Posts Tagged catholic bishops

The rise of Wilton Gregory, the first African-American Cardinal / The New York Times

“Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and a leader of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church’s response to its sexual abuse crisis, was among 13 new cardinals that Pope Francis announced on Sunday. The move positions Archbishop Gregory, 72, to become the first African-American cardinal next month.

“He has been a national figure since 2002, when, as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he presided over the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy toward priests guilty of sexual abuse. He was elevated from his position as the bishop of Belleville, Ill., to lead the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2005 before Francis installed him in Washington last year.

“In recent months, Archbishop Gregory has pushed for better race relations in the church, saying it was important that young Black Catholics see church leaders who look like them.”

By Christina Morales, The New York Times — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

October 12, 2020

TOP STORIES

Report finds flaws in Catholic Church abuse-prevention plans
“Child-protection policies adopted by Roman Catholic leaders to curb clergy sex abuse in the United States are inconsistent and often worryingly incomplete, according to a think tank’s two-year investigation encompassing all 32 of the country’s archdioceses. The analysis by Philadelphia-based CHILD USA said the inconsistencies and gaps suggest a need for more detailed mandatory standards for addressing sexual abuse of children by priests(link is external) and other church personnel, a problem that has beset the church for decades and resulted in many criminal investigations, thousands of lawsuits and bankruptcy filings by numerous dioceses.” By David Cray, Associated Press, in Martinsville Bulletin

Facing 200 Abuse Claims, Diocese Becomes U.S.’s Largest to Seek Bankruptcy
“Facing more than 200 lawsuits over sexual abuse allegations, the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island said on Thursday (Oct. 1) that it filed for bankruptcy, the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States to do so(link is external). The diocese, which serves about 1.5 million people, said it was seeking financial protection in part because of the passage of New York State’s Child Victims Act, which allows adults who were victims of sexual assault as children to file claims.” By Michael Gold, The New York Times

Vatican envoy’s removal from India brings relief for some Catholics
“Several Catholic groups in India have expressed relief after the Vatican removed its controversial envoy from the country. Pope Francis Aug. 29 suddenly transferred Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal, to Brazil(link is external) amid accusations of inaction against allegedly corrupt bishops. ‘I saw the nuncio’s transfer as a small moral victory, not something to gloat about, but more a sense of relief,’ Chhotebhai, coordinator of the Indian Catholic Forum and former president of the All India Catholic Union, the largest lay association in the country, told NCR.” By Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Becciu allegations mount as Vatican appoints new prosecutor
“Italian businessman Gianluigi Torzi has provided detailed information to investigators in the ongoing Vatican financial scandal(link is external), according to new reports. News of Torzi’s cooperation with prosecutors follows the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu last week, and the announcement that Pope Francis has appointed a new prosecutor to strengthen the case.” By Catholic News Agency

Church says Cardinal Pell returning to Vatican in crisis
“Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ former finance minister, will soon return to the Vatican during an extraordinary economic scandal(link is external) for the first time since he was cleared of child abuse allegations in Australia five months ago, a church agency said Monday (Sept. 28). Pell will fly back to Rome on Tuesday, CathNews, an information agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said, citing ‘sources close to’ Pell.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

ACCOUNTABILITY

Mincione used former Vatican fund to invest in mafia-linked bond managed by Torzi company
“An investment fund created for the Holy See Secretariat of State to invest Church assets was used to purchase millions in a bond of debt products issued by companies, some with alleged mafia links. Both the investment fund and the bond, which packaged hospital receivables into a debt security, were managed by companies belonging to two businessmen at the center of the ongoing Vatican financial scandal(link is external).” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Gonzaga Scholars Awarded Grant to Host Conference on Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church
“Gonzaga University has been awarded a $40,000 grant to host a four-day research conference in spring 2022 as part of a new interdisciplinary initiative entitled ‘Taking Responsibility.’ The initiative, made possible by a new nearly $1 million grant to Fordham University in New York City, aims to address the crisis in the Catholic Church related to sexual abuse by priests(link is external) … Other universities awarded grants by the ‘Taking Responsibility’ initiative include Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, and Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Each is pursuing a specific project within the effort.” By Gonzaga University News

POPE FRANCIS

Under Pope Francis, ‘accountability’ finally crosses the Tiber
“Although the drama triggered by the sudden fall from grace of Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu is far from over, things nonetheless have reached the stage where it’s also possible to stand back and ponder the bigger picture … Such diversions aside, there is at least one big-picture insight confirmed by the Becciu affair: ‘Accountability,’ in the full American sense of the word, is finally crossing the Tiber in the Pope Francis era(link is external).” By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Women in the Catholic Church: An unresolved issue
“This article emerges from two complementary thoughts. The first is essential when reading the pronouncement of some Mexican Catholic female theologians, published on March 9, 2020, in which they join the national women’s strike: ‘To denounce the Kyriocentric hierarchical patriarchy that has appropriated the sacred, the spiritual and leadership(link is external) under the pretext of a more ‘Christlike’ corporeality, and has denied women recognition of ordained ministries. Because the church has not been a safe place for women, and many have been victims of sexual predators, abuse, threats and harassment by leaders, priests, theologians, and laymen who have participated in these violations against women.’” By José Zepedal and Isabel Corpas De Posada, OpenDemocracy.net

VATICAN

Vatican releases financial figures, promises transparency
“The Vatican released its most detailed-ever financial figures on Thursday (Oct. 1), acknowledging it might have been swindled before but promising the faithful who have been shocked by money scandals that it would become like a ‘glass house’ in its transparency(link is external). The Vatican economy minister, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, said the Vatican’s total net assets in 2019 were about 4 billion euros, which is believed to be the first time any such figure has been given.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

CHURCH REFORM

New group calls for church reform
“A new group has been formed in Tasmania to promote reform in the Church, calling for it to become more collaborative, accountable and transparent(link is external). The Concerned Catholics Tasmania group will be launched in Launceston on Saturday (Oct. 3) with Francis Sullivan, the former chief of the Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, named as one of the guest speakers. Chairman and retired Burnie lawyer Kim Chen says there is no formal means whereby lay Catholics can converse with Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous about ‘their hopes, wishes and needs.’” By CathNews.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Camden Latest Catholic Diocese Bankrupted by Clergy Abuse Claims
“The Diocese of Camden in New Jersey filed for bankruptcy, becoming the latest U.S. Catholic Church district to seek court protection from a surge of lawsuits filed by victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The Camden diocese filed for protection late Thursday (Oct. 1) in New Jersey, joining at least five other dioceses that have declared bankruptcy this year to deal with sexual abuse claims. One of the largest church districts in the U.S., Long Island’s Diocese of Rockville Centre, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this week.” By Josh Saul, Bloomberg

VOICES

Vatican causes chaos by invalidating baptism formula
“Computers are unforgiving, but Christianity is supposed to be forgiving. Computers insist that humans, especially programmers, be exact. A single wrong letter in a line of code can crash a program. But even ordinary users can experience this. Nothing puts us into panic like a computer telling us: ‘Invalid Username or Password.’ The religion of Jesus is supposed to be forgiving. He attacked the Scribes and the Pharisees for their emphasis on the minutiae of the law(link is external). Yet, even under Pope Francis, who is all about compassion and forgiveness, the literalists appear to be alive and well in the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Analysis: Vatican financial report stops short of questions on Peter’s Pence
“The Vatican on Thursday (Oct. 1) published a 2019 financial report on the Holy See, citing calls for greater transparency in how the Roman Curia has used the money at its disposal(link is external). But with a Church-wide collection for the pope’s charity taking place this Sunday, the report leaves open questions about how the Vatican has administered the millions of dollars of donations made to Peter’s Pence in recent years.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Abuse in the Catholic Church: Meisner’s Truth
“When the abuse scandal of the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external) reached the public at the beginning of 2010, Joachim Cardinal Meisner was in the Cologne University Clinic. He had to have an operation on his left knee. Meisner later said he had thought of a smear campaign at first. And then it came out that the reports were well-founded: ‘That horrified me, that horrified me!’” By TellerReport.com

Britain’s reckoning with past systemic child abuse is long overdue
“For the past decade, investigations in Ireland have exposed the legacy of the state-funded, religious-run institutions, from industrial schools to Magdalene laundries. Canada and Australia have confronted a similar past of institutional abuse and forced adoption. Now, as abuse inquiries in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to issue final reports, a reckoning is overdue in Britain(link is external).” By Caelainn Hogan, The Guardian

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Podcast: The church still needs to stay on top of the sexual abuse crisis
“In the midst of a global pandemic, an economic recession and renewed unrest around racial injustice, it can feel overwhelming to highlight yet another crisis. But the Catholic Church is only two years removed from the summer of 2018, when the sexual abuse crisis came roaring back(link is external) after the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and the crimes of former Cardinal Theodore McCarick had come to light.” By Jesuitical, America: The Jesuit Review

Many victims fall through the cracks of New York’s Child Victims Act
“More than 4,400 lawsuits have been filed against alleged child abusers under New York’s Child Victims Act, but there are still many victims remain unable to access the court system in order to seek justice(link is external). A decade-long political fight preceded the passage of the CVA last year. It expanded the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and rape cases and opened a look-back window for bringing lawsuits against alleged abusers who had previously been immune from civil liability because of the time that passed.” By Edward McKinley, Times Union

ARIZONA

Lawsuit: Catholic priest abused children in Indigenous, rural communities in Arizona
“A Catholic priest with a history of sexually abusing children was placed in several Arizona schools(link is external) in Indigenous and rural communities, a lawsuit alleges. The Rev. James Grear worked across Arizona and in other parts of the country and U.S. territories. The lawsuit filed Thursday (Oct. 1) claims the priest sexually abused a teenager, who is a citizen of the Navajo Nation, when Grear worked at Chinle High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” By Lauren Castle, Arizona Republic

GEORGIA

Lawsuit: Georgia Diocese covered up sex abuse allegations
“A lawsuit filed against a diocese in Georgia alleges officials knew about and covered up allegations that a Catholic priest sexually abused young students(link is external) and failed to prevent the crimes more than 30 years ago. The lawsuit was filed last week in Chatham County against the Diocese of Savannah and its current bishop, accusing the Catholic jurisdiction of conspiracy and fraud in mishandling alleged abuse by former priest Wayland Brown in the 80s.” By Associated Press

LOUISIANA

Man says 2 New Orleans priests abused him; church gave him unlimited therapy but no abuse listing
“Retired Catholic priest Luis Fernandez let his answering machine take the journalist’s call last month, but picked up when he heard the reporter mention molestation allegations(link is external). Initially, Fernandez said he couldn’t talk about the claims brought against him by one of his former students because ‘he didn’t know anything about it.’ But after hearing the ex-student’s name — Tim Trahan — Fernandez changed his tone.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

Slidell pastor removed after admitting to sexual abuse of a minor in 2013
“Two local Catholic priests have been removed from active ministry, and one has been criminally charged with obscenity(link is external), according to the Archdiocese of New Orleans in a statement released on behalf of Archbishop Gregory Aymond on Thursday (Oct. 1). The two priests are Rev. Patrick Wattigny, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist in Slidell, and Rev. Travis Clark, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul in Pearl River, have been removed from ministry, effective immediately.” By WWL-TV4 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield Diocese online survey seeks to improve response to clergy sexual abuse claims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is seeking input from the public on how it can improve its response to clergy sexual abuse allegations(link is external) as well as assistance to the claimants through an online survey on its website beginning Thursday (Oct. 8) and running through Oct. 19. A recent report that investigated diocesan practices on how such allegations were handled by the diocese in a case involving sexual abuse claims against the late Bishop Christopher Weldon found the process in that case to be flawed with delays, unexplained missing reports and contradictory communications that left the claimant waiting years for a response.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

Diocese, priest named in abuse lawsuit
“Bishop McManus announced that the Diocese of Worcester has been named in a lawsuit, along with Father Thomas E. Mahoney, retired priest of the diocese, for abuse of a minor(link is external) in the 1970s. The law office of Attorney Carmen Durso is representing “John Doe” as the claimant.
Bishop McManus said, ‘Because of the serious nature of the allegation, and consistent with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Father Mahoney was notified that I have relieved him of his faculties as a priest.’” By CatholicFreePress.com

MICHIGAN

Investigation Leads to Sexual Assault Charge Against Former Catholic Priest with a Criminal Past
“A former Catholic Priest with a past of abuse towards young boys is once again locked up and charged for even more abuse allegations(link is external). In the never ending saga of Catholic priests being charged for sexual abuse of children who attended church where the priest was in authority, yet another appears to have come to light after an investigation by the Michigan Attorney Generals Office. A former priest who severed the community in the Farmington area has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel continues to investigate sexual abuse within the seven Catholic dioceses across the state.” By B. Thompson, MIHeadlines.com

MISSOURI

Notice of credible allegation of abuse
“Bishop Johnston and diocesan leaders recognize how difficult it can be for a survivor of clergy sexual abuse to come forward and appreciate the great courage it takes in making a report to the Church. The diocese has received and deemed credible an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Thomas Reardon(link is external). This allegation was deemed credible following the diocesan Policy for Response to Allegations, by the Ombudsman, Independent Review Board and Bishop Johnston. The abuse occurred in 1972 at Camp Little Flower, a diocesan camp for children ages 7-12, at 83rd and Raytown Rd. where Reardon was Camp Director.” By Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

NEW HAMPSHIRE

New legal protections for sexual assault victims in N.H. take effect this week
“New Hampshire’s protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence were widely expanded(link is external) this week, after a broad package of reforms pushed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Chris Sununu this summer took effect. House Bill 705, known as the ‘Crime Victims’ Rights Enhancement Act of 2020,’ ushered in significant changes. The statute of limitations for civil actions in sexual assault cases is now eliminated; the rights of victims during court proceedings have been increased; and those who commit sexual assaults against people with disabilities who are unable to consent – or 13- to-16-year-olds – may no longer use marriage as an excuse, among other changes.” By Ethan DeWitt, Concord Monitor

NEW JERSEY

Camden’s Catholic diocese left two-thirds of claims filed with sex abuse victim fund unpaid as it sought bankruptcy protection
“More than two-thirds of the victims who signed up to participate in a fund set up by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden to compensate survivors of clergy sex abuse were left with their claims unresolved and diminished expectations of seeing a payout(link is external), according to previously unreleased information included in the diocese’s bankruptcy filings this week. Now, 141 people who were encouraged by Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan to come forward and recount their trauma for fund administrators last year must join a line of other creditors — including banks, independent contractors and lawsuit plaintiffs — to jostle in court over a limited pot of money that will be divided up by the bankruptcy court.” By Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer

Former NJ Catholic School Chaplain Charged With Endangering Welfare Of Students
“A priest and former chaplain of a North Jersey Catholic school was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of six students(link is external), authorities announced Thursday (Oct. 1). Salvatore DiStefano, 61, who most recently resided at Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church New Providence, is charged with engaging in a pattern of behavior that threatened the welfare of six Oratory Preparatory School students, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo said.” By Cecilia Levine, Daily Voice

NEW YORK.

Cash-strapped Buffalo Diocese wants to speed up bankruptcy case
“Buffalo Diocese officials, citing a sharp decline in donations and an estimated $4 million per year in bankruptcy costs, are pleading with a federal judge to speed up its reorganization by reducing the time childhood sex abuse victims can file claims(link is external) and appointing a mediator to negotiate a settlement. Diocese officials told Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki that the diocese is strapped for cash and no longer provides financial support for 19 programs and ministries, including outreach to youth and migrants, lifelong faith formation, evangelization efforts and aid to Catholic elementary schools.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Former Pastor Named In Child Victims Act Suit
“A Child Victims Act lawsuit filed in July names a former Jamestown pastor who died in a 2007 plane crash at Chautauqua County Airport. The lawsuit, filed on July 28 in the state Supreme Court in Erie County, claims that the Rev. Msgr. Antoine Attea abused a male victim while serving at St. James Roman Catholic Church in Jamestown(link is external). The 17-page lawsuit list the plaintiff as ‘PB-37 Doe’ and names St. James Roman Catholic Parish Outreach, known currently as St. James Parish, as the defendant.” By Cameron Hurst, The Post-Journal

OHIO

Podcast features survivor of priest sex abuse who is working with Columbus diocese
“Neither priests nor the public really understand what survivors of clergy sexual abuse go through(link is external), but they’re beginning to, says survivor Teresa Pitt Green. Co-founder of Spirit Fire, a national “Christ-centered restorative-justice group” that helps Catholic churches reach out to survivors, Pitt Green recounted her personal story of being abused by a priest as a minor on a Sept. 30 episode of the podcast ‘Crisis: Clergy Abuse in the Catholic Church.’” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

Appeals Court Judge: Catholic priest Geoff Drew’s $5 million bond is ‘staggering’ but within lower courts’ ‘discretion’
“Geoff Drew, the Cincinnati Catholic priest charged with raping an altar boy(link is external) 30 years ago, has no income, sold his condo and car, and will live with his 81-year-old mother if released on bond, according to a court document filed with the Ohio Court of Appeals on September 18 by Drew’s defense attorney, Brandon Moermond. Drew has been held in the Hamilton County Justice Center since his August 2019 arrest.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Screwed twice over: victims of abusive NJ Catholic clerics
“Catholic Diocese of Camden in New Jersey, headed by Bishop Dennis J Sullivan, above, was filing for bankruptcy, people immediately began asking where this will leave victims of clerical abuse who were in line for compensation. Well, it looks as if their claims could either go unresolved, or fall well below expectations(link is external).” By Barry Duke, Patheos.com

RHODE ISLAND

Ex-altar boy who says R.I. priest sexually abused him on trip to NYC sues in New York
“A man who said he was sexually abused as a minor by a now-deceased North Providence priest(link is external) is suing Rhode Island’s Catholic diocese — but doing it in New York, which makes it easier to sue over abuse from decades past than Rhode Island does. Philip Edwardo, now 53, said the Rev. Philip Magaldi of St. Anthony Church took him to a Waldorf Astoria hotel room in New York City and sexually assaulted him in 1983. It was one of at least 100 instances of sexual abuse over five years, he said.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal

R.I. judge hears arguments over whether Catholic Church leaders can be sued as ‘perpetrators’ of sexual abuse
“When Rhode Island lawmakers in 2019 extended the deadline to file lawsuits over childhood sexual abuse, they said victims could sue even if the clock had already run out under the old law — so long as the victims were suing a ‘perpetrator. What is a perpetrator? A state Superior Court judge on Wednesday (Sept. 30) heard more than an hour of arguments on that issue from three victims of clergy abuse who say the leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Providence could be considered ‘perpetrators(link is external)’ under the new law even if they didn’t physically carry out the abuse — and from the diocese, which said they cannot.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal, on SouthcoastToday.com

VERMONT

Attorney general’s report on Catholic Diocese to be released soon
“It has been 13 months since the Burlington Catholic Diocese released its report on sexual abuse allegations, naming 40 priests(link is external). We’re still waiting for the Vermont attorney general’s team to tell us what their investigation found. Now, they say that wait is almost over. Attorney General T.J. Donovan tells us we can expect the report by the end of October or early November. Donovan says he met with many of the survivors as recently as last week and plans on seeing them again Friday (Oct. 2).” By Christina Guessferd, WCAX-TV3 News

AUSTRALIA

‘Perverse’ subpoena costs dispute over Ridsdale abuse
“A decision from a Supreme Court judicial registrar in a civil case involving a victim of paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale(link is external) has revealed a push against costs for extensive subpoenas. The plaintiff, whom The Standard has declined to name, alleges he was sexually abused by Ridsdale when he were a teenager. Ridsdale is currently in prison after being convicted for these crimes, as well as dozens of other child sexual offenses.” By Alex Ford, The Courier

Senior Catholic William Wade sentenced for concealing child sex abuse at Marist schools
“The first senior Catholic to plead guilty to concealing child sexual abuse in Australia has escaped jail(link is external) despite a judge acknowledging his ‘reprehensible’ inaction contributed to ‘terrible consequences.’ William Wade admitted to failing to provide information to police during a 2014 investigation into abuse at Marist schools in the 1970s. Wade’s roles at Marist Brothers schools included headmaster in Canberra, at Hamilton, in Newcastle, and Kogarah, in Sydney alongside convicted child sex offenders Darcy O’Sullivan, known as Brother Dominic, and Francis Cable, known as Brother Romuald.” By Jamie McKinnell, ABC News

Victorian child sex abuse survivor wins second chance to sue Catholic Church in ‘landmark’ case
“A victim of historical child sexual abuse has won what is believed to be a landmark case in Victoria against the Catholic Church(link is external), giving him a second shot at suing for compensation. The Supreme Court heard the former altar boy was abused between the ages of 11 and 14 by the late priest Daniel Hourigan in Gippsland from 1977 to 1980. Hourigan died in 1995.” By James Hancock, ABC News

BANGLADESH

Bangladeshi Catholic priest accused of raping minor girl
“Police in northern Bangladesh have arrested a Catholic priest and produced him before a court on allegations of confining a 14-year-old indigenous girl for three days and raping her(link is external). Father Prodip Gregory, 41, parish priest of St. John Mary Vianney’s Church in Mundumala, covered by Rajshahi Diocese, was arrested on Sept. 29 evening, a police official confirmed.” By UCANews.com

CANADA

Church seeks to take Mount Cashel abuse ruling to Supreme Court of Canada
“The archdiocese of St. John’s will ask the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn a decision that declared the city’s Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation liable for sexual abuse(link is external) at the Mount Cashel orphanage in the 1950s. The archdiocese says in a release that its lawyers today petitioned for leave to appeal the July decision from the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal. Geoff Budden, the victims’ lawyer, had said the Appeal Court ruling meant the archdiocese would have to pay about $2 million to four lead plaintiffs in the case.” By The Canadian Press

CHILE

Chilean abuse survivors fear COVID crisis will stop investigations into accused clergy
“Chilean abuse survivors allege that the government is using the COVID-19 pandemic to delay having to deal with South American country’s clerical abuse scandal(link is external). ‘The emails of the [Chilean ecclesiastical] Survivors Network are on fire seeing the situation of the allegations in the prosecutor’s office,’ said Eneas Espinoza, a survivor from the Marist Brothers who is still waiting for justice. ‘The expectation grows and there’s much concern over the possibility of the pandemic being the truck of dirt that the Catholic Church needs to cover up its crimes.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

EAST TIMOR

Vatican began looking into ex-priest for child molesting, in 2016
“The Vatican began an investigation into a former U.S. priest accused of child abuse and child pornography(link is external) in East Timor began in September 2016 but he was only removed from where he allegedly committed the crimes three years later. Documents seen by Lusa show that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was investigating the case involving former Father Richard Daschbach between September 2016 and October 2018, when it decreed his ‘punishment for life’ and expulsion from the priesthood.” By Macau News Agency

GERMANY

German Catholic Church to offer abuse victims compensation
“The victims of sexual abuse in Germany’s Catholic Church can apply for compensation(link is external) payments of up to 50,000 euros from next year, the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) said on Thursday. According to a study from 2018 on abuse in the Catholic Church, at least 3,677 minors were victims of sexual violence by at least 1,670 members of the clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. Experts, say, however, the number of unreported cases could be as high as 100,000.” By Reuters on WTVB-TV

JAPAN

Japan Catholic Church sued for damages in alleged sex abuse
“A woman has filed a suit against the Roman Catholic Church in Japan alleging that a priest raped her four decades ago(link is external), as the church’s unfolding worldwide sexual abuse crisis gradually reaches Japan. The civil lawsuit, filed this week in Sendai District Court, seeks 56.1 million yen ($534,000) in damages. It accuses a priest, who has not been charged or penalized, as well as a bishop who counseled the woman in recent years about the alleged abuse.” By Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press

NEW ZEALAND

Abuse in care: Man who suffered as a child gives evidence
“A man with an intellectual disability who went into care as a young child and was physically and sexually abused(link is external) has described his childhood as a nightmare. Kerry Johnson, which is a pseudonym, is now 48-years-old. He first spent about one year, 1980, in the Catholic-run St John of God, Marylands School in Christchurch before moving into state-run institutions. On Monday (Sept. 28), he gave evidence to the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry sitting in Auckland.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


September 28, 2020

TOP STORIES

Investigation: Abuse allegations against Catholic bishop ‘credible’
“An independent investigation found that allegations of child sexual abuse by a former Roman Catholic bishop in Massachusetts were ‘unequivocally credible,(link is external)’ according to an executive summary of the report released Wednesday (sept. 16). Retired Superior Court Judge Peter Velis’s report of abuse allegations against late Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon also criticized the way the diocesan review board handled the allegations. Velis found that there was a ‘reluctance to fervently pursue an evaluation of allegations against (Weldon) due to his prominence and revered legacy in the religious community.’” By Associated Press in The Boston Globe

Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis Isn’t Over
“The Catholic University of America and The Catholic Project present Crisis: Clergy Abuse in the Catholic Church, a podcast on clergy sex abuse(link is external). Hosted by the University spokesperson Karna Lozoya, the 10-part audio documentary explores how the Catholic Church continues to struggle with the issue of sex abuse, despite the many reforms it has adopted. Episode one revisits 2018, the Catholic Church’s ‘summer of shame.’ High-ranking American cleric, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. More accusations followed, including from former seminarians.” By The Catholic University of America

Clergy abuse survivors face a lifetime of PTSD recurrence
“New job in hand, Jim Richter was adjusting well to life in Minneapolis several months after leaving his hometown of Chicago. He was enjoying his fellowship at the University of Minnesota Medical Center despite the long hours and he was coming to realize his move was a good one. Sexually abused as a teenager by a South Side Chicago Catholic priest(link is external) who had similarly assaulted other young men, Richter wasn’t expecting to hear more about the clergy abuse scandal in Minnesota.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Catholic Groups Seek Apology From Brennan and Removal of His Enablers
“A letter addressed to the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, from two groups representing lay Catholics seeks further action taken in the wake of disgraced former bishop Michael Bransfield’s ignoble resignation(link is external).The letter, which was sent Sept. 3 to Brennan, comes from Morgantown-based Lay Catholic Voices for Change, and ACT: A Church Together, which lists a Wheeling address, which represent lay, or non-clergy, members of the Roman Catholic Church.” By Alan Olson, The Wheeling Intelligencer

Diocesan Synod calls for reforms
“The call for reform of diocesan and parish governance at the first session of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will strongly influence planning for future sessions. A Governance Focus Group is evaluating diocesan governance structures and processes(link is external) and will prepare documents and recommendations for the next Synod session in 2021 … Lawrie Hallinan, chair of the Synod’s Governance Focus Group said the group had embraced the recently released national report on diocesan and parish governance, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

New laws in Queensland mean priests no longer protected by seal of confession
“Priests in Queensland will no longer be protected by the seal of confession(link is external) and must report cases of child abuse or face criminal charges. State parliament rejected protests from the Catholic church to pass new laws on Tuesday (Sept. 8). Other states continue to debate similar proposals, and in several jurisdictions clergy remain exempt from prosecution for failing to report child sexual abuse.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis: ‘Never again to the culture of abuse’
“Pope Francis has written a prologue to a recently published book on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) entitled “Theology and Prevention.” ‘Fighting against abuse means fostering and empowering communities capable of watching over and announcing that all life deserves to be respected and valued, especially that of the most defenseless who do not have the resources to make their voices heard,’ Pope Francis wrote in the introduction to the book.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic Sentinel

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Newark archdiocese bought second beach house for use by McCarrick
“Months before officials in the Archdiocese of Newark sold a beach house used by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual abuse and coercion,(link is external) the archdiocese bought a second beach house on the Jersey Shore, at which McCarrick reportedly hosted friends and courted donors. The second beach house, according to an investigative report from northjersey.com, was purchased in 1997 by the Newark archdiocese from the neighboring Diocese of Metuchen.” By Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

German Catholic bishop dismisses cardinal’s fear that ‘Synodal Way’ could lead to split
“The president of the German bishops’ conference dismissed Friday (Sept. 18) suggestions that the controversial ‘Synodal Way’ could lead to a split in the Church(link is external). Bishop Georg Bätzing made the comment Sept. 18 after Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said that the worst outcome would be if the process ‘leads to a split and thereby outside of the Church, out of communion with the universal Church.’” By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Irish priest spurns Vatican plan that would have allowed return to ministry
“A well-known Irish priest who has been in a dispute with the Vatican for several years over his controversial views has rejected a plan from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that would have restored him to public ministry(link is external). Redemptorist Father Tony Flannery has been forbidden to exercise public ministry since 2012 after he was censured for saying that he no longer believed that ‘the priesthood as we currently have it in the Church originated with Jesus’ or that he designated ‘a special group of his followers as priests.’” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

‘Fratelli tutti’ does not include women, and neither does ‘fraternity’
“Forget about women in church leadership. Do you think maybe the Vatican could hire a few women editors? The latest embarrassment: ‘Fratelli tutti,’(link is external) the title of the coming papal encyclical, is Italian for ‘all brothers.’ Vatican Media says that includes women. Oh, they say, the title comes from the writings of St. Francis. Well, yes. Except that St. Francis’ Admonitions were written to all his fellow friars: ‘omnes fratres’ or, in Italian, ‘fratelli tutti.’” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

‘We lost what we cherished’: Cincinnati parish fights back when a new priest brings change
“The changes at St. Anthony’s are part of a broader debate in the American church over the role regular Catholics, or lay Catholics, should play in the day-to-day operation of their parishes(link is external). But they also have ignited an intensely personal fight over what it means to be a religious community and what it means to be Catholic. At St. Anthony’s, the community has for years been guided by the belief that lay Catholics can and should be empowered to do important work in the parish, including, at times, work typically left to priests.’ By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

VATICAN

Vatican envoy’s removal from India brings relief for some Catholics
“Several Catholic groups in India have expressed relief after the Vatican removed its controversial envoy from the country. Pope Francis Aug. 29 suddenly transferred Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal, to Brazil amid accusations of inaction against allegedly corrupt bishops(link is external). ‘I saw the nuncio’s transfer as a small moral victory, not something to gloat about, but more a sense of relief,’ Chhotebhai, coordinator of the Indian Catholic Forum and former president of the All India Catholic Union, the largest lay association in the country, told NCR.” By Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German Catholic Church is losing priests and parishes
“A key issue for this fall’s Bishops’ Conference will be the pressures facing the Catholic Church in Germany. Fewer priests mean fewer communities, even in one of the world’s richest dioceses(link is external). As head of the Bonn Münster, one of Germany’s oldest churches, Wolfgang Picken is the Catholic Church’s most recognizable face in the former German capital. More churches are about to fall under his purview, according to new plans from the Archdiocese of Cologne. “It’s a sweeping change,” Picken told DW.” By Deutsche Welle

Reimagining parishes is a step along road to renewal
“It’s now been well established that the Catholic Church here in Western New York is facing unprecedented challenges that strike at the heart of its credibility(link is external), its ability to serve so many critical needs and, yes, its viability as a force for good. Those in church leadership must admit that many of these challenges are a result of woeful failings over many years that have caused devoted Catholics to question the fundamentals of their faith and identity.” By Edward B. Scharfenberger, The Buffalo News

Charlotte Diocese opens college seminary to serve growing Catholic population
“It was a day to thank God for sending more laborers to gather his harvest, Diocese of Charlotte leaders said as they blessed and formally opened St. Joseph College Seminary. The newly completed college seminary was blessed by Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis(link is external) Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, after an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. With its striking Gothic architecture and 30,000 square feet of living-and-learning space, the college seminary serves as home to young men who are exploring a vocation to the Catholic priesthood while also pursuing undergraduate degrees at nearby Belmont Abbey College.” By Patricia L. Guilfoyle, SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

What if women comprised 50% of sex abuse victims in the Catholic Church?
“What if the cornerstone of our conventional wisdom about the victims of the Catholic Church and clergy sex abuse crisis was wrong(link is external)? What if, in a statistically viable sample of survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church, 50% of respondents were female? What if you also knew that this result is almost statically impossible to achieve with the conventional wisdom, which says that boys outnumber girls four to one? Would that change how you, the church, advocacy groups, and the general public respond to the crisis?” By Joelle Casteix, Worthy Adversary Blog

Why there’s more to the question of the confessional
“I DON’T always get to see letters written about me to editors or online, and maybe that’s a good thing. However, one particular letter to the editor earlier this month from a local politician which I did read gave me reason to pause. He had just finished reading The Altar Boys by ABC journalist Suzanne Smith, a book on the abuse of children in the diocese of Maitland and the cover-up by the church(link is external).” By Father Brendan Lee, Wellington Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Accuser and excommunicated priest both wait as sexual violation case drags on
“The accuser prefers the traditional Tridentine rite Latin Mass. That way she only sees the celebrant from the back and can pray in peace, she told NCR. ‘That’s real separation; it doesn’t feel like the priest interacts with you,’ she said. A few thousand miles away in Sacramento, California, Jeremy Leatherby, the former pastor of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, excommunicated priest, and the man she accuses of sexual exploitation(link is external), is said to be living quietly with his family.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

New podcast series examines history of U.S. clergy sex abuse
“A new podcast series, ‘Crisis,’ has debuted, which examines the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. church(link is external). Produced by the Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America, Washington, its 10 episodes plan to recount the history of the crisis and church leaders’ responses to it. ‘Catholic University really found itself in a unique position to offer a response to the sexual abuse crisis,’ said Karna Lozoya, executive director of strategic communications in the president’s office at the university, and narrator of ‘Crisis.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

ARIZONA

Another Former Brophy Priest Has Been Accused of Sexual Abuse
“A Jesuit priest who taught at Brophy College Preparatory for seven years in the 1980s and coached the boy’s football team is the latest Phoenix-area Catholic priest to be accused of sexual abuse(link is external). In a lawsuit filed today (Sept. 24), an anonymous alum now living in California alleges that Reverend James A. Sinnerud, S.J. engaged in sexual contact with him without his consent and when he was a minor incapable of giving consent. The lawsuit does not specify the nature or time frame of the alleged misconduct, but Sinnerud would have been been in his late 40s when he taught at Brophy.” By Erasmus Baxter, Phoeix New Times

LOUISIANA

Former De La Salle principal, fellow religious brother accused of molesting student in 1980s
“A former principal of De La Salle High School and a subordinate are accused of sexually molesting one of the Uptown school’s students(link is external) in the 1980s, according to a new lawsuit filed last month. While the Aug. 7 lawsuit appears to mark the first time ex-principal Richard Langenstein and Robert Gandara face public abuse accusations stemming from their service at the 71-year-old school on St. Charles Avenue, each has previously pleaded no contest to charges of child molestation for unrelated conduct in St. Tammany Parish.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

People alleging sex abuse by New Orleans clergy must come forward by March 1, judge rules
“A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday (Sept. 17) set a March 1 deadline for purported victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy to make claims(link is external) against the Archdiocese of New Orleans, resolving months of legal arguments over how much time to allow before they are barred from seeking compensation. After a four-hour court hearing, Judge Meredith Grabill ruled that anyone alleging they were abused before the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 1 must come forward in the next 5½ months or lose the right to seek money via the judicial system.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, New Orleans Times-Picayune, on NOLA.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts clergy child sexual abuse claims against three priests settled: Mitchell Garabedian
“Clergy child sexual abuse claims against three former Massachusetts priests have been settled, the victims’ lawyer announced on Monday (Sept. 14). Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who specializes in sexual abuse cases, said he settled the clergy sexual abuse claims with the Archdiocese of Boston(link is external) earlier this year. The former priests were Fr. Sylvio Ruest, Fr. John Salvucci and Fr. T. Raymond Sullivan, according to the lawyer.” By Rick Sobey, Boston Herald

Vatican bars former Catholic priest in Lynn from active ministry; had been accused of sexual abuse in 2012
“A former longtime priest at a Catholic church in Lynn who’d been accused in 2012 of sexually abusing a child has been banned from exercising “any public ministry” and sentenced by church authorities to a life of prayer and penance, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. In a statement, the archdiocese identified the priest as Rev. James E. Gaudreau and said he’s “not permitted to exercise any public ministry, including not being allowed to celebrate public Mass.” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe

NEW JERSEY

2 new sex abuse suits filed against Metuchen Diocese include clerics not accused before
“Two lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church on Wednesday (Sept. 9) include allegations of sexual abuse against two clerics(link is external) — including a brother who worked at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen. The suits, brought under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act and New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill, allege abuse by Brother Regis Moccia and the Rev. Patrick H. Barrett, both who had not been publicly accused of abuse before Wednesday.” By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News

NEW YORK.

Child Victims Act lawsuits accuse ex-Seton coach of sexually abusing students during 1960s
“A now-deceased during the 1970s faces similar allegations from his past employment at a Catholic school in Poughkeepsie. Four lawsuits filed since December in the state Supreme Court of New York County accuse Vincent Dutkowski of sexually abusing students(link is external) at Our Lady of Lourdes High School during the early to mid-1960s.” By Anthony Borrelli, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Number of WNY priests accused in Child Victims Act suits grows to 173
“Child Victims Act lawsuits filed over the past year have accused 173 Catholic priests in Western New York of sexually abusing children(link is external). More than 30 of those priests were accused publicly for the first time only in recent weeks, including one cleric who has continued to run a South Buffalo parish despite being linked to abuse in a July lawsuit. The Rev. Donald J. Lutz said he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit when The Buffalo News contacted him last week.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Buffalo Survivors Group seeks meeting with Pope Francis
“A group of survivors of abuse by Catholic priests(link is external) in Buffalo is seeking a meeting with Pope Francis. The Buffalo Survivors Group, which was founded by abuse survivors Gary Astridge, Kevin Koscielniak, Chris Szuflita, Michael Whalen and Angelo Ervolina, wrote the following letter to Pope Francis …” By WKBW-TV7 News

Bankruptcy judge sets deadline for filing clergy abuse claims against diocese
“Sexual abuse victims will have until next August to file a claim against the Buffalo Diocese in federal bankruptcy proceedings. Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York ruled Friday (Sept. 11) that the bar date for abuse victims to submit claims should be the same day that the extended Child Victims Act expires – Aug. 14, 2021(link is external). Bucki also ruled against a request by the diocese to push the bankruptcy proceedings into mediated settlement talks.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Former Columbia priest returns to ministry after being cleared of sex abuse charge
“A Catholic priest who formerly worked in Columbia was cleared to return to the ministry after charges of sexual abuse involving a minor were dropped(link is external). Prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against Father Javier Heredia in February, according to Maria Aselage, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston. York County court records show the charge, criminal sexual conduct with minor — commit/attempt lewd act, was disposed on Feb. 3.” By Noah Feit, The State

SOUTH DAKOTA

DCI investigating allegation that priest abused child in Faith
“The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating an allegation that a Rapid City-based priest sexually abused a child in Faith(link is external) in the early 1980s, according to the Meade County State’s Attorney. States’s Attorney Michele Bordewyk said the Diocese of Rapid City contacted her office about the allegation against Father Michel Mulloy when he was working in Faith. She said she referred the case to DCI, which is under the Office of the Attorney General.” By Arielle Zionts, Rapid City Journal

WEST VIRGINIA

WV Court considers whether the First Amendment protects diocese from consumer protection laws
“The  West Virginia Supreme Court is considering whether it’s a violation of the First Amendment for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to pursue a case against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston under the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act. During about an hour’s worth of arguments in Charleston on Tuesday (Sept. 22), the justices asked attorneys whether it was possible for the attorney general to hold the diocese accountable for potential violations of the consumer law(link is external) in a way that didn’t impede its faith doctrine or church governance.” By Lacie Pierson, Charleston Gazette-Mail

Groups, saying trust in church leaders has been ‘devastated,’ push for further action on disgraced Bishop Bransfield
“Two groups have sent a strongly-worded letter to the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston, saying ‘amends’ by disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield have been inadequate(link is external) and pushing for further steps. ‘Our faith has not been destroyed but our trust in our church leaders has been devastated,’ they wrote. Bransfield served as bishop of the Wheeling-Catholic diocese from 2005 to 2018, when he retired. Following that, a church investigation examined multiple credible allegations of sexual harassment of adults, as well as financial improprieties.” By Brad McElhinny, West Virginia Metro News

CANADA

Catholic Church appeals to Supreme Court of Canada on bombshell Mount Cashel ruling
“The Archdiocese of St. John’s is looking to the Supreme Court of Canada to examine a landmark ruling that puts the Catholic Church on the hook for millions in sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external). The ruling involves Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, where over the course of decades boys suffered immense sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers of Ireland. The Brothers were not employees of the archdiocese, but in July Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal ruled the church created space for them to abuse children and get away with it, and therefore was liable to pay out damages owed by the now-defunct Christian Brothers organization.” By Ryan Cooke, CBC News

Vigil calls on Catholic Diocese to drop legal fight against abuse survivor
“Those taking part in a vigil outside St. Peter’s Basilica in downtown London on Tuesday (Sept. 15) called on the Catholic Diocese of London to drop its appeal in a decades-long legal battle with a sexual abuse survivor(link is external). ‘The way that the church is treating me now through litigation is so traumatizing, and it’s much more traumatizing than the actual abuse,’ said sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes. Deschenes reached a settlement in 2000 for sexual abuse she suffered as a child in the early 1970s at the hands of the late Father Charles Sylvestre.” By Bryan Bicknell, CTV News

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth Sexual Abuse Class Action Lawsuit
“McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax has filed a class action against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth on behalf of persons who allege they were sexually abused by priests from the Archdiocese(link is external) from 1960 to date. The class action, filed by Douglas Champagne on behalf of other sexual abuse survivors, claims that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax-Yarmouth, more commonly known as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, had a decades long policy of secrecy of any allegations of sexual abuse against a priest.” By APMLawyers.com

Catholic church settles Vernon lawsuit, apologizes for sexual abuse
“Two brothers who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest in Vernon(link is external) during the 1970s have come to an out of court settlement with the Archdiocese of Kamloops. The brothers filed separate civil claims last year, both alleging they had been sexually abused by Father Herbert Bourne when they were teenagers while the now-deceased priest was working at the St. James Catholic Church in Vernon. The brothers’ lawyer Bill Dick told iNFOnews.ca the case was settled out of court a couple of weeks ago.” By Ben Bulmer, InfoNews.ca

St. Catharine’s Catholic Diocese reaches settlement with witness of her sister’s chronic sex abuse
“A woman whose sister was sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) has reached a settlement with the Diocese of St. Catharine’s for abuse she witnessed in a case that expands the common understanding of who is a victim … The woman, whom The Globe and Mail is not identifying to protect the identity of her sister as a child victim of sex abuse, said she wants to share her story with others who may not have recognized abuse in their own lives. It was only six years ago that she realized she was also a victim.” By Kelly Bennett, The Globe and Mail

INDONESIA

How Catholic order from the Philippines set up orphanage where sexual abuse occurred
“The Philippines-based Catholic religious order the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of Charity (BSMC) was largely unknown to the Indonesian public until one of its members, Lukas Lucky Ngalngola, calling himself Brother Angelo and later Geovanny, put the congregation on the map, and for all the wrong reasons. Angelo allegedly abused orphanage boys under his care, sexually and physically(link is external). While the abuse against the boys who lived at the Kencana Bejana Rohani orphanage that Angelo set up in 2015 in Depok, West Java, was reported to the police in September last year, the crime was revealed to the public only very recently after victims and child protection activists spoke out in the media.” By Margareth S. Aritonang The Jakarta Post

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Victim of Malachy Finegan to launch legal action against Pope and Catholic authorities in Ireland
“A victim of Malachy Finegan is to launch legal action against Pope Francis and Catholic Church authorities in Ireland. The priest has been accused of sexual abuse across Co Down(link is external), including at St Colman’s College in Newry where he taught from 1967 and was president for a decade. At least 12 young boys are thought to have been sexually abused while he was at St Colman’s, while many more were physically abused.” By Connla Young, The Irish News

ITALY

Trial of Catholic lay leader highlights gaps in church’s sex abuse oversight
“The sexual abuse trial of Piero Alfio Capuana(link is external), the lay leader of the 5,000-member Catholic Culture and Environment Association, began in this small Sicilian city on Tuesday (Sept. 15), three years after the abuse allegedly took place … While the trial is taking place in Catania, a small city under the shadow of the volcano Etna, it has highlighted the Catholic Church’s lack of oversight over lay Catholic movements, particularly the actions of their often charismatic leaders.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

NEW ZEALAND

State abuse inquiry makes slow progress
“Nearly three years have grumbled by since the government first signed off on the Abuse in Care Royal Commission. What on earth have they been up to?(link is external) Announcing the inquiry shortly after assuming her premiership, Jacinda Ardern said it would be a historic opportunity for the nation to ‘confront our history and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.’ A little noticed omission in the fine print appears to have been that rather a lot of this historical confrontation would take place behind closed doors.” By David Cohen, Radio New Zealand

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Investigation: Abuse allegations against Catholic bishop ‘credible’ / Associated Press in The Boston Globe

“The findings of retired Judge Peter Velis provide further evidence of the Catholic Church’s continued shameful cover-up of the wholesale sexual abuse of children at all levels no matter what the human cost …,” said attorney Mitchell Garabedian (Associated Press in The Boston Globe)

An independent investigation found that allegations of child sexual abuse by a former Roman Catholic bishop in Massachusetts were ‘unequivocally credible,’ according to an executive summary of the report released Wednesday (Sept. 16).

“Retired Superior Court Judge Peter Velis’s report of abuse allegations against late Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon also criticized the way the diocesan review board handled the allegations.

“Velis found that there was a ‘reluctance to fervently pursue an evaluation of allegations against (Weldon) due to his prominence and revered legacy in the religious community.’

“Velis also found that mandatory reporters had not notified law enforcement.”

By Associated Press in The Boston Globe — Read more …

 

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Duluth Bishop-elect Michel Mulloy after abuse allegation
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Bishop-elect of Duluth, Minnesota, Michel J. Mulloy, after an accusation that he abused a minor(link is external) in the 1980s surfaced in early August. Mulloy, 66, was appointed to lead the Minnesota diocese on June 19, and his consecration and installation as bishop were scheduled to take place Oct. 1. According to a statement from the Diocese of Rapid City, where Mulloy had been administrator since August 2019, the diocese on Aug. 7 ‘received notification of an allegation against Father Mulloy of sexual abuse of a minor in the early 1980s.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Report abuse learned in confession or go to jail, says Australian state
“A new law requires priests in the state of Queensland to break the seal of confession to report child sex abuse to police or face three years in jail. The law was passed by Queensland Parliament Sept. 8. It had support from both major parties and was opposed by the Catholic Church. One Queensland prelate, Bishop Tim Harris of Townsville, tweeted a link to a story on the passage of the new law and said, ‘Catholic priests cannot break the seal of confession.’” By Catholic News Service on Catholic-SF.org

Former West Virginia bishop should reexamine his conscience
“Repentance is something that Catholics usually understand. That is one reason why former Bishop Michael Bransfield’s response to the charges leveled against him is so egregious(link is external). Bransfield formerly led the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. There he proceeded to, according to a church investigation, embezzle $792,000 while sexually harassing seminarians. Bransfield, according to the diocese, has paid back $441,000, and will retire with benefits, including a $2,250 monthly pension. That’s far less than the normal $6,200 for a retired bishop, but not a bad deal for Bransfield considering the circumstances.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

New survey of German religious orders finds decades of abuse accusations
“A new survey of heads of German Catholic religious orders found abuse allegations against at least 654 members over a period of decades(link is external), reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. The survey of 392 orders found at least 1,412 children, adolescents or wards were the victims of sexual abuse. Of the victims, around 80% were male and around 20% female, KNA reported. Franciscan Sister Katharina Kluitmann, president of the German Conference of Catholic Superiors, said there was an unquantifiable additional number of unreported cases. She said the victims had suffered additional pain from the way they were treated by leaders and other members of orders.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Philly native and ex-Bishop Michael Bransfield apologizes for financial and sexual impropriety — yet still says he did nothing wrong
“The Rev. Michael Bransfield — the Philadelphia-raised priest and former West Virginia bishop who resigned in 2018 amid a scandal over his lavish spending and sexual misconduct allegations(link is external) — issued a tepid apology Thursday (Aug. 20), his first to Roman Catholic faithful in his former diocese and one made under orders from the Vatican. Despite saying he was ‘profoundly sorry’ if anything he said or did made priests of seminarians uncomfortable during his 13-year tenure at the helm of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bransfield continued to defend himself and took no responsibility for the millions he spent on pricey personal accommodations in one of the country’s poorest states.” By Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer

Catholic leaders shine light on Church governance
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have published an ‘important and substantial’ document on the review of diocesan and parish governance and management(link is external). The review was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Church’s Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) oversaw the development of the report, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia. The IAG engaged the Governance Review Project Team (GRPT) to research and study Church governance and to prepare the report, which runs to 208 pages and includes 86 recommendations.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

O.C.’s bishop, a $12-million problem and a secret fight stretching to the Vatican
“The FedEx envelopes landed at dawn on the doorsteps of some of Orange County’s most influential Catholic philanthropists … who had raised tens of millions of dollars over the years for the local diocese. Inside were letters from Bishop Kevin Van that boiled down to two words: You’re fired(link is external). Those June missives ignited a revolt inside the Orange County church that has burned all the way to the Vatican while remaining largely hidden from the diocese’s 1.3 million rank-and-file Catholics.” By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times

Vatican tells Australian Church that seal of confession not up for debate
“Although reaffirming the principle that the seal of confession can never be violated(link is external), the Vatican has told Church leaders in Australia that victims of sexual abuse should be encouraged to report abuse to the proper authorities. Recognizing the question of the seal of confession ‘is one of great delicacy and that it is related intimately with a most sacred treasure of the Church’s life, that is to say, with the sacraments,’ the Vatican said ‘the confessional provides an opportunity – perhaps the only one – for those who have committed sexual abuse to admit to the fact.’” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope preaches on need to correct others privately, a policy some say allows abuse to fester
“Pope Francis said Sunday (Sept. 6) that gossiping was a ‘plague worse than COVID’(link is external) that was seeking to divide the Catholic Church. Francis strayed from his prepared text to double down on his frequent complaint about gossiping within church communities and even within the Vatican bureaucracy. Francis didn’t give specifics during his weekly blessing but went on at some length to say the devil was the ‘biggest gossiper’ who was seeking to divide the church with his lies.” By Associated Press in Los Angeles Times

Pope says synod used ‘parliamentary logic’ when debating married priests
“When it comes to the private notes of a pontiff, the world usually has to wait until they’ve died to have access to them, but Pope Francis this week made some of his personal notes public. They were about last October’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon region and the debate over the ordination of married men into the priesthood, the so called viri probati(link is external). ‘There was a discussion…a rich discussion…a well-founded discussion, but no discernment, which is something other than arriving at a good and justified consent or relative majorities,’ he wrote.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Bishop Bransfield offers ‘apology,’ repays $400k to W Virginia diocese
“Bishop Michael Bransfield has repaid more than $400,000 to his former diocese and issued a narrowly-worded apology to the faithful(link is external). The apology comes nearly two years after Pope Francis accepted his resignation amid accusations of personal and financial misconduct. The letter from Bransfield, dated August 15, was released by his former diocese on Thursday (Aug. 20), along with a letter from his successor, Bishop Mark Brennan, outlining how Bransfield will ‘make amends’ following an investigation into his conduct by the Vatican.” By Catholic News Agency

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

New advocacy group shows different faces of Catholic ‘feminism’
“Seven French women who recently ‘applied’ for ecclesial jobs traditionally open only to men last have quickly become icons for the Catholic ‘feminist’ movement, among other things illustrating there’s no single vision for how to achieve the more welcoming and inclusive Church they envision(link is external). That diversity was on clear display during a recent online event featuring the French activists.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Catholic women still don’t have suffrage in their church
“Tomorrow (Aug. 26) marks the 100th anniversary of the day that women’s right to vote was enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The passage of the 19th amendment was the result of more than 80 years of women agitating, picketing and lobbying; some endured jail time and force-feedings when they went on strike to protest their arrests. The moment celebrated as the official ‘start”’of the suffrage movement was the first ever women’s rights convention held 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York … Even in those earliest days of the fight for suffrage, women realized, and spoke openly about, the need for equality not only in the government, but also in the church(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

The Scriptural case for women deacons
“The synod on the Pan-Amazonian region re-opened the question of whether women can be deacons in the church. But we can return to the beginning as we contemplate the future. The New Testament not only gives us women deacons, but we know one of their names:(link is external) Phoebe. This is her hour. Because Jesus never refers to priests, deacons or ordination in any direct way, our discussion should take us to the earliest literature in the New Testament: the letters and ministerial practice of the Apostle Paul.” By Micah D. Kiel, America: The Jesuit Review

Will the Catholic Church soon allow ordained women deacons?
“This month marked the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States. Seventy years of protest and consciousness-raising made it happen in 1920. The Catholic church moves even slower, if at all, but the time seems ripe to ordain women as deacons soon(link is external). Women deacons served the church up until the 12th century, but the church’s desire to control finances and require celibacy stigmatized women even more for the last 900 years. Pope Francis has now formed two commissions, which include women, to determine if the church can ordain them as deacons once again.” By Rev. Alexander Santoro, NJ.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Laity called to share responsibility for church, say experts
“The laity are called to take greater responsibility for church life(link is external), as parish boundaries expand into what the Vatican calls ‘existential territory.’ That shift was the focus of an Aug. 25 discussion of “Co-Responsibility for the Church’s Being and Action in Parish Life” at this year’s Cardinals’ Forum at St. Charles Borromeo. The annual event advances seminarians’ academic formation while educating lay faithful about contemporary concerns in the church … ‘Co-responsibility is an idea easy enough to understand,’ said Father Dailey, ‘since by virtue of our baptism, we are all in this church thing together.’” By Gina Christian, CatholicPhilly.com

German bishops say talks with Rome on parishes must include laity
“The German bishops plan to seek talks with the Vatican about its instruction on parish reforms in the Catholic Church. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops said they want lay Catholics to be involved in the discussion(link is external). The bishops’ conference made the announcement after a meeting of its 27-member Permanent Council. The announcement said the president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, would accept an offer for talks recently conveyed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, head of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

VATICAN

Australia: Holy See responds to Royal Commission recommendations
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has looked into the Holy See’s response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. A media release, published on their website, explains ‘the Royal Commission proposed that the Bishops Conference engage with the Holy See on those recommendations because they relate to universal Church law or practice.’ Of the 80 recommendations proposed by the Royal Commission, 47 were accepted, 1 was not accepted, 13 were passed on to the Holy See, 1 is being taken into further consideration, 5 were accepted in principle, 12 are supported, and 1 is supported in principle.” By Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Since the Amazon synod, what has happened to talk of synodality?
“Lest we forget, the church is not a democracy. In a democracy, theoretically at least, everyone has a voice and a vote. But the church is controlled by less than 1% of its members. The church — at every level — is controlled by its clerics. So what is all this talk about ‘synodality?’(link is external) How can the talk become the walk when it comes to women in the church? On one level, synodality means collegiality, which brings us back to where we started from.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Catholic priest says he was silenced by the church for speaking out on abuse
“This spring, I received a letter from my boss ordering me to take down my blog or lose my job. Workers all over the country have found themselves in this kind of situation. But I may yet become the first Catholic priest removed for blogging(link is external). Until recently, I was the pastor of two parishes in southwest Virginia, one in Martinsville and the other in Rocky Mount. I love my work and my community of some 800 families. I began blogging in 2008 as an additional way of reaching the faithful.” By Mark White, NJ.com

The Newcastle Herald’s Opinion, Thursday, August 20, 2020: The Altar Boys will reopen wounds for some, and provide vindication and salvation for others
“Sadly, one of the worst indictments of our society has been the terrible and insidious prevalence of child sexual abuse(link is external) across a range of once trusted institutions. Julia Gillard – who as prime minister ordered the Royal Commission that did so much to calibrate the extent of the problem – thanked the Newcastle Herald’s Joanne McCarthy for convincing her of the need for an investigation.” By Editorial Board, Newcastle Herald

Pull back the curtain of secrecy on abuse by priests
“St. Peter in Chains Cathedral is now a ‘minor basilica.’ It is clear that Archbishop Dennis Schnurr is excited and proud, and it is clear that he welcomed members of the news media into the cathedral (now basilica) space on Aug. 15 so he could talk about ceremonial bells and special privileges. This openness to the press is a dramatic shift. Two years ago, Archbishop Schnurr was considerably less welcoming of the media(link is external) into St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrated its first Mass for Healing for the Church and for Victims of Abuse.” By Kathy Weyer, Cincinnati Enquirer

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Pennsylvania court to review diocese lawsuit
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear arguments in October on an Altoona woman’s attempt to redefine the statute of limitations as it applies to her 2016 sexual abuse lawsuit(link is external) against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Renee Rice, 52, has sued the diocese, contending she was a child victim of sexual abuse committed by a priest at the former St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Altoona.” By Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Bigger picture: Media can showcase overlooked sex-abuse survivors
“In reporting historical and recent abuse of minors, the media should broaden its focus to include portrayals of survivors as active agents of reform(link is external), one survivor said. Interviewing survivors about their abuse and the emotional impact of it brings an important ‘human face’ to the crimes, said Mark Vincent Healy, an advocate in Ireland for safe spaces, care and services for survivors of child sexual abuse. But reporters also should be asking them ‘the bigger questions’ about ongoing injustices, unnecessary hurdles and the kind of response and care that would truly help, he said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Poland struggles to deal with pedophilia in the Catholic Church
“A few days after receiving her first communion in May last year, nine-year-old Julia told her mother she was sick and refused to go to church for further ceremonies planned in relation to this key moment in a Catholic family’s life. ‘When I asked her why she didn’t want to go, she said she didn’t like the priest. When I asked her why, she said the priest was touching her(link is external),’ Magda, Julia’s mother, told BIRN, speaking on the phone from Ruszow, a village of about 2,000 people in south-west Poland where the family lives.” By Claudia Ciobanu, BalkanInsight.com

ARIZONA

Diocese of Phoenix sued for alleged child sex abuse by former priest
“Two lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Phoenix and one of its churches Wednesday (Aug. 26) for alleged sexual abuse from a former priest(link is external). Father John P. Doran allegedly abused two boys while they attended the St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in the 1970s, according to the suit filed by the now-adult victims. ‘The two men who have come forward today have waited decades for the Bishop of Phoenix to be fully transparent about the pedophile priests working in this Diocese,’ said attorney Robert Pastor.” By NBC-TV12 News

ARKANSAS

Little Rock diocese adds priest to list of accused sex abusers
“The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock announced Wednesday (Aug. 26) that it has added another priest to its list of clergy that have been ‘credibly’ accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). Father Edward Simpson, who died in 1988, was a priest in Arkansas from the time of his ordination in 1954 until his retirement in 1986. Simpson’s record shows that he served at Catholic churches in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Blytheville, North Little Rock, Jonesboro, Searcy, Eureka Springs, Malvern and Texarkana.” By Francisca Jones, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

CALIFORNIA

Judge denies request by prosecutor in case against priest facing rape charge
“The prosecutor on the case against a Catholic pastor accused of a decades-old rape of a child(link is external) was denied a request in court Monday (Aug. 24) to have certain witnesses stricken from the upcoming trial. The request, made by Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark, was denied by Wayne County Circuit Judge Bridget Mary Hathaway, court records show.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press

LOUISIANA

Group demands local diocese add new name to list of credibly accused abusers
“A group that advocates for Catholic Church sex abuse victims is asking the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux to add a new name to its list of ‘credibly accused’ priests(link is external). On Aug. 18, Archbishop Gregory P. Aymond added the Rev. Henry Brian Highfill to the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ list of priests with credible accusations of child sexual abuse.” By Dan Copp, The Courier

Abuse victims challenge legitimacy of archdiocese bankruptcy claim
“Sex abuse victims and others with claims against the Archdiocese of New Orleans argued the local church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection ‘in bad faith’(link is external) and the case should be thrown out during a virtual U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing Thursday (Aug. 27). Their claims appeared to be bolstered by a letter written to the Vatican by New Orleans Archbishop Greg Aymond on April 28, just two days before the May 1 bankruptcy filing. In the letter, Aymond assures his bosses in Rome, ‘The archdiocese is not insolvent. We have sufficient cash, cash equivalents and investments to cover 100 percent of our liabilities.’” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Sexual assault victims speak
“Two women who were sexually abused by the Rev. John J. Gallagher(link is external) in the 1970s are speaking publicly — for the first time — about their childhood trauma with the hope of empowering other survivors and themselves. The women, one who chooses to be named and another who does not, are among 11 people — 10 women and a man — represented by Boston Attorney Mitchell Garabedian in a joint lawsuit against the Catholic Church resolved earlier this year with a $1.4 million settlement.” By Breanna Edelstein, Andover Townsman

Lee Bartlett, former priest in Worcester, Leominster and Southbridge, accused of abusing teen in 70s, loses status
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a man when he was a teenager in the 1970s has been laicized at his request(link is external), Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Worcester Diocese announced Wednesday (Aug. 26). Lee F. Bartlett III, 74, was dispensed from the clerical state by Pope Francis and, as a result, may not function in any capacity as a priest or be referred to as a priest or as ‘Father’ in writing such as in event announcements or obituaries.” By Cyrus Moulton, Worcester Telegram

Church settles sex abuse cases for $1.4M: Case involves 10 women, 1 man who attended St. Mary’s School in Lawrence
“The Catholic church has agreed to pay $1.4 million to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse against 11 children(link is external) who attended St. Mary’s School in Lawrence, according to the victims’ joint attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. Garabedian, who is well known for representing victims of clergy sexual abuse, said the clients in this case were all victims of the Rev. John J. Gallagher between 1974 and 1978, when Gallagher was assigned to St. Mary’s Church and taught at the parish school.” By Breanna Edelstein, Lawrence Eagle Tribune

MINNESOTA

Priest accused of child sex abuse was allowed at Minnesota Catholic music camp
“Isaac Henson was monitoring recent reports of sexual misconduct by Twin Cities Catholic music composer David Haas when he ran across disturbing information about an adult leader at the summer music program run by Haas at St. Catherine University. A retired priest who was a regular at the weeklong program, George DeCosta, had been sued by at least six men for alleged child sexual abuse(link is external) in his home state of Hawaii, Henson learned, with the first lawsuit filed in 2012. An attorney for the men said five of the cases have been settled.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

MISSISSIPPI

Former Catholic brother returned to face Mississippi charges
“A former Catholic brother has been extradited from his home state of Wisconsin to Mississippi, where he faces sexual battery charges in a case involving two impoverished Black boys who say they were pressured as men into accepting paltry payouts to settle their abuse claims(link is external). The men have accused Paul A. West, once a Franciscan Friar and fourth-grade teacher, of molesting them in Mississippi, Wisconsin and New York while they were elementary school students.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press, on NewsPressNow.com

MISSOURI

Lawsuit says St. Louis priest abused boy in 1980s
“A federal lawsuit says the Archdiocese of St. Louis has failed to remove a De Soto priest who has had four accusations of sexual abuse against him. A man identified in the suit only as John Doe contends the Rev. Alexander R. Anderson sexually abused him as a boy(link is external) in the late 1980s at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in St. Louis, where Doe was living at the time and Anderson was chaplain.” By Robert Patrick, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Ex-priest is accused of abusing 4 kids. Monett woman says church ignored her pleas
“For at least the past 16 years, Elizabeth Mangler has kept a file saved on her computer: ‘FatherGaryCarr.doc.’ Mangler, 59, had a feeling that someday a man would come forward and accuse Father Gary Carr of child sexual abuse(link is external). And she wanted people to know that in Monett, they tried to stop him. ‘We did follow the best chain of command the Catholic Church has to offer,’ Mangler said. And she’s got the receipts.” By Harrison Keegan, Springfield News-Leader

NEW JERSEY

Priest abuse lawsuit: Former student sues Red Bank Catholic, St. James Church
“A former student at Red Bank Catholic High School was sexually abused in the early 1980s by a priest who has faced accusations of abuse at other assignments(link is external), according to a lawsuit recently filed in state Superior Court. The lawsuit says Francis McGrath abused the student, who is identified only by the initials B.T., in 1982 and 1983, causing permanent emotional and mental anguish. McGrath, now 70, was removed from ministry and left the priesthood in 1995.” By Michael L. Diamond, Asbury Park Press

Lawsuits accuse three Camden diocese priests of clergy sex abuse
“A lawsuit accuses a former principal at two Catholic high schools of sexually abusing a child(link is external) while serving at a Camden County parish. The Rev. Kenneth L. Johnston was among three priests, all now dead, who were named in four suits filed Thursday (Aug. 20) against the Diocese of Camden. The allegations of sexual misconduct were the first to be brought against Johnston, a former principal at Gloucester Catholic and St. James high schools. Johnston, also a pastor at three South Jersey parishes, was described as a ‘kindly, gentlemanly priest’ in a June 2018 obituary.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

NEW MEXICO

Two more sex abuse suits filed against ABQ orphanage
“Two more former students of the now-closed St. Anthony Home for Boys came forward Monday (Aug. 24) to file childhood sexual abuse lawsuits against nuns(link is external) who ran the orphanage after a top superior at the religious order recently stated she didn’t believe children had been molested there, their attorneys say. The two men ‘are not motivated by compensation, as the sexual abuse happened many decades ago, but primarily want the truth to be known, and are asking the Court to put into public archives all documents that point to the need for accountability and transparency,’ said their attorneys Brad D. Hall and Levi Monagle in a statement on Monday.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEVADA

Las Vegas diocese adds name to list of credibly accused clergy
“Church officials in Nevada said Friday (Aug. 21) they’re following their counterparts in Louisiana in adding a Roman Catholic priest who was suspended in 2018 to a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). The Diocese of Las Vegas said it suspended Henry Brian Highfill in August 2018 after learning he had been accused of abusing a now-deceased relative while Highfill was a priest in New Orleans from 1974 to 1981.” By Associated Press, on NBC-TV3 News

OHIO

Case settled for $1 million after claims Columbus priest sexually abused student
“The Catholic Diocese of Columbus announced a $1 million settlement to a former Saint Charles Preparatory School student after claims Monsignor Thomas Bennett abused the student(link is external). A complaint by the student, who attended the school in the early 2000s, was filed in 2018 claiming he was abused by Bennett. Bennett was a priest for more than 40 years and a teacher at the school. He died in 2008. Bennett is not on the list of credibly abused clergy and the Diocese notes, ‘This litigation matter has now concluded and a determination of credibility has not yet been made.’” By WTOL-TV11 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Fayette County priest charged with sexual assault
“Authorities on Wednesday (Aug. 26) arrested a Roman Catholic priest from the Diocese of Greensburg on charges that he sexually assaulted an altar boy on multiple occasions(link is external) from 2004 to 2007, beginning when the alleged victim was 11. The Rev. Andrew Kawecki surrendered to agents of the office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro in Fayette County, where the alleged offenses occurred, according to the office.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

47 names of clergy abuse victims part of accidental email leak
“A clergy abuse victim who participated in the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s independent compensation program for survivors is alleging that the confidentiality of nearly 50 other victims was compromised(link is external) when the program administrator mistakenly sent the individual an email in 2019 with the names of participants from another diocese’s program … The email included the names of 45 individuals who had been deemed eligible to participate in the program and two others whose abuse was perpetrated by religious order members, not priests of the Pittsburgh Diocese.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Erie diocese puts number of abuse lawsuits at 31: A total of 21 suits filed in Erie County
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie’s potential legal problems over the clergy abuse crisis extend beyond Erie County(link is external). Though the diocese is facing 21 lawsuits filed at the Erie County Courthouse, it must also deal with another 10 suits filed elsewhere in the 13-county diocese and statewide, including in Philadelphia. The suits concern claims of a cover-up and fraud by the diocese, with the plaintiffs saying clergy within the diocese abused them as minors.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Greensburg Diocese reveals ‘credible’ sex abuse claims against priest convicted of theft
“A priest convicted of stealing money from a South Huntingdon church has been added to a list of suspected sex abusers(link is external), according to the Diocese of Greensburg. Bishop Edward C. Malesic on Wednesday (Aug. 26) issued an update on the diocese’s handling of sex abuse allegations as he prepares to depart for Cleveland, revealing previously undisclosed allegations against the Rev. Emil Payer.” By Jacob Tierney, TribLive.com

VIRGINIA

Diocese of Alexandria frequently moved priest accused of sexual abuse
“A lawsuit filed this month in Alexandria calls a Catholic priest a ‘diseased pedophile who raped and sexually assaulted many young boys(link is external).’ The priest, the Rev. Leo Van Hoorn, was among 27 named in a February 2019 letter from Bishop David P. Talley as having credible accusations of sexual abuse against minors. The lawsuit claims Van Hoorn, who died in 2006 at age 74 in Baton Rouge, was ‘moved frequently throughout the various parishes of the Diocese of Alexandria.’” By Melissa Gregory, Alexandria Town Talk

WEST VIRGINIA

Ex-bishop Michael Bransfield’s ‘creepy’ behavior detailed
“With Michael Bransfield issuing a six-sentence letter of apology to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston last weekend for years of sexual and financial abuse, the church hopes to consider the matter closed. The marks from his tumultuous term of office, however, remain. Bransfield issued his statement in a letter dated Aug. 15 claiming that he did not mean to make those under his power feel sexually harassed, as well as denying that a pattern of excessive and lavish spending was inappropriate(link is external). Nevertheless, he agreed to comply with a demand from The Vatican to pay back $441,000 and to take a reduced retirement package, in what one canon lawyer described as an ‘unprecedented’ show of accountability from the church.” By Alan Olson, The Weirton Daily Times

AUSTRALIA

Canberra’s Damian De Marco has helped expose years of sexual abuses by Catholic Church pedophiles
“It was purely coincidence but the timing of National Child Protection Week and a warm spring day couldn’t be more appropriate for tireless campaigner Damian De Marco to be conferred with his Member of the Order of Australia. The AM award presented on Tuesday by Governor General David Hurley is the latest of many which have been delivered to Mr. De Marco for his unstinting efforts over decades to expose the sexual abuse of children under the care of the Catholic Church(link is external).” By Peter Brewer, The Canberra Times

CANADA

Class-action lawsuit claims systemic negligence by archdiocese
“A proposed class-action lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Vancouver claims the archdiocese was ‘systematically negligent’ in protecting parishioners from abuse by clergy(link is external). The Archdiocese was aware of the abuse and allowed the abuse to continue. The Archdiocese was also complicit in silencing survivors, who were required to take oaths of secrecy when making complaints to the Archdiocese, the claim states.” By Agnieszka Ruck, the B.C. Catholic

Catholic priest sex abuse victim awarded $844,140
“The Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese will pay a priest’s sexual abuse victim $844,140 in damages(link is external), a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Aug. 25. Rosemary Anderson, now 70, alleged in a Dec. 22, 2016, notice of civil claim that sexual abuse at the hands of Erlindo Molon, now 88, started when she was 26. She names Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole, in the claim.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Syndicated, North Shore News

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Victims of sexual abuse urged to come forward following former Middleton priest’s death
“Executors of the estate of a former Middleton priest are looking for individuals who may have suffered sexual abuse at his hands to come forward(link is external). Michael Studdert worked in Langley, Middleton, during the 1960s and is believed to have abused children in England, Wales, Poland, Denmark and Italy. Following his death, Studdert’s estate was frozen to allow his victims a chance to file claims for compensation.” By RochdaleOnline.co.uk

Appeal shows London diocese not ready to ‘do the right thing,’ sex abuse survivor says
“Once again, the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, as Irene Deschenes said, isn’t ready to ‘do the right thing(link is external).’ You could set your watch this week for when the diocese would drop its application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, hoping to overturn a lower court decision allowing the sexual abuse survivor to reopen her two-decades-old civil case.” By Jane Sims, The London Free Press

MALTA

Priest accused of sex with teen suspended from his duties
“A priest who appeared in court last Thursday (Sept. 3) over a sexual relationship he was allegedly having with a teenage girl(link is external) has been suspended from his duties, according to a spokesman for the church. The priest must refrain from public ministry while criminal process against him is ongoing, the spokesman for the church’s Safeguarding Commission told Times of Malta. This means that he cannot celebrate Mass or administer any of the sacraments in the community.” By Matthew Xuereb, Malta Times

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O.C.’s bishop, a $12-million problem and a secret fight stretching to the Vatican / Los Angeles Times

The benefactors have accused Vann of violating state law by removing them from the board of an independent charity after they rebuffed what they contend was an illegal plan to “invade” endowment funds and flout donor wishes. (Los Angeles Times)

The FedEx envelopes landed at dawn on the doorsteps of some of Orange County’s most influential Catholic philanthropists — real estate developers, attorneys, CEOs and other church stalwarts who had raised tens of millions of dollars over the years for the local diocese.

“Inside were letters from Bishop Kevin Vann that boiled down to two words: You’re fired.

“Those June missives ignited a revolt inside the Orange County church that has burned all the way to the Vatican while remaining largely hidden from the diocese’s 1.3 million rank-and-file Catholics.

“At its heart is a falling out between a circle of well-connected lay people who helped the church rebound financially from the clergy abuse scandal two decades ago, and a prelate staring down fresh money problems brought on by the pandemic and a new round of molestation lawsuits.

“The benefactors have accused Vann of violating state law by removing them from the board of an independent charity after they rebuffed what they contend was an illegal plan to “invade” endowment funds and flout donor wishes.”

By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times — Read more …

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Restitution to be set aside for clergy abuse survivors a fraction of misused funds

BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 24, 2020 – Disgraced former bishop Rev. Michael Bransfield will pay only half the restitution his successor Bishop Mark Brennan approved last November, according to Brennan’s Aug. 20 letter, issued just days after Bransfield’s apology to Catholics of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, which sounded more like a confession that sins had been committed, just not by him.

“We cannot adequately describe the anguish we feel at the lack of accountability reflected in the Vatican’s recent order for restitution from Bransfield or the lack of remorse from the former bishop,” said Mary Pat Fox, Voice of the Faithful president. “Once more, the Church has failed to hold a bishop adequately accountable for his actions. Complete restitution, removal from the clerical state, and a life of prayer and penance should be the punishment for all bishops who have so grossly abused their authority.”

Restitution paid by Bransfield is to be used to support clergy abuse survivors, which makes the fact that the Vatican decreased the amount even more reprehensible.

Pope Francis accepted Bransfield’s resignation as bishop in September 2018. He had been accused of misusing millions of dollars of church money and of sexually abusing teenagers and covering up abuse by other priests dating back to when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and of sexually harassing seminarians as bishop.

His successor, Bishop Mark Brennan, had worked out a plan for Bransfield to pay about $800,000 in restitution to the diocese and for Bransfield’s stipend in retirement to be $736, but the Vatican Congregation of Bishops ordered him to pay only $441,000 in restitution and set his stipend at $2,250.

Forgiveness may be at the heart of faith, Fox said, but so is justice. “These offending bishops should assume a vow of poverty and be sent to a monastery to pray.”


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 24, 2020
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


Aug. 24, 2020

TOP STORIES

Explainer: What the church has done to fight clergy sex abuse since 2018’s ‘summer of shame’
“It has been two years since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was published on Aug. 14, 2018, documenting in at times disturbing detail at least 1,000 cases of abuse by 300 predator priests (link is external) spanning seven decades. Within two months, 13 more states and the District of Columbia had launched similar investigations, and Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then-archbishop of Washington, who was named in the report as failing to deal adequately with abuse when he was bishop of Pittsburgh.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Francis names six women to group that oversees Vatican’s finances
“Pope Francis named six women to the high-level group that oversees the Vatican’s finances (link is external) Aug. 6, in what may represent the most senior appointments yet of women among the Catholic Church’s exclusively male leadership structure. The six women, all Europeans with backgrounds in finance, will join eight cardinals and one layman as members of the Council for the Economy, which Francis created in 2014 to supervise the financial activities of both the Vatican city-state and the offices of the Holy See.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: It’s past time for Vatican report on McCarrick’s shameful rise
“As we publish this, it has been one year, 10 months, and six days since Pope Francis ordered a report on the Vatican’s documentation about how Theodore McCarrick was promoted through the ranks of the Catholic hierarchy for decades, despite multiple, then-secret reports of his sexual misconduct (link is external) with seminarians. And it has been six months and six days since a Vatican official last gave a public update on the status of the report, when Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told the Reuters news agency that work on the text was done, awaiting only a final ‘go’ order for publication from Francis.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Polish Cleric Retires in Face of Cover-Up Accusations. It’s Not Enough, Critics Say.
“Pope Francis this week accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Gdansk, Poland, who has been accused of protecting priests facing allegations of child abuse (link is external), a step seen as a subtle rebuke but also criticized as inadequate. The archbishop, Slawoj Leszek Glodz, had offered his resignation upon reaching the retirement age of 75, as protocol demands, but bishops are typically allowed to keep their positions past that time. The pope’s decision to accept Archbishop Glodz’s resignation on his birthday was interpreted by many as an admonishment of the church hierarchy in Poland, which has long been accused of putting the institution’s image above the rights of abuse victims.” By Elisabetta Povoledo and Anatol Magdziarz, The New York Times

Report show emergence of child safe culture
“Audits of Catholic dioceses and religious institutes have revealed a ‘consistent commitment of leaders and an emerging and strengthening child-safe culture (link is external),’ according to Catholic Professional Standards Ltd. Since its establishment in 2016, CPSL has developed and rolled out the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, provided safeguarding capacity-building to Church entities through training, support, advice and guidance, and developed an audit framework to measure compliance with the Standards.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Slew of church abuse lawsuits hinges on state court decision
“Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses have been hit with about 150 lawsuits from people who say they were sexually abused as children by priests (link is external) and hope a state court decision last year has shown a way around time limits for legal claims. Lawyers involved in the litigation say they were still getting notified about new cases on Aug. 13 and expect dozens more. The rush to the courthouse is tied to a landmark grand jury report issued exactly two years ago in 2018 that documented seven decades of child molestation within the Catholic church in Pennsylvania.” By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Questions of abuse cover-up directed at incoming St. Louis archbishop, but details unclear
“Archbishop-designate Mitchell Rozanski is set to take over the Archdiocese of St. Louis, after heading the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts since 2014. Though Rozanski himself backed major changes in the Springfield diocese’s handling of abuse, one unnamed abuse victim has asked for a Church investigation into whether the archbishop-designate was involved in covering up abuse (link is external). By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Ex-altar boy says he was abused by Cardinal McCarrick — and witnessed more at beach house
“Geoffrey Downs said he was a teenage altar boy in the 1980s when former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abruptly pinned him to a wall and sexually abused him (link is external) as they prepared for services in Metuchen. McCarrick, who would go on to become one of the most prominent clerics in the U.S. Catholic Church, allegedly said he could arrange for the two to go to a Jersey Shore beach house where they could have ‘alone time.’ Downs, who sued McCarrick and the Metuchen diocese last week, said he knew about that house because he’d been there a few years earlier on a retreat with a group of altar boys. He said he had been awakened by a sound just before dawn, and witnessed a priest sexually abusing a young boy.” By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

BISHOPS

Questions of abuse cover-up directed at incoming St. Louis archbishop, but details unclear
“Archbishop-designate Mitchell Rozanski is set to take over the Archdiocese of St. Louis, after heading the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts since 2014. Though Rozanski himself backed major changes in the Springfield diocese’s handling of abuse, one unnamed abuse victim has asked for a Church investigation into whether the archbishop-designate was involved in covering up abuse (link is external).” By Catholic News Agency in The Pilot

Fifth lawsuit accuses retired Bishop Hubbard of Albany of alleged abuse
“A fifth lawsuit has accused retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany of alleged sexual abuse (link is external). The lawsuit — filed the week of Aug. 10 in the state Supreme Court in Albany on behalf of a 55-year-old man currently living in South Carolina — alleges that Bishop Hubbard sexually abused the man when he was 10 on a church bus trip from St. James Parish, which is now St. Francis of Assisi Parish, to West Point in 1975. The lawsuit also alleges abuse by Bishop Hubbard from 1974-76 when the boy was an altar boy at St. James.” By Mike Matvey, Catholic News Service

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Both warnings and witness: LCWR’s previous assemblies have been remarkably prescient
“At last week’s virtual Leadership Conference of Women Religious annual assembly, congregational leaders shared the feelings of loss, grief and vulnerability they have experienced since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March. Yet they also spoke of summoning creativity and spiritual strength to deal with myriad challenges (link is external) in the pandemic and the raw protests against racial injustice that rippled through our nation and the world in the wake of the death of George Floyd in May.” By Gail DeGeorge, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

After the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis, female theologians are calling for changes to leadership
“Sixty per cent of churchgoers in Australia are women, yet in the decision-making ranks of the Catholic Church, female voices are largely absent (link is external). The lack of women in leadership roles is a point of contention for many theologians — not just for equity reasons. According to Robyn Horner, from the Australian Catholic University’s school of theology, the church’s sexual abuse crisis demonstrated the failings of a male-only leadership structure.” By Siobhan Hegarty, ABC Radio National

New appointees to Francis’s financial powerhouse signal progress of women
“Pope Francis has long advocated for a more ‘incisive’ presence of women in positions of authority and leadership in the Vatican, and while some have complained about the pace at which changes are being made, the recent appointment of six women to the Vatican’s chief financial office has jolted things into warp drive (link is external). On Thursday (Aug. 6), the Vatican announced that Francis had named two women each from Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom to his 15-member Council for the Economy.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Let’s use the title ‘co-worker’ for laypeople in parish leadership
“I am frustrated by the Vatican’s recent instruction on ‘The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the church,’ issued on July 20. At first, the document evokes an expansive vision of parish transformation … Then the instruction tantalizes reform-minded Catholics by saying, ‘Parish communities will find herein a call to go out of themselves, offering instruments of reform, even structural, in a spirit of communion and collaboration … for the proclamation of the Gospel.’ But I find no structural instruments of reform here (link is external) … The Congregation for the Clergy’s instruction restates (somewhat defensively) long-standing church rules that mandate a male-celibate-priest-centric and priest-controlled vision of parish community.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

Lay group urges Pittsburgh Diocese to do more to restore broken trust
“The Pittsburgh Diocese is reeling from declining attendance and a massive restructuring program two years after a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report uncovered widespread clerical sexual abuse in six dioceses in the state (link is external). A lay advocacy group now says diocesan leadership has made few concrete steps to restore trust with parishioners. ‘I don’t think they’ve made progress since the grand jury,’ said Jan Hayes, a leader of the advocacy group known as Catholics for Change in Our Church.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German-speaking bishops criticise Vatican parish instruction
“The Vatican instruction, The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church, of 20 July continues to be hotly debated in the German-speaking countries. In Switzerland, it has been sharply criticized by the Bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür: ‘That the Vatican sees the parish solely concentrated on the parish priest does not reflect our reality (link is external). It is, moreover, a theologically deficient and too constricted a view,’ Gmür wrote in a letter to church employees in his diocese. The Vatican Instruction left the ‘stale impression’ that in the final instance the Vatican was only interested in the ‘predominance of the clergy.’” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

VOICES

Column: Times have changed. Or have they?
“We are in the midst of a global pandemic which has changed everybody’s lives, perhaps forever. And yet here we have a Vatican pronouncement that things have not changed (link is external), that the priest is still the parish boss, that we should all get back to playing our traditional passive PPO (‘pray, pay, obey’) roles. Between 2004 and 2016, dozens of parishes and hundreds of parishioners in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB) protested Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s (SOM) attempts to close and sell off their parish churches in order to pay off a huge pile of debt incurred from paying out financial settlements to victims of clergy abuse.” By Arthur McCaffrey, MetroWest Daily News

Catholic Church continues to harbor sexual predators
“‘There are rapists in many occupations.’ That was the response I got when I forwarded an article from the New York Times to a friend concerning an alleged serial predator in the Twin Cities. She then reminded me of a time when she felt a doctor squeezed her knee inappropriately. OK. Sure. There are ‘bad guys’ everywhere. But that is not the same as having a systemic problem with men who assault for decades (link is external) and do so in a hierarchy of power that enables, covers up and makes excuses for their behavior.” By Karen Cyson, Times Writers Group, on SCTimes.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Review of Statute of Limitations Lookback Window Legislation
“In a recent 2019 summary of changes in statutes of limitation for child sex abuse, written by CHILDUSA, 41 states had either changed their statutes of limitations or had bills pending to do so. In the past two years 15 states have extended or suspended statute of limitations (link is external) to allow child sex abuse claims stretching back decades, unleashing potentially thousands of new lawsuits against the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. More importantly ‘lookback windows’ have been established by eight states and the District of Columbia. These ‘windows’ allow victims of sexual abuse to sue no matter how long ago the alleged abuse took place.” By Joseph H. Saunders, Legal Examiner

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

FBI says Ohio priest preyed on vulnerable, drug-addicted teens
“An affidavit filed in federal court alleges that a Toledo diocesan priest preyed on vulnerable men while he was a pastor in Mansfield and Van Wert (link is external). The Rev. Michael Zacharias, 53, who served in Fremont until 2017, was arrested Tuesday (Aug. 18) in Findlay and charged with sex trafficking minors, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also faces charges of coercion and enticement and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion, the FBI said.” By Craig Shoup, Fremont News-Messenger

Deceased Massachusetts bishop accused of sexual abuse had roots in New York Archdiocese
“Archbishop-designate Mitchell Rozanski, who will take over the Archdiocese of St. Louis this month, oversaw an investigation into the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of Springfield, Mass, a bishop credibly accused of sexually abusing an altar boy (link is external) in the 1960s. Rozanski has faced criticism for some aspects of his handling of the case, which the bishop said had been mishandled for years.” By Catholic News Agency

INDIANA

Diocese, bishop sued over abuse allegations
“Lawsuits have been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg by a Pittsburgh attorney on behalf of alleged victims of two priests, one deceased, the other defrocked by the diocese (link is external) but perhaps still living in Indiana County. Alan H. Perer of the law firm of Swensen & Perer filed those actions this week in Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas against the diocese and Bishop Edward C. Malesic on behalf of a former Blairsville resident now living in White Oak, Allegheny County; and a former Mount Pleasant Township, Westmoreland County, resident now living in Pittsburgh.” By Patrick Cloonan, The Indiana Gazette

KANSAS

KBI received 205 reports of priest abuse; opened 120 cases
“The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has received 205 reports of clergy sexual abuse and opened 120 cases (link is external) since it began investigating the state’s Catholic dioceses nearly two years ago, the agency said Friday (Aug. 14). Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the KBI in November 2018 to investigate Catholic clergy abuse in Kansas. A task force of six agents has been investigating reports of abuse from the public and is reviewing church documents.” By Associated Press

KENTUCKY

Catholic Diocese of Lexington names 20 priests accused of sexually abusing minors
“The Catholic Diocese of Lexington on Friday (Aug. 14) released a list of priests who served in Kentucky who have been accused of sexually abusing minors (link is external). The list names 10 priests against whom allegations of abuse were substantiated; four priests who had ‘credible’ allegations against them, indicating that the allegations were more than likely true; six priests who served in the Lexington diocese but were credibly accused of abuse in another diocese; and one priest against whom allegations were found to be unsubstantiated.” By Karla Ward, Lexington Herald Leader

Diocese of Covington in Kentucky Releases FBI Clergy Abuse Report
“The Diocese of Covington has released a report on sexual abuse that found 59 Catholic priests and 31 others associated with the church have sexually abused children (link is external) since the 1950s. The report was released Friday (Aug. 7) on the diocese website along with a list naming the accused, The Kentucky Enquirer reported. ‘There are no words to adequately express the sorrow and shame I feel,’ Foys wrote in an apology released with the report. ‘I can never apologize enough to those who have been harmed by any representative of the church. I beg your forgiveness in the name of the church.’” By Insurance Journal

LOUISIANA

New Orleans’ archdiocese adds priest to credibly accused list after almost 2 decades of allegations
“When the Archdiocese of New Orleans issued a list two years ago that included dozens of clergymen credibly accused of sexual abuse (link is external), Mike Brandner Sr.’s heart sank. Brandner’s late brother, Scot, had a trove of love letters sent to him by a former New Orleans priest, Brian Highfill, in his desk drawer when he died. The letters started arriving in the early 1980s, when Scot was 17 and in high school, and because Scot had known Highfill since he was 10, Mike Brandner feared for what could have happened when Scot was a minor.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

MINNESOTA

Hearing to Dismiss Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against Waite Park Catholic School Later This Month
“A hearing to dismiss a lawsuit against a private Catholic school in Waite Park is scheduled for later this month. The lawsuit, filed in 2018, alleges sexual abuse at the hands of a priest and a family at Holy Innocents School (link is external). The case calls the school a ‘public nuisance’ and says they are guilty of negligence and negligent supervision. The plaintiff, known as Doe 596 is asking for $50,000 in damages for the school to be closed.” By Jennifer Lewerenz, KNSI Radio, on NorthJersey.com

MISSOURI

Local priest involved in Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph lawsuit
“A priest who served at Holy Cross Catholic Church on St. John Avenue is involved in one of two new sexual abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph (link is external). The lawsuit, filed July 20, 2020 in Jackson County Circuit Court, alleges that Rev. Darvin Salazar sexually assaulted the unnamed plaintiff, age 25, in July 2018. The lawsuit alleges that the diocese had received previous reports regarding Salazar from at least five other individuals but chose not to remove him as a priest until the July 2018 allegations.” By Daisy Garcia Montoya, Northeast News

NEW JERSEY

Jersey City Priest Arrested, Faces Sex Crime Charges
“A Jersey City priest has been arrested and charged in connection with alleged sexual crimes (link is external) that occurred in the rectory at St. Paul of the Cross Church earlier this year, according to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez. In a statement Suarez announced that Donato Cabardo was arrested without incident on Saturday after surrendering himself at the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. Cabardo has been charged with two counts of fourth-degree Criminal Sexual Contact and one count of Harassment.” By Steve Lenox, Tap Into Jersey City

NEW MEXICO

Lawsuit claims Catholic priests, nuns abused boys at Albuquerque orphanage
“A new lawsuit claims Catholic priests and nuns in Albuquerque abused orphans (link is external). ‘I think St. Anthony’s orphanage has been around forever or was around forever. And then in the 1950s, 1960s, and we’re actually learning even prior to that had a problem with physical and sexual abuse of children who were placed there,’ said Levi Monagle, an attorney representing a man who claims he was abused at the orphanage.” By KOB-TV4 News

NEW YORK.

Bronx priest ‘trafficked’ boy to child molester, lawsuit alleges
“A beloved Bronx priest intentionally steered a boy to a known molester (link is external) in the 1980s, leading to months of sexual abuse, according to a new lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court. It claims Bishop John Jenik was allegedly abusing children himself when he “trafficked” a then-14-year-old Shawn Ganley to ex-con counselor Paul Gruber, whom Jenik knew was abusing other minor students at Our Lady of Refuge School, Ganley claims in court papers.” By Kathianne Boniello, New York Post

Child Victims’ Act lawsuit outlines new sex abuse accusations against former Avon priest
“Another person victim has come forward with accusations that former Catholic priest Joseph E. Larrabee sexually abused him when he was a child (link is external). The victim, whose name the County News is withholding to protect his privacy, is now in his 50s. In a civil complaint filed late last this month in Livingston County Supreme Court, he accused of Larrabee of sexually abusing him ‘on at least four occasions’ in 1982 and 1983 when he was between the ages of 12 and 14. According to the filing, the abuse occurred in the St. Agnes rectory.” By Matt Leader, Livingston County News

Diocese faces several new lawsuits
“Attorneys filed more than two dozen lawsuits against the Diocese of Scranton this week (link is external), just days before the second anniversary of the 2018 state grand jury report that revealed widespread sexual abuse and cover ups among Roman Catholic clergy. Of the 30 lawsuits, nearly all of which were filed between Monday (Aug. 20) and Thursday (Aug. 13), Times-Shamrock Newspapers confirmed at least 24 pertain to sexual abuse. Although the remaining six suits appear to relate to sexual abuse, attempts to reach the attorneys to confirm were unsuccessful.” By Frank Wilkes Lesnefsky and Terri Morgan-Besecker, The Citizens Voice

Buffalo Diocese priest abused boy in 2009, lawsuit states
“From the beginning of the scandal, the Diocese of Buffalo has tried to describe child sex abuse by priests as a problem of the past (link is external). ‘There have been only three diocesan priests against whom there have been substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse since the year 2000,’ the diocese writes on its website. ‘There have been no substantiated claims of child sexual abuse against any diocesan priest ordained in the past 30 years.’ But a lawsuit recently filed in State Supreme Court now threatens to render that statement false.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Another lawsuit filed against former Albany bishop Howard Hubbard
“A 55-year-old South Carolina man has accused former Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of raping him while he served as a young altar boy in an Albany Catholic church (link is external) in the mid-1970s, the latest in a string of lawsuits accusing the former longtime bishop of child sexual abuse. The latest claims come in a Child Victims Act lawsuit filed in Albany County court Monday (Aug. 10) by Charles Carr which alleged Hubbard repeatedly abused him when he was an altar boy at St. James Church in Albany between 9- and 11-years-old, abuse that allegedly included instances of sodomy.” By Zachary Matson, The Daily Gazette

Five Priests from Rochester Diocese alleged to have abused 105 victims
“Serial predators inside the Catholic Church: At least 245 lawsuits filed under the Crime Victims Act name the Rochester Catholic Diocese (link is external). Taken together, they allege a stunning abuse of power – some of it involving only a handful of priests. Five of them have been accused by a combined 105 victims. ‘These people hurt you. You don’t forget that,’ said a man who asked to be identified only by his initials: J.O.” By Jane Flasch, WHAM-TV13 News

OHIO

Findlay priest charged with multiple child sex crimes
“The pastor of a Catholic church in Findlay was arrested and is being federally charged with numerous crimes related to sexual conduct with minors (link is external). Michael Zacharias, 53, is charged with coercion and enticement, sex trafficking of a minor, and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion. Zacharias is the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay. Investigators are aware Zacharias has engaged in sexual conduct with minors since the late 1990s.” By WTVG-TV13 Action News

Judge denies motion to dismiss Hancock County lawsuit over priest abuse allegations
“A request by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to dismiss a lawsuit alleging sexual assault by the Rev. Victor Frobas (link is external) has been denied in Hancock County Circuit Court. The order issued July 31 by Circuit Judge David Sims pertains to a complaint filed May 15 in Hancock County Circuit Court by Michael Pirraglia of Fairfax, Va. The complaint alleges Pirraglia was sexually assaulted over a three-year period by Frobas as a child while attending St. Paul Catholic Church in Weirton.” By Joselyn King, Herald-Star

PENNSYLVANIA

Two years on, grand jury’s impact on diocese lingers
“Two years after a landmark grand jury report told a sordid history of sexual abuse by priests and its cover-up by their superiors (link is external), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is still coming to terms with its impact. Just this week, 28 people filed lawsuits or notices of intent to sue in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, while a local lay group issued a report sharply critical of the diocese’s response, which it said is marked by “clericalism” and a bunker mentality.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on ReadingEagle.com

Erie diocese flooded with lawsuits two years after report
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie is facing the potential of massive legal fallout two years after the release of the state grand jury report on clergy sex abuse statewide (link is external). Prompted by the 884-page report’s allegations, 21 lawsuits had been filed in Erie County Court against the diocese, churches and related entities throughout the 13-county diocese as of the end of the day on Friday (Aug. 14), according to an Erie Times-News’ review of the docket. Statewide, Pennsylvania’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses had been hit with about 150 suits, according to the Associated Press.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

The Catholic Diocese Of Pittsburgh Expects It Will Pay Tens Of Millions To Sexual Abuse Victims, Hopes To Avoid Bankruptcy
“Out of shock and shame that was the grand jury report, Bishop Zubik says the diocese emerged with one clear obligation — to compensate and care for victims of clergy sexual abuse — no matter the cost (link is external). ‘First and foremost to people who are the victim/survivors to help them in every way we can possibly help them,’ he said. To that end, the diocese established the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program — a fund to compensate all victims of clergy sexual abuse. Some 369 people have made claims and to date, most have received compensation including Paul Dorsch.” By Andy Sheehan, KDKA-TV2 News

Rodgers files suit against Erie Diocese, bishops over abuse
“For 30 years, Bradford’s Ed Rodgers has been waiting to see justice for the sexual abuse he says he suffered while attending school (link is external) at Bradford Central Christian. Thanks to a recent change in Pennsylvania law, on Tuesday (Aug. 11), Rodgers was able to file suit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Erie Diocese and Bishops Donald Trautman and Lawrence Persico. A spokesperson for the diocese on Wednesday said only, ‘The Diocese of Erie does not comment on litigation.’” By Marcie Schellhammer, The Bradford Era

Lawsuit against Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh accuses priest of rape
“A man who immigrated to the United States at age 13 from Italy is suing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, alleging that he was sexually assaulted by a priest at Immaculate Conception Parish (link is external) in Bloomfield twice in 1967. The lawsuit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, also names as defendants the church, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and current Bishop David Zubik.” By Paula Reed Ward, TribLive.com

With Little Fanfare, Exton’s Dan Monahan Has Found a Measure of Closure for Survivors of Clergy Abuse
“Now, after more than a decade of disclosure after disclosure involving sexual abuse among the clergy (link is external), Monahan reflects on the cunning, programmatic behavior among those in purple garb. “It was like there was a playbook,” he says. “They picked on kids whose fathers were alcoholics, or whose mothers were overly devoted. They gave boys chores—ways we could help. It was like they were all given a manual on how to groom.” By J.F. Piro, Main Line Today

WEST VIRGINIA

Judge: Lawsuit over alleged clergy abuse can go ahead in Hancock County
“A request by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to dismiss a lawsuit alleging sexual assault by the Rev. Victor Frobas has been denied in Hancock County Circuit Court. The order issued July 31 by Circuit Judge David Sims pertains to a complaint filed May 15 in Hancock County Circuit Court by Michael Pirraglia of Fairfax, Va. The complaint alleges Pirraglia was sexually assaulted over a three-year period by Frobas as a child (link is external) while attending St. Paul Catholic Church in Weirton.” By Joselyn King, The Weirton Daily Times

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

London Catholic diocese taking priest-abuse survivor to Supreme Court over lawsuit
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of London is taking sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes to the Supreme Court of Canada (link is external). The diocese is appealing a May decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal that would allow Deschenes to reopen a civil settlement she reached with the church for the abuses she suffered at the hands Father Charles Sylvestre between 1971 and 1973 at St. Ursula School in Chatham. Deschenes was 10 when the abuse started. ‘I’m very disappointed that, once again, the Diocese of London continues to bully victims into submission,’ Deschenes said in a statement.” By London Free Press Staff

GUAM

Church, abuse survivors report ‘considerable progress’
“Nearly 90 properties of the Archdiocese of Agana, excluding any Catholic parish or school, have been discussed between the church and survivors of clergy sex abuse as assets to fund a potential settlement (link is external). A federal judge vacated Friday’s (Aug. 7) scheduling conference on the archdiocese’s bankruptcy, after the parties reported ‘considerable progress’ in their ongoing mediation. Some 300 Guam clergy sex abuse cases could go to trial if there is no settlement outside the court.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

INDONESIA

‘The Church betrays us’: More Catholic school abuse victims speak up
“Two more victims of childhood sexual abuse at a Catholic school have spoken up following collaborative reports (link is external) between The Jakarta Post and Tirto.id on abuse in the Catholic Church, as the Church continues to remain passive in dealing with sexual assault allegations. Now grown women, the victims, Anna and Vivian, who chose pseudonyms to protect their privacy, said they read the reports of Sisca and Ellen, also pseudonyms, and found similarities between their experiences.” By Ivany Atina Arbi, The Jakarta Post

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


August 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

Former Vatican ambassador to stand trial in Paris on charges of ‘sexual aggression’ against four men
“The former Vatican nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 75, will stand trial in Paris on Nov. 10 on charges of alleged ‘sexual aggression’ against four men(link is external), Agence France-Press and other French media, including Le Monde, reported today, based on information from judicial sources. It is the first time in the modern history of papal diplomacy that a nuncio of the Holy See will stand trial in a civil court.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Church in Argentina is making a ‘change in mentality’ on clerical sexual abuse
“Two major archdioceses in Argentina are facing allegations of wanting to ‘replace the state’ by creating a commission to receive allegations of clerical sexual abuse(link is external), but one expert says civil law and canon law aren’t competitors for justice. ‘Always, every case, the law of the State wherever the abuse happens, must be followed and respected,’ said Maria Ines Franck, the executive secretary of the Pastoral Council for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Argentine bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

A Church That Is Poor? Money, Sectarianism, & Catholic Tradition
“What to make of the fact that the Catholic Church received $1.4 billion from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program? The remarks from Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley seem to suffice. As he put it, the ‘Catholic Church’ in this case encompasses the hundreds of individual Catholic dioceses, parishes … Yet at the same time, we should remain mindful about the constitutional and political issues concerning the relationship between Church and state, and the continued need for financial accountability and transparency in light of the links between the sexual-abuse crisis and financial mismanagement in Catholic institutions(link is external).” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Latin Americans press fight against clerical sexual abuse
“Public Mass might have stopped across much of the world during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several aspects of the life of the Church have continued, including efforts to prevent clerical sexual abuse in Latin America … ‘Nowhere have I encountered the level of destruction I found within the Church,’ said Chilean laywoman Maria Josefina Martinez Bernal, a member of the National Council on Abuse Prevention and Victims Accompaniment of the Chilean bishops conference since 2011, and a member of the Fundacion para la Confianza, an NGO founded by three survivors of former Chilean priest Fernando Karadima.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Is child abuse now just more hidden from view?
“Authorities have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of child abuse cases being reported, but they aren’t viewing it as good news(link is external). Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic and Jamie Rossow, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan, say they suspect that child abuse is actually up and is just not being reported. They said this is occurring not just locally but all across the country.” By Julie Swidwa, Herald Palladium

Papal envoy to meet women who ‘applied’ to be priests, bishops
“‘We’re working for equality of all baptized Catholics, and we understand that in a very broad way,’ she (Alix Bayle, a representative of the coalition) said, but insisted that it’s not just about the priesthood. ‘What should be clear is that we don’t just want ordination for women, and actually some of us don’t want that … but we do want a reformed Church, we want the Church to be reformed so that also laypeople have more responsibilities and actions, and that true synodality is lived(link is external).’ Bayle said there is a common feeling inside the coalition that the Catholic Church ‘is in urgent need to respond on many fronts,’ one of which is ‘asking for equality for all baptized women.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Magazine report is aimed at silencing nuns on sex abuse, says Vatican critic
“An article in a Jesuit magazine describing alleged exploitation of nuns in Catholic convents has been criticized as an attempt to silence members of women’s religious orders who have begun to speak out against sexual abuse by priests(link is external). ‘I think there is a possibility of a revolt of religious sisters,’ said Lucetta Scaraffia, the former head of the Vatican magazine Donne, Chiesa, Mondo (Women, Church, World), adding that many nuns she has heard from ‘are furious.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston rolls out third-party system for reporting of alleged abuse, harassment
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston announced two third-party reporting systems for people to use about concerns and allegations of abuse and harassment in the diocese. DWC officials announced on Monday (Aug. 3) the partnership with Navex Global to roll out a new version of its EthicsPoint platform, intended to report suspected financial, professional, and personal misconduct of a priest, deacon, religious, or lay employee of the diocese, parish, or Catholic school in West Virginia(link is external). This comes more than a year after the Catholic Church investigation concluded disgraced former Bishop Michael Bransfield sexually harassed younger priests and misused millions of dollars in church money.” By West Virginia MetroNews

French Sex Assault Trial Ordered For Pope’s Ex-envoy
“Pope Francis’s former ambassador to France, Luigi Ventura, will stand trial for sex assault in Paris in November following complaints by four men(link is external), one of whom accused the cleric of inappropriate touching, lawyers said Thursday (Jul. 30). Ventura, an Italian-born archbishop, was stripped of his diplomatic immunity by the Vatican last July after he was questioned by French police, and resigned in December when he reached the 75-year age limit for his post.” By Agence France Press

Diocese Still Awaiting Guidance From Vatican on Bransfield’s Amends
“More than eight months after the amends for disgraced bishop Michael Bransfield were announced, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston officials still have heard nothing from The Vatican about how to proceed(link is external). In a letter sent to Roman Catholics across West Virginia on Tuesday Jul. 28), the Most Rev. Mark Brennan said he is still waiting for guidance from Pope Francis on whether the amends set forth against the former bishop are appropriate or whether there should be changes.” By Mike Jones, The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

New Abuse Lawsuit Filed Concerning Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
“Today, I filed a civil sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Metuchen concerning a courageous survivor who was abused by McCarrick(link is external) in the early 1980’s when McCarrick was the bishop of Metuchen. Apart from all the recent news stories about McCarrick, I learned about McCarrick and his secret life about 15 years ago from Richard Sipe, a good friend and colleague. When our discussions turned to the Catholic Church and sexual abuse, Richard never hesitated to share his frustration with the hierarchy, including popes and bishops, whom he said knew about McCarrick’s sexual abuse of children and seminarians.” By Joseph H. Saunders, Los Angeles Injury Loss News, The Legal Examiner Affiliate

Catholic Church hesitant to publish McCarrick report as survivors continue to sue
“Insiders say the Vatican sponsored investigation of disgraced and former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been completed for months and sits gathering dust on Pope Francis’ desk(link is external). In the meantime, survivors come forward and file abuse lawsuits against Catholic dioceses in New Jersey, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Archdiocese of Washington revealing more embarrassing details of McCarrick’s history of predation.” By Legal Examiner

Eradicating the McCarrick Virus
“It has now been two years since Pope Francis accepted Theodore McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals(link is external), shortly after allegations of his sexual abuse of a minor and evidence of other sexual exploitations first detonated into public view. Yet after all this time, Catholics in the United States are still waiting for answers about which Church leaders, here and in Rome, knew about McCarrick’s scandalous situation but failed to take meaningful disciplinary and preventive actions — and possibly even facilitated and abetted his meteoric rise to prominence.” By The Editors, National Catholic Register

PRIESTS

Priest shortage forcing Jesuits to leave New Mexico
“A shortage of Jesuit priests is forcing the storied Society of Jesus Catholic order to abandon New Mexico(link is external) after more than 160 years. The St. Louis, Missouri-based Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province is pulling out the last remaining four Jesuit priests next year, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Rev. Warren Broussard, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church and Parish in Albuquerque will be the last to depart next June 30.” By The Associated Press

Should priests still lead parishes? German bishops debate new Vatican document
“The Vatican instruction on the reform of Catholic parishes continues to stir debate in Germany, where some bishops say the current parish model with a priest in charge is no longer sustainable because of a lack of vocations(link is external). The instruction bars laypeople from leading parishes and emphasizes the role of priests. It directly opposes efforts to hand over the management of parishes to teams made up of priests and dedicated church members as well as other staff.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

A virtual LCWR assembly aims to discern modern role of women religious
“Meeting fellow sister leaders over coffee or lunch, perusing and networking with exhibition booths, sharing deep exchanges between speakers: The subtle yet substantial interactions that infused past annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will be absent this year. But rather than canceling the gathering that was to be in Dallas, Texas, LCWR decided to take the Aug. 12-14 assembly online(link is external), as the coronavirus pandemic discourages large, in-person gatherings.” By Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter

Franciscan Sisters give NCR $1.5 million to help ‘wake up the world’
“The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration announced on July 31 a gift of $1.5 million to NCR’s endowment(link is external) earmarked to support and amplify ‘integral ecological education and journalism reflecting the spirit of Laudato Si’.’ The gift marks the establishment of the Laudato Si’ Fund, which NCR will seek to grow with gifts from other donors. It is one of the largest donations ever received by NCR. The donation represents roughly half of the amount needed to permanently endow NCR’s environmental coverage.” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

Vatican official laments system of ‘dominance, submission’ for women religious
“Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, the Vatican’s point man on consecrated life, has criticized what he said is a state of ‘dominance’ that men often hold over women in the Catholic Church, and stressed the need for a deeper renewal of religious life across the board(link is external). ‘In many cases, the relationship between consecrated men and women represents a sick system of relations of submission and dominance that takes away the sense of freedom and joy, a misunderstood obedience,” said Braz de Aviz in a recent interview.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Catholic bishops urged to appoint a woman as co-chair of Plenary Council
“Australia’s Catholic bishops must appoint a woman as co-chairperson of the church Plenary Council (PC) if they wish the summit meeting to be taken seriously(link is external), the Australian Catholic Coalition on Church Reform has declared. After a Zoom meeting attended by over 100 church reform advocates representing thousands of Catholics from around Australia and New Zealand on 16 July, co-chairs Andrea Dean and John Warhurst said there was overwhelming support for recognition of women’s leadership in the church. This is fundamental to the reform of church governance.” By Catholic Outlook

VATICAN

Vatican instructions give parishioners more hope in face of closings
“Arthur McCaffrey fought for about a decade to keep his parish in suburban Boston open. But in 2015, St. James the Great Parish in Wellesley was demolished. The site is now home to the Boston Sports Performance Center … Now, four years later, the Vatican’s new document on pastoral care raises the question of whether parishioners have more legal recourse(link is external) within the church to keep their parishes open. The answer appears to be yes. The 22-page document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, released July 20, is titled ‘The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the church.’” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

Former Vatican ambassador to stand trial in Paris on charges of ‘sexual aggression’ against four men
“The former Vatican nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 75, will stand trial in Paris on Nov. 10 on charges of alleged ‘sexual aggression’ against four men(link is external), Agence France-Press and other French media, including Le Monde, reported today, based on information from judicial sources. It is the first time in the modern history of papal diplomacy that a nuncio of the Holy See will stand trial in a civil court. This was made possible when Pope Francis last year authorized the Holy See to lift the archbishop’s diplomatic immunity.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Progressive millennials offer the church much hope and promise
“I wasn’t surprised when, in late July, the Vatican put out new instructions limiting the extent to which the laity can preside over a parish. But I was sad to see an institution so intent preserving clerical power that it is willing to deny the gifts that the laity offer to the life of the church every day(link is external). Laypeople, the document says, should not be ‘directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish.’ Only a priest can exercise ‘the full care of souls,’ the Vatican tells us — which means, of course, women never can.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Congress Should Expunge Statutes of Limitations on Child Sexual Assault
“July 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of Florida’s repeal of all civil and criminal statutes of limitation for prosecution of cases involving child sexual battery(link is external). The repeal has opened courthouse doors so survivors can enter when they are sufficiently recovered mentally and emotionally to confront their abusers. A delayed report of child sex abuse to law enforcement no longer means officers have to wait for the reporting of a predator’s next victim and abusers can now be brought to justice and exposed in our communities.” By Michael Dolce, Newsweek

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

The Heavy Toll of Priest Sex Abuse
“Readers share their stories of growing up in the Catholic church and of the culture that allowed the abuse to happen(link is external).” Letters to the Editor, The New York Times

Case against diocese draws attention
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the past week has received several friend-of-the-court briefs both supporting and challenging a landmark decision made by the court last year in which it allowed an Altoona woman to proceed with a sexual abuse case against a priest, even though the alleged offenses occurred in the mid-1970s(link is external). Pennsylvania’s highest court agreed in March to review the Superior Court decision, which has drawn interest from church organizations as well victims’ rights groups nationwide.” By Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror

CALIFORNIA

Warrant issued for California priest who failed to show
“A San Francisco Bay Area priest accused of sexual battery failed to appear in court(link is external) Monday (Jul. 27) and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. Varghese Alengadan, 67, known as ‘Father George,’ was charged last week with one count of misdemeanor sexual battery for allegedly inappropriately touching a woman in July 2019.” By Associated Press

KENTUCKY

Diocese of Covington: 59 priests sexually abused children since 1950
“A nearly year-long review of records at the Diocese of Covington found that 59 Catholic priests and 31 others associated with the church have sexually abused children(link is external) since the 1950s. A report summarizing the findings of the review was released Friday (Jul. 31) on the diocese’s website, along with a list naming the accused and a letter of apology from Covington Bishop Roger Foys.” By Erin Glynn and Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

LOUISIANA

Abuse victims say Archdiocese of New Orleans must reveal ‘secret’
“Local victims of Catholic clergy abuse(link is external) want to see investigation records the Archdiocese of New Orleans has shared with the Vatican. Members of the Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests (SNAP) held a news conference Friday (Jul. 31) at Notre Dame Seminary, where area Catholic priests are trained. They called upon Archbishop Gregory Aymond to share all documents related to abuse probes.” By WDSU-TV6 News

New Orleans priest continued serving 13 years after abuse claim landed him in treatment
“Sixteen years ago, Ricky Monsour spoke up for the first time about how he was groomed and molested in his boyhood by a priest the Catholic Church(link is external) eventually acknowledged was almost certainly a child predator. But it was only recently that he decided to speak out about the details of the $106,000 payment that the church later gave him to quietly settle his claims of abuse at the hands of Carl Davidson.” By David Hammer, Eyewitness News, and Ramon Antonio Vargas, The New Orleans Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Vicar general of Springfield diocese won’t accept reappointment, says he was ‘unfairly’ portrayed in Weldon report
“Fallout continues in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield as the diocesan vicar general, the Rev. Monsignor Christopher Connelly, will not seek reappointment, saying he was ‘unfairly and unfavorably portrayed’ in the recent report into allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon. Connelly’s announcement coincides with letters having circulated in the religious community in which retired priest James Scahill, an outspoken advocate on behalf of victims of sex abuse within the Catholic church, called for the removal of the vicar based on the results of the report by retired Judge Peter A. Velis. The vicar is second only to the bishop in the diocesan hierarchy.” By Anne-Girard Flynn, MassLive.com

MISSOURI

Two new lawsuits filed against Kansas City diocese over local priests’ alleged sexual abuse
“Two new lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, claiming the diocese covered up abuse by two local Catholic priests(link is external). ‘My church was completely aware,’ a victim’s statement reads. An interpreter read the statement Tuesday (Jul. 28) in front of the Kansas City Catholic Diocese headquarters. ‘I was taken to him for help,’ the victim said. ‘Unfortunately, help was the furthest thing from his mind.’” By Regan Porter, FOX4-TV News

MONTANA

Jesuits: Child sex abuse claim ‘credible’ against former Missoula pastor
“A former Jesuit pastor at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Missoula has been permanently removed from ministry after officials in the church’s province found claims that he sexually abused a minor girl 40 years ago to be credible(link is external), according to a statement from the province. The Rev. Rich Perry will remain at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in California and live under a safety plan, according to the statement provided to the Missoulian … Perry’s name and a timeline of his assignments have been added to a publicly available online list of Jesuits with credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult.” By Seaborn Larson, Missoulian

NEW JERSEY

Camden’s Roman Catholic diocese suspends payments to clergy abuse victims, citing COVID-19 financial stress
“Citing financial losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden in New Jersey said Friday (Jul. 31) that it would halt payments from a clergy sex-abuse victim fund that has paid out nearly $7.6 million(link is external). In a statement, the diocese said it had suffered a “precipitous decline in revenue” and was rapidly approaching a point where it would not be able to continue to borrow money to pay authorized awards.” By Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer, on Bakersfield.com

Metuchen Diocese looks to settle mentally disabled man’s clergy sexual abuse case
“The Diocese of Metuchen has offered to settle a lawsuit brought by a mentally disabled man who claims he was sexually abused by priest(link is external) in the basement of St. James Catholic Church in Woodbridge nearly three decades ago. The priest, the Rev. Kevin P. Duggan, took the man to a private area of the basement of St. James on Amboy Avenue on two separate occasions and pulled the man’s pants and underwear down to his ankles and touched his penis, according to the lawsuit.” By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News, on MyCentralJersey.com

Former Cardinal McCarrick accused of participating in beach house ‘sex ring,’ lawyers allege
“He is known only as ‘Doe 14.”’ Raised in a devout Catholic family, he attended St. Francis Xavier in Newark and Essex Catholic in East Orange in the Archdiocese of Newark, participating in church and youth activities. And by the time he was a teenager, his lawyers say he was being groomed for a role in what they called a ‘sex ring’ involving then-Bishop Theodore McCarrick(link is external), the 90-year-old now defrocked and disgraced former cardinal who was cast out of the ministry last year over decades-old sexual abuse allegations.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW MEXICO

Two more Catholic priests accused of child sexual abuse in southern New Mexico
Two Catholic priests were accused Tuesday (Aug. 4) of child sexual abuse(link is external) in southern New Mexico. Civil complaints were filed against the two priests, as well as the Las Cruces and El Paso dioceses and the parishes where the alleged sexual abuse occurred. Fr. Roderick Nichols and Fr. Damian Gamboa were named in the alleged abuse of John Doe and Jane Doe.” By Leah Romero and Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News

NEW YORK.

Dunkirk church named in new Child Victims Act suit
“The former pastor of a Dunkirk church is being accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1960s in a new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Monday (Aug. 3). The complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County, names the former St. Mary’s Church as a defendant. The victim claims to have been abused by the Rev. Maurus Schenck between 1962 and 1968 when the victim was about 12 to 17 years old.” By Eric Tichy, Post-Journal

Two weeks remain for civil lawsuits against Diocese of Rochester
“All legal claims against the Diocese of Rochester must be filed within the next two weeks, according to a federal bankruptcy judge(link is external). U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul Warren issued the ruling Wednesday (Jul. 29), stating August 13, 2020 will be the deadline for filing claims in the Diocese’s Chapter 11 case. An official committee representing plaintiffs in abuse cases and other unsecured creditors had filed a motion to extend the deadline, but were denied.” By WHAM-TV13 News

Child Victims Act plaintiff confronts Bishop Scharfenberger: ‘I lost my son’
“Kevin Brun, a member of the committee representing childhood survivors of sex abuse in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy proceedings, told Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger on Wednesday (Jul. 29) that his son killed himself within 24 hours of reading Brun’s letter of being abused by a priest(link is external) more than 40 years ago. Brun gave Scharfenberger a heart-wrenching account of losing his son Patrick, 21, on Easter Sunday in 2019, saying he wanted the bishop and the diocese’s lawyers to understand his level of commitment to making sure victims of abuse get a measure of justice in the bankruptcy.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

FBI: Queens Priest Shared Sexually Explicit Texts, Photos With 15-Year-Old Boy
“A priest in Queens was arrested Wednesday (Jul. 29) by the FBI for allegedly sending sexually explicit text messages and photos to a 15-year-old boy(link is external). Francis Hughes, 65, a pastor at a religious institution in Glendale, is charged with receiving images of child pornography via text from a 15-year-old minor in Westchester. ‘The allegations against Francis Hughes are chilling and frightening to any parent. A person who, by the nature of his profession, is presumed to be trustworthy allegedly victimized a child,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.” By Erica Brosnan, WCBS News Radio

Four new sex-abuse suits filed against Monsignor Paddack; 1 from time as Farrell principal
“A new lawsuit claims that Monsignor John Paddack sexually abused a boy at Monsignor Farrell High School in the early 2000s(link is external). The former principal of the all-boys school in Oakwood was named in four new lawsuits filed Wednesday in Manhattan state Supreme Court by Jeff Anderson & Associates under the New York Child Victim’s Act. ‘These lawsuits demonstrate Paddack’s pattern of predation: In each instance, exploiting his clerical power to abuse children,’ said attorney Jeff Anderson. His firm has filed numerous lawsuits alleging sex-abuse by clergy.” By Maura Grunlund, SILive.com

Legislation would make clergy mandatory reporters
“Legislation introduced by Assembly member Monica Wallace titled the CARE Act has passed the Assembly this week. The Child Abuse Reporting Expansion Act would add clergy members to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse and maltreatment(link is external), ‘closing a loophole that allowed for the proliferation and cover-up of child abuse,’ according to Wallace. The act was introduced last year, weeks after passage of the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations for survivors of child abuse to file civil claims and provided a temporary period during which survivors could file a claim regardless of how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.” By Cheektowaga Bee

A flurry of lawsuits alleging child sex abuse are filed as deadline for claims nears
“In one lawsuit filed on Thursday (Jul. 23), eight men alleged that a longtime Orange County priest sexually abused them when they were children(link is external), adding their claims to those of at least three other accusers of the late Rev. George Boxelaar who have sued. In another case brought one day earlier, a former Middletown School District student alleges he was molested in second or third grade by Dr. Stefan Irving, a former school pediatrician now serving almost 22 years in prison for a 2003 conviction on charges he traveled abroad to have sex with minors.” By Chris McKenna, Times Herald-Record

Suit alleges sexual abuse at St. Agnes Rectory in 1980s
“One word comes to mind when Mark Rowe recalls Joseph Larrabee, a former priest who’s now the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children(link is external). ‘I guess the word is charismatic,’ said Rowe, the latest to file suit against Larrabee. ‘Funny guy. There wasn’t anybody that didn’t like him – adults, kids. He was very likable.’So when Larrabee, an associate pastor at the St. Agnes parish, invited Rowe and some of his classmates over for a sleepover at the rectory one summer in the early 1980s when Rowe was in his early teenage years, Rowe didn’t think much of it.” By Matt Leader, Livingston County News

OHIO

Catholic order’s list of accused shows past of mishandling abuse allegations
“A Dayton Daily News investigation into the Society of Mary’s handling of alleged abuse of children by its members found the religious order concealed allegations against some from parents, students and school officials(link is external). The order released a list this summer of 46 priests and brothers its leaders say sexually abused children since 1950, but critics say the disclosure falls short.” By Josh Sweigert, Dayton Daily News

Clinical counselor taking clergy abuse reports at Coumbus Diocese
“Laura Lewis believes that mental health counseling is beyond essential when working with survivors of priests’ sexual abuse of minors(link is external). That’s part of the reason she said she was happy to accept the position of interim victims assistance coordinator when it was offered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. Lewis began the part-time position on July 15, replacing Monsignor Stephan Moloney in the role that includes taking all reports of sexual abuse by a clergy member in the diocese; leading the Diocesan Board of Review for the Protection of Children, a group of 10 that determines whether claims are credible; and facilitating healing and help for survivors.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

Archdiocese of Philadelphia grants over $50 million in financial reparations to survivors of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid out or approved over $50 million so far to 222 clergy sex abuse survivors(link is external), according to a new report from the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program. IRRP was launched in November 2018 as a means of providing settlements to claimants alleging abuse by archdiocesan clergy. The program’s administrators, acting independently of the archdiocese, assess claims and offer compensation with no monetary cap, either individually or in total. Claims are considered regardless of how long ago the events in question occurred, or whether the statute of limitations has expired.” By Gina Christian, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Erie Diocese sued over claims of abuse cover-ups
“A woman is using a new ruling in Pennsylvania law to sue the Catholic Diocese of Erie over claims it covered up child sex abuse allegations against one of its priests(link is external), the Rev. Michael G. Barletta, named as one of 301 ‘predator priests’ in the statewide grand jury report issued two years ago. The woman’s lawsuit, filed in Erie County Court this week, appears to be part of a growing trend. Other plaintiffs have filed at least three other legal actions against the diocese in Erie County Court since July 15, with claims related to sex abuse allegations or cover-ups.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Man sues Allentown diocese, Northampton church and school, claiming priest molested him when he was 11
“A 57-year-old Pennsylvania man who claims that he was molested by a Catholic priest from a Northampton church starting when he was 11 years old(link is external), has filed a lawsuit, one of numerous claims recently made under a potential loophole in the statute of limitations for civil cases involving sexual abuse. The plaintiff, identified as Joe Doe in the suit filed Wednesday (Jul. 22) in Lehigh County Court, claims that he was sexually abused in the 1970s and early 1980s by the Rev. Thomas Kerestus.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call

TENNESSEE

Harriman priest named in sexual abuse lawsuit
A lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Knox County accuses a Harriman Catholic priest of sexually abusing a female parishioner(link is external). Plaintiff Celeste Arnone alleges that she sustained injuries and damages as a result of a sexual relationship with Father Michael Sweeney, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Harriman. The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville is also listed as a defendant.” By Hugh Willett, Roan County News

Nashville Diocese Paid $65K Settlement to Priest’s Alleged Abuse Victim
“The Catholic Diocese of Nashville paid $65,000 in May to settle the case of an adult woman who says she was sexually abused by a priest who was working as a chaplain at Aquinas College and the Dominican Campus. The settlement was revealed by the London-based Catholic Herald, which published an investigation over the weekend raising questions about how the diocese handled the abuse allegations.” By Steven Hale, Nashville Scene

WASHINGTON

Former Gonzaga Prep Jesuit priest added to list of credibly accused abusers
“A Jesuit priest assigned to Gonzaga Preparatory School for two periods in the 1960s and ’70s has been added to a list of Catholic clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). Richard Perry has been assigned to the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in California since October, as provincial authorities investigated an allegation of sexual abuse by an adult female at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Missoula. During that investigation, a second credible allegation was made regarding abuse against a female student at Seattle Preparatory School in the late 1970s and early ’80s, according to a statement from Jesuits West.” By

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Lawsuit claims McCarrick ‘groomed’ abuse victims
“A man has filed a lawsuit claiming that he and others were sexually abused as boys(link is external) in the 1980s in New Jersey by Catholic priests and bishops, and were groomed for and by Theodore McCarrick, who went on to become Archbishop of Washington. The New Jersey lawsuit also claims that McCarrick began sexually abusing boys in 1969, 50 years before he was laicized by Pope Francis in 2019.” By Rick Massimo, WTOP News

WISCONSIN

Pewaukee priest once accused of sexual assault of a minor free to return to church
“A Pewaukee priest whose sexual assault of a minor case ended with a mistrial and then dropped charges is being allowed to return to work(link is external) at his church, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced Saturday. The announcement comes after the archdiocese says it completed its own investigation into the allegations against the Rev. Charles Hanel, 63, and determined they were unsubstantiated and false.” By Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

CHILE

Survivors’ group in Chile condemns abuse ‘secretism’ of Catholic Church
“A little over two years after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a controversial Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse by his mentor, a local network of clerical abuse survivors are alleging that neither civil nor Church authorities are making allegations public(link is external). In an online map that is updated periodically, mostly recently on Wednesday (Jul. 29), the Chilean Network of Clerical Sexual Abuse Survivors counts 41 new allegations against priests, religious brothers, and religious sisters in the past 6 months.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

96-year-old man ‘ruined many lives’ and used his position in society to cover up his secret … and he got away with it for decades
“A 96-year-old former Catholic priest was jailed today (Jul. 29) for sexually abusing six boys(link is external) more than 30 years ago. All but one of Father John Kevin Murphy’s victims came forward to police after seeing media reports about him being imprisoned in 2017 for molesting other boys. Liverpool Crown Court heard he had been ordained as a priest in 1962 and served in a number of parishes in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire until he retired.” By Lynda Roughley and Helen Johnson, Manchester Evening News

INDONESIA

Justice delayed, denied for victims of sexual abuse in Catholic Church
“Victims of sexual abuse and harassment in the Indonesian Catholic Church face ‘thick walls’ of silence, secrecy and denial, having to bear trauma while the priests who they have accused remain on a moral pedestal. Sisca, who has chosen to use an alias to protect her privacy, said she was molested by a Catholic priest in Jakarta when she was 11 years old(link is external). The 38-year-old watches the same priest greet school children in the same Catholic school every morning, and in December of last year, she heard His Eminence Ignatius Cardinal Suharyo, the highest-ranking member of the Indonesian Catholic Church, deny that he had ever received any reports of sexual abuse in the Church.” By Ivany Atina Arbi, Evi Mariani and Dwi Atmanta, The Jakarta Post

PHILIPPINES

Ex-judge to clergy: Focus on fixing Church scandals, not politics
“Former Sandiganbayan justice and Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Harriet Demetriou on Tuesday (Jul. 28) called out religious leaders for engaging in politics and urged them to focus instead on reforming the Catholic Church which has been plagued by scandals(link is external). ‘Instead of your non-stop politicizing, criticizing and demeaning the System which includes the judicial power of the Philippines, you wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on some issues you rally behind together with some politicians and ‘prostitute’ the dignity of your being ministers of God for self-seeking objectives,’ Demetriou said in a Facebook post particularly directed to Manila Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.” By Benjamin Pulta, Philippine News Agency

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Vatican says bishops should report sex abuse to police

While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. (Associated Press)

“The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday (Jul. 16) they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests.

“The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws continue to be ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favor of protecting their priests.

“While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. That policy requires bishops and religious superiors to report allegations of sex crimes with minors only where local laws require it.

“The manual says: ‘Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.’

“And it says church leaders must comply with ‘legitimate’ subpoena requests.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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