth Plenary Council involving all Catholics.
“The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore concluded in December 1884. Among its results was the standardized catechism known to generations of Catholics as the Baltimore Catechism. This meeting was the last of 13 councils of different kinds that took place in Baltimore between 1829 and 1884. These 13 councils made the United States one of the most conciliar places in the Catholic Church during that time—rooted, in part, in the country’s own democratic experiment. Given all the challenges facing the Catholic Church in our country, we are far overdue for a moment in which the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of our country can discern together how to be the people of God in our time and place(link is external). It is time that we as a church” By Brian P. Flanagan, America” The Jesuit Review


Colorado law allows sex abuse victims to collect restitution inn civil court from public and private institutions
“On Tuesday (Jul. 6), Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law Senate Bill 88, which allows victims of sexual abuse to file for restitution from public and private entities in civil court(link is external). The law adopted July 6 permits victims of abuse from 1960 to January 2022 retroactively to collect restitution from employers who knew about or who should have known about the abuse taking place, as long as claims are filed by January 2025.” By Autumn Jones, Catholic News Association, in National Catholic Register

An uncertain future for the Adult Survivors Act
“The Adult Survivors Act unanimously passed the New York State Senate during this year’s legislative session, but its future in the Assembly remains unclear(link is external). New York’s legislative session ended nearly one month ago, but not without criticism from advocacy groups. The Adult Survivors Act would create a one-year look back window for cases of adult sexual abuse. That’s similar to the Child Victims Act, legislation passed in 2019 targeted at victims of child sex abuse.” By Darrell Camp, WSKG-FM National Public Radio


A Widow’s Hunt for the Priest Who Preyed on Her Husband
“Instead of driving to Burlington for that meeting, Peter met his death by suicide(link is external) in the foaming, churning waters funneling through steep rock formations … Twenty-three years later, on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at 3:36 p.m., an email arrived from one Edward Mechmann with the heading, ‘Complaint against Fr. Malone.’ ‘I am the Safe Environment Coordinator for the Archdiocese of New York. As such, I oversee the child protection programs of the Archdiocese… First of all, on behalf of the Archdiocese, please permit me to express my deep regret and sorrow that your husband was abused by one of our priests.’” By Jenny Grosvenor, The Daily Beast

Anti-gay Catholic priest accused of having sex with men to ‘heal’ their homosexuality
“A French priest with a history of campaigning against gay rights faces a Catholic Church trial over allegations that he sexually assaulted men to ‘heal’ their homosexuality(link is external). Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a Vatican adviser and psychotherapist, will stand trial in church court after multiple allegations of abuse and inappropriate sexual relationships with his male clients. No details have yet been made public about when Anatrella will face trial, but the Paris Archdiocese previously reprimanded Anatrella in 2018 due to the allegations against him, preventing him from practicing therapy or hearing confession.” By Rhuaridh Mass, Metro Weekly


Former student sues Providence High School in Burbank, alleges sexual abuse of minor by then track coach
“Providence High School, a private Catholic school in Burbank, was sued by a former student who alleges her track and field coach sexually molested her as a minor(link is external) in 2019, and then warned her not to tell anyone what he’d done. The lawsuit, brought Wednesday (Jul. 7) in Los Angeles Superior Court, identifies 27-year-old Mohamed Haddada as the former coach. The now 18-year-old plaintiff is listed only as Jane Doe.” By CBS-TV9 News Los Angeles


Lawyer for sex abuse victims: Norwich Diocese bankruptcy filing could deny full compensation
“A bankruptcy filing by the Norwich Diocese to shield its finances as it faces lawsuits over scores of sexual abuse claims may deny full compensation to the victims(link is external), one of their lawyers said Friday (July 16). New London attorney Kelly E. Reardon, who represents six men who accused the church of sexual abuse decades ago, said insurance coverage is ‘fairly limited’ and may not result in full compensation.” By Stephen Singer, Hartford Courant


Examining priest abuse after closure of Croteau case
“New details Monday (Jul. 12) night surrounding a defrocked priest who authorities said was responsible for the murder of altar boy Danny Croteau nearly 50 years ago. Western Mass News learned of new allegations against former priest Richard Lavigne(link is external), who died days before the Hampden DA could bring murder charges against him. Danny Croteau is one of those names that never left the heart of the western Mass. community.” By Audrey Russo and Amanda Callahan, FOX-TV6 News


Former U.P. Priest sentenced in Dickinson County
“Eight to 15 years in prison, that’s the sentence given to Gary Jacobs a former Upper Peninsula Priest, facing criminal sexual conduct charges(link is external). Jacobs appeared in Dickinson County court Tuesday (Ju;. 13) afternoon for sentencing. His attorney stated Jacobs wrestled with his sexuality as a gay man and alcohol abuse when he committed the criminal sexual conduct. In May, the 75-year-old Jacobs pleaded guilty to one count of second degree CSC in Dickinson County.” By Jerry Tudor, FOX-TV6 News

‘A wicked problem’: Advocacy center expands to deal with increase in child abuse allegations
“Child sexual abuse sometimes takes place under the blankets while a child sits with their abuser on the sofa, watching TV in a room full of people. ‘It’s a wicked problem that happens in the shadows,’ said Ginger Kadlec, executive director of the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, which recently added 2,200 square feet of space to deal with the rise in reports of sexual and physical abuse(link is external).” By Patti Brandt Burgess, Travers City Record Eagle


Las Cruces diocese says abuse records disclosed voluntarily, despite New Mexico attorney general’s claims
“While New Mexico’s attorney general has taken credit for securing Catholic Church documents on sex abuse by clergy, saying they will be released to the public soon, a spokesperson for the Las Cruces diocese said it provided the documents voluntarily(link is external) out of a desire to address the “abhorrent crime” of sex abuse, not because of a search warrant or legal obligation.” By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency


3 adults, including priest, sexually abused young Mount Loretto resident, suit alleges
“Three adults, including a priest, sexually abused him over the course of six years(link is external) when he lived at the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto three decades ago, a former resident alleges in an explosive lawsuit. His assailants also threatened the plaintiff, who was in his early teens, with physical violence if he revealed what they did to him, alleges a civil complaint against the New York Archdiocese.” By Frank Donnelly,

Bankruptcy judge rejects jury-trial motion, insurance settlement
“The U.S. Bankruptcy Court July 9 denied a motion by the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors that would have allowed 21 sexual-abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Rochester to proceed in state court(link is external). The motion was filed June 8 by attorneys representing the Committee, which was appointed by the Office of the United State Trustee and comprises several survivors of childhood sexual abuse who had filed claims against the diocese under New York state’s Child Victims Act. Also during the hearing, the court denied the diocese’s motion for approval of a $35 million settlement with several insurers involved in its bankruptcy case, which began in September 2019.” By Jennifer Burke, Catholic Courier

Retired priest placed on administrative leave following child abuse complaint
“The Diocese of Buffalo announced Friday (Jul. 9) that a retired priest who continues to assist in the ministry of St. Matthew’s parish in Buffalo has been placed on administrative leave in the wake of a child abuse complaint against him(link is external). A statement released by the diocese said it recently became aware of an action brought pursuant to the Child Victims Act by a woman who alleges she was abused as a child in the early 1980s by Monsignor Leo McCarthy, 88.” By Harold McNeil, The Buffalo News


Former ministry leader at NC university sexually abused student for years, lawsuit says
“A former Catholic ministry leader at Western Carolina University in the North Carolina mountains sexually abused a student for years in the 1980s(link is external), according to a lawsuit the former student filed on Tuesday (Jul. 6) against his alleged abuser and the Charlotte Catholic Diocese. On Friday, the diocese issued a statement that it ‘has zero tolerance for child sexual abuse, and we continue to encourage anyone who has been the victim of abuse to seek help and report to authorities.’” By Joe Marusak, The Charlotte Observer


Strongsville priest pleads guilty to sex trafficking, child pornography charges; diocese plans to ‘defrock’ him
“A Strongsville Catholic priest pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday (Jul. 16) to several charges, including sex trafficking of a minor and possession of child pornography(link is external). According to the Department of Justice, Rev. Robert D. ‘Bob’ McWilliams decided to plead guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, and one count each of transportation of child pornography, receipt and distribution of visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and possession of child pornography.” By Dave ‘Dino’ DeNatale, Tyler Carey, Marisa Saenz, WYKC-TV3 News

Former Steubenville teacher sentenced for sex abuse of 15-year-old
“A former Steubenville Catholic Central High School teacher was sentenced after accepting a plea agreement to one count of sexual battery(link is external). Corissa A. McCalister, 22, of Steubenville was sentenced to two years of probation, community service and must register as a sex offender. McCalister originally pled not guilty. McCalister was the head cross country coach and assistant track coach at Steubenville Catholic Central High School, where she reportedly was driving a 15-year-old student home from a track meet at Edison High School when she made a stop at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Cadiz and engaged in sex with the teen.” By John Lynch, WKBN-TV27 News


$10M lawsuit filed against Vatican, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston after priest accused of child sexual abuse
“A $10 million lawsuit has been filed against Holy See and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and its Cardinal, Daniel N. DiNardo, on behalf of the parents of a child they say was sexually abused by Rev. Phi Thanh Nguyen(link is external) in November 2018, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states that Nguyen sexually abused the child when she was 10 years old while attending the Nazareth Academy in Victoria, Texas. The lawsuit names Holy See because ‘Nguyen would not have been able to ingratiate himself at Nazareth Academy,’ according to the lawsuit.” By


Former South Burlington priest accused of child sexual abuse
“A former South Burlington priest has been accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1960s. The victim, who is remaining anonymous, is now in his 60s. He says Father Roger W. Carlin molested him when he was nine in 1966 and 1967 at St. John Vianney church in South Burlington. ‘He wants to try to heal, he wants to try to help other victims, and he wants to make the world a safer place for children,’ said Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney representing the alleged victim. Garabedian has represented thousands of other sex abuse cases and says coming forward can be cathartic for victims.” By Katherine Huntley, WCAX-TV3 News


Area Catholic diocese adds four priests to list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse
“The Richmond Catholic Diocese has added four names to its list of clergy who have credible, substantiated claims of sexual abuse involving a minor against them(link is external). Three of the priests — Robert Beattie, Leo Creamer and Patrick Quinn — are dead. The fourth, Joseph Slowik, hasn’t actively served in the ministry since 2006. They join the list, which was first made public in 2019, of 23 other priests with sexual abuse allegations in the diocese, which includes the Charlottesville area.” By Colbi Edmonds, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Former Christendom College professor arrested on charges of soliciting a child
“A longtime economics and political science professor at Christendom College in Virginia has been charged with solicitation of a minor younger than 16 years old and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. William R. Luckey, 72, who taught for about 30 years at the Catholic institution, which touts being one of only 15 colleges recommended by the conservative Cardinal Newman Society, was arrested on June 25 and released on a secured $50,000 bond on July 12.” By Jenn Morson, National Catholic Reporter


Wisconsin DOJ encourages survivors to report clergy and faith leader abuse
“Wisconsin’s attorney general is encouraging survivors of clergy or faith leader abuse to report it to the state’s Department of Justice(link is external). Attorney General Josh Kaul says the state’s victim services specialists can help survivors in a safe and confidential way. ‘We want to get to the bottom of this, both so we can connect survivors to services, but also so we can help get some measure of accountability,’ Kaul says. ‘Hopefully by working with the dioceses to update their lists of credibly accused priests as the facts dictate … we can work to prevent this from ever happening again.’” By Leah Rivard,

More than 100 church-related abuse claims filed with DOJ
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice has received more than 100 reports of abuse by clergy and faith leaders across the state(link is external) since announcing a statewide investigation in April, the law enforcement agency said Tuesday (Jul. 13). The reports received by the agency to date include allegations of abuse and also relate to how churches and religious organizations responded to abuse, the justice department said.” By Associated Press


Priest guilty of 25 sexual abuse charges
“A Catholic priest has been found guilty of numerous historical abuse charges including three counts of having homosexual sex with young boys(link is external). Anthony William Peter Caruana, 79, was convicted of 25 charges relating to 12 victims after jurors in his Sydney trial were deliberating for nearly 10 days. They will return to the NSW District Court on Wednesday to continue deciding on a majority verdict for the remaining two counts.’ By Australian Associated Press on


East Timor: Defrocked priest’s trial must be swift – NGO
“An East Timorese NGO has called for more respect and support for victims of sexual abuse in the country(link is external), calling for a speedy trial of a defrocked priest accused of sexually abusing several children over a period of years. ‘Sexual violations against women and girls are serious crimes, and everyone must unite to oppose these acts. Activists, journalists, the state, human rights institutions and our entire population need to act more purposefully to fight for the physical safety, privacy and freedom of women and girls,’ said La’o Hamutuk, a Timorese non-governmental organisation (NGO).” By Lusa,


Anti-LGBTQ+ Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse to Cure Homosexuality
“A French Catholic priest, Tony Anatrella, who once served as a Vatican adviser regarding sexuality, is facing a church trial over alleged sexual relationships with his male clients(link is external). The priest, 80, has a history of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ rights initiatives including authoring an article that supported a ban on queer people serving in the priesthood, according to Queerty. The website also reported that he claimed gay men raised violent children.” By Alex Cooper, The Advocate


Legislators must end Philippines’ child sex shame
“The greatest shame of the Philippines is the fact that it is legal under the 1930 Penal Code for a 50-year-old man to have sex with a pre-pubescent 12-year-old child(link is external) and get away with it if the man can convince a court that the child ‘gave consent.’ Soon that will change and justice will be done for thousands of child victims. At present many children, under pressure from parents and abusers, are forced to stay silent when sexually abused or to say to government officials or in court that ‘He is my boyfriend,’ or that ‘I loved him.” By Shay Cullen, Manila,

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

July 13, 2021


Vatican indicts 10, including a cardinal, in London deal
“A Vatican judge on Saturday (Jul. 3) indicted 10 people, including a once-powerful cardinal, on charges including embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion and fraud(link is external) in connection with the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro investment in a London real estate venture. The president of the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, though lawyers for some defendants questioned how they could prepare for trial so soon given they hadn’t yet formally received the indictment.” By Nicole Winfield Associated Press

The German synodal way explained
“Some Catholics in the United States are deeply concerned about the German church’s ‘synodal way.’ A quick YouTube search returns titles like, ‘What is going on in Germany!?!?!’ ‘English Bishop WARNS Vatican ‘Stop German Bishops, We’re Heading to Schism!’ and ‘Vatican in Crisis Management Mode Over Catholic Bishops in Germany.’ Is any of this true? Not really(link is external). For this week’s special episode of America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast, I spoke with four German Catholics who understand the synodal way well: A bishop involved in the synod’s forum on power, a theologian involved in the forum on women’s roles, one of the synodal way’s spiritual guides, and a critic of the process.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Review board chair urges bishops to focus on healing for abuse survivors
“Although major steps have been taken to help achieve healing and reconciliation with survivors of clergy sexual abuse, much work remains ahead for the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external), the chairwoman of the National Review Board told the spring assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Citing the progress that has occurred since 2002 when the abuse scandal exploded, Suzanne Healy said in a prerecorded address to the bishops that the church’s outreach efforts must continue to evolve as the needs of survivors are better understood. ‘We must focus on the areas of healing and reconciliation, accountability, transparency and ongoing education for all involved in child and youth protection,’ said Healy, who has chaired the NRB since June 2020.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Polish church reports recent clergy abuse of 368 children
“In its latest report on the sexual abuse of minors, Poland’s Catholic Church says 292 clergymen allegedly abused 368 boys and girls from 2018 through 2020. The report, released June 28, comes at a time when the Vatican is investigating reports of abuse and of a lack of reaction by church leaders in Poland(link is external), a predominantly Catholic nation where the clergy enjoy special esteem. The Vatican recently punished a few Polish bishops and archbishops for negligence and barred them from church and lay ceremonies. The Holy See is also investigating reports of negligence by retired Krakow archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who before that served as personal secretary to the late pope, St. John Paul II.” By Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press

French priest, former Vatican adviser, to face church trial on abuse claims
“A prominent French priest and psychotherapist who was once an influential Vatican adviser on matters regarding human sexuality is going to face trial in a church court over accusations of inappropriate sexual relationships with male clients(link is external), the Paris Archdiocese has confirmed. The charges against Msgr. Tony Anatrella have not been announced.” By Elisabeth Auvillain, National Catholic Reporter


New law forces priests to report child abuse
“A new Queensland law requires priests to report to police any information about child sexual offences heard during confession(link is external). According to the law, all adults will have a legal duty to report to police sexual offending against children, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so. The law came into force on Monday (Jul.5). It passed through the state’s Parliament with support from both major parties last September, despite the Church defending the seal of confession. In a formal submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge explained that stripping Catholics of the seal of confession made priests ‘less a servant of God than an agent of the state.’” By

Why criminal charges for deaths at residential schools would be unprecedented — and enormously complex
“Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme said he is treating the site of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School ‘like a crime scene.’ Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said the deaths of children at the school was ‘a crime against humanity.’ And yet, after the second discovery in less than a month of hundreds of previously unknown burials at former residential schools, there is no indication that criminal charges of any kind will be laid in connection to those deaths(link is external).” By Nick Boisvert, CBC News

Catholics must know how Peter’s Pence is spent, Vatican official says
“The head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said he hopes efforts at financial transparency and reform will foster Catholics’ trust ahead of the annual Peter’s Pence collection(link is external). In an interview with Vatican News June 25, Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said Catholics ‘have the right to know how we spend the money given to us.’ ‘Sometimes contradictions arise from a lack of knowledge, which, in turn, comes from a lack of transparency,’ Guerrero said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves,


Pope agrees to meet with Indigenous groups from Canada about schools
“Pope Francis will meet with Indigenous leaders later this year to discuss coming to Canada to apologize for the church’s role in operating schools(link is external) that abused and forcibly assimilated generations of Indigenous children, a step toward resolving the grievances of survivors and Indigenous communities, the head of Canada’s largest Indigenous organization said on Wednesday (Jun. 30).” By Ian Austen and Vjosa Isai, the New York Times


Sex abuse claims against late Fargo bishop dating to ’60s found credible
“The Diocese of Fargo said July 2 it has added the late Bishop James S. Sullivan, sixth bishop of Fargo, to its list of clergy with credible accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor(link is external). The diocese said it took this action after it was informed by the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, that an investigation of accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor from decades ago made against the late bishop were deemed credible. Sullivan was ordained as a priest for the Lansing Diocese in 1955.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

N.J. Catholic diocese sells archbishop’s controversial ‘luxury’ retirement house for $910K
“A sprawling retirement house used by former Newark Archbishop John J. Myers — that drew protests from some parishioners for being too lavish for a Catholic priest(link is external) — has been sold, church officials said. The Hunterdon County residential house, which included two elevators, indoor and outdoor pools and a three-story addition, sold last month for $910,000 to an undisclosed buyer, the Archdiocese of Newark said in a statement.” By Kelly Heyboer,

US bishops’ latest display of desperation has roots in years of dysfunction
“The recent vote by this country’s Catholic bishops, the equivalent of a corporate tantrum, was cringe-inducing but should not have been a surprise. The move to produce a document designed to render a severe and public judgment of President Joe Biden was engineered by men who, ensconced in a culture capable of stunning depravity and cover-up, have been searching for any means to reestablish their authority(link is external). The vote by three-quarters of the bishops was the latest in a series of tawdry displays of desperation cloaked in the language of piety and gestures of moral superiority. The irony is as subtle as a Wile E. Coyote anvil. Their cause even further off target. The subsequent protestations — that any new document will not be a political statement — is a transparent reaction to public outcry. The damage has been done.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops respond to Interior Department investigation of Native American boarding schools
“Responding to the announcement of a Department of Interior initiative that will look at the history of Native American boarding schools and seek to identify the possible grave sites of a still-unknown number of Indigenous children(link is external), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, through its spokesperson Chieko Noguchi, issued a cautious statement on June 28, noting that the conference would ‘look for ways to be of assistance’ to the Interior Department’s investigation: ‘We are deeply saddened by the information coming out of two former residential boarding school sites in Canada,’ Ms. Noguchi said. ‘We cannot even begin to imagine the deep sorrow these discoveries are causing in Native communities across North America.’” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Bishop’s ‘heartfelt’ apology over Catholic college abuse
“Men who were sexually abused as boys at a training school for Roman Catholic priests have welcomed a bishop’s ‘momentous’ apology(link is external). The group were pupils at St Peter Claver College in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, when they were molested in the 1960s and 70s. At a meeting with the men, the Bishop of Leeds said their abusers were people they should have been able to trust. One victim said the apology marked a changing attitude from the church.” By BBC News


Vermont Catholic priest numbers plummet to historic lows
“Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne stepped onto the altar of St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington this month to announce what, at first glance, appeared to be good news. ‘We have arrived at a place where things can return to normal,’ he said. Coyne was speaking of the state lifting Covid-19 restrictions, allowing Vermont’s largest religious denomination to reopen its 68 parishes at full pre-pandemic capacity. But he was saying so at an annual clergy ordination that, as in too many past years, was welcoming just one new priest(link is external).” By Kevin O’Connor,

Grace abounds at Association of US Catholic Priests’ meeting
“When giving a talk, it is necessary to scan the audience every few minutes, to make sure you are not losing them. But every time I scanned this audience, once I assured myself they were still very attentive, different thoughts entered my mind(link is external). How many dying souls had been comforted in their last hours by the men in this room? How many children had received their first Communion from these hands? How many grieving families had been comforted at a funeral presided over by one of these priests? How many sermons had stirred an individual to a moment of personal growth or conversion, or stirred an entire congregation?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


No surprise: Nuns are taking the lead in putting ‘Laudato Si’’ into action
“In December 2019, students from the Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore joined members of the Atlantic-Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame at a grocery store for a giveaway of reusable bags. The reusable bags were handmade by Sisters Virginia Brien and Clara Beall, aged 94 and 85. Other sisters, many long retired, attached information about plastic pollution and climate change. It was one of the many ways that the School Sisters of Notre Dame exemplify what it means to promote ‘the dignity of life and the care of all creation(link is external),’ as their directional statement ‘Love Gives Everything’ exhorts.” By Kathleen Bonnette, America: The Jesuit Review


Momentum for Catholic Church reform builds in Australia
“As Australian Catholics prepare for an historic plenary council assembly in October, a leading churchman says there’s ‘unprecedented momentum for deep reform(link is external).’ The Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long, a Vietnamese-born former boat refugee and a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, has called for the elimination of clericalism and for more women to be given roles in church governance and decision-making.” By Mark Bowling, The Tablet


Catholics must know how Peter’s Pence is spent, Vatican official says
“The head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said he hopes efforts at financial transparency and reform will foster Catholics’ trust ahead of the annual Peter’s Pence collection(link is external). In an interview with Vatican News June 25, Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said Catholics ‘have the right to know how we spend the money given to us.’ ‘Sometimes contradictions arise from a lack of knowledge, which, in turn, comes from a lack of transparency,’ Father Guerrero said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service


How do you recognize clericalism?
“In November of 2019, the Report on Clerical Sexual Abuse made 31 recommendations for preventing and investigating sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. In particular, recommendation #25 called for ‘…the immediate establishment of a leadership team comprised of lay, religious and clergy to prayerfully explore the development of an Archdiocese-wide plan’ to combat ‘the inherent evil of clericalism(link is external)’ within both the laity and clergy of the Archdiocese.” By Archdiocese of Vancouver Clericalism Committee on (The BC Catholic)


Buffalo Diocese considers merging parishes to share resources, priests
“After filing for bankruptcy amid growing clergy sex abuse claims, the Buffalo Diocese is working on a ‘Road to Renewal.’ Catholic Church Deacon, Paul Snyder, said he wants churchgoers to have an input on the renewal(link is external). ‘What I have seen so far is in this Road to Renewal is its telling people in the pews what they need to do,’ Snyder said. ‘I find that very surprising because it was never the people in the pews causing these problems.’ This plan comes as church attendance continues to decline.” By Lilia Wood, WKBW-TV7 News

Buffalo Diocese eyes grouping parishes to share priests, schools as it emerges from scandal
“The numbers tell a stark story about the extent of decline within the Buffalo Diocese over the past decade or so. Average weekend Mass attendance fell by 41% – from 158,300 people in 2011 to 93,134 people in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Enrollment in Catholic elementary and high schools dipped from 16,716 students to 12,643 students during the same time. And 62 fewer priests were working in the diocese in 2019, compared to 2011 … As they try to restore the diocese’s battered reputation and finances, Bishop Michael W. Fisher and other church leaders are also asking Western New York Catholics to re-imagine the traditional parish structure(link is external) that has marked the practice of the faith since their births into it.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Bishops’ conference walks back mixed messaging on Communion and Catholic politicians
“Following a virtual meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops, at which a majority of the country’s hierarchy voted to advance a divisive document on the Eucharist, the U.S. bishops’ conference is seeking to clear up its own mixed messaging and is insisting the eventual document will no longer target Catholic politicians(link is external). A June 21 document published by the bishops’ conference states ‘there will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians’ and notes that the timing of the document is related to ‘declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful,’ which has been of concern ‘for some time.’ The new messaging from the bishops’ conference, however, has now undergone some revisions from their original proposal.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


Catholic Church has misplaced moral priorities
“Talk about lousy timing. The biggest religion story in Iowa last week was a jaw-dropper. Attorney general Tom Miller announced he has concluded a three-year investigation of sexual abuse allegations against priests in the four Roman Catholic dioceses(link is external) in our state. Miller’s staff examined church records, some dating to the 1930s, that involved about 100 priests. His office also received and looked into 50 allegations against 36 priests, many of whom were the subject of earlier complaints.” By Randy Evans,

The USCCB’s misguided effort to punish President Biden
“‘As a convert, I never expected much of the bishops,’ Dorothy Day wrote in a 1968 letter. ‘In all history, popes and bishops and abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy(link is external). I never expected leadership from them.’ Many Catholics, and not only converts, would agree with Day’s jaundiced view of bishops—and June’s meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded us why that’s the case. President Joe Biden’s worthiness to receive Communion dominated coverage of the proceedings, a predictably divisive outcome that underscored the bishops’ political obtuseness and pastoral failings.” By The Commonweal Editorial Board

Editorial: The Catholic Church must come clean – completely – about what it did to native Americans
“Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has helped all Canadians and First Nations communities grapple with the sorrowful realities of their nation’s colonial past, particularly the gruesome legacy of its residential schools for Indigenous children. Those schools, many administered by Catholic religious orders and intended to be engines of assimilation, became centers of despair and brutality(link is external). The recent discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at two schools, and the likelihood that thousands more will be found at other residential school sites, have added to the anguish. But at least in Canada, a foundation for healing is being laid by the government-sponsored truth and reconciliation commission.” By America: The Jesuit Review Editorial Board

Janet Petersen: Give survivors of sexual abuse a chance to pursue justice, no matter their birthday
“Attorney General Tom Miller recently released the findings of his investigation into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, which represents just a small fraction of sexual abuse cases in Iowa … Despite Iowa’s new law eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse, these Roman Catholic priests who drugged and raped Iowa children and the dioceses that covered up the crime are immune from criminal prosecution in every case(link is external).” By Janet Petersen, Guest Columnist, The Des Moines Register

Editorial: Don’t put your faith if the bishops’ conference
“At their June meeting, 168 U.S. bishops voted to move forward with a document on the Eucharist, an idea that came out of a working group concerned with President Joe Biden’s political positions on abortion. Although subsequent messaging from the conference has indicated the document will not address denying Communion to politicians, it was clear from the discussion at the meeting that such exclusion motivated many bishops. They proceeded with this divisive project despite repeated warnings(link is external) (including from the Vatican) that it would lead to further politicization and polarization — concerns confirmed within hours of the release of the vote total, when a group of Democratic Catholic politicians responded with a letter of their own, lambasting the ‘weaponization of the Eucharist’ … What a mess.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Board


AG’s Office releases report on clergy abuse
“The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has completed a review of clergy abuse in Iowa(link is external). The office examined records involving about 70 Catholic priests and looked into 50 complaints of sexual abuse and misconduct reported to the attorney general. ‘Sexual abuse took place over decades. The complaints, the victims, the duration of the abuse were overwhelming,’ a report by the AG’s Office concluded. ‘Our hearts go out to the victims of these acts. The consequences are severe and lifelong.’ The report concludes that while the Catholic Church in Iowa had a long, painful history of abuse by priests and a cover-up by officials, the Dioceses have enacted many reforms over the last two decades. The Dioceses have become more responsive to victims of clergy abuse and each now reports all accusations to law enforcement authorities.” By Iowa Attorney General’s Office


Colorado survivors of childhood sexual abuse can sue institutions that hid or ignored it
“Individuals who were abused as children in Colorado can sue the institutions that hid abuse or did nothing to stop it(link is external) starting in January. Gov. Jared Polis signed SB21-088 into law Tuesday (Jul.6), giving survivors another avenue to pursue claims against government entities, schools and private institutions that have youth programs like the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church. The law caps how much victims can get from the lawsuits — up to $1 million from private entities and up to $387,000 from governmental entities.” By Saja Hindi, The Denver Post


Former St. Mary’s priest names in attorney general’s abuse report
“A former Storm Lake priest and Fonda man affiliated with the Catholic church have been accused of sexually abusing young boys(link is external) decades ago, according to an Iowa Attorney General’s report that commended the Sioux City Diocese for keeping an active list of ‘credibly accused’ priests and clergy members. The attorney general’s report released last week said Everett Apt of St. Mary’s Parish and an unidentified ‘non-clergy member who was involved in a Catholic organization’ in Fonda were among its list of 31 alleged abusers.” By tom Cullen, The Storm Lake Times

Attorney General: Iowa report finds ‘overwhelming’ sex abuse by Catholic clergy
“Citing ‘overwhelming’ incidents of abuse and ‘extensive’ cover-up that spanned decades, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller issued a report Wednesday (Jun. 23) detailing 50 complaints his office received about allegations of sexual impropriety by Catholic clergy, non-clergy or spiritual leaders(link is external) — including 17 victims who had not previously come forward to report abuse to authorities. The report concluded the Catholic Church in Iowa has had a ‘long, painful history of abuse by priests and a cover-up by officials’ but has taken steps recently to implement reforms and respond to victims.” By Rod Boshart, Special to the Globe Gazette, in Blue Mountain Eagle


Diocese of Lafayette puts deacon on leave pending sex abuse investigation
“The Diocese of Lafayette has received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Deacon Shawn Jude Gautreaux(link is external), according to a news release. Following an initial inquiry, the Diocese has placed Gautreaux on administrative leave pending a further determination in the matter. The allegation received, according to the release, relates to a period of time many years before he was ordained a deacon. Further, the Diocese has reported the allegation to law enforcement authorities in St. Martin Parish.” By The Daily Advertiser


Maine priest placed on leave following sexual abuse allegation
“A Roman Catholic priest serving several midcoast churches but who has worked throughout Maine is on temporary administrative leave while the diocese investigates a decades-old abuse allegation(link is external), officials said Monday (Jul. 5). According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, the Rev. Robert Vaillancourt has been accused of sexually abusing an underage girl in the 1980s. He has been placed on administrative leave while the diocese’s Office of Professional Responsibility conducts an internal investigation, consistent with the diocese’s protocol for such allegations.” By Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald


Trial date set for Catholic priest charged with rape
“A trial date has been tentatively scheduled for the Catholic priest who was charged with rape in a local case(link is external). Mark Hession is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 5, according to a pretrial hearing Monday (Jul. 12) in Barnstable Superior Court. He faces two charges of rape, one charge of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, and one charge of intimidating a witness. Hession, a 63-year-old Fairhaven resident, on Jan. 11 pleaded not guilty to the charges.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times


Ex-Catholic priest in Oakland County faces more sex abuse charges
“A former priest in Oakland County charged with sexually assaulting a minor decades ago now faces two more cases(link is external), the Michigan Attorney General’s office announced Monday (Jun. 28). The three cases against Gary Berthiaume stem from allegations in the 1970s involving victims who were between 13 and 15 at the time, investigators said in a statement. Berthiaume, 80, was then a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, according to the release.” By Mark Hicks, The Detroit News


Northwest Minnesota priest cleared of child sex abuse; deacon now faces similar allegations
“Just days after a priest in the Crookston Catholic Diocese was cleared of sexually abusing a minor, leadership announced a deacon who oversaw youth camps is under investigation for similar accusations(link is external). Deacon Aaron Kaiser has been placed on administrative leave pending the probe into allegations of child sex abuse, according to a news release issued June 11. He has been removed from ministry.” By April Baumgarten, Brainerd Dispatch


Buffalo priest placed on leave following abuse allegations in new lawsuits
“A retired Buffalo priest who is accused of child sex abuse in two recent Child Victims Act lawsuits has been put on administrative leave(link is external). Bishop Michael W. Fisher suspended Monsignor James G. Kelly from active ministry Wednesday (Jun. 30) after an unnamed plaintiff said in court papers that Kelly molested him from 1980 to 1982. The plaintiff was an 8-to 10-year-old student of the Diocesan Educational Center and attended church at St. Nicholas and St. Benedict the Moor at the time of the alleged abuse. The school and both parishes are now defunct.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News


Cleveland-Area Catholic Priest Intends To Plead Guilty To Child Sex Charges
“A Cleveland-area Roman Catholic priest intends to plead guilty to federal charges involving the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography(link is external), according to his attorney. Attorney Robert Dixon filed a motion Thursday saying Robert McWilliams will plead guilty to charges contained in an indictment without a plea agreement. Dixon declined to comment on Friday (Jul. 2). McWilliams was accused by prosecutors in an indictment filed last July of posing online as a female to persuade boys to send him sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves and threatening to tell their parents if they did not send more images.” By KDKA-TV2 News


Father Robert Cedolia, Catholic priest, charged with sexual assault
“A former priest-administrator at several Roman Catholic parishes in Allegheny County has been charged with twice sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy(link is external) who was preparing for his first Holy Communion, police said. The Rev. Robert J. Cedolia, 70, was charged with aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and related offenses for alleged sexual assaults that occurred in the spring of 1998 in the sacristy of Our Lady of Joy in Plum and two weeks later in a restroom at the back of the sanctuary, according to a criminal complaint filed by Allegheny County police detectives.” By Kris B. Mamula, Pittsburg Post-Gazette


Catholic church fires employee, allegation of sexual misconduct involving minor
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston has fired an employee over a 2016 allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor(link is external). The allegation was reported to Charleston Police Department on June 18, reports show. The employee was identified by the Diocese but his position was not noted. The Post and Courier is not naming the accused. ‘(The employee) was terminated after officials with the Diocese of Charleston learned of an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor,’ Maria Aselage, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Charleston, wrote.” By Olivia Diaz, The Post and Courier


Disgraced Bishop Hubert O’Connor again accused of sexual assault
“A dead former B.C. Roman Catholic bishop convicted in 1997 of rape and indecent assault against residential school students has again been named in new allegations of sexual assault(link is external). The now-dead Bishop Hubert O’Connor is one of three priests named in the lawsuit. In 1997, O’Connor was convicted of rape and indecent assault of female students at schools. He was later acquitted of indecent assault in a 1999 appeal and a new trial was ordered for the rape charge but the Crown decided not to pursue the case after O’Connor apologized.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique News Magazine

5 more priests named in latest archdiocese sexual abuse report
“The latest progress report from the committee studying clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Vancouver names five more clergymen(link is external) involved in abuse settlements, lawsuits, or other cases. The previously unpublished names are Father Roland Joncas, Brother Edward Patrick English, Father Frederick Robert Neilsen, Father Duncan George Goguillot, and Father William Crawford Mendenhall.” By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

B.C. man sues Vancouver archdiocese over abuse claimed at Catholic summer camp
“Vernon Mulvahill says he has lived with an anger at his core since he was seven or eight years old. In the decades since, the Chilliwack truck driver’s rage has expressed itself through violence, heavy drinking and restlessness. Mulvahill says he is tired of feeling ashamed for a wrong that was done to him as a child. He is suing the Roman Catholic bishop of Vancouver and the archdiocese over sexual assault he claims happened at a summer camp(link is external) in the late 70s.” By Jason Proctor, CBC News


Former priest jailed for repeated indecent assault of a boy in 1970s
“Former priest Tony Walsh has been jailed for two years for repeatedly indecently assaulting a child(link is external) 45 years ago. Walsh (67) was a trainee priest when he sexually abused the child victim on six occasions inside a church in the 1970s. Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Walsh has 39 previous convictions, 34 of which are for previous offences of indecent assault.” By Brion Hoban, The Irish Times


Polish Catholic Church Facing Wave of Sex Abuse Allegations
“The Catholic Church in Poland is facing a wave of allegations of sexual abuse, church authorities said on Monday (Jun. 28), as they laid out statistics on the extent of abuse amid an investigation into alleged cover-ups by a senior clergyman. Seen by many as a core element of Poland’s national identity, the Catholic Church is a powerful force in public life. However, it has been rocked by a series of pedophilia scandals that have contributed to the erosion of its authority, especially among younger Poles.” By Reuters in U.S. News & World Report

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 14, 2021


New Vatican law criminalizes abuse of adults, even by laity
“Pope Francis has changed church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority, and to say that laypeople who hold church office can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes(link is external). The new provisions, released Tuesday (Jun. 1) after 14 years of study, were contained in the revised criminal law section of the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law, the in-house legal system that covers the 1.3 billion-strong Catholic Church. The most significant changes are contained in two articles, 1395 and 1398, which aim to address major shortcomings in the church’s handling of sexual abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Governance report ‘catalyst for conversation’
“Catholic Religious Australia is launching a series of online conversations to explore the 2020 Church governance review report(link is external), ‘The Light from the Southern Cross.’ ‘The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia’ report, published in August 2020, has been commended as an important and substantial contribution to the life and mission of the Church in Australia, and a roadmap for the future of the Church. CRA president Br. Peter Carroll FMS said, ‘The report is a valuable resource and in light of the Plenary Council, the timing is right for the People of God to reflect on the themes in the report and discern what those themes mean to them.’ By

Archdiocese of Milwaukee says it won’t participate in AG investigation of clergy sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is pushing back against a recently announced attorney general investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy(link is external), calling it a display of ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ and a violation of the First Amendment. In a letter from the archdiocese’s attorney, Frank LoCoco of the Milwaukee firm Husch Blackwell, contends Attorney General Josh Kaul doesn’t have the authority to investigate the Catholic dioceses of the state and that doing so would go against the U.S. Constitution and state laws.” By Laura Schulte and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Pope Francis orders review of the Vatican congregation that oversees over 410,000 Catholic priests worldwide
“Pope Francis has asked an Italian bishop, Msgr. Egidio Miragoli, 65, to carry out a visitation of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, which has oversight of the more than 410,000 Catholic priests around the world(link is external). Bishop Miragoli broke the news today, June 7, in a letter to the priests of the Diocese of Mondovi, in Italy’s Piedmont region, where he is pastor … He (Miragoli) revealed that on June 3, Francis explained in some detail what he expected him to do when he met the bishop at a private audience in Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where the pope lives. The bishop did not disclose the details of his brief, and the Vatican has not commented on the meeting or a visitation of the congregation.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis refuses resignation of German cardinal, commends his courage
“Although agreeing with him that the clerical abuse crisis is a ‘catastrophe,’ Pope Francis rejected the resignation presented to him by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx(link is external) as archbishop of the archdiocese of Munich. ‘You tell me that you are going through a moment of crisis, and not only you but also the Church in Germany is going through it,’ Francis wrote in a letter dated June 10. ‘The whole Church is in crisis because of the abuse matter; moreover, the Church today cannot take a step forward without addressing this crisis.’” By Inés San Martín,


Vatican punishes Polish churchmen for alleged abuse cover-up
“The Vatican said March 29 that it is punishing a retired Polish archbishop and a bishop for their alleged roles in covering up sexual abuse committed by other clergymen(link is external). Former Gdansk Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz and former Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz have also been forbidden from living in their former dioceses or participating in any public religious celebrations there. The Vatican Embassy in predominantly Roman Catholic Poland also said each of the two is being required to contribute personal money into a fund helping victims of clerical abuse.” By Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter

Poland’s embattled bishops to meet with Pope Francis
“When Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, a retired Polish prelate, was sanctioned by the Vatican in late May for mishandling sexual abuse by his clergy, it was just the latest blow to the once-unsullied image of the country’s Catholic Church. In recent days, there have been reports that the Polish bishops have been specially summoned to Rome in the fall by Pope Francis(link is external) because of a spate of sexual abuse cases that have rocked the country’s church. Although officials have denied the accuracy of the reports, they nonetheless signal the deep unease now afflicting religious life in Europe’s most Catholic country.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Missing residential school records: Vatican won’t release documents, feds destroyed files
“While the Vatican has refused to release residential school records, it isn’t the only body suppressing the racism and abuse experienced within these institutions(link is external). The Canadian government destroyed 15 tons of paper documents related to the residential school system between 1936 and 1944, including 200,000 Indian Affairs files. From the age of four, Mike Cachagee attended three separate residential schools in northern Ontario. But there are few records to prove it.” By Omar Sachedina and Brooklyn Neustaeter, CTV News


A reforming pope’s dilemma: Using the center to deliver decentralization
“Before St. John Paul II, the old joke used to go that being pope meant never having to say you’re sorry. Since John Paul actually apologized for various failures and sins of the church well in excess of 100 times, that bit of papal humor no longer really applied. However, here’s another old papal saw that’s still highly relevant: ‘Do as I say, not as I do(link is external).’ The thought comes to mind in light of news that the Vatican under Pope Francis, for the very first time in history, is carrying out a financial audit of the Diocese of Rome.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

Pope orders visitation of German archdiocese
“Pope Francis has ordered an apostolic visitation ‘to obtain a comprehensive picture of the complex pastoral situation’ in the Archdiocese of Cologne and to investigate how accusations of clerical sexual abuse were handle(link is external)d, the Vatican nuncio to Germany announced. The pope asked Swedish Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm and Dutch Bishop Johannes van den Hende of Rotterdam to carry out the visitation, which include onsite visits in the first half of June, the note said.” By Catholic News Service on

Pope expresses sorrow but no apology for indigenous school deaths in Canada
“Pope Francis expressed sorrow Sunday (Jun. 6) for the gruesome discovery of a mass grave in Canada containing the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children. The remains were found at a boarding school for Indigenous Canadians, operated by Catholic clergy. ‘I join the Canadian Bishops and the whole Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people, who have been traumatized by this shocking news,’ Francis told an audience in St. Peter’s Square, according to a translation of prepared remarks. ‘This sad discovery further heightens awareness of the pain and sufferings of the past.’” By Matthew S. Schwartz, National Public Radio


Cardinal Marx offers Pope Francis his resignation, citing ‘responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse’
“In a decision that has sent shock waves through the German Catholic Church, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, 67, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, revealed that on May 21 he met Pope Francis in the Vatican and handed him his letter of resignation(link is external), with a strong plea that the pontiff accept it. He said Francis asked him to continue serving as bishop of the archdiocese until he has made a decision on his request. In a declaration issued today (Jun. 4), Cardinal Marx said: ‘It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse perpetrated by representatives of the church over the past decades.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review


Pope Francis: The church needs fragile pastors – not ‘superman’ priests
“Pope Francis told a group of priests studying in Rome that if they do not want to be pastors, spending time with the faithful, they should request dismissal(link is external) from the priesthood and concentrate on academics instead. ‘Be pastors with the scent of your sheep, persons able to live, laugh and cry with your people—in other words, to communicate with them,’ the pope told the priests June 7. The priests, who are studying at pontifical universities in Rome, live at the city’s St. Louis of France residence.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Wisconsin priest digs in to refuse bishop’s demand to resign
“The Rev. James Altman calls himself ‘a lowly priest’ serving a blue-collar city in western Wisconsin. But when his bishop demanded his resignation – after a series of divisive remarks about politics and the pandemic – Altman refused to oblige(link is external) and has since raised more than $640,000 from his conservative supporters to defend himself. While not unprecedented, a Catholic priest’s refusal to abide by a bishop’s call to resign is certainly rare. Altman’s case, which has garnered national attention and made him a celebrity of sorts among conservative Catholics, has further fueled the divide between them and those urging a more progressive, inclusive church.” By Todd Richmond and David Crary, Religion News Service

We need to talk about our Catholic seminaries
“We are looking for our priests to be shepherds; to live among us, to listen to our joys and sorrows, and above all to love us with the heart of Jesus. In my last podcast, I talked with the Rev. Erich Rutten, a white priest who pastors St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, a historically Black Catholic parish in Saint Paul, Minn. He recounted how he prepared for his current assignment at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University(link is external) in New Orleans, La.” By Gloria Purvis, America: The Jesuit Review


Ambassador welcomes Vatican ‘See change’ on women
“There is ‘definitely’ a change in the Holy See in their approach to women(link is external), according to Sally Axworthy, British ambassador to the Holy See. ‘There are more senior appointments now…Sister Natalie Becker is the deputy in charge of synods, there’s a deputy foreign minister who’s a woman…women are increasingly being appointed to positions of real responsibility in the Vatican.’ By Sebastian Milbank, The Tablet

New canon on women’s ordination nothing new, can be changed
“Now it is formally illegal to ordain a woman as a deacon. Or as a priest. Or as a bishop(link is external). On June 1, Pope Francis promulgated revisions to the Code of Canon Law detailing crimes and punishments. The new ‘Book VI: Penal Sanctions in the Church’ takes effect Dec. 8. Most of the revisions have to do with crimes of sexual abuse and the responses (or non-responses) of bishops and religious superiors. Some have to do with financial crimes. And then there is the one about women’s ordination: ‘Can. 1379 § 3. Both a person who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive the sacred order, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by dismissal from the clerical state.’” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter


Priests testify at Vatican trial on abuse in minor seminary
“Several priests, some of whom were former students at a minor seminary located in the Vatican, testified at the ongoing trial of Fr. Gabriele Martinelli, who is accused of sexually abusing a younger student at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary(link is external). The priests — Frs. Giuliano Zanotta, Daniele Pinton, Giampaolo Cozzi and Ambrogio Marinoni — described Father Martinelli’s influence at the minor seminary, as well as that of his mentor and former rector of St. Pius X, Msgr. Enrico Radice, and L.G., the victim who is also a former student. Also testifying was Deacon Alessio Primante.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Pope pushes “synodality” dialog to reform Catholic Church
“Using the word ‘synodality’ at the start of an article is enough to turn readers off. Boring! And when they learn it’s about the Roman Catholic Church, many might say they’re interested only in its scandals about sex or money. But the champion of this ‘synodality’ reform drive is Pope Francis, one of the world’s most popular religious leaders(link is external). The drive will be either his biggest victory or the worst failure of his papacy. And its success will depend to a large part on how young people react to it.” By Tom Heneghan,

Vatican Curia, semper reformanda
“A new papal document reforming the Curia — the Vatican bureaucracy, mostly composed of priests and bishops — will soon be published(link is external). I’m sure Pope Francis’ heart is in the right place, but I expect to be disappointed. Attempts to reform the Curia have been going on since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, each announced with great fanfare, but the effects were only incremental. There is no reason to expect anything better this time.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service


Perth Catholic priest who denied stealing almost $500,000 from church agrees to pay money back
“A Catholic priest previously accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish(link is external) has settled civil proceedings with the church, acknowledging he used parish money partly for personal use and agreeing to pay it back. Father Joseph Walsh had been facing criminal charges, accused of stealing the funds from St Joseph’s parish in Subiaco by allegedly using church credit cards and cheques to pay for personal expenses between 2014 and 2017.” By Nicolas Perpitch, ABC News

Cathedral fraudster who took £235,000 must pay back £1
“A fraudster who took £235,000 from Norwich’s Catholic Cathedral(link is external) has been ordered to pay back £1 because he has no money left. Rene Mugenzi siphoned off the cash while volunteering as the treasurer at St John the Baptist from 2016 to 2018. He moved the money, much of which had been donated by the congregation and was designated for charity work, from the Cathedral’s account into his own.” By Tom Bristow, Eastern Daily Press


What new revisions to the Cod of Canon Law mean for safeguarding
“The new series of laws and provisions set out in the revised section on crimes and penalties in the Code of Canon Law will help the Catholic Church in its efforts at safeguarding(link is external), said two canon lawyers. And yet, like with every new norm and measure, its success will depend on following through on enforcement, being mindful in interpreting still unclear aspects and working on remaining gaps, they said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot


Church still incapable of saying there is no excuse for a priest abusing a child
“I don’t know whether he or the people around him still regard the institution as more important than the people it is supposed to serve, but sometimes abuses. Or maybe it’s just — and I don’t know the answer to this either — he and those around him think we’re all fools. Whatever the answer to those questions, I don’t believe it is possible to read the most recent changes to canon law — the law of the Catholic Church — without feeling utterly let down by Pope Francis(link is external). The Pope who promised so much, but has changed as little as possible.” By Fergus Finlay, Irish Examiner

Crime of abuse is personal failure, not institutional
“A cleric who sexually abuses a child and a bishop or religious superior who covers up that abuse are personally morally at fault, but the Catholic Church as an institution is not, said Cardinal Julián Herranz, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. In a letter published on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, the 91-year-old cardinal said that ‘the errors, sins and sometimes even crimes of her members, including senior members of the hierarchy’ cannot be allowed to ‘cast doubt on the credibility of the church(link is external) and the salvific value of her mission and her magisterium.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Abuse laws come 40 years too late for Catholic Church
After thousands of reported cases of sexual abuse, the Vatican has finally updated its canon laws(link is external) for handling cases within the Church — standards which haven’t been touched since the 1980s. The new canon laws, or a set of laws set by the Roman Catholic Church to be followed by members of the religion, sought to streamline and clarify how to deal with child sexual abuse. The biggest of these changes included requiring all priests and nuns to become mandated reporters, making grooming for sex or child pornography illegal, and enforcing punishment within the Church like defrocking.” By Hayley DeSilva,


Here’s what you need to know about the Child Victims Act, a proposed bill to allow survivors to pursue justice after sexual abuse
“A proposed bill that would allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to hold their abuser accountable is facing an uncertain future in the state Legislature(link is external). The Child Victims Act would allow survivors to pursue civil action against their abuser or the organization that employed the person, removing the current limitation that allows a person to pursue action only until they turn 35 years old. The bill, survivors say, would allow them to finally feel a sense of justice, share their stories as adults and hopefully prevent future crimes from taking place.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


The Catholic Church is reinstating priests accused of sexual abuse
“In most of the cases uncovered by VICE News, the Catholic Church has also provided little to no insight into how, exactly, its officials determined that these priests weren’t guilty of sexual assault(link is external). And in at least three cases, the Church gave the priests back their jobs but added a glaring asterisk: They had to agree to abide by certain restrictions, such as staying away from kids.” By VICE News

Sex abuse victims want AG to keep convicted priest locked up
“An attorney and victims of sexual abuse by a Chicago Roman Catholic priest on Thursday (Jun.3) urged Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to keep the defrocked priest locked up(link is external). Daniel McCormack is committed indefinitely under a state law that allows sex offenders to be held in custody beyond their sentences if a judge finds they are substantially likely to re-offend. ‘Daniel McCormack as a priest is a serial predator and has been incarcerated for some years,’ victims’ advocate and attorney Jeff Anderson said.” By Associated Press


Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse by Former Diocese of San Diego Priest
“A man who alleges a former Catholic priest repeatedly molested him when he was a young boy, then continued to be active at parishes(link is external) within the Diocese of San Diego for decades, said Tuesday he decided to file a lawsuit to protect children. Beau Potter, now 54 years old, alleges Father Ramon Marrufo molested him in Rialto over the course of several years in the 1970s, beginning when the plaintiff was in second grade. Prior to 1978, the Diocese of San Diego stretched into portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.” By Times of San Diego


Names sought of all Illinois order priests accused of abuse
“An attorney is calling on Catholic bishops across Illinois to end the ‘dangerous deceit’ and release a full list of religious order priests who face credible sexual abuse accusations(link is external). Attorney Jeff Anderson last week made public the identities of 175 priests accused of sex abuse, including 117 who previously worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Those names came from lawsuits as well as lists compiled by the religious orders themselves, among other sources, he said.” By Associated Press in The Southern Illinoisan

Pfleger returns to St. Sabina, reflects on ‘painful nightmare’ that followed sex abuse allegations
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger on Sunday Jun. 6) returned to his South Side parish for the first time since he was reinstated last month following an investigation into decades-old allegations of sexual abuse(link is external), a process he described as ‘a painful nightmare’ spurred by ‘false accusations.’ ‘It’s good to be home,’ Pfleger told a raucous congregation at St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham that included director Spike Lee and acting Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.” By Tom Schuba, Chicago Sun Times


Springfield diocese to expand list of those ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors
“The Catholic Church in western Massachusetts has announced that it will release an expanded list of those credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor while serving the church(link is external). In a letter to parishioners, Bishop William Byrne said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is expanding its criteria for disclosure of accusations. The diocese will release its updated list in early June, and Byrne said it will include a “considerable addition” by including those who were dead when an allegation surfaced, were members of a religious order or were lay employees of the diocese.” By Dusty Christensen, Athol Daily News


Las Cruces Diocese Says Abuse Records Were Disclosed Voluntarily, Despite New Mexico Attorney General’s Claims
“While New Mexico’s attorney general has taken credit for securing Catholic Church documents on sex abuse by clergy, saying they will be released to the public soon, a spokesperson for the Las Cruces diocese said it provided the documents voluntarily(link is external) out of a desire to address the “abhorrent crime” of sex abuse, not because of a search warrant or legal obligation.” By Kevin Jones, National Catholic Register


Abuse survivors in Rochester Diocese bankruptcy case ask judge to go to trial
“Attorneys for survivors who have filed child sex abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester say mediation has failed. Nearly 500 claims are part of a federal bankruptcy proceeding(link is external). Now, in documents filed Tuesday (Jun. 8), some are asking the judge to take a rather unusual step: to allow them to move their cases to a different court.” By WHAM-TV13 News

Former Olean priest among three accused in lawsuit
“Three priests — including one who long served in Olean — have been placed on leave in response to claims in a lawsuit filed last month that they sexually abused a boy(link is external) in the 1990s, the Diocese of Buffalo announced over the weekend. Bishop Michael Fisher said Saturday (Jun. 5) the priests all ‘deny ever committing any acts of abuse’ but were placed on leave pending an investigation. The diocese also notified the Erie County District Attorney’s Office of the claims, which emerged in a lawsuit last month.” By Olean Times Herald

Priest on leave after his name appears on clergy offender list
“A priest serving in the Albany Diocese is on administrative leave, after his name appeared on a list of clergy offenders in the Springfield Diocese(link is external) Wednesday (Jun. 2). Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has placed Rev. Jeffrey L’Arche, a priest of the LaSalette Missionaries and pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Amsterdam and St. Stephen’s Church in Hagaman, on administrative leave, effective immediately. While on leave, Father L’Arche is barred from officiating at sacraments, wearing clerical garb, or presenting himself as a priest.” By WRGB-TV6 News


Big trouble in little Knoxville: Misconduct cases bring systemic, cultural weaknesses into sharp focus
“Who shall watch over the Watchers? That is just one of the questions raised by the complex and deeply troubling circumstances of the Diocese of Knoxville(link is external), only some of which have been reported. The Catholic Herald has learned significant details regarding several cases of clerical misconduct and mismanagement in Knoxville. The details of one case in particular involve senior Church leaders in the US and abroad, and raise questions regarding oft-cited structural weaknesses in the Church’s new ‘metropolitan’ system for investigating abuse and coverup allegations.” By Christopher R. Altieri, Catholic Herald


Catholic priest’s evidence in abuse trial
“A Catholic priest writing of his unwanted ‘sexual problem’(link is external)

 left something crucial out of the passage, a jury has heard. ‘In my dreams,’ Anthony William Peter Caruana told Sydney’s District Court. ‘When you talk about fondling young boys, is this referring to your dreams or real life?’ the 79-year-old’s barrister Bernard Brassil said on Wednesday (Jun. 10). ‘My dreams,’ Caruana said.” By Greta Stonehouse,

After 40 years of waiting, Garden Point abuse survivors get justice
“Forty-two survivors of Aboriginal forced removal policies have signed a deal for compensation and apology 40 years after suffering sexual and physical abuse in the Garden Point Catholic Church mission(link is external) on Melville Island north of Darwin. ‘I’m happy, and I’m sad for the people who have gone already … we had a minute’s silence for them … but it’s been very tiring fighting for this for three years,’ said Maxine Kunde, the leader of a group which took civil action against the church and Commonwealth in the Northern Territory Supreme Court.” By Jane Bardon, ABC News

86-year-old pedophile priest loses Australian court appeal
“An 86-year-old pedophile former Catholic priest came a step closer to deportation to Ireland when a court on Friday (Jun.4) upheld a decision to strip him of his Australian citizenship. Finian Egan has been fighting a five-year legal battle against former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s decision to cancel his citizenship over the defrocked priest’s criminal record(link is external). Egan initially won an appeal in 2016 in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, a court that reviews government decisions.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, on


Sask. Catholic churches delay, reject calls to release internal files on abuser priests
“Joey Basaraba cries randomly while sitting in his Saskatoon apartment, in the shower or out walking. He can’t remember the last time he slept through the night. ‘I take it one day at a time,’ Basaraba said in an interview this week. Basaraba, who says he was sexually abused for years starting at age six by two Prince Albert, Sask., priests, is joining the renewed national calls for church transparency after the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a Catholic residential school(link is external) site in Kamloops, B.C.” By Jason Warwick, CBC News

B.C. Catholic archdiocese sued in Gambier Island camp sexual allegations
“A B.C. man is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver and its archbishop alleging a camp counsellor sexually abused him(link is external) and others at a Bible camp. Vernon Mulvahill, in a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court June 7, alleges a man named only as John Doe exposed his penis to him, touched him in a sexual manner, made other children perform sexual acts on him in the same room and made the plaintiff perform oral sex on him.” By Jeremy Hainsworth,

Catholic Church must take responsibility for the harm done in residential schools
“In reality, these were prisons for children; children who were treated as a looming threat to that so-called civilized society(link is external). Children forcibly taken from their parents and then forced to remain in the custody of institutions managed by various Christian denominations and paid to do so by the federal government. This particular ‘school’ was operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Roman Catholic order of priests who were assisted by various orders of Catholic nuns. It was established in 1890 and closed down in 1978.” By Gillian Steward, Toronto Star


Chile’s Jesuits confess ‘crimes, negligence and errors’ on sex abuse
“In an internal report made public this week, the Jesuits of Chile acknowledge that based on accusations and investigations that emerged over a fifteen-year period, at least 64 people have been sexually abused by 11 Jesuit priests in the country(link is external). Among those victims were 34 minors, both boys and girls. The report compiles investigations carried out by the Jesuits in Chile between 2005 and 2020, meaning, five years before explosive revelations against former priest Fernando Karadima, found guilty of abusing seminarians, including minors, in 2011.” By Inés San Martin,


The disgraced priest, the children’s shelter and a fight for justice in East Timor
“The road up to the village of Kutet in East Timor’s western enclave of Oecusse is so rough that most highlanders walk the jungle trail when they need to visit the coast … At Kutet’s centre is a shelter for girls and boys that for many years was run by American Catholic priest and Timorese independence hero Richard Daschbach. There, visitors would witness a serene setting with children playing marbles, with jump ropes and running around apparently as happy as can be … But it was all an illusion(link is external).” By Chris Barrett, The Age


German Catholic abuse victims meet papal investigators
“Victims of Catholic Church sex abuse met on Tuesday (Jun. 8) with two senior bishops sent by the Pope to investigate the German archdiosese of Cologne, which has come under increasing pressure after a report found hundreds of historic cases. The Pope’s two envoys are looking at possible mistakes committed by Germany’s largest archdiocese(link is external), after an 800-page report in March found more than 200 abusers and more than 300 victims, mainly children, in cases from 1975-2018.” By Reuters


Catholic bishops’ conference condemns all forms of child abuse
“The Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (MKPK) has condemned all forms of child abuse and declared zero tolerance towards it(link is external). In a statement issued on Wednesday (Jun.2), MPKP added, however, that manifestations suggesting that there are links between church profession and the propensity to commit abuse ‘fail to serve the interests of society.’ Child abuse is a serious sin and a crime, regardless of whether it is committed in school, at sport clubs, in camps, within family, or in secular or religious institutions, the statement said.” By Hungary Today


Up to 7,000 abuse survivors assisted by Catholic Church support service
“Over the past 25 years the Catholic Church in Ireland has provided a counselling service for almost 7,000 survivors(link is external) of institutional, clerical, and religious abuse, and members of their families. It is free and involves a network of counsellors in Ireland and abroad which provides essential therapy to those who have suffered such abuse, said Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh, Michael Router. He is a director of Towards Healing which, with its forerunner Faoiseamh, provides the counselling service.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


Polish bishop sanctioned in new abuse scandal
“Another Polish bishop has been sanctioned by the Vatican and ordered to withdraw from public life, for covering up sexual abuse of minors by clergy(link is external) in the predominantly Catholic country. ‘Acting on the basis of Canon Law provisions and Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, the Holy See conducted proceedings, following formal reports, into reported negligence by Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy,’ Poland’s southern Krakow Archdiocese said in a weekend communique.” By Jonathan Luxmore, The Tablet

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The abuse crisis and the elusive horizon of a repenting church / National Catholic Reporter

“For the Catholic Church in the 21stcentury, the present is unmanageable, the future continues to slip away, and the hope of a fresh start has become elusive.”

National Catholic Reporter

“The Catholic Church enjoyed a bit of a renewed honeymoon with the global media after the May 21st announcement of the ‘synodal process 2021–2023.’ But the love fest lasted only about a week.

“It was brought to an abrupt and ugly end when law enforcement officials in Canada discovered 215 unmarked graves of indigenous children at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia.

“International organizations quickly demanded that the Church in Canada and the Holy See admit responsibility for the tragedy.

“Pope Francis expressed his ‘closeness with Canadians traumatized by the shocking news,’ as he addressed pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square at last Sunday’s Angelus. But he stopped short of issuing a direct apology …

“These last two weeks demonstrate the predicament of the Catholic Church today. Every time the ecclesiastical hierarchy has tried to turn a new page, the past has come back to bite them.”

By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 10, 2021


A historic resignation
“When Msgr. Roger Grundhaus wanted to baptize his niece’s baby in the cathedral of a nearby diocese, there was the simple matter of getting a letter from his bishop affirming that he was a priest in good standing. Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston (who recently resigned at Pope Francis’ request) obliged the retired priest, a former vicar general of his diocese. ‘He is a person of good moral character and reputation,’ he wrote in 2012. ‘I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.’ But contrary to that blanket statement, Hoeppner had already heard allegations directly from a diaconate candidate(link is external), Ron Vasek, that Grundhaus had molested him in the early 1970s. And so, attorney Jeff Anderson confronted the bishop with the letter during a deposition: ‘That’s a lie, isn’t it?’” By Paul Moses, Commonweal

Podcast: Inside the secret process of appointing a Catholic bishop
“When Father John Wester received a call just before 8 a.m. Mass, he had no idea it would be the nuncio, the pope’s ambassador, phoning to tell him he would be the next auxiliary bishop of San Francisco. ‘I think my knees were knocking,’ now-Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., told America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast. The bishop said his parishioners told him, ‘You don’t look very good, Father!’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t feel very good right now!’ It was kind of a shockeroo.’ Archbishop Wester’s story is not unusual. Most bishops are appointed without ever knowing they were being considered for the job and are caught by surprise when chosen. The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world(link is external), shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve.” Inside the Vatican, by Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Parishes cannot obstruct sex abuse investigations
“The Catholic Church’s struggle to eradicate the cancer of clergy sex abuse is on trial today(link is external). The community at St. Sabina church in Chicago is trying to obstruct the investigation of their much-beloved pastor Fr. Michael Pfleger on charges he sexually molested minors, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘Once again this week, there was an organized effort through the St. Sabina website to employ inappropriate and intimidating tactics to put pressure on the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Independent Review Board (IRB) as the case of Father Michael Pfleger is being processed,’ Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote in a letter to the administrators of the parish.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Panel: Racism compounds the clergy sex abuse crisis for Black Catholics
“As a kid, Fr. Bryan Massingale was an altar server at his predominantly-Black Catholic school. When he served at Masses with one priest in particular, nuns who worked at the school kept a close watch on Massingale and the other boys, never leaving them unattended. Years later, Massingale saw that priest’s name on a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). It dawned on him that the sisters were trying their best to protect him and other children. ‘If not for the efforts of those sisters, I could have been one of that man’s victims,’ said Massingale, a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, in a panel on clergy sexual abuse in Black Catholic communities.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Synods will make the difference
“Over the years, we have begun to discover some differences between Jesus and the church: Jesus has credibility. The reputation of the church, on the other hand, teeters(link is external) … Until finally, the renewal of the church has been swamped in regalia, clericalism and wealth … The church is again in need of reform and repentance, of growth and grace. It is being called in this era to embrace the whole church rather than simply a segment of it. The implication of that is that the church, too, as well as society, must move beyond clericalism, sexism and institutionalism, not to mention the emphasis on organization often at the expense of the people who identify and depend on it.” By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter


Wisconsin to launch statewide investigation of clergy sex abuse, attorney general document reveals
“Wisconsin authorities will launch an investigation into the state’s Catholic dioceses and religious orders to determine how many clergy members have sexually assaulted children over the year(link is external)s. Attorney General Josh Kaul notified the state’s five dioceses as well as separate orders of Catholic priests that his office will review sexual abuse allegations against clergy and other faith leaders, according to a letter obtained by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. Wisconsin is home to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and dioceses in Madison, Green Bay, La Crosse and Superior.” By Haley BeMiller, Laura Schulte and Patrick Marley, Green Bay Press Gazette


Pope facilitates Vatican prosecutions for cardinals, bishops
“Pope Francis has sent another message to Vatican-based cardinals and bishops about his intent to hold them accountable for criminal misconduct(link is external): He removed the procedural obstacles that had spared them from being prosecuted by the Vatican’s criminal tribunal. A new law published April 30 makes clear that Vatican city-state prosecutors have jurisdiction over Holy See cardinals and bishops and need only the pope’s consent to proceed with investigations against them. The law abrogated a regulation, upheld as recently as last year, that said only the tribunal’s highest appeals court, which is composed of three cardinal judges, could assess the actions of cardinals and bishops accused of criminal offenses.” By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope ousts leadership of Ecuadorian diocese amid complaints
“Pope Francis responded Wednesday (Apr. 28) to reports of poor governance, financial mismanagement and moral failings in the Ecuadorian diocese of Riobamba by not only accepting the resignation of the retiring bishop but that of his heir apparent as well(link is external). Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignations of Bishop Julio Parrilla Diaz, who turned 75 last month, and his deputy, Monsignor Gerardo Miguel Nieves Loja, 53. Nieves had been named ‘coadjutor bishop’ for Riobamba last year and was due to be consecrated bishop in February, to take over when Parrilla retired at 75, the normal retirement age for bishops. But Nieves offered his resignation to Francis a week before the ceremony.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on


German Catholic cardinal abandons medal over church abuse legacy
“Groups for survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy(link is external) in the Cologne and Trier dioceses welcomed Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s decision not to receive one of Germany’s top awards for public service — akin to an Anglo-Saxon knighthood. ‘It shows that churchly princes also are finally glancing at the people harmed,’ said Peter Bringmann-Henselder of a Cologne diocese advisory group, referring to the many children abused in the past by priests. Herman Schell of a Trier abuse victims group, calling itself Missbits, said Marx’s renunciation showed earnest candor, but irritation lingered over the cardinal’s reticence to explain his role in protecting perpetrators and trivializing abuse during his term as Trier bishop between 2002 and 2008.” By Deutsche-Welle

Stika facing likely ‘Vos estis’ Vatican investigation
“The Vatican has received multiple allegations of administrative misconduct against Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville(link is external), and is expected to authorize an investigation under the terms of Vos estis lux mundi, The Pillar has learned. Complaints filed against the bishop allege that Stika impeded or restricted investigations into accusations of serial sexual misconduct by a seminarian who was living in his home, according to multiple sources in both the United States and Rome.” By


Pray, be poor, be close to the people, pope tells new priests
“The priesthood ‘is not a career, it is a service,’ Pope Francis told nine men just before ordaining them to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rome. The service to which priests are called must reflect the way God has cared and continues to care for his people(link is external), a ‘style of closeness, a style of compassion and a style of tenderness,’ the pope told the men April 25 during his homily at the ordination Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Bringing attention to exploited obedience, spiritual abuse in religious communities
“There has been much written recently about rising incidents of abuse and violence against women, including an important meeting of the U.N. Commission on Women. Through conversations about this, I also learned of another kind of abuse: spiritual/religious abuse(link is external). Although the term was new to me, the stories from women who have experienced it are not new. It was — and is — experienced in the context of obedience to church leaders, church teachings and projected images of women that tend to shame them.” By Joyce Meyer, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


Barring women as leaders in church may be bad for their health, new study finds
“Going to church is generally touted as good for the soul. But there is also evidence church attendance can be good for your health — unless, that is, you are a woman at a church that bars women from preaching or other leadership roles(link is external). A new study published in the American Sociological Review has found that women who attend churches with such restrictions report worse health than those who attend churches with women in leadership roles. The study suggests sexism can counter some of the health benefits associated with religion, said co-author Patricia Homan, an associate professor of sociology at Florida State University.” By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service


Catholic laypeople in Cologne Archdiocese demand local synod
“Catholic laypeople in the Archdiocese of Cologne have called for a local synod to address the ongoing crisis in Germany’s most populous diocese(link is external). ‘We must make every effort to reestablish a genuine dialogue between the cardinal, senior members of the diocesan leadership and the grassroots of the church,’ said Tim-O. Kurzbach, president of the Cologne archdiocesan council of Catholics. On March 18, the law firm Gercke Wollschläger released a report on how clergy sexual abuse was handled in the archdiocese.” By Catholic News Service on


Papal safeguarding commission continues work online and in Rome
“Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continued, members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors remained active in promoting outreach and providing new educational opportunities(link is external). As they met online and in Rome for their plenary assembly April 19-22, the members also welcomed a new member, Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivors’ advocate, who was participating in his first meeting since Pope Francis appointed him March 24.’ By Carl Glatz, Catholic News Service, on

Vatican approves strengthening safeguarding studies, research in Rome
“The Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University has been transformed into a Vatican-approved academic institute(link is external) with its own faculty and ability to award advanced academic degrees. Starting Sept. 1, 2021, the university’s center will become the Institute of Anthropology, offering interdisciplinary studies on human dignity and care and expanding its scope in research, the university said in a press release April 27. The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education approved the change April 15, allowing the center to broaden its work, develop its own academic faculty and award a licentiate in safeguarding and a doctorate in anthropology, in addition to the current diploma in safeguarding.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Annual reports detail training, outreach in archdiocesan child protection efforts
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Independent Review Board that assists with child protection efforts released the fourth annual reports from the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection and the review board(link is external). Archbishop William E. Lori initiated the reports in 2019, with reports from fiscal/reporting years 2017 and 2018 released within months of each other. Since then, the reports have been issued annually. The latest report, which covers the reporting year from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, notes that the archdiocese was again, as every year, found by outside auditors to be in full compliance with standards set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its accompanying norms, as well as updates to those policies.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review of the Archdiocese of Baltimore


Parishes enlisted to help pay clergy abuse victims
“St. Therese Catholic Parish in Albuquerque’s North Valley was once the largest in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, with a holy shrine and tiled-roof church considered one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in New Mexico(link is external).These days, the parish on North Fourth is one of the smallest and struggles to make ends meet. It is behind on its property insurance and in debt to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe … The financial press on parishes over the past several months comes as attorneys for the archdiocese, the state’s largest, and victims have tentatively settled on a yet-to-be-disclosed amount to be distributed to survivors.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

Vatican reforms at a crossroad, Part 1: the financial scandals
“More than eight years have passed (2,966 days, to be exact) since Pope Francis was elected to Peter’s throne, with a clear mandate from the College of Cardinals to reform the Roman Curia and clean up the Vatican’s financial scandals. More than eight years have passed (2,932 days) since the Pope formed the Council of Cardinals, to advise him on the process of curial reform(link is external). That Council has now held 33 meetings, but the long-awaited document that will reorganize the offices of the Vatican—which was supposedly in final form last June, given a title (Praedicate Evangelium), signed by the Pontiff, waiting only for official translations—has not yet appeared.” By Phil Lawler,

Vatican reforms at a crossroad: the financial scandals
“Yesterday, in Part I of this analysis, I showed how the Vatican’s quest for financial credibility has been damaged by the highly questionable financial deals originating with the Secretariat of State. But the problem with the Secretariat of State goes beyond the realm of financial affairs(link is external). Americans tend to assume that the Vatican Secretariat of State is equivalent to the US Department of State: an agency that deals with foreign affairs. But the Vatican’s ‘superdicastery’ has far more sweeping influence. One section of the Secretariat, the Office for Relations with States, is indeed the counterpart of the State Department, concerned with diplomatic relations. But another section, the Office for General Affairs, supervises all of the work of the Roman Curia.” By Phil Lawler,


Synodality and papal primacy: questions regarding the Catholic Church today and the next pope
“‘There’s a short path that is long, and a long path that is short.’ In the third seasons of the Netflix series ‘Shtisel,’ an eminent ultra-Orthodox rabbi who heads a yeshiva in Jerusalem offers that bit of sage advice to a star student who is dealing with a life-and-death decision. Short paths tend to become shortcuts leading nowhere, while wisdom suggests taking time to make a decision. ‘A long path that is short’ is indeed a good way to explain the virtue of synodality(link is external), the biggest wager Pope Francis has made for the Catholic Church today.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

This is the true ‘gold standard’ for child protection in Pennsylvania
“Across the 32 Catholic archdioceses in the United States, there are limited policies that exist to protect children from clergy sex abuse(link is external). In fact, according to CHILD USA’s recent study of the written child protection policies of the 32 U.S. Roman Catholic Archdioceses, there is no uniformity in policies across the country, and the content and quality of these policies vary significantly. The same research additionally found that the average overall score for all 32 archdioceses, based on an objective system determining whether practices and procedures to safeguard abuse victims are described in the archdiocese’s policies, was 100.9 out of 250 points, or just 40 percent of the total possible score.” By Marci Hamilton, Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The lists of ‘credibly accused priests’ are all over the map
“Think back a couple of decades. Remember how survivors and advocates deplored the stunning disparity that characterized how both the accusers and the accused were treated based solely on where the reported abuse happened? A case in Chicago, for instance, was handled very differently from a case across the state line in Milwaukee or across another state line in Gary, Indiana. These disparities were supposed to end in 2002. That year, gathered in Dallas, all of the United States bishops adopted a first-ever allegedly binding nationwide church abuse policy mandating ‘openness’ and ‘transparency’ in this scandal. But for the most part, consistency just isn’t happening. Each bishop continues to act as he sees fit, despite the nationwide policy(link is external).” By

Abuse survivor believes now is a great evangelical moment for Church
“Teresa Pitt Green, who as a child was sexually abused by Catholic priests(link is external), said she is convinced ‘there’s a lot more hope than people dare to feel.’ ‘If I can turn all the suffering and darkness of my life into a testimony that even in that place, Jesus was there and Jesus heals me, then that’s not such a bad way to use having been abused,’ she said. Pitt Green is co-founder of Spirit Fire, a Christian restorative justice initiative and fellowship of survivors of abuse in the Church.” By Catholic Standard

Editorial: Pennsylvania Senate must stand up for victims of abuse
“Getting just about any piece of substantial legislation passed in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is likely to be a roller coaster ride for the lawmakers and activists who support it. That’s just the nature of the institution. But it’s hard to imagine anyone having a rougher ride than state Rep. Mark Rozzi and his allies trying to expand legal rights for survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). Rozzi, a Muhlenberg Township Democrat, has been working on this issue ever since entering the Legislature eight years ago. His passion for addressing the issue is motivated by his own childhood experience being raped by a priest and further fueled by so many other harrowing stories shared by fellow abuse survivors.” By Daily Times Editorial Board


Vermont bill would end time limit for civil physical abuse
“The Vermont Senate on Tuesday (Arp. 20) passed a proposal to eliminate the statute of limitations in civil cases of childhood physical abuse(link is external). The bill, approved by a vote of 29-0, builds on legislation passed two years ago that ended the statute of limitations for civil cases of past childhood sexual abuse. The proposal that passed Tuesday was pushed by a group of now-aging people who say they suffered physical abuse while living at the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, which closed in 1974.” By Wilson Ring, Associated Press

New Colorado law ends statute of limitations for civil sex abuse cases
“Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law Thursday (Apr. 15) ending the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse cases(link is external). The bill removes the current six-year limitation on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct. It applies to any incidents that happen on or after January 1, 2022. The legislation defines sexual misconduct and removes restrictions that limit victims’ ability to file a civil action or recover damages. The bipartisan bill was signed as survivors of sexual assault spoke out about how this bill will change lives.” By Angela Case, FOX-TV21 News

With return of lawmakers, victims of child sex crimes implore Pennsylvania Senate to advance reform bill
“Those were the gut-wrenching stories shared on Monday (Apr. 19) as dozens of victims and advocates urged the Pennsylvania Senate to advance legislation that would provide a temporary period of time for victims – all of them now adults and out of legal recourse – to seek justice. The state Senate this week is poised to consider a bill that would pave the way for victims timed-out of the legal system to get a two-year reprieve to file civil claims(link is external) – facing predators in court, or at the very least, the institutions that turned a blind eye to their abuse. The state House of Representatives has already approved the bill.” By Ivey DeJesus,


INVESTIGATION: What is the real reason the Archdiocese of New Orleans declared bankruptcy
Russ Hebron, the SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) Leader of Louisiana, emphasized this. ‘They have multiple insurance claims of policies that cover exactly this. Sex abuse. That’s what it’s for. They’re gonna pay for most of this. Not all of it, but most of this. It’s crazy. It’s a losing battle,’ he explained. ‘… This is a matter of secrecy, a matter of silencing(link is external). The church thinks in centuries, not in weeks or years, but in centuries, literally. That’s how quickly they change. So that’s what we’re up against here.’ (Archbishop Gregory) Aymond confirmed in a WWL-TV interview that insurance will pay for the sex abuse claims … When the reporter interviewing him asked why the archdiocese needs bankruptcy protection then if insurance pays for abuse claims, one of his advisors interrupted and said that the archbishop had already answered that question.” By Helen Lewis, Big Easy Magazine

Why ABC’s (Australian Broadcasting Company) deep dive into Catholic Church abuse is groundbreaking
“‘Revelation’ (now streaming on DocPlay) is a three-part, Australian-produced documentary series, shot across a couple of years in multiple locations. It’s nothing short of a revelation itself – and a must-watch for anyone who has been following the allegations of abuse against the Catholic Church(link is external) both across the ditch – and here. ABC journalist and director Sarah Ferguson was given unprecedented access – by, yes, the church – to a few of the perpetrators, court sessions and archival material. The film-makers also travelled to New Zealand in pursuit of stories here.” By

In New Mexico, shadows of a former haven for troubled priests
“What remains of the Servants of the Paraclete here is a wisp of the Catholic order that thrived in this mountain town a few decades ago. The ministry that drew hundreds of priests to Jemez Springs for nearly 50 years, treating them for problems ranging from alcoholism to pedophilia, shows hints of its old self. But its history is inescapable as the Archdiocese of Santa Fe continues to raise money to settle lawsuits filed by dozens of people who say they were sexually abused by priests(link is external).” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican


Settlement helping victim of Colorado Catholic priest abuse to start a new life
“A state-led investigation into child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Colorado in 2019 discovered 52 priests were responsible for sexually assaulting 212 children(link is external) between the 1950s and 1999. Now, one of the victims is telling a story of healing after he reached a settlement with the church. ‘I never thought I would come out of the darkness,’ said Troy Gallegos, a Denver man who kept his story a secret or more than four decades. ‘I’m still trying to climb out of there.’” By Tony Kovaleski, ABC-TV7 News


Lawsuits make new sex abuse claims against Legion of Christ
“The Legion of Christ, a Roman Catholic order disgraced by sexual abuse committed by its founder and other clergy, is facing new allegations of molestation of children in lawsuits filed this month in Connecticut, where it is based(link is external). Five men and a woman sued the order in federal court on April 14 and 15, saying they were victims of sexual crimes when they attended schools run by the Legion of Christ in New Hampshire and Rhode Island in the 1990s when they were children.” By Dave Collins, Associated Press


New York man shares story of his alleged sexual abuse by a Florida priest in the 1970s
“The state’s two-year investigation into allegations Catholic priests sexually abused Florida children resulted in a blistering report(link is external), naming 97 Catholic priests meeting the state’s criteria for prosecution. Not a single one will stand trial. The priests were dead, had already been prosecuted, or in most cases — too many years had passed. But the story doesn’t end there.” By Kylie McGivern, WFTS-TV News Tampa Bay


SNAP encourages Paprocki to add five names to diocese’s ‘credibly accused’ list
“Holding signs like ‘Split hairs or protect kids’ outside of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, members and supporters of a group of clergy sexual abuse survivors urged Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Wednesday (Apr. 21) to include five more names on the diocese’s list of ‘credibly accused’ priests(link is external). All five of the accused served at parishes or studied in the Springfield diocese, which includes 28 counties in central Illinois.” By Steven Spearie, State Journal Register

Chicago priest asked to step away following report of minor sex abuse decades ago
“A Chicago priest has been asked to step away from ministry following a report of minor sex abuse from over 35 years ago(link is external). In a letter to members of the Christ the King parish and school, Cardinal Blase Cupich said the archdiocese received a minor sex abuse allegation involving Rev. Lawrence Sullivan. Sullivan has agreed to cooperate with the request and will live away from the parish, the archdiocese said.” By WGN-TV9 News

Father Christopher Ciomek, pastor of St. Peter Damian Parish in Bartlett, removed amid 30-year-old child sex abuse claims
“Father Christopher Ciomek, pastor of St. Peter Damian Parish in northwest suburban Bartlett, has been removed from ministry as the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago investigations allegations of child sex abuse(link is external) dating back 30 years. ‘It is with great difficulty that I write to share news about your pastor, Father Christopher Ciomek. In keeping with our child protection policies, I have asked Father Ciomek to step aside from ministry following receipt by the Archdiocese of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor approximately 30 years ago. Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false. Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed,’ Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a letter to the parish.” By CBS-TV2 News


Fr. Bradley ‘rejoiced’ after Vatican reinstates him following sexual abuse allegations
“Fr. Joseph Edward Bradley, a priest of the Diocese of Owensboro, has been reinstated by the Vatican(link is external). ‘I am so happy I can hardly talk,’ Father Bradley shared. ‘I’ve been on cloud nine.’ On March 1, 2019, Fr. Bradley was temporarily suspended from public ministry by Bishop William F. Medley following a recommendation by the Diocesan Review Board that an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor had been found credible.” By Jill Lyman and Evan Gorman, NBC-TV14 News


Rape allegations surface for Jesuit priest accused of inappropriate conduct at Loyola, Boston College
“A Jesuit priest who founded a Catholic service group resembling the Peace Corps before facing complaints of inappropriate conduct at Boston College and Loyola University is now accused of raping a subordinate on a volunteer mission(link is external). Tim Ballard’s allegations against the Rev. Ted Dziak triggered Dziak’s removal last fall as chaplain at Le Moyne College in upstate New York, where he had landed after leaving Loyola only weeks earlier. It’s unclear whether Dziak faces other consequences.’ By Ramon Antonio Vargas,


Baltimore priest Fr. Martin H. Demek removed from ministry after allegations of child sex abuse emerge
“Fr. Martin H. Demek, the pastor at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Baltimore, was suspended from his ministry pending the results of an investigation into allegations he sexually abused a minor(link is external) more than 30 years ago. The Archdiocese of Baltimore is now investigating those allegations and have suspended Demek from the ministry pending the results of the investigation. Demek denied the allegation, the archdiocese said in a press release Sunday, and he is cooperating with the investigation.” By WJZ-TV13 News


Lawyers of man abused by late bishop want judge from outside area, citing diocese’s legal influence
“Flagging ‘novel questions of law’ that will require at least a month-long trial, lawyers for a Chicopee man abused by a former Catholic bishop(link is external) want the state’s chief justice to assign the case to a single judge, one from outside Western Massachusetts to avoid undue influence. In a recent filing in Hampden Superior Court, the lawyers say the man, identified in court documents as John Doe, faces the risk of being further traumatized by the legal process as he seeks to prove not only his sexual abuse by the late Christopher J. Weldon in the early 1960s, but that employees of the Springfield Diocese, including former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, blocked his attempts to bring the molestation to light.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Complaints about Boston College priest sent to Leahy and Jesuit provincial years prior to rape allegation
“Members of the Boston College community sent complaints beginning in the 1997-98 academic year to University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., accusing Rev. Ted Dziak, S.J., a Jesuit at BC from 1990 to 1998, of inappropriate conduct with students(link is external). Dziak—who went on to work at Jesuit schools in Jamaica, New Orleans, and New York—was accused last week of raping a postgraduate volunteer in Belize in 2004, according to” By Julie Kiersznowski, Victor Stefanescu, Amy Palmer and Megan Kelly, The Heights


Former U.P. priest pleads guilty to sex abuse, to serve minimum of eight years in prison
“A former Upper Peninsula priest pleaded guilty today to four counts of criminal sexual conduct(link is external), which will result in the harshest prison sentence thus far in the Michigan Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigation. Gary Jacobs, 75, pleaded guilty in Ontonagon County on Thursday, April 22, to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, the attorney general’s office announced. He was facing four separate sexual abuse cases and his plea agreement required that he plead guilty to the highest charge in each case.” By Justine Lofton, Michigan


Guarding faith: St. Louis Archdiocese adds another priest’s name to its list of abusers, but won’t talk about it
“To this day, Our Lady of Providence is still active. But it’s faced with a conundrum. In 2019, the archdiocese released a list of dozens of clergy deemed to have substantiated claims of sexual abuse of minors against them(link is external). Last month, (Rev. Vincent J.) Duggan’s name was added to the existing list, which victim advocates say is among the least informative in the country. Apart from his name, the list merely says Duggan was ordained in 1940 and died in 1984. It doesn’t say where Duggan, or the other disgraced archdiocesan priests and deacons, served. Nor are there mug shots.” By Jess Bogan St. Louis Post-Dispatch


‘You think you’re the only one’: N.J. abuse survivor featured in Discovery+ documentary
“At first, Keith Rennar Brennan felt flattered by the attention lavished on him by the director of his church choral group. ‘After only a few weeks of being in the group, he started calling me every night and we’d meet every week,’ Brennan said of the music director at St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Jersey City, where he grew up. But starting at age 14, the yearlong friendship evolved into sexual abuse(link is external).” By Deena Yellin,

N.J. Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a boy 30 years ago
“A Catholic priest in Atlantic Highlands stands accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit filed by a man who claims the priest repeatedly molested him(link is external) decades ago when he was 13 or 14 years old. Rev. Joseph Farrell, now a pastor at St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in New Egypt, was put on leave by the Diocese of Trenton after the 44-year-old man filed suit. NJ Advance Media is not disclosing the plaintiff’s name since his lawsuit involves claims of sexual abuse.” By Rebecca Panico, NJ Advance Media on


St. Therese no stranger to clergy sexual abuse
“St. Therese Catholic parish in Albuquerque knows too well the scourge of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). Eight of the 79 priests and other clergy members on the archdiocese list of those ‘credibly accused’ of molesting children worked at the North Valley parish over a 32-year period. The first priest was assigned in 1959, five years after the current church was built.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

10th Circuit upholds sex abuse convictions of former Catholic priest
“The 10th Circuit upheld a federal grand jury’s conviction of a former priest on seven counts of sexual abuse against a 10-year-old boy(link is external) dating back to the 90s. Arthur Perrault, a former Roman Catholic priest who served at several parishes in Albuquerque, New Mexico, fled the country in 1992 to Canada and then Morocco after learning of a local reporter’s investigation into allegations that Perrault sexually abused young boys.” By Jon Parton, Courthouse News Service

St. Michael’s High School sued over alleged abuse decades ago
“Seven men filed a lawsuit last week against St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, alleging school officials failed to prevent three staff members – all Christian Brothers – from sexually abusing them while they were students(link is external) decades ago. The lawsuit filed in 1st Judicial District Court alleges Brothers Andrew Abdon, Louis Brousseau and Tom McConnell abused students while working for the school as teachers and athletics coaches between 1953 and 1980. All three had already been listed on the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s credibly accused list.” By Kyle Land, Albuquerque Journal


For first time, diocese releases list of ‘credibly accused’ clergy
“As part of its bankruptcy court filings, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, which oversees parishes across Long Island, has released a list of over 100 clergy accused of sexual abuse while serving in the diocese,(link is external) including some who had not previously been identified. Eleven of the clergy on the list served on the South Fork from the late-1950s through as recently as 2000.” By Carissa Katz, The East Hampton Star

Rochester’s Catholic diocese barred from shielding identities of accused priests
“A federal judge has blocked an effort by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester to shield the identity of priests accused of sexual abuse(link is external) during its bankruptcy procedure, after the Democrat and Chronicle objected to the practice. Gannett Co. Inc., the parent corporation of the Rochester newspaper, filed a motion to intervene in the diocese’s bankruptcy proceeding ‘in order to enforce the public’s right of access.’ The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2019, saying it could not afford to pay the compensation being demanded in a flood of new civil suits alleging sexual abuse by its priests in past decades. Hundreds of claims have been filed against the diocese as part of the bankruptcy process.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle


Trial delayed for Cincinnati priest accused of rape
“The trial for Geoff Drew, the Catholic priest accused of raping an altar boy(link is external) decades ago, has been delayed again, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office confirmed Friday (Apr. 23). Nearly 21 months after Cincinnati police arrested Drew, his jury trial was set to begin Monday before Judge Leslie Ghiz. Now, Hamilton County court records show a ‘plea or trial setting’ scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News

For true healing, abuse survivors urge church to hear their stories
“A trio of survivors of sexual abuse are inviting the Catholic Church(link is external) — from parishioners in the pews to the bishops who lead dioceses — to join them on their journey toward healing and reconciliation. The invitation from Mike Hoffman, who chairs the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Hope and Healing Committee, Mark Williams, a special adviser to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and a deacon in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois who asked to remain anonymous is meant to help the wider church heal as well.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, on


Former Vermonter files sexual abuse lawsuit against Weston Priory
“A former Vermont resident has filed a civil lawsuit in Windsor County Superior Court, alleging the Weston Priory and the Jesuits religious order were negligent in allowing him to be sexually abused as a teenager(link is external) in about 1970. Michael Veitch, 66, of New York said he was 15 when priest James Talbot molested him during a visit to the priory, according to claims first reported in 2018. Talbot, convicted three years ago of sexually abusing a boy in Maine, recently was released from prison. The registered sex offender, now in his 80s, was jailed earlier on another conviction and has settled lawsuits with more than a dozen other plaintiffs, according to media reports.” By


When sin runs deep: one Puyallup church, two priests, one awful legacy of child abuse
“Twice in the past two years, a Catholic parish in Pierce County has found itself on a list of sin, scandal and modest compensation for great pain. It’s a list that no church wants to show up on. Credible allegations of sexual abuse against two former priests led to financial settlements between abuse survivors and the Archdiocese of Seattle(link is external). The two served at All Saints Parish in Puyallup within a decade of each other. Both were accused of violating their sacred trust while assigned to the parish on 3rd Street Southwest.” By The News Tribune


Advocates for sexual abuse survivors applaud DOJ investigation into Catholic Church
“Advocacy groups representing survivors of sexual abuse are applauding the news that the Wisconsin Department of Justice plans to open an investigation into abuse by clergy members and other leaders in the Catholic church(link is external). USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reported Thursday (Apr. 22) that Attorney General Josh Kaul sent a letter this week to the state’s five Catholic dioceses and several religious orders to inform them of the investigation. Melanie Sakoda, survivor support coordinator for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said she hopes the investigation will lead to a more complete list of abusers across the state. Sakoda said many of the lists released by dioceses are incomplete, leaving off visiting priests or those with abuse allegations reported in other dioceses.” By Hope Kirwan, Wisconsin Public Radio


Plaintiffs in second Provolo sex abuse trial demand ‘end to delays’
“More than a decade after pleading guilty in 1988 to sexually abusing a young boy(link is external) in Louisville, Kentucky, Deacon James Griffith was moved by his religious order to a monastery next to Immaculate Conception School in Norwood Park. The Passionists — the Catholic religious order that at the time was overseeing the church and school just north of the Kennedy Expressway on the Northwest Side — say he was assigned there in 2002 ‘to work in the provincial office’ on the third floor.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-times


Ottawa Catholic board launching review after longtime teacher charged with sex offences
“The Ottawa Catholic School Board is launching a review of how it handled previous allegations brought forward to school administrators concerning a longtime teacher at St. Matthew High School in Orleans(link is external). Last Tuesday, Ottawa police charged Rick Watkins, 57, of Ottawa with three counts of sexual assault, three counts of sexual interference and three counts of sexual exploitation of a young person. Watkins is also known as Rick Despatie. None of the allegations have been tested in court.” By Josh Pringle, CTV News

St. Boniface priest loses ordination years after sex abuse claims
“A Roman Catholic priest from St. Boniface has been stripped of his ordination by the Pope, six years after allegations surfaced that he sexually abused young men he was counselling(link is external). Archbishop Albert LeGatt of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface announced in a letter to clergy dated April 19 that Fred Olds, former priest at St. Timothy and St. Bernadette parishes, was dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Francis and also removed from all priestly obligations, including celibacy.” By Brenda Suderman, Winnipeg Free Press


Bishop to the rescue as Cayenne torn over sex abuse
“Bishop Michel Dubost, after running Lyon archdiocese between the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and the appointment of new Archbishop Olivier de Germay, will take on another clerical sexual abuse controversy(link is external) as the new apostolic administrator of Cayenne diocese in French Guiana. Dubost, 78, will temporarily lead the diocese while a canonical inquiry investigates a dispute between retired Bishop Emmanuel Lafont and an illegal  Haitian immigrant who accuses him of sexual abuse. The bishop flatly denied the charge and accused the immigrant of robbery.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet


Dublin Archdiocese ‘committed to protecting children’ despite halving staff at safeguarding service
“The Dublin Catholic Archdiocese has begun restructuring the support services it provides to parishes after halving the number of staff working in the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service(link is external) (CSPS). The number of staff working in the CSPS has been reduced from 10 to five people in recent months as part of a wider redundancy programm in the Archdiocese.” By

Bishop of Raphoe confirms diocese cooperating with retired priest investigation
“The Bishop of Raphoe has confirmed that a retired priest of the diocese has been charged with assaulting two minors(link is external) between 1972 and 1975. It is understood the 85-year-old retired priest has been released on bail after he was charged with 26 counts of indecent assault. In a statement, Bishop Alan McGuckian says the diocese has been cooperating fully with Gardai and Tusla regarding the case. He added that they are committed to assisting and supporting anyone who has been a victim of clerical abuse in seeking justice.” By Highland News Radio


Catholic leaders put numbers to sex abuse claims
“In a first public attempt to put numbers to instances of child sex abuse by the country’s Catholic clergy, Spain’s Episcopal Conference revealed Friday (Apr. 23) that 220 cases were officially reported to the Vatican over the past two decades(link is external). The conference, which is the top governing body of Spain’s Catholic Church, said Spanish bishops submitted 76 allegations against regular priests and 144 against members of specific religious orders to the Vatican’s office that handles sex abuse cases since 2001.” By Aritz Parra, Associated Press

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Podcast: Inside the top secret process of appointing a Catholic bishop

“The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world, shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve.”

America: The Jesuit Review

“When Father John Wester received a call just before 8 a.m. Mass, he had no idea it would be the nuncio, the pope’s ambassador, phoning to tell him he would be the next auxiliary bishop of San Francisco.

“‘I think my knees were knocking,’ now-Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., told America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast. The bishop said his parishioners told him, ‘You don’t look very good, Father!’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t feel very good right now!’ It was kind of a shockeroo.’

“Archbishop Wester’s story is not unusual. Most bishops are appointed without ever knowing they were being considered for the job and are caught by surprise when chosen.

“The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world, shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve. Those who are consulted about possible candidates are required to return the list of questions they’ve been sent, because even the questions, which reveal no particulars about a candidate, are protected under the Vatican’s top confidentiality classification: the ‘pontifical secret.’

‘Inside the Vatican,’ by Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

Click here to see Voice of the Faithful’s bishop selection webpages.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 20, 2021

Pope asks U.S. bishop to resign after cover-up investigation
“Pope Francis asked a bishop in the U.S. state of Minnesota to resign after he was investigated by the Vatican for allegedly interfering with past investigations into clergy sexual abuse(link is external), officials said Tuesday (Apr. 13). The Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner on Tuesday and named a temporary replacement to run the diocese. Hoeppner is 71, four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.” By Associated Press

Woelki calls for stronger law on clerical sex abuse
“The Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki has called for a tightening up of Canon law on clerical sex abuse(link is external). ‘Canon law on how to deal with priestly sexual abuse must be changed. It needs tightening, that is, the rulings must be made clearer and more explicit,’ he said. For example, the statute of limitations for sexualized violence must be extended and the ‘contradictions in canon law and in the German bishops’ conference’s guidelines on priestly sexual abuse must be eliminated,’ he added.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

A bird’s nest and healing: Vatican sponsors event on preventing sexual abuse
“The Vatican is teaming up with Harvard University to host a virtual Symposium on preventing and healing child sexual abuse(link is external), an event which grew out of a bird’s nest presented to Pope Francis, according to Jennifer Wortham, Ph.D., of Harvard. A bird’s nest can carry a powerful message: ‘All children deserve a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow.’ That simple, yet important, aim lies at the heart of this global symposium entitled ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse.’ Dr. Wortham says she hopes April 8 will become the World Day for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Healing, and Justice, a proposal which she is launching at the United Nations in September.” By Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Dominicans in Poland launch investigation of abusive priest
“The Dominican province in Poland has started an independent, lay-led investigation of a sect-like youth ministry ran by Dominican Father ‘Paweł M.’ between 1996-2000 in Wrocław. The Dominican friary in Wrocław released a statement on March 7 apologizing for the abuse(link is external). ‘We turn to you with great pain and shame. We stand before you in the truth that, despite the passage of years, is revealing its terrifying face more and more clearly,’ the statement said.” By Paulina Guzik,

Legal lessons: Past sexual abuse cases help train canon lawyers, according to Pope Francis
“When Pope Francis abolished the ‘pontifical secret’ covering the church’s judicial handling of cases of the sexual abuse of minors, it was hailed as a major step forward in promoting greater transparency and accountability(link is external). At first glance, it means victims and witnesses are free to discuss a case … But an additional consequence of this landmark change, enacted in mid-December 2019, will be its potential to provide much-needed practical training and multidisciplinary studies for those involved in the handling of abuse cases.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on


French high court clears cardinal of abuse cover-up
“France’s highest court confirmed on Wednesday (Apr. 14) that the former archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, did not cover up the sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by a predator priest. The ruling by the Court of Cassation closes a long, emotional drama that brought angst to the Roman Catholic Church, under scrutiny around the world for hiding abuse by its clergy.” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press in Star-Tribune

At online symposium, Pope Francis says religions can eradicate sexual abuse together
“After decades of child sexual abuse scandals, the Catholic Church is ready to share its successes — and failures — with other religious and lay institutions. At an April 8-10 online symposium with religious representatives from around the world, Pope Francis expressed his hope that together, religions can fight ‘this profound evil(link is external).’ ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse,’ organized by the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, brought together 73 speakers from different religious, cultural and professional backgrounds last weekend to address the phenomenon that has touched nearly every major religious group in the world.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Accountability, transparency, due process still needed, abuse experts say
“To help foster a wider discussion on work that still must be done to safeguard minors and vulnerable people in the Catholic Church(link is external), a canon law journal published a series of talks by experts regarding accountability, transparency and confidentiality in the handling of abuse allegations.mThe talks were part of a seminar in December 2019 sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to address the topics as well as the seal of confession and the pontifical secret.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Disgraced Palmerston North bishop’s future lies with the Vatican
“The disgraced bishop of Palmerston North, Charles Drennan, still retains his title, but must follow conditions imposed on him by the Vatican, a commission has heard(link is external). Cardinal John Dew apologised to victims of abuse from the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on Friday (Apr. 2) and he also discussed Drennan’s resignation. Drennan resigned as Palmerston North bishop in October 2019 after allegations involving an inappropriate relationship and harm of a young woman who was not a minor.” By George Heagney,


Cupich: 30 years ago Cardinal Bernardin developed plan to address abuse
“When Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago developed a comprehensive plan over a two-year period, in 1991 and 1992, to address clerical sexual abuse issues(link is external) in the Illinois archdiocese, he provided a copy of those procedures to all his fellow U.S. bishops at their annual meeting. ‘Their response was decidedly mixed,’ Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Chicago’s current cardinal-archbishop, said in recounting these efforts by the late prelate. ‘Imagine if all the bishops had taken those documents home and fully implemented them in their dioceses, how much further ahead we would be … how many children might have been spared,’ he said.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service


‘We are outraged’: Parents object to new assignment for Cincinnati bishop who failed to report Father Drew allegations
“Parents of young children at a private Catholic school say they are infuriated and may withdraw their students after the Archdiocese of Cincinnati assigned a former high-ranking bishop who resigned in the fallout over a priest charged with raping an altar boy to be the pastor at two churches affiliated with their school(link is external). ‘We are outraged. We are being ignored and our children’s safety is not being considered at all,’ said Kim McRoberts, whose 11-year-old daughter is in the fifth grade at St. John The Baptist School on Dry Ridge Road in Colerain Township.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

The cultural disarmament of progressive Catholic bishops
“Archbishop Chaput and many of his views need to be challenged. But most liberal and progressive Catholics are just ignoring him. They do so at their own peril(link is external). It is striking that Chaput seems to be the only US bishop in the 21st century who seems capable or willing to offer to the wider public — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — his vision in a format that leaves an impression and a deeper effect than the occasional interview or speech.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

Msgr. John Tracy Ellis on selecting bishops in the US
“The title ‘On the Selection of Bishops for the United States’(link is external) did not indicate if this was a lecture or the draft of a magazine article. I asked Purcell if he knew to what purpose the monograph had been put, and he checked with a priest in San Francisco who instructed me to reach out to Fr. Tom Shelley, a priest of the New York Archdiocese, who is working on a biography of Ellis. I did so, and Shelley let me know that Ellis had published two articles on the subject, one for Commonweal and the other for The Critic. I took a photograph of the first page and sent it to Shelley. He replied that the monograph was identical to the opening of the article in the July, 1969 issue of The Critic.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican plans major conference on priesthood
“Increasing vocations to the priesthood, improving the way lay people and priests work together and ensuring that service, not power, motivates ordination(link is external) are all possible outcomes of a major Vatican symposium planned for 2022. ‘A theological symposium does not claim to offer practical solutions to all the pastoral and missionary problems of the church, but it can help us deepen the foundation of the church’s mission,’ said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the chief organizer of the symposium planned for February 17-19, 2022.” By


Vatican event on priesthood to explore topic of celibacy
“A top Vatican official in charge of organizing a major symposium on the priesthood next year has said the discussion will touch on several controversial hot-button issues such as priestly celibacy, the women’s diaconate, clericalism, and the clerical sexual abuse crisis(link is external). Speaking to journalists during the April 12 presentation of the event, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said, ‘the question of celibacy is important.’ ‘We have all spoken about it, and it will be discussed, but it will not be the central theme of the symposium,’ he said. ‘It is not a symposium on celibacy, like it needs to be taken up deeply. It’s a broader perspective.’” By Elise Ann Allen,


Italian prosecutors request arrest warrant for Italian financier named in Vatican scandals”
“Italian prosecutors have asked a judge for an arrest warrant for Gianluigi Torzi, accusing the financier of money laundering and tax evasion(link is external). Torzi is already embroiled in a legal battle with the Vatican’s judiciary for his alleged role in the controversial purchase of a London apartment complex using Catholic Church funds. The document, signed March 29 and seen by Religion News Service, cites ‘serious indications of guilt related to self-laundering and tax violations.’ The Italian authorities also charged him with requesting false payments and fraudulently filing for bankruptcy.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service


Can the Catholic Church agree to change anything?
“Sometimes you need to catch your breath when a Vatican official’s speaking echoes a theologian’s writings. Which way is this going to go? Not long ago, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, echoed a 50-year-old passage from a book by … wait for it … Swiss theologian Hans Küng. Speaking on Spain’s church-owned COPE radio network, Parolin underscored the Good Friday theme of Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher for the papal household, and (perhaps unknowingly) brought forth a concept delineated by Küng 50 years ago: Some things can change, but internal church divisions are dangerous(link is external).” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Overdue reckoning at hand for archdiocese
“Completing a settlement between victims of clergy sexual abuse and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is crucial for Roman Catholics in New Mexico. First, the people injured by an institution that allowed its priests to harm children are owed reparations. The damage to these victims is incalculable; money is the least the church can do to compensate for the sins of the past. As many New Mexicans know too well, the church that nurtured their faith and fed their souls also turned a blind eye to repeated reports that its clergy were molesting children(link is external). Preserving the church’s reputation was all that mattered.” By The Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial Board

Barron’s ‘beige Catholicism’ erases years of racial, social justice activism
“Bishop Robert Barron’s recent piece detailing the ‘evangelical path’ of his organization Word on Fire has provoked heated debate over his use of the term ‘beige Catholicism’ to refer to the faith of liberal or progressive Catholics(link is external). It’s not the first time he’s used the term. He coined the phrase 25 years ago, to critique modern or liberal Catholicism as ‘a faith that had become culturally accommodating, hand-wringing, unsure of itself.’ Barron has long combated post-Vatican II trends that he sees as anthropocentric rather than Christocentric. He connects these trends with the loss of the beauty and splendor of the Catholic cultural tradition. But he has now become concerned with what he sees as liberal Catholicism’s dangerous opposite extreme: the radical traditionalist movement in the church.” By Rebecca Bratten Weiss, national Catholic Reporter

Wealthy conservative Catholics are the new U.S. magisterium
“Sean Fieler was once asked to name ‘the thinkers or donors’ who have influenced how he practices his considerable philanthropy. ‘There’s a good network I’ve gotten to know over the last decade or so, through boards or shared charitable interests, who have had a big effect on me — Frank Hanna, Tim Busch, and Leonard Leo, for sure,’ he answered. Fieler is not a household name in Catholic circles, but anyone interested in the future of the church in the United States should keep tabs on what he and his ‘good network’ are up to(link is external).” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Saying sorry not enough
“A day late and a dollar short. That was the phrase used by Dr. Tom Doyle, a non-practicing Catholic priest, to describe the church’s apology, at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care(link is external) last month, to those damaged by clergy sexual abuse. Dr. Doyle has been researching this issue since the 1980s when, as a canon lawyer stationed at the Vatican embassy in Washington, he was one of the authors of a 1985 confidential report on clergy sexual abuse of minors written for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.” By Otago Daily Times Editorial Board

American Catholicism: Headed Towards a Dead End
“Although ‘nearly one-third of American adults (31.7%) say they were raised Catholic, only about one in five (20.8%) identified as Catholic’ in a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. ‘The share of adults who identify as Christians fell from 78% to just under 71%’ between 2007 and 2014. But ‘within Christianity the greatest net losses, by far, have been experienced by Catholics(link is external),’ according to the ‘America’s Changing Religious Landscape’ study. The survey also showed that – since 34% of Catholics were Latino and 8% Black, Asian or other – the number of white Catholics had fallen to less than 12% of the population.” By Betty Clermont,


Child sex abuse lawsuit bill faces long odds in House vote
“The Pennsylvania General Assembly is again discussing legislation to aid survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external), which faces an uphill battle to be passed. The goal of several different proposed measures is to create a two-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers, most notably Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania. The original measure, a constitutional amendment question that would have been posed to voters during the May 2021 primary election, has faced multiple setbacks.” By Harri Leigh, FOX43-TV News

Colorado Lawmaker Shares Story Of Rape As Legislature Eliminates Statute of Limitations Ending 30 Year Battle
“ he state legislature passed a bill which allows survivors of sexual assault to sue their perpetrators no matter how much time has passed(link is external). The bill eliminates the statute of limitations in civil cases. Survivors have been trying to pass the bill for 30 years, telling their stories year after year. This year, a state lawmaker was among them.” By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

Is this the year Minnesota gets rid of the statute of limitations on sexual assault?
“People who commit sexual assault will be at risk of criminal charges for the rest of their lives(link is external) if a bill to eliminate Minnesota’s statute of limitations on rape and other sex crimes gets enough support in the Legislature. William Dinkel, a survivor of child sexual abuse and a Long Prairie native, has advocated for the policy. A law change will send a message to victims that the justice system and the government care about them and want justice, Dinkel said Tuesday (Mar. 30).” By Nora G. Hertel, St. Cloud Times


Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Site aims to help abuse survivors
“Jeff Anderson & Associates on Tuesday (Apr. 6) launched a database they hope will aid child abuse survivors, law enforcement and fellow attorneys(link is external) in their efforts to seek justice from the Catholic Church in New York State. The virtual event featured a breakdown of statistics for all dioceses in the state, including the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Anderson said the purpose of the report was, in part, “to identify those institutions and Catholic bishops across this country who have been complicit in allowing children to have been abused and to do what we can with each survivor, one at a time, to make sure that we are doing something today to protect kids tomorrow.” By Cara Chapman, Press-Republican


Newport psychologist arrested on charges of sexually abusing children as a priest in California
“A former Roman Catholic priest who has worked as a clinical psychologist in Newport is facing charges of sexually abusing boys at parishes in California more than 20 years ago(link is external). The former Rev. Christopher J. Cunningham was arrested early Wednesday at his home on Sylvan Terrace by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Cunningham, 58, was sought by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department on a dozen charges of lewd acts upon boys under 14 years old, during incidents from 1995 through 1997. He was arraigned at Kent County Superior Court in Warwick and held for extradition to face the charges in Los Angeles County.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe


A progress report on diocese’s abuse response task force
“Last fall, in my capacity as chair of the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield, I wrote an op-ed providing an overview of the work the task force was undertaking with emphasis on the stakeholder input that we would be seeking. I write now to affirm that the task force has been actively engaged and has made excellent progress in our data collection endeavor and in other phases of our work(link is external).” By Daniel Ford, Berkshire Eagle


Survivors of church abuse laud Missouri Supreme Court ruling on evidence in lawsuits
“Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests lauded a Missouri Supreme Court decision that will allow some circumstantial evidence to be presented in lawsuits(link is external). A small group of volunteers with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered Wednesday (Apr. 7) outside the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in downtown Kansas City. ‘The Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling yesterday, essentially made it somewhat easier for victims to expose predators and protect kids through civil lawsuits,’ said SNAP member David Clohessy. ‘Let’s be clear — Missouri has always been and remains a very tough state for victims to get justice in, but yesterday was progress.’” By Katie Moore, The Kansas City Star

Missouri Supreme Court keeps Chaminade clergy sex abuse case alive
“The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday(Apr. 6) affirmed a decision by a lower court that First Amendment protections shield religious employers from some lawsuits in certain cases of clergy abuse(link is external). But the court also overturned part of the lower court’s decision, saying it erred in not allowing plaintiff John Doe to bring expert testimony backing his claims of intentional failure to supervise clergy before a jury.” By Maria Benevento, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Newark Archdiocese let priest work after one sex abuse allegation. Now there are 2 more
“A newly filed lawsuit alleges that Kevin Gugliotta, a priest in the Newark Archdiocese, sexually abused a boy at a Union County parish(link is external) in 2006, a few years after church officials decided he could not be punished for alleged abuse from decades earlier when he was a Boy Scout leader. Newark Archdiocese officials have said they had no authority to punish Gugliotta after first hearing about allegations against him in 2003 because he was not yet a priest at the time of the alleged abuse, which the accuser said occurred in the 1980s.” By Abbott Koloff,


Silent no more: Victim says abuse left her life a shambles
“For decades, Leigh-Anne just wanted someone, anyone, to listen. Instead, she said, she was placed in a mental hospital, silenced and ignored(link is external) until she fell into a years-long spiral of drug addiction, self-doubt and destruction. The 39-year-old was finally going to get her chance to confront Sabine Griego – the former priest who she says raped her repeatedly from ages 7 to 9.” By Matthew Reisen, Albuquerque Journal

Priest sex abuse survivor sues NMAG for allegedly withholding public records
“A survivor of alleged sexual abuse when he was a child is suing the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office for allegedly withholding public records related to credibly accused Catholic priests within the Diocese of Las Cruces(link is external). ‘For decades the national Catholic Church used New Mexico as a destination to hide pedophile priests, taking advantage of the unique cultural makeup of our communities, including their devoutness,’ attorney Paul Linnenburger said in a news release … Fr. David Holley victim Phil Saviano who was abused by Holley in Douglas, Massachusetts, in the Worcester Diocese in the 1960s.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News, in New Hampshire Union Leader


Head of elite Catholic school is fired over sexual misconduct charges
“Regis High School, one of the most prominent Catholic schools in the country, said it planned to fire the Jesuit priest who serves as its president after an investigation found he had engaged in sexual misconduct involving several adults(link is external), including school employees. The Rev. Daniel Lahart, who has been president of Regis, a prestigious all-boys school in Manhattan, since 2016, has been on administrative leave since late February, the school said in a statement. His firing will be effective April 21, the school said.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits filed against Brooklyn Jiocese under Child Victims Act
“Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) have been filed against the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Brooklyn since the passage of the state’s Child Victims Act in 2019 through the end of 2020, according to a recent analysis. The 571 complaints filed against the Diocese, which covers Brooklyn and Queens, during the first 17 months of the act includes filings against 532 institutions under control of the religious district and 301 alleged abusers. Of those alleged abusers are 230 members of the clergy.” By Kevin Duggan, The Brooklyn Paper

More than 300 sex abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is facing more than 300 lawsuits tied to accusations of sexual abuse(link is external). The lawsuits stem from the New York’s Child Victims Act, which took effect in August 2019. It allowed victims who claim that they were sexually abused by members of the diocese to file civil lawsuits anonymously. It also stiffened penalties for their perpetrators. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2019 a month after the Child Victims Act took effect.” By James Brown, WXXI-FM Public Radio News

Ogdensburg Catholic diocese named in 80 child abuse cases
“Between September 2019 and December 2020 cases were filed under New York’s Child Victims Act that accused 39 clergy and a lay teacher in the diocese of abuse(link is external). Analysis of the cases in New York state was conducted by a law firm representing some of the child abuse survivors. The oldest alleged incidents were from 1959 ending with the most recent ones occurring in 1995.” By Celia Clarke, North Country Public Radio

Catholic Church Faces Wave Of Sex Abuse Cases Across State
“The New York State Child Victims Act has wiped away decades of silence in the Catholic Church, with thousands of sexual abuse survivors coming forward(link is external) and creating a surge of sexual abuse cases against the papistry. This past summer, it was revealed that priests in Oswego were included in a list of new lawsuits against the Diocese of Syracuse under the Child Victims Act.” By Shea O’Malley, Oswego County Today


Catholic Confessions Part 1: A history of clergy abuse in North Dakota
“In January, the Attorney General’s office released the results of an 18-month long investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses(link is external). This investigation was prompted after the Bismarck and Fargo Dioceses released a list of 53 individuals with allegations of child sexual abuse in 2019. Of the 53 named individuals, all but two had died by the time the investigation commenced.” By Hayley Boland, KFYR-TV FOX News


Cincinnati bishop who quit in fallout over priest charged with raping altar boy will be pastor over two churches
“The second-highest ranking bishop at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who resigned in the fallout over a West Side priest charged with raping an altar boy three decades ago will be the pastor of two Hamilton County churches starting July 1(link is external). Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Joseph Binzer was assigned to oversee the ‘pastoral territory’ of Corpus Christi Catholic Church off Springdale Road in Mt. Healthy and St. John Neumann Catholic Church located on Mill Road in Springfield Township, according to one of the church’s websites.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White,


State House OKs plan to allow sex abuse victims to sue despite statute of limitations
“The state House on Wednesday (Apr. 7) passed legislation that would open a window for lawsuits by survivors of childhood sex abuse without first seeking to change the Constitution(link is external). The measure isn’t likely to move in the state Senate, where Republicans have said they think that the change to allow lawsuits can only be legally provided by amending the Constitution, a process that will take until 2023 at the earliest … This legislation would allow survivors of abuse to sue public schools in addition to private schools and other private organizations.” By John Finnerty, New Castle News


Former residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage recount horrific abuse, want day in court
“Several former residents of the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington spoke of the abuse they suffered there and urged the Legislature to eliminate the statute of limitations(link is external) for civil claims of childhood physical abuse. They would also like to see the legislation go further and allow civil claims of childhood emotional abuse. Linda Crossman, a member of Voices of St. Joseph’s, was among the former residents who urged expanding the legislation to include emotional abuse.” By Alan J. Keays,


St. Norbert Abbey identifies two more Norbertine priests who abused minors, including former abbot
“St. Norbert Abbey, under pressure to deal with a history of abusive clergy(link is external), has identified two more Norbertine priests who sexually abused minors in the 1960s and ’80s. The newly named priests include former Abbot Benjamin Mackin, who led the Catholic order in De Pere from 1982 to 1994. A review by an independent board substantiated claims that Mackin sexually assaulted minors in the 1980s while abuse by Arnold Schinkten occurred in 1962, according to a news release from the abbey Thursday (Apr. 8). Both men are dead.” By Benita Mathew and Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette


Police, DA’s office clashed amid Bishop Hart investigation, documents show
“Wyoming police and prosecutors were repeatedly at odds over the sexual abuse investigation into retired Catholic Bishop Joseph Hart(link is external), police and prosecutor documents show, with police claiming that prosecutors hadn’t read basic case documents and prosecutors complaining about media attention and their problems with the work by police. For 10 months between 2019 and 2020, prosecutors in Wyoming were considering whether to charge Hart, now 89. At least eight men told police that they or a relative had been the victim of sexual misconduct by him.” By Seth Klamann, Denver Gazette


Bishops’ Conference achieves strong result in audit
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has fully implemented or substantially progressed the implementation of 97 per cent of relevant safeguarding indicators(link is external), an external audit has found. Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd last week published its findings after selective interviews with Conference staff, interaction with the Conference’s leadership and Safeguarding Committee, and a review of policies and procedures. Trudy Dantis, the director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research and the chair of the Bishops Conference’s Safeguarding Committee, said the audit process helped the organization strengthen its policies and procedures.” By

Vatican ruling on Bishop of Broome looms as tension builds in outback diocese
“Tensions are building over whether the Vatican will allow a bishop accused of sexual misconduct and bullying(link is external) to return to his outback parish, with a former priest warning it is a critical crossroads for the Catholic Church that could set an international precedent. Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders was sent on a six-month sabbatical in November to give the Vatican time to assess the findings of an internal investigation into his running of the remote northern diocese.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley


Former Vancouver Catholic Archbishop ordered to give evidence in old sex-abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver has been ordered by a judge to give evidence in old sex-abuse case(link is external), the second time he will have given evidence in such a case. The case involves a man named Mark O’Neill alleging that he was physically and sexually abused when he was a student at the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission. He claims that several former Benedictine priests abused him while he was between the ages of 13 and 17, with the alleged incidents occurring between 1974 and 1978.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

Former Hanover priest sentenced for sexual abuse
“A priest who lived in Hanover was sentenced Wednesday (Mar. 31) to 21 months in jail in the Superior Court of Justice in Walkerton for sexually abusing a child(link is external). Mervin Perera, 73, was found guilty Jan. 30 of touching a girl for a sexual purpose, after a trial in Walkerton. He appeared in person in a Walkerton courtroom but the sentencing was conducted by videoconference. Perera has appealed the court’s decision and was released immediately after he was sentenced, his lawyer, Scott Cowan said after the hearing. Perera is governed by release terms which include non-association with the victim.” By Scott Dunn, The Sun Times


Defrocked US priest revered in East Timor accused of abuse
“It was the same every night. A list of names was posted on the Rev. Richard Daschbach’s bedroom door. The child at the top of the roster knew it was her turn to share the lower bunk with the elderly priest and another elementary school-aged girl. Daschbach was idolized in the remote enclave of East Timor where he lived … So, the girls never spoke about the abuse they suffered(link is external). They said they were afraid they would be banished from the shelter the 84-year-old from Pennsylvania established decades ago for abused women, orphans, and other destitute children.” By Margie Mason and Robin McDowell, Associated Press


Indonesian Catholic schools move to tackle sexual abuse
“A high-profile sexual abuse case in which altar boys in Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta were assaulted by a church worker was a wake-up call for Indonesia’s Catholic schools to look at ways to better protect students from such predators, according to educators. The case — the first involving sexual abuse within the Indonesian Catholic Church brought to a civil court(link is external) — saw the perpetrator, Syahril Marbun, jailed for 15 years for raping two altar boys.” By Ryan Dagur,


Sanctions against Polish bishops cautiously welcomed by abuse survivors
“After the Vatican sanctioned two retired bishops in Poland, abuse victims say it’s a good start, but may be too little, too late(link is external). On Tuesday (Mar. 30), the Vatican imposed sanctions on emeritus Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdańsk. The two had been featured in the ground-breaking documentaries ‘Hide and Seek’ (2020) and ‘Tell No One’ (2019) by the Sekielski Brothers.” By Paulina Guzik,

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A historic resignation / Commonweal

“The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”


“When Msgr. Roger Grundhaus wanted to baptize his niece’s baby in the cathedral of a nearby diocese, there was the simple matter of getting a letter from his bishop affirming that he was a priest in good standing.

“Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston in northwest Minnesota obliged the retired priest, a former vicar general of his diocese. ‘He is a person of good moral character and reputation,’ he wrote in 2012. ‘I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.’

“But contrary to that blanket statement, Hoeppner had already heard allegations directly from a diaconate candidate, Ron Vasek, that Grundhaus had molested him in the early 1970s. And so, attorney Jeff Anderson confronted the bishop with the letter during a deposition: ‘That’s a lie, isn’t it?’

“‘Counsel, can you rephrase in a non-argumentative way?’ the diocesan lawyer interjected, and there was no admission from the bishop in settling the lawsuit.

“This letter was part of a trail of evidence leading to the announcement that Pope Francis had asked for and received Hoeppner’s resignation as bishop, a first in the United States under the 2019 Vatican regulations designed to prevent cover-ups of clergy sexual abuse. The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”

By Paul Moses, Commonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

February 8, 2021


Francis: ‘No concession’ to those who deny Vatican II teachings
“Pope Francis on Jan. 30 urged those charged with passing on the principles of the Catholic faith to consider the teachings of the Second Vatican Council as sacrosanct(link is external), saying that to be Catholic one must adhere to the reforms brought about by the landmark event. ‘You can be with the church and therefore follow the council, or you can not follow the council or interpret it in your own way, as you want, and you are not with the church,’ the pontiff said in a meeting with a group of catechists connected to the Italian bishops’ conference.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

In came Latin, incense and burned books, out went half the parishioners
“Religion scholar Maria Lichtmann felt a strangeness overcome St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Parish in Boone, North Carolina, four years ago. Fr. Matthew Codd, the then-pastor at St. Elizabeth’s, was joined by a group of seminarians who went through the church’s theology library and removed books deemed heretical, including those of spiritual writers Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton. The books were later burned, she was told by a parish staff member(link is external). Lichtmann, a retired religious studies professor at Appalachian State University, left the region in part, she told NCR, because of the changes in the parish. She now lives in Georgia.” By Perter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Joy, frustration and humor: reactions to Vatican law change on lectors, altar servers
“”Am I the only one who is like: wait, women aren’t explicitly allowed to be lectors and altar servers before this?” Flora Tang wrote on Twitter Jan. 11. She was not, in fact, the only one. (For starters, more than 30 people liked her tweet). In the wake of Pope Francis’ announcement Jan. 11 that officially opened altar serving, lectoring and eucharistic ministries to all ‘lay persons(link is external),’ rather than just men, Catholic organizations and individuals expressed a mix of emotions, including joy, disappointment and a bit of wry humor — or just plain surprise. Some saw the move as a positive step that more fully recognizes women’s roles in the church.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Lots of Politics, Little Legitimacy: The USCCB needs an ecclesial and theological vision
“The second Catholic president of the United States is the first to hold office in the midst of an American intra-Church crisis. John Kennedy never had to deal with the kind of conflict currently roiling the USCCB or the opposition of so many bishops to the papacy(link is external). But Joe Biden takes office just as the situation inside the U.S. Catholic Church becomes reminiscent of the Americanist controversy of the late nineteenth century. What divided the bishops then were the warnings put forth by Leo XIII in Longinqua oceani (1895) and Testem benevolentiae (1899)—namely, admonitions against embracing the ‘American’ models of religious liberty and separation of church and state. New York Archbishop John Corrigan sided with the pope, against St. Paul Archbishop John Ireland and his allies, whom Leo ultimately disavowed for their ‘Americanist’ views. The split had long-term effects on the Church.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Women’s Work: The pope makes it harder to keep women out of liturgy
“It must be difficult for a mainstream journalist covering the Vatican beat on days like January 11, when Pope Francis’s motu proprio, Spiritus Domini, was announced. How to convey the significance of a tweak to canon law that clarifies women’s eligibility to be lectors and acolytes at Mass(link is external)? Aren’t they…already doing those things? Pity the reporter who must quickly explain the existence of ‘stable ministries’ in the Church, and the now-obscure practice of formally instituting lay men into those roles … It’s no wonder so many outlets framed the news in terms of what hadn’t happened: ‘Pope says women can read at Mass, but still can’t be priests’ ran a typical headline.” By Mollie Wilson O’Reilly, Commonweal


Australian police find no crime in Vatican money transfers
“Australian police said Wednesday (Feb. 2) they found no evidence of criminal misconduct in money transfers from the Vatican that a financial agency mistakenly inflated(link is external) by almost $1.8 billion and fueled corruption speculation. Australian Federal Police investigated the transfers to Australia that the country’s financial intelligence agency, Austrac, reported to the Senate in December amounted to $1.8 billion over six years.” By Associated Press in Star Tribune

Catholic Church: German bishops’ summit considers women and lay roles as answer to abuse crisis
“Germany’s Catholic bishops will resume discussions this week to plan the Synodal Path, a set of conferences slated to address controversial questions such as women’s roles and LGBTQ acceptance, even as the country faces yet another scandal of sexual abuse by clergy. Many churchmen believe that the social questions and the abuse crisis are related(link is external). ‘The abuse crisis hurts the church very deeply,’ Rev Martin Maier, a Jesuit priest and former editor at the German Catholic magazine Voices of the Time (Stimmen der Zeit), told Religion News Service. ‘One of the goals of the Synodal Path is to restore trust, which is crucial and vital.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, in Sight Magazine

A Vanishing Priest, a Wall of Secrecy and a 25-Year-Old Abuse Case
“Thirty-odd years ago, 8-year-old Timothy Schlenz spent every Saturday being tutored on the sacraments at a Manhattan church. It was there, he said, that he was regularly abused. Only years later did Mr. Schlenz come to understand that Father Jones had abused him. He wanted to press charges, though by then the statute of limitations had passed. But the New York State Child Victims Act, which allows for victims to file civil lawsuits against their abusers regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred, has given Mr. Schlenz a chance to make his case(link is external).” By Jenn Morson, The New York Times

Michael McDowell: Church, State and society all owe redress over homes
“A somewhat fractious debate has emerged on whether responsibility, legal or moral, for the awful neglect and ill-treatment of Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children lies with the State, the churches, or with society at large. It is a combination of all three. A duty of acknowledgment of responsibility and of redress lies with all three.(link is external) The state is an emanation of society; the churches were integral parts of that society. Our church-dominated society perpetrated this terrible mistreatment of its weakest and most vulnerable.” By Michael McDowell, The Irish Times

Pope Francis

Clergy must remain united with faithful, not become elitist, pope says
“Members of the clergy should always remember they are part of the people of God and not an elite group that stands above the faithful(link is external), Pope Francis said. In a video message sent Jan. 24 to Peruvian Bishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, president of the Latin American bishops’ council, also known as CELAM, the pope said the council’s upcoming meeting with the laity highlights the importance of remaining ‘together with the people of God.’ By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in Catholic San Francisco


Sunday Mass in every church to become a thing of the past, Dublin Archbishop says
“Dublin’s new Catholic Archbishop has said celebration of Sunday Mass in every church will become a thing of the past and a declining priesthood will require a greater role for lay leadership(link is external). In a interview on the day of his formal installation, Archbishop Dermot Farrell set out the current state of his diocese in numbers , 197 parishes served by 350 active priests with an average age of 70. He said there was now a need to reorganize parishes both in terms of how they are divided out and the possibility of lay leadership.” By Patsy McGarry and Mark Hilliard, The Irish Times

Bishops throw cold water on the most Catholic inauguration in history
“Apparently, the leadership of the U.S. bishops conference, before it had even heard the speech, chose to range itself among those unwilling to ‘come together to carry all of us forward(link is external).’ Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the conference, issued a churlish statement … The statement contained two big fat lies at its heart … The worse lie came when Gomez said, “Catholic bishops are not partisan players in our nation’s politics.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Leading nun says decision-making shouldn’t be a matter of ordination
“One of the Catholic Church’s most prominent nuns has said the push for women’s priestly ordination in the Catholic Church points to a deeper question that needs to be asked and stressed the need to separate ordained ministry from decision-making(link is external). ‘I think there’s a bigger question, which is really the discernment of the ministries that are needed in the Church and in the world today,’ said Sister Patricia Murray, a member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and secretary general of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).” By Elise Ann Allen,

The larger dimension of the pope’s new document on women and ministry
““Spiritus Domini” is the latest moment in a long-term process to de-clericalise the Catholic Church. Pope Francis’s little document Spiritus Domini on allowing women to be officially invested with the lay ministries of lector and acolyte is a most welcome development(link is external). It is a very interesting small brick in his larger pastoral edifice dedicated to implementing the reforms mandated over half a century ago by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).” By Thomas O’Loughlin, Catholic Outlook


Women Religious, Women Deacons Q&A: Who could be the general superior?
It is a documented fact that women, including members of abbeys and monasteries, were ordained as deacons(link is external). The misconception that the ordination of women deacons was ‘only’ the ceremonial appointment of an abbess ignores both the fact of their sacramental diaconal ordinations and the fact of their abbatial consecrations, which gave jurisdictional powers and authority. In some liturgies, the two nominations are collapsed, but without question some abbesses were ordained as deacons and, in fact, had territorial jurisdictional authority equivalent to that of bishops within their abbey and monastery territories.” By Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican says allegations against Wyoming bishop can’t be proven
“A Vatican investigation has exonerated retired Bishop Joseph Hart of Cheyenne, Wyoming, on seven accusations of sexual abuse towards minors, while five other accusations ‘could not be proven with moral certitude(link is external),’ the diocese announced in a statement Monday (Jan. 25). The decree came from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) – the Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints. However, the CDF issued a canonical rebuke to Hart for ‘his flagrant lack of prudence as a priest and bishop for being alone with minors in his private residence and on various trips, which could have been potential occasions endangering the ‘obligation to observe continence’ and that would ‘give rise to scandal among the faithful,’’ according to the diocese statement.” By John Lavenburg,


Despite question marks, Vatican bank verdict is still a watershed
“We’ve been down this road before, of course, but nevertheless we witnessed what’s being hailed as a landmark moment this week for financial reform in the Vatican(link is external) when a longtime former president of the Vatican Bank, along with the bank’s lawyer, were sentenced to eight years and 11 months in jail for their roles in a $70 million fraud.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

Former Vatican bank president guilty of embezzlement
“A former president of the Vatican bank and his lawyer have been found guilty of money laundering and embezzling millions of euros from property sales(link is external). According to a statement released by the Vatican yesterday (Jan. 21), Angelo Caloia, who served as president of the Institute for the Works of Religion from 1999 to 2009, and his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, were sentenced to eight years and 11 months for skimming profits from the sale of Vatican properties. Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican tribunal, handed down the sentence and ordered Caloia and Liuzzo to pay a fine of 12,500 euros ($19,600) each.” By


Opinion: It’s time for Colorado’s Catholic Church to take a moral inventory
“The dialogue about the need for accountability following reports of priestly abuse should also be the catalyst for examining other areas where the church presumes moral authority(link is external), including health care. Growing up in the Catholic faith, several guiding principles were instilled in me, including the sanctity of human life and dignity, that our humanity is measured by the compassion we show the poor and our most vulnerable, and that regardless of our differences, we are all God’s children. And of course, and perhaps most fundamentally, to trust in God, his plans, and in his holy church.” By Bri Buentello, The Colorado Sun

Catholic Church Sex Abuse: What Is Suitable Compensation for a Life of Trauma?
“If you had a choice between losing a limb or being psychologically traumatized your whole life, which would you choose? By ‘psychologically traumatized,’ I mean suffering debilitating lifetime depression and anxiety, having difficulty holding onto a job, not being able to enter into satisfying personal and intimate relationships, unshakeable (and unwarranted) self-blame and even being rejected by family who don’t understand consequent behavior. Many sex abuse victims struggle with substance abuse throughout their lives(link is external), undergo repeated hospitalization, attempt or commit suicide, and many without anyone knowing why they were so troubled. Many of them live in poverty or near poverty their whole lives.” By Janet E. Smith, Commentary in National Catholic Register

Port: We cannot let children be hurt so that priests can keep their vows
“If your religious or political beliefs require you to stay silent when a child is in harm’s way, it’s time to change those beliefs … Though I am not religious myself, I have a well-established history of supporting religious liberty. It saddens me to see the religious liberty argument invoked to protect people who are harming children(link is external). Americans are already losing faith in their cultural institutions, from the government to the news media to organized religion. Arguing that religious leaders shouldn’t be required to report child abuse because of “religious liberty” isn’t going to help with that trend.” By Rob Port, Inforum

Joe Biden, the pope and the looming schism in America’s Catholic Church
“The new president of the United States of America is a Catholic — only the second Catholic to be elected to America’s highest office after John F. Kennedy in 1960. But in recent times, a significant change in the US has seen the Catholic Church(link is external) becoming the country’s single largest community of faith … The country has no problem with [Biden] being Catholic, but a not insignificant segment of the Catholic Church in the US — from among its bishops, its clergy, and its faithful — has a problem with his brand of Catholicism.” By Deutsche Welle


A Pa. Dept. of State error means some sex-abuse victims will again have to wait for justice
“Pennsylvania’s top election official will resign after her agency made a mistake that will delay a statewide vote on whether survivors of decades-old sexual abuse should be able to sue the perpetrators and institutions that covered up the crimes(link is external). Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who oversaw a tense and difficult presidential election in the battleground state, will resign Feb. 5, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday (Feb. 1).” By Angela Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer

AB218: California Catholic bishops fighting 2019 clergy sex abuse law
“Most California Roman Catholic bishops are asking a judge to throw out a 2019 law that allowed accusers of clergy sexual abuse to sue even if they were molested decades ago(link is external). Motions filed this month in southern and northern superior courts ask judges to rule Assembly Bill 218 unconstitutional. Among the arguments was the assertion that the amount of time that had passed could make it harder for the defense to gather evidence.” By Robert Jablon, Associated Press, in The Mercury News

Pa. House passes measure to allow voters to create a window for child sex abuse victims to go to court
“Pennsylvania on Wednesday (Jan. 27) stepped closer to paving the way for adults who were sexually abused as children to seek recourse in court against their predators. By a vote of 187-15, the state House of Representatives passed a measure that could lead to a temporary lifting of expired statute of limitations for some abuse victims, allowing them to file civil suits.” Ivey DeJesus, By

Abuse amendment gets second go
“A Senate committee moved quickly Monday (Jan. 25) to start the second round needed to pass a state constitutional amendment to open a two-year retroactive window for lawsuits by child abuse survivors(link is external). The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 8, which addresses fallout from a 2018 statewide grand jury report that examined decades of child sexual abuse and cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.” By Roger Swift, Altoona Mirror


Dilemma at heart of sex abuse claims
“We can’t guess at the truth, and shouldn’t try. All the public can do is wait for the case to resolve itself, which might never happen(link is external). Until then, we can look at the context in which this is occurring.

What do we know? Such accusations have exploded. In 2019, accusations of sexual abuse against Catholic clergy quadrupled, from what had been a steady 1,000 or so a year, to 4,434. The church paid out more than a quarter billion dollars in settlements that year.” By Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times


Former Tempe pastor accused of child sex abuse
“A man known in his community as being devoted to God is now facing child abuse allegations(link is external). A six-month investigation led Tempe police to the arrest of 48-year-old Mario Rodriguez-Ramirez, a man who was once a pastor. Police say the abuse began in 2015, when the little girl was 9 years old. Rodriguez-Ramirez took the victim and two other children to Kiwanis Park in Tempe, police say. There, he allegedly hugged and kissed the girl when she reached the ground after going down the slide, police say.” By Andriana Loya, 12News Phoenix

Tucson Diocese being sued for racketeering over alleged sex abuse
“A federal lawsuit accuses the Tucson Diocese and Los Angeles Diocese of violating Arizona’s racketeering laws by burying allegations that some priests sexually abused children and moving those priests from parish to parish(link is external) instead of turning them over to law enforcement. This is the second major case of its kind after a recent change to state law gave sexual abuse victims more time to take their abusers and the organizations that protected them to court. Two lawsuits have been making their way through Arizona court aimed at the Corpus Christi Diocese alleging abuse by a priest who was moved to Arizona by the Diocese there.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror


New Sexual Abuse Claims Against Two Oakland Diocese Priests
New sexual abuse allegations within the Oakland Diocese are publicly coming to light(link is external) for the first time after being included in a lawsuit against the Diocese that settled late last year for $3.5 million, without any admission of liability. The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago.” By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott and Mark Villarreal,


Lawsuit: Priest raped boy on day of his sister’s wedding
“A Catholic priest raped a 9-year-old altar boy on the day of his sister’s wedding(link is external) that the priest officiated, according to a new lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport. The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, charges that the diocese knew or should have known that Father Kiernan Ahearn was unfit to be around children but continued to assign him duties that involved children.” By Associated Press


St. Sabina’s Rev. Michael Pflegerfaces 2nd allegation of child sex abuse; priest’s lawyers assail ‘false attacks’
“A second person has come forward with allegations of sex abuse as a minor by Rev. Michael Pfleger(link is external), which attorneys of the longtime St. Sabina Church pastor have called ‘false attacks … motivated by greed.’ Pfleger, one of the most prominent figures in the Catholic community in Chicago, stepped away from the Auburn Gresham parish earlier this month at the archdiocese’s request as it investigates decades-old sexual abuse allegations made by another person. The Archdiocese of Chicago’s general counsel ‘just received’ the additional allegation, a spokesperson said Sunday evening.” By Madeline Kenney, Chicago Sun-Times


Lawsuit accusing Kansas priest of sexual abuse in 1980s can go forward, court says
“A lawsuit alleging a Topeka priest sexually abused a boy(link is external) in the 1980s can proceed after an appeal by church officials was struck down this week. The lawsuit, which says the boy was 9 years old when a priest at St. Matthew’s Church began abusing him, was filed in Wyandotte County District Court in August 2017. The lawsuit names as defendants a priest identified in court records only as M.J. and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, which has authority over St. Matthew’s.” By Katie Moore and Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star


Archdiocese suspends pastor of St. Peter Claver after he is accused of child rape in lawsuit
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans on Wednesday (Jan. 27) suspended the pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Treme after he was accused in a lawsuit of raping a 10-year-old boy while hearing his confession(link is external) during an out-of-state retreat in 2008. The Rev. John Asare-Dankwah’s suspension will remain in effect until church authorities can complete an investigation into the allegations, archdiocesan officials said in a statement.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas,

Attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims asking court to unseal deposition of accused pedophile priest
“Attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims are fighting to get the deposition of an accused pedophile priest unsealed(link is external). Those lawyers claim the Archdiocese of New Orleans concealed almost all of Lawrence Hecker’s crimes from law enforcement. In a new court filing, lawyers for the alleged church sex abuse survivors say ‘there is more than ample evidence and support’ that both Hecker and the Archdiocese concealed multiple felonies perpetrated by Hecker against children.” By Kimberly Kurth, WVUE-TV8 News


The Boston Archdiocese’s list of priests accused of abuse does not include cases settled with alleged victims
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has paid millions of dollars in recent years to resolve accusations of sexual abuse against priests working in local parishes. Yet, the names of many of those priests are missing from the archdiocese’s public roster of clergy accused of sexually abusing children(link is external), an accounting that began a decade ago under pressure from victims. Their exclusion has angered survivors of abuse, particularly in light of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s longstanding pledge to be transparent about clergy sexual abuse after decades of secrecy.” By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe


Seven decades after a priest assaulted her, a Plainfield woman is still grappling with the trauma
“When trauma resurfaced in Patty Rondeau’s life 50 years ago, it came in a sleek black car rolling up to her sister’s Hartford home. The day had been beautiful; sunny and bright, just before a christening party one of her sisters was throwing. Rondeau, then in her 30s, was sitting among the lilacs and grass outside, turning the sandy dirt into small castles with her children. The arrival of the Rev. Daniel Roberts dashed the idyllic moment(link is external).” By Anna Merriman, The Valley News


Buffalo Diocese: Audit shows compliance with Catholic Church child safety charter
“The Buffalo Diocese says that an independent audit shows they were in full compliance with the Catholic Church’s child safety charter for 2019-2020(link is external). Rochester firm StoneBridge Business Partners conducted the audit, which the diocese says required extensive data collection from schools, parishes and diocesan departments, including the documentation of procedures, training conducted, and hiring practice.” By Emyle Watkins, WGRZ-TV2 News

Church deacon busted for trying to have sex with teen he met on Grindr: officials
“A church deacon was busted this week for trying to have sex with a 14-year-old boy(link is external) he met on the gay hook-up site Grindr, officials said. It turns out that Rogelio Vega, 50, of Maspeth, Queens, was actually chatting up an undercover detective posing as a youngster, according to prosecutors. ‘This defendant by all outward appearances is a church-going family man,’ said Queens DA Melinda Katz.” By Rebecca Rosenberg, New York Post


North Dakota bill to close child abuse reporting loophole nixed after Catholic opposition
“A bill that would have required North Dakota clergy to report cases of child abuse and neglect learned during confession(link is external) or other private religious conversations has been withdrawn from consideration this session. Current state law presents a loophole that does not mandate that pastors, priests and other clergy report abuse to a law enforcement agency if it’s information received when acting as a spiritual advisor. The withdrawal of Senate Bill 2180 on Friday, Jan. 29, came after the Catholic Church publicly condemned the legislation as ‘draconian.’” By


Allentown Diocese sells 171 acres to pay priest sex abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has sold some of its property in Lower Macungie and Upper Saucon townships to help compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The diocese sold 118 acres on Flint Hill Road in Upper Saucon for $3.55 million and 53 acres on North Krocks Road across from Hamilton Crossings in Lower Macungie for $7.5 million, the diocese said in a Jan. 8 news release. With the land sales, the diocese finished paying off a loan taken out to fund a compensation program for victims of clergy sexual abuse.” By Michelle Merlin, The Morning Call


Catholic Diocese of Richmond says allegations one priest found not credible
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Thursday (Jan. 28) that child sexual abuse allegations against Thomas Long, a former priest of the diocese, were not credible(link is external) and that his name will not be added to its list of clergy for which credible and substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse have been made. The allegations were part of an investigation launched in June 2020 after the diocese received an allegation of child sexual abuse against Long, who was accused of the abuse while serving at Christ the King School in Norfolk in 1986.” By Holly Prestidge,


New Church protocol published for responding to sexual abuse
“A new protocol to be introduced next week provides a framework for Catholic entities across Australia to respond consistently to people raising concerns or allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). Source: ACBC Media Blog. The National Response Protocol, which was adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at its November 2020 plenary meeting, is the product of two years of work and widespread consultation within and beyond the Church. That consultation included engagement with victims and survivors and their advocates.” By

Sex abuse victim speaks out after Perth Catholic church consents to pay $2.45m compensation
“A victim who will be awarded $2.45 million in compensation for sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest has spoken out about the ‘severe’ impact the abuse continues to have on his life(link is external). Perth’s Catholic archbishop consented to pay the compensation after the victim, who is now aged in his 50s, described being raped by Father Bertram Adderley in the 1970s. The landmark judgement was approved by a District Court judge last week and is believed to be one of the highest known sums paid by any Catholic church in Australia to a survivor of historic sex abuse.” By Keane Bourke and Amelia Searson, ABC News

Case highlights horror of abuse: Archbishop Costelloe
“Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB says the case of the former altar boy who was abused by a priest in Perth in the 1970s highlighted the horror of sexual abuse and the dreadful effects it had on victims(link is external). The Church will make a record payment of $2.45 million to the survivor, agreed to after one day of trial in Western Australia’s Supreme Court. Fr Bertram Adderley, who died in the 1980s without ever being charged, abused many boys in regional WA and Perth, the survivor’s Victorian law firm Rightside Legal said yesterday (Jan. 21).” By


Priests urge Cologne cardinal to resign in sexual abuse report crisis
“Priests in Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese are demanding their archbishop resign for suppressing a critical report into clerical sexual abuse(link is external) in the western German diocese. The growing crisis in the powerful western diocese has taken on fresh urgency after claims that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki ignored church guidelines rather than report a friend’s sexual abuse record to Rome. The case involves a priest friend who had convictions for sexually abusing young boys in the 1970s.” By Derek Scally, The Irish Times


Diocese asking for voices of church sex abuse survivors to be heard
“An independent review of all past safeguarding cases related to Church of England churches in the region wants to ensure that survivors’ voices are heard(link is external). All dioceses nationally are taking part in the Church of England’s Past Cases Review 2 including the Diocese of Lichfield, which is home to more than 500 churches in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Shropshire and the Black Country. Lichfield Diocese was also one of seven dioceses identified as needing to carry out further work to provide an updated and comprehensive version of the first Past Cases Review published in 2010.” By James Vukmirovic, Express & Star


Judge OKs latest legal fees of $476K in church bankruptcy case; 1-month stay ordered
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Tuesday (Jan. 26) approved $476,000 in revised legal fees and costs in the Archdiocese of Agana’s two-year-old bankruptcy case(link is external). Two days later, the judge issued an order approving stipulation for stay of proceedings and suspension of work at least until Feb. 28, 2021, except for certain matters. The judge, in her Jan. 28 order, said all parties shall make their best efforts to reduce legal fees by limiting work in the main case and the adversary proceeding case for at least a month.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post


‘The First Time Was A Sunday’: Bursting Into Tears, Gozo Rape Victim Recalls Being Pushed Into A Confessional And Touched By Priest
“‘He used to threaten me and use force when I refused. I often tried to run away but he would hold me down. He would force me in, telling me I’m going to hell or that he was going to speak to my parents.’ These were the harrowing words of a former altar boy who was allegedly raped by priest Joseph Sultana(link is external).” By David Grech Urpani,


Catholic Church abuse victims: Only a fraction of them coming forward, group says
“A survivor group for people abused while in the care of the Catholic Church says only a fraction of them are coming forward. A number have spoken with the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care, but it is being seen as only the tip of the iceberg(link is external). Dr Christopher Longhurst from SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said many people are reluctant to come forward for fear of ridicule. ‘There is so much shame around the abuse that society sees the victim as wounded and defective and there is victim blaming.’” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand


She Exposed Sexual Abuse in a Catholic Kids Camp. Now She’s Facing a Prison Sentence
“When reporters at the Boston Globe exposed child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, their investigative work was so celebrated that Hollywood made a film, Spotlight, about it. Now, after carrying out a similar crusading probe into pedophilia in a Catholic lay organization in South America, Peruvian journalist Pao Ugaz is facing jail time(link is external) and a hefty damages bill.” By Simeon Tegel, VICE World News


Fresh cover-up claims against former Papal secretary
“A group of Polish politicians has pledged to press new accusations against Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary of St John Paul II, after prosecutors refused to investigate TV documentary claims that he ignored and covered up abuse by priests in his Krakow archdiocese(link is external). ‘The gravity of crimes that Cardinal Dziwisz may have committed is so enormous that failure to investigate them is obviously detrimental to the public good and the private interests of victims,’ said Lukasz Kohut, a European Parliament member from Poland’s liberal Wiosna (Spring) party.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, The Tablet


Jesuit order in Spain apologizes for decades of sexual abuse by members
“The Jesuit order in Spain has admitted that 81 children and 21 adults have been sexually abused by 96 of its members since 1927(link is external), and has apologized for the ‘painful, shameful and sorrowful’ crimes. In a report released on Thursday (Jan. 21), the Society of Jesus, whose members often work as teachers, said most of the abuse had taken place in schools ‘or was related to schools.’ According to the document, 48 of the 65 Jesuits who abused children are dead. Four of the surviving abusers are no longer Jesuits and 13 have been prevented from working with children pending the outcome of civil or canonical cases, or have already been ordered to cease their ministry and sent to isolated Jesuit communities.” By Sam Jones, The Guardian

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