Posts Tagged Catholic Church reform

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


August 17, 2019

TOP STORIES

Flurry of suits emerge as New York opens door to old abuse claims
“It was the early 1950s and Peter Vajda was a little boy attending a Catholic boarding school in the Bronx when he says a religious brother molested him. The brother is likely long dead, but the church survives. Just after midnight Wednesday (Aug. 14) morning, Vajda, now 75, filed a civil lawsuit naming the Archdiocese of New York as a defendant. Justice, he says, may have been delayed but he won’t let it be denied(link is external). ‘Now it’s their turn. Now it’s their time,’ he told The Associated Press Monday (Aug. 12). ‘And I want them to get everything they deserve in the way of punishment.’” By David Klepper, Associated Press

Unmarked buildings, quiet help for accused priests
“Stripped of their collars and cassocks, they went unnoticed in this tiny Midwestern town as they were escorted into a dingy warehouse across from an elementary school playground. Neighbors had no idea some of the dressed-down clergymen dining at local restaurants might have been accused sexual predators. They had been brought to town by a small, nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii. For nearly two decades, the group has operated out of a series of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse across the country(link is external).” By Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman and Garance Burke, Associated Press

Clergy abused an entire generation in this village. With new traumas, justice remains elusive.
“The two brothers sat a few houses apart, each tending to his own anger. Justice is slow in Alaska villages, they have learned. Sometimes it never arrives. Chuck Lockwood, 69, grew up in this Yup’ik Eskimo village of 400 along the Norton Sound coast but left as a child for boarding school. His rage is fresh … He was among an entire generation of children, now mostly in their 50s and 60s, who survived years of sexual abuse by Jesuit priests(link is external) and Catholic church personnel shipped to the village of St. Michael. His wife was abused too.” By Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News

Catholic charities tested by abuse scandal, border crisis
“For U.S. charities affiliated with the Catholic Church, the past year has tested the resilience of their fundraisers and the loyalty of their donors in unprecedented fashion. Even as many donors reacted in dismay to the Church’s extensive sex-abuse scandals(link is external), the charities faced new challenges trying to address the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. For the agencies with the most donors, Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services, it’s too early to gauge the overall financial impact of sex-abuse developments last year.” By David Crary, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Chicago Tribune investigation reveals financial burdens of Chicago Catholic churches
“Dozens of Catholic churches and schools in Chicago have closed. NPR’s Noel King talks to David Heinzmann of the Chicago Tribune about his story examining the archdiocese’s accounting practices(link is external).” By Morning Edition on National Public Radio

Guam’s Catholics reckon with decades of ‘horrific’ abuse
“For decades, (Archbishop Anthony) Apuron oversaw a culture of impunity where abusers went unpunished(link is external). Long after it erupted into scandal on the mainland, clergy sexual abuse remained a secret on Guam. On this island where four out of five people are Catholic, the abusers held the power. Now, thousands of pages of court documents reviewed by The Associated Press, along with extensive interviews, tell a story of systemic abuse dating from the 1950s to as recently as 2013. They show a pattern of repeated collusion by predator priests, with abuse that spanned generations and reached all the way to the very top of the church hierarchy.” By Michael Biesecker, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

How D.C. Catholics are leading the response to the clergy sexual abuse scandal
“This week (Aug. 14) marks one year since the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which detailed the alleged crimes of hundreds of priests over seven decades and brought the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church back into the national spotlight … In the wake of last summer’s news, my parish, Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., embarked on a ‘Season of Discernment.’(link is external) We asked: How could a local parish help heal serious wounds—especially wounds of trust born of the scandal—for survivors and their families as well as the broader community of lay faithful? How might we avoid getting stuck in the status quo and move forward to enact meaningful change?” By Kathleen Coogan, Pastoral Council, Holy Trinity Parish, Washington, D.C. She will be part of a panel discussion local responses to clergy abuse during Voice of the Faithful’s 2019 Conference in Boston Oct. 10. Click here for information and registration.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Catholic dioceses launch independent system to report misconduct by bishops
“The Dioceses of the Boston Province have launched a third party, independent system to report abuse by Catholic bishops(link is external), according to a statement released Wednesday ( Aug. 14) … With the understanding that the implementation of the national system is months away, the bishops of the Boston Province agreed to join a program already established by the Archdiocese of Boston through an independent website. The Province includes the Archdiocese of Boston, Diocese of Fall River, Diocese of Worcester, Diocese of Springfield, Diocese of Burlington (Vt.), Diocese of Manchester (N.H.) and the Diocese of Portland (Maine).” By South Coast Today

They normalized a culture of child rape and then asked us to sigh away our rights
“If the Catholic Church had offered me any amount of money in 2007 when I reported the sexual abuse I experienced as a child, I would not be writing this. I was a 36-year-old active alcoholic struggling to make ends meet and ruining relationships with the people I loved. My abuse came from a pedophile priest named Thomas Smith(link is external) who cast 13-year olds in a Passion Play he directed every year at my grade school. It was his way of satisfying his “depraved and sadistic” sexual desires, as documented in the 423-page Grand Jury Report from 2005 covering abuses in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I played Jesus.” By Jay Sefton, PennLive.com

Justice late, not denied: New York to allow old abuse suits
“Hundreds, possibly thousands of people who say they were molested as children in New York state are expected to go to court this week(link is external) (Aug. 11) to sue their alleged abusers and the institutions they say failed them, including the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, public schools and hospitals. It’s all because of a landmark state law passed this year that creates a one-year window allowing people to file civil lawsuits that had previously been barred by the state’s statute of limitations, one of the nation’s most restrictive, that had prevented many victims from seeking justice for decades-old abuse.” By David Klepper, Associated Press

Secrets, abuse can thrive under cover of non-disclosure agreements
“Numerous lawyers argue that nondisclosure agreements do not belong in government, raising concerns about perpetuating inappropriate conduct and a lack of transparency. ‘Nondisclosure agreements help sexual abuse to continue(link is external),’ said Boston-based attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented victims in clergy sexual abuse cases. ‘The abuser can continue to abuse, and the public is not made aware of an existing safety concern. It is shocking to think the government would favor secrecy over transparency in such situations.’ By Mary Markos, Boston Herald

McCARRICK CASE

Ex-cardinal letters show signs of grooming victims for abuse
“At first glance, the handwritten postcards and letters look innocuous, even warm, sometimes signed off by ‘Uncle T.’ or ‘Your uncle, Father Ted.’ But taken in context, the correspondence penned by disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to the young men he is accused of sexually abusing or harassing is a window into the way a predator grooms his prey(link is external), according to two abuse prevention experts who reviewed it for The Associated Press. Full of flattery, familiarity and boasts about his own power, the letters provide visceral evidence of how a globe-trotting bishop made young, vulnerable men feel special – and then allegedly took advantage of them.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

In letter, Pope Francis encourages priests dejected by abuse crisis
“Pope Francis acknowledged the shame and frustration felt by priests who are discouraged by the actions of fellow clergy members who betrayed the trust of their flock through sexual abuse and abuse of conscience and power(link is external). In a letter addressed to priests around the world Aug. 4, the pope said that many priests have spoken or written to him expressing ‘their outrage at what happened’ and the doubts and fears the sexual abuse crisis has caused.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis names vice director of Holy See press office
“Pope Francis Thursday (Jul. 25) appointed Cristiane Murray as vice director of the Holy See Press Office(link is external). Murray, 57, has worked for Vatican Radio for more than 25 years, where she provided live commentary on papal events and international trips.” By Courtney Grogan, Catholic News Agency

On prevention of child abuse, Pope Francis points to St. John Bosco’s example
“In an unscripted video message that appears to have been recorded on a cell phone, Pope Francis spoke of the need for an ‘apostolate of prevention’ to protect minors from abuse(link is external). ‘Prevention. Prevention. Because you never know where a child will be abused, where the child will be misled, where someone will teach him to smoke drugs, a form of corruption. Let us not think that only sexual abuse is the only type of abuse. Any type of corruption is an abuse of a child,’ Pope Francis said in Spanish in a YouTube video published on July 18 by the Pontifical University of Mexico.” By Courtney Grogan, Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

Argentine bishop tapped by pope for Vatican job faces abuse trial
“Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a prelate from Pope Francis’s native country whom the pontiff brought to Rome and gave a Vatican job in 2017 and who’s now facing charges of sexually abusing seminarians, is expected to appear in court in the diocese he once led on Thursday (Aug. 8). Zanchetta has been formally accused of ‘aggravated continuous sexual abuse’ of two young men(link is external), and a judge previously ordered him to remain in Argentina and stay away from the alleged victims and their families. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Auxiliary bishop did not disclose Cincinnati priest accusations
“An auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and member of the USCCB committee on child protection, is facing accusations that he failed to report(link is external) to Cincinnati’s archbishop a series of allegations that a priest had engaged in inappropriate behavior with teenage boys. After CNA presented its investigation to the archdiocese, a spokesperson said that Bishop Joseph R. Binzer would be removed from his position as head of priest personnel, effective immediately, while the archdiocese begins its own internal investigation.” By Ed Condon, Catholic New Agency

PRIESTS

Tackle clericalism first when attempting priesthood reform
“If the priesthood is to be reformed, we must tackle the disease of clericalism(link is external). It won’t be easy. Clericalism is so deeply ingrained in our structures and way of thinking that we almost can’t imagine how things could be otherwise. In his 2018 ‘Letter to the People of God,’ Pope Francis condemned the sins of sexual abuse and the abuse of power in the church. He linked those sins to clericalism. ‘To say no to abuse is to say an emphatic no to all forms of clericalism.’ What is clericalism? The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests put out a white paper on clericalism in June 2019. It defines clericalism is ‘an expectation, leading to abuses of power, that ordained ministers are better than and should be over everyone else among the People of God.’” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

Francis urges priests to be faithful in time of ‘ecclesial purification
“Pope Francis published a letter Sunday (Aug. 4) to encourage all priests to remain steadfast and prayerful during this time of purification after revelations of abuse by some priests(link is external), so that there may be a renewal of holiness in the priesthood. ‘I am convinced that, to the extent that we remain faithful to God’s will, these present times of ecclesial purification will make us more joyful and humble, and prove, in the not distant future, very fruitful,’ the pope wrote in a letter published Aug. 4.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Assembling the people of God like LCWR
Imagine an annual gathering called an ‘assembly.’ Not a ‘meeting’ or a ‘convention’(link is external): Those words at root mean no more than ‘to come into the same place.’ Instead, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious gathers each August for an ‘assembly.’ Think of assembling the pieces of a puzzle, connecting pieces into a whole that gives greater meaning to every part and creates new beauty in the world … Ever since I became aware of LCWR assemblies in 2012, I’ve been fascinated and frankly awed at what I witness in my reading and following online and watching videos.” By Betty D. Thompson, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LCWR to examine: What does it mean to be a leader at this moment in time
“Leadership in a global community requires seeing the connections between what might otherwise seem like disparate subjects, such as racism and climate change. Likewise, it would be easy to look at the schedule for LCWR’s upcoming assembly and see it as a collection of random parts … ‘We’re trying to be faithful to the question of what does God need from religious life(link is external) at this moment in time,’ (St. Joseph Sister Carol) Zinn said.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Look for lay involvement that transcends the ideological divide
“Are you a lay Catholic? It’s time we talked. Good news. There’s agreement now conceded across the church: We have a right and an obligation to be involved in matters of church governance. No one, at least publicly, relegates us to pay, pray and obey. We are supposed to step up. But what should that lay involvement be(link is external)?” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

U.S. priest to receive reports of abuse, cover-up at Vatican City State
“Vatican City State will have its own reporting system in place before the end of the year for flagging suspected cases of the abuse of minors and vulnerable people and instances of cover-up or negligence(link is external) in handling such cases, the Vatican said. In the meantime, U.S. Msgr. Robert Oliver was appointed to be the contact person for people with information or concerns about potential cases of abuse and cover-up within the Vicariate of Vatican City State, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported July 30.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Clergy and laypeople collaborate to confront clericalism
“Pope Francis condemns clericalism, repeatedly. Catholic commentators decry it. Theologians and church historians examine its roots. Now, in a significant collaboration, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful have examined the ways clericalism emerges from the clerical culture, generating complex problems facing the Roman Catholic Church today, and they suggest ways to combat it.” By Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

At Benincasa community, a new model for a religious life unfolds
“Much has been written about the Nuns and Nones project in the past year, both in our own pages and in the national media. The movement has the very good intention of connecting millennials with limited or no ties to religion with women religious to share their mutual passions for social justice and community life. But not all Catholic millennials are ‘nones,’ and, contrary to prevailing opinions, not all faithful Catholic millennials are conservative(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Burke is a living symbol of a failed version of church
“Catholics, especially those of a traditional bent, love and understand symbols. Someone as traditionalist and as media-savvy as Timothy Busch has to understand that whatever else was said during his Napa Institute’s sprawling conference at the end of July, the most visible symbol was Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis(link is external). The five-day conference in Napa, California, at the posh Meritage Resort and Spa, one of Busch’s holdings, was transparently partisan and tilted, episcopally and theologically, to the far right.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Large number of Dutch churches to close in near future
“If some fifty years ago you happened to find yourself in one of the small villages in the Dutch countryside, you could hardly get lost. The only thing you needed to do was look up, find the church tower and you would always find your way back. Because the church – literally – was at the heart of the village … But if you speak to the villagers, you quickly notice that many of their communities have changed rapidly over the past decade. No longer is the church the central meeting place of the community(link is external).” By Michiel van de Kamp, Katholiek Nieuwsblad, on Cruxnow.com

VOICES

Editorial: Movement to Restore Trust delivers a worthy action plan for diocese
“The New York State Child Victims Act goes into effect this month, opening the door for victims of child sex abuse to file lawsuits against those responsible for their pain. The Catholic Church, including the Buffalo Diocese, will be one of the prominent institutions forced to reckon with crimes committed in its past. At a time of such vulnerability, the diocese is fortunate to have the counsel and support of the Movement to Restore Trust(link is external), the group of local Catholic laity that recently issued its report proposing reforms for the diocese.” By Buffalo News Editorial Board

CHURCH FINANCES

Pope approves new statutes for Vatican Bank
“Pope Francis approved new statutes for the Institute for the Works of Religion, often referred to as the Vatican bank, that include structural changes and a mandatory external audit(link is external). The renewed statutes, which were approved by the pope ‘ad experimentum’ (on a trial basis) for two years, were published by the Vatican press office Aug. 10. In a document signed by the pope Aug. 8, the pope emphasized the changes were to reinforce the Vatican bank’s intended mission to manage assets for ‘the works of religion or charity.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Giving by Catholics suffering from abuse scandal
“An article in USA Today says that the unwillingness of the Roman Catholic Church to address its sex abuse scandals head-on has led those charitable nonprofits affiliated with them to struggle with impatient, even disgusted donors(link is external). For instance, Catholic Charities of Buffalo only made 85 percent of its $11 million goal. Parishioners withheld donations after Bishop Richard J. Malone let priests accused of inappropriate conduct remain active in the church. Even though donors had the option of directing the whole of their donations to the charity, instead of the usual 50/50 split with the parish, there was a shortfall.” By Ruth McCambridge, Nonprofit Quarterly

Catholic Church should make finances public
“People who could have done something about it were aware of the ‘excessive spending’ engaged in by former bishop Michael Bransfield, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. They did not. So, while church officials have pledged to keep a close eye on spending in the diocese, rank-and-file Catholics can be pardoned for asking why, if problems occurred before, they cannot again(link is external).” By The Martinsburg Journal in The Beckley, West Virginia, Resister-Herald

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Retroactive clause for clergy abuse claims cited for lack of movement
“A recommendation made in the grand jury report, which was released one year ago on Aug. 14, 2018, following an investigation into child sexual abuse and cover-up in six of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses, has become one of the most contested and legally challenging issues in the state capital over the past year(link is external). The panel called for lawmakers to create a retroactive window during which alleged victims of abuse can file civil claims even if the statute of limitations, which is currently age 30, has already expired.” By Dave Sutor, The Tribune-Democrat

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Nun sexually abused me at Catholic orphanage, woman says
“Susanne Robertson has devoted much of her life to sounding the alarm over the horrific abuse she says she suffered at a New York orphanage more than 50 years ago(link is external). A maintenance man sexually assaulting her in a boiler room. A nun violating her with a Lysol-soaked rag. For nearly 25 years, her efforts to force a reckoning on the St. Colman’s Home near Albany have gone nowhere. But now, the opportunity Robertson has been waiting for has finally arrived.” By Aliza Nadi, Emily Siegel, Anne Thompson and Rich Schapiro

He says a priest abused him. 50 years later, he can now sue.
“Major institutions across New York State, from the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts of America to elite private schools, are bracing for a deluge of lawsuits now that adults who said they were sexually abused as children will be entitled to pursue formal legal action(link is external). New York joined more than a dozen states this year in significantly extending statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits over sexual abuse. Previously, the state had required that such suits be filed before a victim’s 23rd birthday.” By Rick Rojas, The New York Times

Activist Italian priest arrested on charges of abusing young men
“An Italian priest known for involvement in his community was placed under house arrest by local authorities on Wednesday (Jul. 31), on charges of allegedly drugging and sexually abusing adult members of his parish(link is external). ‘The news of the arrest of Father Stefano Segalini and the precautionary measures applied by the judiciary pain us deeply,’ said Father Luigi Chiesa, Vicar General of the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio in northern Italy where the events allegedly took place, in an August 1 statement.” By Claire Giangravè, Cruxnow.com

Woman who kept her abuse by a priest secret for 66 years gets six-figure settlement
“For 66 years, she kept a dark secret about how her parish priest in Pennsylvania sexually abused her when she was just 6 years old(link is external). It took a brush with mortality to convince the now 85-year-old woman to “put all of her ducks in a row” and file a report against the Rev. Martin J. Fleming, her lawyer revealed Wednesday (Jul. 31).” By Corky Siemaszko, NBC-TV News

Abuse accuser wants Steubenville university to be accountable
“An alumna of Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio has written an open letter saying she was sexually abused while a student there and that the school administration ignored her complaints(link is external). In a letter published July 8 on Patheos, an online site, Karen, who chooses to not share her last name, states that she was sexually abused by a friar while attending Franciscan University from 1987 until she graduated in 1991 … She wrote the open letter, she told NCR, because ‘it was important for me to use my voice, and to share that my story is not over.’” By Jenn Morson, National Catholic Reporter

CALIFORNIA

For first time, thousands of San Diego Catholic diocese members gather to discuss abuse within the Church
“Thousands of San Diego clergy members met Tuesday (Aug. 13) for a first-of-its-kind gathering to address sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church(link is external). Bishop Robert W. McElroy called for more than 2,500 San Diego area priests, teachers and administrators to attend a mandatory meeting with District Attorney Summer Stephan at the University of San Diego. It is the first time in its history the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego has called every member of its church to order.” By Christina Bravo and Melissa Adan, NBC-TV7 News

Charged dropped against long-time Dinuba Catholic priest Raul Diaz
“More than two months after he was placed on administrative leave, Father Raul Diaz appears poised to return to the pulpit. Charges of inappropriate conduct with minors were recently dropped against the long-time Dinuba catholic priest(link is external). Parishioners were informed during a recent Sunday service. ‘Everybody heard it, and they were applauding from the get-go I was saying there’s nothing there,’ said Pablo Contreras of Dinuba.” By ABC-TV30 News

COLORADO

Colorado Catholic Church investigated for child sex abuse by priests
“In February, the three Catholic dioceses of Colorado announced they would open their records and provide information about allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests(link is external) that go back decades. Led by former U.S Attorney Robert Troyer, the investigation and review is examining alleged abuse of minors by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church in Colorado since 1950. The initiative also includes a reparation fund for victims to be paid for by the church, and will incorporate a full review of church policies and procedures for responding to and preventing abuse.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

DELAWARE

Priest, under investigation in Wilmington, stripped of clergy status after New Castle child sex abuse claims
“A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has been removed from ministry and had his faculties to exercise priestly ministries suspended following allegations he sexually abused a teen(link is external) 38 years ago. The victim made claims against Rev. William J. Porter, 71, while at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in New Castle. Delaware State Police began their investigation in March, but informed the diocese on July 19, 2019, that it had completed the investigation and the conduct had occurred outside the statute of limitations.” By D.J. McAneny, WDEL-FM News

ILLINOIS

Rev. Clements accusation is in realm of unthinkable
“Is nothing sacred in my Church? That was my question as I read the headline: ‘Retired Celebrity Priest George Clements Accused of Sex Abuse in 1970s.’ It invades the realm of the unthinkable. The Rev. George Clements, 87, has been accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1974 while serving as pastor of Holy Angels Church on Chicago’s South Side.” By Laura Washington, Chicago Sun Times

Belleville priest who said he ‘never hurt a child’ accused for second time of sexually abusing a boy
“Catholic church leaders in the Belleville Diocese promoted a priest they knew as a danger to children(link is external) until he was in charge of their largest parish and its grade school, where he is accused of sexually abusing students, according to a civil suit filed earlier this month. Joseph Schwaegel, who was first accused of child sexual abuse in a 1999 lawsuit, has been named in a new complaint filed against the diocese July 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.” By Belleville News-Democrat

LOUISIANA

Abuse finding didn’t end ex-deacon’s work with children
“A former Roman Catholic deacon barred from the ministry in New Orleans because of sexual abuse allegations maintained access to schoolchildren(link is external) and held leadership roles as recently as last year in the Knights of Columbus, despite promising three decades ago to avoid young boys “for the good of the Church,” according to records obtained by The Associated Press.” By Jim Mustian and Kevin McGill, Associated Press

Lawyers in clergy abuse lawsuit seek documents from Saints executives
“The lawyers for a man who alleges he was sexually abused by former Catholic deacon George Brignac decades ago have sent a subpoena to the New Orleans Saints for copies of any communications between club officials and the local archdiocese(link is external). According to attorneys Richard Trahant and John Denenea, the move came after the discovery process turned up documents and emails which, they contend, showed at least one member of the Saints’ administration — longtime public relations chief Greg Bensel — was advising the archdiocese on how to publicly address local claims pertaining to the Catholic Church’s ongoing clergy abuse crisis.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com (The Times-Picayune and The New Orleans Advocate)

MASSACHUSETTS

Mitchell Garabedian nails another pedophile priest
“The statement below was issued today by Attorney Mitchell Garabedian. Mr. Garabedian is best known for his representation of victims in the Archdiocese of Boston child molestation scandal. ‘I represent a female clergy sexual abuse victim(link is external) who received a low six figure award from ISCP (compensation program) on July 10, 2019. The sexually abusive priest, Fr. Martin J. Fleming, was ordained in 1898. The courageous victim, now 85 years old, was sexually abused in 1941 when she was 6 years old.” By Cape Cod Today Staff

Veteran lawyer for victims of clergy sexual abuse ‘absolutely not surprised’ by Bishop Weldon allegations
“Attorney John J. Stobierski was not surprised when he read news reports this spring that a man had come forward with accusations he had been sexually molested by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon(link is external) during the 1950s. ‘During the years I represented survivors of abuse, I heard a number of references to Weldon,’ said Stobierski who litigated and negotiated more than five dozen clergy sexual abuse cases with settlements totaling more than $10 million. ‘I am absolutely not surprised.’ By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican

MICHIGAN

Sterling Heights woman says priest abused her in 1977 at Detroit church
“A Sterling Heights woman said Tuesday (Jul. 30) she was victimized by a Catholic priest while working in a Detroit rectory as a teenager(link is external) 42 years ago. Jeanne Hunton said the sexual abuse happened during the summer of 1977, when she took a job as a housekeeper at age 14 in the rectory at Assumption Grotto Church on Detroit’s east side.” By George Hunter, The Detroit News

Former Saginaw Diocese bishop discusses eight more clergy accused of sexual misconduct
“Officials with the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw recently added the names of eight religious-order clergy to a list of those who, according to the church, have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse(link is external). There are now 30 names on that list. Diocese officials announced the update, as well as changes to diocesan policy intended to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse, in two news releases on July 20.” By Heather Jordan, MLive.com

Priests accused of sex abuse turned to under-the-radar group
“The visiting priests arrived discreetly, day and night. Stripped of their collars and cassocks, they went unnoticed in this tiny Midwestern town as they were escorted into a dingy warehouse across from an elementary school playground. Neighbors had no idea some of the dressed-down clergymen dining at local restaurants might have been accused sexual predators(link is external). For nearly two decades, a small nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii has operated out of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse.” By Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman and Garance Burke, The Republic

MINNESOTA

Duluth-area priest accused of sexual abuse dating to 1970s
“In a letter read to parishioners on Sunday (Aug. 4), the Diocese of Duluth disclosed new allegations of sexual abuse against a priest in the diocese(link is external). In the letter dated July 30, Bishop Paul Sirba said the diocese had been notified of a sexual abuse accusation against the Rev. David Tushar. Tushar, 70, is priest at St. Francis Catholic Church in Carlton, Minn., and Sts. Joseph and Mary Catholic Church in Sawyer, Minn.” By Adelie Bergstrom, Twin Cities Forum News Service

MISSISSIPPI

Retired, 90-year-old Mississippi Catholic priest removed after 1950s child sex allegation surfaces
“A 90-year-old, retired Catholic priest who served nearly half a century in Mississippi was removed from public ministry this week after an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct(link is external) that occurred in the 1950s. Bishop Joseph Kopacz removed the Rev. Edward Balser after what the church described as a credible allegation of abuse was discovered when the church was preparing files for the release of a list of clergy accused of sexually abusing minors.” By Magnolia State Live

MISSOURI

Conception Abbey releases past allegations list
“Concern for transparency and accountability has prompted many dioceses and religious orders to publish information about members within their groups who have had allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against them(link is external). With that goal, Conception Abbey provided the names of eight abbey priests or brothers against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been made in the past 70 years. None of these priests continues in ministry.” By Nodaway News

K.C.-area priest admits guilt in child pornography case
“A Catholic priest at a church in Baldwin City, Kansas, pleaded guilty Friday (Jul. 26) to federal child pornography charges(link is external). Christopher Rossman, 46, a former priest at Annunciation Catholic Church, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 after investigators found child pornography on his tablet computer in September 2016.” By KSHB-TV41 News

St. Louis Archdiocese names 64 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children or possessing child porn
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis on Friday (Jul. 26) released the names of 61 clergy members with substantiated abuse allegations against them(link is external), as well as three priests who were found to have possessed child pornography, following a months-long internal review of diocesan records going back 70 years.” By Nassim Benchaabane and Jess Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Clergy abuse advocates speak out about predator priests in Columbia
“Two clergy abuse advocates from mid-Missouri spoke out Wednesday (Jul. 24) at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on the need for people to know the truth about predator priests who might still be hiding and living in the community(link is external). David Clohessy, SNAP’s former executive director and a survivor of clergy abuse, held a news conference in front of the church. He held up cardboard signs bearing the names of alleged predator priests who have lived in Columbia. He was joined by Bob Heinz, a member of a similar organization, Voice of the Faithful, who held up pictures of clergy abuse victims.” By Chloe Khaw, Columbia Missourian

NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire Catholic Church website lists names of predator priests
“Catholic Church leaders in New Hampshire have added a page to their website that lists dozens of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse going back to 1950(link is external). Announced Wednesday (Jul. 31) by the Diocese of Manchester, the ‘Restoring Trust’ website provides the year each priest was ordained, his parish assignments and his status, which ranges from criminal conviction to being defrocked to “assigned to a life of prayer and penance.” By Mark Hayward, New Hampshire Union Leader

NEW JERSEY

Attorney identifies 12 more Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children in New Jersey
“An attorney for childhood victims alleging sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy says he has turned up the names of 12 New Jersey priests who were not previously disclosed on lists(link is external) the church released. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian represents 22 men and 8 women who say they were abused as children by New Jersey priests. Garabedian says the names of 12 of the accused aren’t on lists of more than 180 priests the church released earlier this year.” By CBS-TV3 Philadelphia

Catholic fund begins offering cash to settle N.J. priest abuse claims. Here’s how many applied.
“A new compensation fund backed by New Jersey’s five Catholic dioceses(link is external) is paying its first financial settlements to people who say they were sexually abused by priests and other clergy members. The fund — called the New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Program — was unveiled earlier this year by the state’s Catholic dioceses as a way for victims to settle their cases with the church privately, without going to court.” By Kelly Heyboer, New Jersey Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK

Child Victims Act lawsuits to peel open decades of secrecy in clergy sex abuse
“The tight lid that the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo kept for decades on clergy sex abuse cases will be peeled open Wednesday (Aug. 14) with a new state law that gives abuse victims a year to file claims that previously were prohibited from moving forward in court(link is external). Lawyers predicted the diocese would face more than 200 lawsuits by the end of the one-year ‘look-back’ window that will open at 12:01 a.m. The names of at least a dozen Catholic priests who hadn’t before been publicly accused of child sex abuse will emerge in the filings, according to lawyers filing the lawsuits.” By Jay Tokasz and Dan Herbeck, The Buffalo News

Diocese of Rochester to face at least 75 new lawsuits over child abuse
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester will face a potentially massive flood of lawsuits next month when New York’s child sexual abuse reporting reforms go into effect(link is external), as the local fallout continues from decades of abuse and cover-ups by priests and others in the Catholic community nationwide. According to Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, dozens of victims claiming abuse by clergy members in the Diocese of Rochester have come to him over the last several months to inquire about filing lawsuits.” By Matt Butler, Ithaca.com

Advocates and lawmakers want New York child sexual abuse survivors to know one-year window to seek civil action is about to open
Survivors of child sex abuse will soon have a new opportunity to seek justice(link is external). The recently enacted Child Victims Act dramatically changed the legal landscape in New York State, empowering those who were subjected to sexual abuse at a young age and offering them new ways make things right … In civil cases, victims can seek prosecution until they turn 55. The law also opens up a one-year window that begins Aug. 14 allowing victims older than 23 to sue their abuser or any institution that helped to cover up the offense — regardless of how long ago the act occurred.” By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

Buffalo bishop returned priest accused of abuse to ministry after ‘thorough’ investigation. Others call it a ‘sham.’
“Bishop Richard Malone says his congregation’s darkest days are in the past. The embattled spiritual leader has faced calls for his resignation over his handling of sexual abuse allegations against clergy members in the Diocese of Buffalo, where a public reckoning that started as a local scandal became a national headline … But multiple people familiar with that investigation expressed serious concerns with the findings(link is external) of what they view as a deeply flawed report, raising questions about the process by which the Diocese of Buffalo evaluates allegations against its clergy members. By David Wright, Pete Madden, Cho Park and Shannon K. Crawford, ABC-TV News

New York child sex-abuse victims demand release of ‘secret files’ on pedophile priests
“Child sex-abuse victims are calling on the New York Attorney General’s office to release the Catholic Church’s ‘secret files’ on predatory priests(link is external), The Post has learned. On the heels of a bombshell Pennsylvania report on child-sex abuse by Catholic clergy, former New York AG Barbara Underwood launched a sweeping probe in September 2018.” By Susan Edelman, New York Post

Group presses for more Buffalo Diocese reforms in abuse cases
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo should hire additional sex abuse investigators, make its review board more independent and disclose more information about a sex abuse scandal that has roiled Western New York Catholics for the past 17 months, a Catholic reform group said. The Movement to Restore Trust, an ongoing effort of a group of lay Catholics urging improvements to the diocese’s handling of clergy sex abuse claims(link is external), recommended those key changes and others in a series of new reports slated for release today.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

NORTH CAROLINA

Independent firm reviewing Charlotte Diocese’s priest files
“An independent investigative firm is reviewing the Diocese of Charlotte’s priest personnel files as part of the diocese’s effort to release the names of all clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse(link is external), the diocese announced Aug. 12. U.S. Investigative Security Services Agency of Charlotte is conducting a comprehensive review of all priest files since the diocese was established in 1972, searching for any indication of sexual abuse of a minor. Their task involves reviewing tens of thousands of pages in more than 1,000 files.” By Patricia L. Guilfoyle, SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Charlotte Catholic Diocese says list of credibly accused is still forthcoming
“Earlier this year the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte announced it would release a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual assault. They didn’t release the list Monday (Aug. 12), but did share more about the list.(link is external) The list will run approximately 20 names long and include ordered and parish priests. The list will include credibly accused clergy whether they are alive or have passed away.” By Sarah Delia, WFAE-FM National Public Radio

New sexual misconduct allegation surfaces at Charlotte Catholic church
“Channel 9 has learned of a new allegation of sexual misconduct(link is external) in a Charlotte Catholic church. Monsignor Mauricio West was the chancellor of the Diocese of Charlotte until he resigned in March after allegations that he made unwanted advances toward a student at Belmont Abbey College in the 1980s. A second man told anchor Allison Latos it happened to him on campus, too.” By Allison Latos, WSOC-TV9 News

NORTH DAKOTA

Justice still to come for victims of Crookston Diocese abuse after settlement
“The Diocese of Crookston reached a $5 million settlement this month with victims of clergy sexual abuse, but one victim said the real victory is still to come(link is external). ‘I was never concerned about monetary gain in this lawsuit. My pursuit was for truth. I wanted the people to find out how many priests the public did not have information on who were credibly accused,’ said Ronald Vasek, who filed a lawsuit against the diocese and Bishop Michael Hoeppner in 2017. ‘And that list is going to greatly increase now, through the efforts of these lawsuits.’” By Tess Williams, Forum News Service, in Bismark Tribune

OHIO

Plenty of shock, ‘very little details’ at meeting about St. Ignatius priest’s sudden suspension
“There is no evidence the Rev. Geoff Drew is guilty of criminal wrongdoing, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters. But some parishioners who attended a crowded Monday (Jul. 29) night meeting meant to address the St. Ignatius priest’s suspension left uneasy … That explanation matched the archdiocese’s official statement to press earlier in the day: That Drew had been accused of behavior ‘contrary to the (archdiocese) ‘Decree On Child Protection(link is external).’” By WCPO-TV9 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Clergy abuse survivor family looks back one year after grand jury report
“Today marks one year since the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report into the sexual abuse and coverup within the catholic church(link is external). Three hundred and sixty-five days since the victim’s stories were told by Attorney General Josh Shapiro and detailed in the grand jury report. A central Pennsylvania family of sisters sat on stage with the Attorney General as he spoke about the findings, at one point telling their story.” By Amanda Hoskins, CBS-TV21 News

Grand jury report echoes a year later
“The fallout from the crimes, cover-ups and profound human toll exposed a year ago by a statewide investigative grand jury continue to ripple through the Catholic Diocese of Erie and others in Pennsylvania. As Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico said earlier this month, coming to terms with the monstrous legacy of predator priests and the hierarchy that harbored and enabled them will continue to roil the church(link is external) and the faithful in the years ahead. Persico, 68, told reporter Ed Palattella that he expects the sexual abuse crisis to remain at the forefront for the rest of his tenure.” By GoErie.com Editorial Board

Bishop Zubik reflects on clergy sex abuse one year after grand jury report
“Bishop David Zubik outlined a renewed commitment to healing victims, financial transparency and continued listening one year after the release of the state’s grand jury report on child sex abuse by Catholic clergy(link is external). ‘The church is profoundly indebted to those courageous victims/survivors who have helped us grow in understanding the damage caused by sexual abuse and of how the church community can offer them understanding and support,’ Zubik, the head of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, said in a statement released today (Aug. 14).” By Tawnya Panizzi, TribLive.com

Lawsuits filed against Jesuits, Pennsylvania Catholic bishops, for supervisors accused of ignoring sexual abuse
“Lawsuits have been filed against the Jesuits of New York and a current and two former Catholic bishops in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese for conspiracy and fraud, stating they had transferred a seminarian they knew molested children in Rochester, New York, to a parish in State College(link is external).” By Steve Marroni, PennLive.com

A year later, Catholic Church and Pennsylvania politicians ignore abuse survivors
“As hundreds of victims of sex crimes anxiously awaited the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse last summer, the Catholic Church successfully blocked its release for weeks through appeals to the state’s supreme court … When the now-infamous report was at last made public on August 14 of last year, its reverberations were felt nationally … In Pennsylvania alone, nearly 2,000 calls have flooded Pennsylvania’s Clergy Abuse Hotline, set up by the attorney general’s office last year in the wake of the report’s release. Because of Pennsylvania’s archaic statute of limitations, the vast majority of the living victims of priests named in the report, and thousands more, cannot seek justice(link is external). Their abusers remain free under Pennsylvania law and cannot be prosecuted.” By Jimmy Hutton, Religion News Service

What the Allentown Diocese has done in the year since clergy sex abuse allegations surfaced
“Last August, the public finally got to see the chilling findings of a grand jury investigation into decades of sexual abuse within six of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses, including the Diocese of Allentown … In conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the report’s release, the Allentown Diocese issued a statement about programs it has implemented to prevent abuse and keep children safe(link is external).” By Julia Owens, Lehigh Valley Live

Nearly 1,900 calls into Pennsylvania’s clergy abuse hotline in 1st year
“Investigations remain underway after 1,862 calls were made to a clergy abuse hotline in the 12 months since a landmark grand jury report(link is external) exposed decades of child abuse within Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses, the state attorney general said Tuesday (Aug. 6). About 90 percent of those calls concerned allegations of abuse or cover-ups within the Catholic church, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. The rest were about institutions or people outside the Catholic church.” By Mark Scolforo, NBC-TV10 News Philadelphia

Conference at Carlisle church to examine abuse crisis in Catholic Church
“Nearly a year after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a comprehensive report on clergy child sexual abuse, an organization dedicated to education will hold a conference looking at the crisis. Hosted by the St. Gabriel ministry of Saint Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Carlisle, the conference will examine the causes of the crisis and learn what is being done to promote healing and justice for the victims(link is external).” By Tammie Gitt, The Sentinel

Some clergy sex abuse survivors choosing to decline compensation from Diocese of Harrisburg
“The deadline to accept or decline offers from the Diocese of Harrisburg’s Survivor Compensation Program has arrived. The program was set up in February as an attempt to make financial amends to victims after a Grand Jury report on child sex abuse within six Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania. However, for one of those survivors, who anonymously told FOX43 his story of abuse by a former Diocese of Harrisburg priest, the settlement money simply isn’t enough(link is external).” By Jossie Carbonare, FOX-TV43 News

RHODE ISLAND

Goodwill allowed ‘credibly accused’ priest to visit schools in R.I.
“A man on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence’s list of clergy who’d been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing a minor visited schools and worked in the presence of children(link is external) after he got a new job at Goodwill, according to social media postings and school officials. Kevin R. Fisette, 64, was removed from ministry and resigned from his post as pastor of St. Leo the Great Church in Pawtucket in 2009 after a sexual-abuse allegation from the early 1980s … By October 2010, he had a new job at Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island. From 2014 to 2018, social media posts showed him visiting Goodwill’s donation bins at Rhode Island schools.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal

Full accounting provides hope for path forward
“Earlier this month, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence released a list of priests and clergy members found to have been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing children since 1950. It represented an important step forward for survivors of abuse, as well as for the broader community. As Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said, acknowledging these cases through the recent disclosure represented a ‘difficult but necessary moment in the life of our diocesan church.’ In terms of both transparency and accountability, however, much more work remains to be done(link is external). Now, it is poised to proceed.” By Cranston Herald Editorial Board

Rhode Island attorney general gains access to seven decades of clergy sexual abuse records
“Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office is investigating nearly seven decades of sexual abuse to children(link is external) by Roman Catholic priests in the diocese of Providence. On Tuesday (Jul. 23), the two offices signed a memorandum of understanding, giving Neronha’s office and Rhode Island State Police access to records of allegations dating back to 1950.” By Rachel Nunes, Patch.com

SOUTH CAROLINA

Priest exchanged inappropriate pictures with juvenile, police report says
“St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church placed a parochial vicar on administrative leave July 20 following a report of the priest allegedly exchanging inappropriate photos with a male juvenile(link is external). Father Raymond Flores, 33, of Aiken, was placed on leave without the ability to perform priestly duties, according to a Tuesday (Jul. 30) news release by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston.” By Matthew Enfinger, Aiken Standard

TENNESSEE

Tennessee man sues Diocese of Knoxville for ‘horrific acts of childhood sexual abuse’
“A Tennessee man is suing the Diocese of Knoxville, alleging he was exposed to ‘horrific acts of childhood sexual abuse’ by a priest and others(link is external). Filed in the Sixth Circuit Court of Knox County in Knoxville, Blount County resident Michael Boyd’s lawsuit claims Catholic Priest Father Xavier Mankel and other sexually abused Boyd and their alleged actions were covered up by the diocese.” By Adrian Mojica, FOX-TC17 Nashville

VERMONT

Survivors group demands list of accused Vermont clergy. ‘Children are at risk.’
“Nearly a year after Vermont law enforcement and Catholic leaders announced separate investigations into clergy misconduct, the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is questioning why neither review has led to the public release of information(link is external). ‘Every single day a predator’s name is hidden, children are at risk,’ David Clohessy, the longtime former leader of the group, called SNAP, said Monday (Aug.5) during a visit to the state. ‘They should have put out a list years ago — it’s incredibly irresponsible to wait,’ he added. ‘Although none of these guys may be in parishes anymore, one of them could be a coach at a soccer camp or tutoring at the library or providing piano lessons in his apartment.’” By Kevin O’Connor, VtDigger.org

VIRGINIA

Priests accused of sexual assault served at churches in Dan River region
“At least four Catholic clergymen accused of sexual assault against minors once served at churches in Danville and Pittsylvania County(link is external). All of the clergymen — including three priests and a monsignor — are dead, according to the Catholic Diocese of Richmond’s website that includes a list of the accused clergy. Those listed on the website who served at churches in the Dan River Region are monsignor Carroll T. Dozier, Father Austin Ryder, Father Thomas D. Sykes and Father Philip J. Higgins.” By John R. Crance, GoDanRiver.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Trial starts for DC priest accused of sexually abusing girls
“A trial is underway for a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing two children in his Washington, D.C., parish(link is external). News outlets report 47-year-old Urbano Vazquez appeared in court Tuesday for the first day of his trial on child sexual abuse charges. He’s accused of groping a 9-year-old girl and 13-year-old girl in 2016, two years after he was ordained as a priest in the Capuchin Franciscan religious order.” By Associated Press in The News Tribune

WEST VIRGINIA

Lawsuit accuses bishop of Catholic Diocese of Charleston of sexually abusing minor
“The Catholic Diocese of Charleston says a lawsuit filed in New York names Bishop Robert Guglielmone and accuses him of sexually abusing a mino(link is external)r. The lawsuit was filed in state court in Nassau County, New York, according to diocese spokesperson Maria Aselage. In the suit, an alleged victim accused Guglielmone of sexually abusing him during 1978 and 1979 while Guglielmone served as a priest at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Amityville, New York.” By Live5News

WYOMING

Clerics should face charges related to sex abuse case
“The Cheyenne Police Department has recommended sexual abuse charges against a member of the Roman Catholic clergy(link is external) and another man who was seeking to join the clergy related to incidents from the 1970s and ’80s. In a news release, CPD said it has sent a recommendation for charges to the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office after a year-and-a-half-long investigation into allegations that juvenile males were the victims of sex abuse.” By Ramsey Scott and Isabella Alves, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

ARGENTINA

Argentina’s most pious spot also in epicenter of clerical abuse crisis
“Argentina’s northern province of Salta, known for colorful mountains, valleys, and small, picturesque towns that intertwine with exquisite wineries, is also known as the most piously Catholic province of the 23 that make up the nation … It also happens to be at the epicenter of the country’s clerical sexual abuse earthquake(link is external), because Salta is the metropolitan see of the Diocese of Oran. Gustavo Zanchetta, the former bishop, abruptly resigned his position in 2017 after being appointed by Pope Francis in 2013.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church continues to play hard-ball with clergy sex abuse victim
“The Catholic Church continues to challenge a clergy sex abuse victim of notorious priest Gerald Ridsdale(link is external). After last month arguing to delay the civil compensation trial by at least 120 days, it has now demanded the victim, who was raped as a nine-year-old in a confessional box, provide a copy of the church’s own rules in Latin. The victim’s lawyers have been asking the church to hand over archive documents.” By Andrew Thomson, The Courier

Former Victorian Catholic priest Paul Ryan jailed for historical child sex offenses
“Paul David Ryan, now a 70-year-old pensioner, was charged after a 2016 police investigation sparked by the sex abuse royal commission(link is external). The charges relate to three boys, who were aged 14, 15 and 17 at the time of the assaults. The first boy was training to be an altar boy and the other two were students at the Warrnambool Christian Brothers’ College, where Ryan worked as a school chaplain and provided sex education classes.” By Charlotte King, ABC News Australia

CHILE

New revelations on sex abuse hit Chilean church
“Just when you thought the situation in the Catholic Church couldn’t get worse, new allegations of clerical abuse and its cover-up have hit the press(link is external). It has also become clear that the crimes committed by one of Chile’s once most-beloved priests exceeded what was originally thought.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Jesuits publish inquiry results, confirm abuses by famed priest
“While deceased Jesuit Fr. Renato Poblete Barth was known publicly as a champion of the poor in Chile, an internal investigation funded by the Jesuits revealed that the famed clergyman abused more than a dozen women(link is external) over a span of nearly 50 years.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest, 76, is jailed for 18 years for ‘horrifically’ sexually abusing two teenage boys
“A Catholic priest who sexually abused two teenage boys at a seminary(link is external) where he taught has been jailed for 18 years. Michael Higginbottom, 76, was found guilty by a jury of five counts of serious sexual assault and seven counts of indecent assault following a re-trial. The boys were abused as they boarded at St Joseph’s College, a Catholic seminary in Upholland, Lancashire, which has now closed, in the 1970s and 80s. During a two-week trial, jurors heard he ‘regularly, systematically and horrifically’ abused the boys.” By Paul Britton, Manchester Evening News

Archbishop tried to discredit BBC film on church links to abuse
“The most senior Catholic leader in England and Wales went to extraordinary lengths to try to discredit a BBC documentary on child sexual abuse and its cover-up by the church(link is external), the Guardian can disclose. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, publicly accused the BBC of bias and malice before the documentary was aired in 2003. Documents seen by the Guardian show he also lobbied the BBC’s director of news, wrote to all priests in his archdiocese urging them not to speak to BBC journalists, and lodged a formal complaint against the program’s makers.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

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Clergy & laypeople collaborate to confront clericalism / Association of U.S. Catholic Priests & Voice of the Faithful

Joint News Release from Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful

For Immediate Release, Aug. 15, 2019

Pope Francis condemns clericalism, repeatedly. Catholic commentators decry it. Theologians and church historians examine its roots. Now, in a significant collaboration, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful have examined the ways clericalism emerges from the clerical culture, generating complex problems facing the Roman Catholic Church today, and they suggest ways to combat it.

Their document, “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism,” was approved at the AUSCP June 2019 Assembly, where guest speaker Dr. Richard Gaillardetz called it “very informative, even visionary.” Keynote speaker Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, noting the real-life examples reported, said it was “nothing less than a catalogue of horrors chronicling imperial pronouncements, put-downs, claims of privileges, entitlements and exemptions from accountability, but also a culture so pervasive that, sadly, many of the laity have come to accept it as normal and yes, even have cooperated in maintaining it.”

Real-life examples are central to the report and a significant contribution to the study of clericalism today. As the writers note, “We typically encounter clericalism as an experience. Using only scholarly definitions and explanations when discussing clericalism cannot communicate this lived experience of clericalism in the Church. To fully understand clericalism, we also must hear the voices of those who experience abuse of power.”

One experience  describes a confrontation between a laywoman and a visiting priest in Boston during a 2003 meeting. “We must fix this [sex abuse] because we are the Church,” the laywoman said. The visiting priest replied, “YOU are not the Church,” and pointing to his Roman collar, declared, “WE are the Church.”

In another example, a new pastor announced that he would personally choose pastoral council members and no one would be allowed to disagree with him. In yet another, a seminarian criticized the pastor for his monthly blessing service because it differed from what the seminary practiced.

If these examples seem to focus blame on the clergy or an insulated hierarchy or any group or faction within the universal church, the document will not allow such a conclusion. Clericalism is not simply a problem of clerics, and the authors cite experiences where lay people enable such behavior.

Clericalism is toxic to all the baptized, they note. When lay people encounter clericalism: “They find another parish; they leave the Church; they never speak up again in meetings with priests; they abdicate all decision-making to the priest; they become audiences rather that participants in the parish’s life and sideline observers within the Church. Or all of the above. They abdicate their baptismal responsibilities.”

Priests may suffer, too, from unrealistic expectations stifling their human development. It is manifested in “overwork, isolation, loneliness, unrelieved stress, the expectation that he and he alone will handle all the parish business and be responsible for all the parish problems.”

The document delves into the culture of the diocesan priesthood and characteristics that help incubate clericalism: the hierarchical and patriarchal structure of the church, its requirements for celibacy, an ordination that is said to confer an ontological change, an education separated from the daily lives of laypeople, distinctive clothing and liturgical dress. Clerics also receive privileges of lifestyle and compensation not available to the people to whom they minister. The final section of the paper describes options for confronting clericalism.

“Our aim,” the AUSCP and VOTF writers say, “has been to raise the consciousness
of readers to the expressions of clericalism and its problems. Clericalism betrays the teachings of the scriptures and ignores the best practices of the first three centuries of Christian faith and life. Both clerics and lay persons can be afflicted with the disease. Both are often unaware that their mode and manner, their self-understanding, and their sense of ministry have wandered far from the example of Jesus … [We]” hope that our words help us all rise to the challenge of today in confronting and ultimately removing as many vestiges as possible of the clericalism that harms us all.”

Cardinal Cupich emphasized a similar conclusion: “Clericalism can only be confronted by reclaiming the authenticity of the conversion we are called to in Baptism.”

The team preparing the report worked with input from clergy and laypeople across the United States, modeling the synodality Pope Francis urges as one way to address clericalism’s damage. Following its completion, the white paper also was endorsed by FutureChurch, another organization that includes both priests and lay people.

Lead writers for “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” were Rev. Kevin Clinton, AUSCP Past Chair of the Leadership Team, retired pastor, Archdiocese of St. Paul–Minneapolis; and Ms. Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, member of Paulist Center Community, Archdiocese of Boston.

Contributors on the Working Group under the auspices of AUSCP were Rev. Gerry Bechard, AUSCP, pastor of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish, Archdiocese of Detroit; Ms. Alvera Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Mr. David Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Rev. Bernard R. Bonnot, AUSCP Executive Director, retired pastor in the Diocese of Youngstown; and Rev. Tom Ogg, AUSCP, retired pastor, Diocese of Cheyenne, Worldwide Marriage Encounter―U.S. Ecclesial Priest.

N.B. “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” can be read and downloaded at http://www.votf.org/AUSCP-Projects/Systemic%20Dysfunction%20Clericalism.pdf. Strategies for addressing clericalism in local faith communities can be found in “The BridgeDialogues: Laity & Clergy Reimaging the Church” at http://www.votf.org/content/priest-and-lay-reform-organizations-take-clerical-culture, which is a collaborative effort of AUSCP, FutureChurch and VOTF.


Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, dbdoucette@votf.org

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in reforming administrative structures that have failed. VOTF’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. More information is at votf.org.

Contact: Kevin Clinton, kevin@kevindome.com, Paul Leingang, prleingang@gmail.com

Association of U.S. Catholic Priests: AUSCP serves the People of God in parishes and other ministries. We seek to add a priest’s voice to the public conversation within our pilgrim church, among bishops and lay persons, vowed religious, ordained deacons and others. Our concerns are your concerns: good liturgy, social justice, the role of women in our church, immigration policies that reflect Gospel values, the dignity of all human lives, and a Church that welcomes all the People of God. Our mission is to be an association of U.S. Catholic priests offering mutual support and a collegial voice through dialogue, contemplation and prophetic action on issues affecting Church and society. Our vision is to be a Priest’s Voice of Hope and Joy within our Pilgrim Church. More information is at uscatholicpriests.org.

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Following bishops’ spring meeting, Voice of the Faithful echoes calls for mandatory civil reporting and lay involvement in bishop accountability

BOSTON, Mass., June 18, 2019 – The 2019 U.S. Bishops’ spring assembly left Voice of the Faithful and concerned Catholics across America with a nagging sense of déjà vu. Once again, the plan for resolving the Church’s lengthy, widespread child abuse and cover-up scandal is for bishops to hold their fellow bishops accountable. This is the best they could do nearly 35 years after Jason Berry’s reporting on horrendous abuse in Louisiana and Fr. Tom Doyle’s comprehensive report on the extent and potential repercussions of Catholic clergy abuse.

Over the past three and a half decades, time and again, when clerical transgressions were brought to light by others, bishops apologized and promised reform. The reform attempted at this latest bishops meeting has left bishops monitoring other bishops, controlling reports to lay boards and establishing themselves as final arbiters when abuse is reported. It has left us still waiting for substantive actions that could signal real reform. Here are two:

  • mandatory reporting of abuse allegations to civil authorities, even where state law does not require it, as Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski emphasized during the bishops’ meeting; and
  • mandatory lay involvement in bishop accountability, without which, as the bishops’ National Review Board Chairman Francesco Cesareo has said, a culture of self-preservation would continue that suggests complicity.

For arguably good reasons, Pope Francis in his recent Vos estis lux mundi did not require either of these actions, only suggested them, while requiring that bishops’ transgressions be reported within the Church and investigated by other bishops. This is a variation of the medieval court system where only clerics were allowed to judge other clerics and not a step forward.

At their meeting, U.S. bishops adopted the metropolitan model suggested by Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich wherein a metropolitan archbishop, a largely ceremonial role, would be in charge of investigating bishops within his province. But without mandatory reporting to police and mandatory lay involvement, the faithful can only hope that the bishop involved will investigate properly—investigative work that is not covered in any catechism or theology course.

VOTF agrees with canon lawyer and former National Review Board chairman Nicholas Cafardi, who has been quoted, “The system really perpetuates clericalism, which is something Pope Francis has criticized in other situations—the idea that priests exist on a different level than lay people and bishops exist on a different level than priests, and that’s by divine origin and you can’t even talk about changing it.”

Although several bishops during their spring meeting spoke in favor of mandatory reporting and mandatory lay involvement, they did not carry the day. This underscores the necessity for Lay Catholics to continue the drumbeat for reform and repeatedly ask their bishops to lobby their brothers and the Pope for whatever is needed for real reform, whether papal edicts or changes in canon law.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, June 18, 2019
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Priest and lay reform organizations take on clerical culture


Pope Francis has repeatedly called out the clerical culture’s danger to the Catholic Church and its faithful, for example, calling clericalism “our ugliest perversion.” Now a nationwide Catholic priests’ organization and two international lay reform groups have developed the BridgeDialogues: Laity & Clergy re-Imagining Church Together to show Catholics what they can do to recognize and prevent this perversion which blocks the laity from achieving their full potential in the Church.

Clericalism has been defined in various ways. In a 2011 report criticizing the Church’s “Study of the Causes and Context of the Sexual Abuse Crisis,” VOTF defined clericalism as “an overriding set of beliefs and behaviors in which the clergy view themselves as different, separate, and exempt from the norms, rules and consequences that apply to everyone else in society.” As the Pope has said, “Clerics feel they are superior, they are far from the people,” and clericalism “can be fostered by priests or by lay people” where the laity show clergy excessive deference because they assume the clergy are morally superior.

The BridgeDialogues is a collaborative effort of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, FutureChurch, and Voice of the Faithful. They offer:

  • prompts for opening up discussions addressing clericalism, including topics such as the subtle ways that language and pastoral relationships can feed clericalism;
  • examples of how you experience clericalism barriers and what you can do about them;
  • tips for how you can guard against clericalism in your own behaviors, while removing the barriers others may use to hold you on “your side” of the lay/clergy divide.

The BridgeDialogues’ many resources are available online at bridgedialogues.org.

Deborah Rose-Milavec, FutureChurch executive director, said, “Although some form of clerical culture will always be with us as long as we make distinctions between priests and laity, we can all work together to reduce its deleterious effects. The BridgeDialogues provides the resources to begin a dialogue in your parish or community to look at the subtle ways that language and pastoral relationships can feed clericalism and how all Catholics experience those barriers.”

Donna B. Doucette, VOTF executive director, added, “We must make ourselves, priests and laity, aware of a clerical culture that has so many damaging consequences. Many Catholics are unaware of how embedded those effects are. Priests typically live aside and apart from the people they should serve—they are culturally and often physically far removed from the realities of the communities that surround them. Yet instead of trying to bridge the separation, too often lay people contribute to it. And some priests, of course, often don’t realize it should be bridged.”

Said AUSCP member Louis Arceneaux, a priest of the Congregation of the Mission living in New Orleans, “For our wounded Church to grow, we need organizations of women and men, of laity and clergy, to minister together. As an AUSCP member, I am delighted to be working with FutureChurch and Voice of the Faithful in promoting the BridgeDialogues, which affords me personally and our association a wonderful opportunity to be part of an important priests/laity collaboration.”



Association of U.S. Catholic Priests
(Contact: Louis Arceneaux, louiearceneaux66@gmail.com)
AUSCP serves the People of God in parishes and other ministries. We seek to add a priest’s voice to the public conversation within our pilgrim church, among bishops and lay persons, vowed religious, ordained deacons and others. Our concerns are your concerns: good liturgy, social justice, the role of women in our church, immigration policies that reflect Gospel values, the dignity of all human lives, and a Church that welcomes all the People of God. Our mission is to be an association of U.S. Catholic priests offering mutual support and a collegial voice through dialogue, contemplation and prophetic action on issues affecting Church and society. Our vision is to be a Priest’s Voice of Hope and Joy within our Pilgrim Church. More information is at uscatholicpriests.org.


FutureChurch
(Contact: Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director, debrose@futurchurch.org)
FutureChurch’s mission is to seek changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life, ministry, and governance. FutureChurch works for just, open and collaborative structures for Catholic worship, organization and governance; a return to the Church’s early tradition of both married and celibate priests; a return to the Church’s earliest tradition, modeled on the inclusive practice of Jesus, of recognizing both female and male leaders of faith communities; and regular access to the Eucharist, the center of Catholic life and worship, for all Catholics. FutureChurch’s activities grow from a spirituality based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist, the Spirit-filled beliefs of the faithful, and the teachings of Vatican II. More information is at futurechurch.org.

 

VOTF Logo
Voice of the Faithful®
(Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, dbdoucette@votf.org)
Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in reforming administrative structures that have failed. VOTF’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. More information is at votf.org.

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Why does Francis’ passion for justice and unity stop short of women? / National Catholic Reporter

Francis’ boundless energy and dedication to peace and justice stands in stark contrast to the dithering way he is handling question of women deacons in his own church. His passionate cause for unity among churches and with people of other faiths, it seems, stops short of the women of his own church who are asking simply for more inclusive ways to serve. (National Catholic Reporter)

In June 2016, just after Pope Francis announced he would create a commission for the study of the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church, he joked to journalists, ‘When you want something not to be resolved, make a commission.’ Apparently, he wasn’t kidding after all.

“On May 7, while aboard the papal flight from Macedonia to Rome, Francis announced that, after three years of study, the papal commission was unable to find consensus and give a ‘definitive response’ on the role of women deacons in the first centuries of Christianity.

“He claimed that what remained unclear was whether women deacons received a sacramental ordination.

“‘It is fundamental that there is not certainty that it was an ordination with the same formula and the same finality of men’s ordination,’ he said.

“Anyone who has ever listened to Francis speak about women knows why this would be such a crucial distinction for him. Like popes before him, Francis believes strongly that women are not entitled to sacramental power or authority and that it is God’s intended purpose that men and women have different roles in the church.”

By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 13, 2019

TOP STORIES

Francis mandates clergy abuse reporting worldwide, empowers archbishops to do investigations
“Pope Francis issued sweeping new laws for the Catholic Church on the investigation of clergy sexual abuse(link is external) May 9, mandating for the first time that all priests and members of religious orders worldwide are obligated to report any suspicions of abuse or its cover-up. The pontiff has also established a new global system for the evaluation of reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops, which foresees the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates in their local regions with the help of Vatican authorities.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Francis: Women deacons commission gave split report on their role in early church
“The Vatican commission studying the history of women serving as deacons in the Catholic Church has been unable to find consensus on their role in the early centuries of Christianity and is yet to give a ‘definitive response(link is external),’ Pope Francis said May 7. In a press conference aboard the flight back to Rome after his three-day visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia, the pope said the primary question is whether women who served as deacons were ordained in a manner similar to male deacons. Each of the 12 members of the commission, said Francis, ‘thought differently.’ By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Ruling lets abuse survivor proceed with suit against California bishops
“A Los Angeles, California, superior court has ruled that a survivor of sexual abuse can sue the state’s Catholic bishops(link is external) and the California Catholic Conference. In a press conference livestreamed from Burbank, California, April 29, survivor of clergy sexual abuse Tom Emens spoke alongside attorneys with the Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm.” By Maria Benevento, National Catholic Reporter

Illinois Catholic Church didn’t disclose hundreds of abuse cases, new attorney general finding shows
“Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Illinois six Roman Catholic dioceses failed to disclose at least 500 sexual abuse cases involving priests(link is external). That’s one of the first findings the office has released so far in its ongoing investigation of the dioceses. In an interview last week, Madigan said one of the goals of the investigation is to uncover both the extent of sexual abuse incidents in Illinois’ Catholic Church and whether church officials tried to cover them up.” By Sam Dunklau, Illinois Public Radio

If leaked draft for Curia reform is for real, the Vatican is headed for disaster
“If there is any truth to the leaks concerning the Vatican’s forthcoming proposal to reform the Curia, it is going to be a disappointment and a disaster(link is external). A draft of the proposal, expected to be published at the end of June, was obtained by a Spanish weekly, Vida Nueva, and as the Vatican has not pushed back on its analysis, the Catholic News Service and other Vatican reporters are taking it seriously.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

At Rome’s American seminary, scandals aren’t deterring future priests
“‘None of us would have asked for this scandal and the hurt it’s caused,’ said Father Peter Harman, a priest of Springfield, Ill., and rector of the NAC (North American College) since 2016. ‘But perhaps, and I trust in God’s goodness, if this makes us want to be priests for the right reasons, then let it be.(link is external)’” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Editorial: George Weigel, wrong then, wrong now
“The Catholic University of America decided to give the final guest speaker spot in its commendable series of four programs(link is external) examining the priest sex abuse crisis to George Weigel. That was unfortunate, because his long-discredited narrative about the causes of the scandal and his illusory ideas about how to deal with it do a great disservice to the Catholic faithful in this moment when so much of the church is finally squaring up to the awful truth.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

What part of the church’s healing are we each responsible for?
“In the final episode of Deliver Us, we ask: What’s mine to do and not somebody else’s? What part of the church’s healing are we each responsible for(link is external)? To grapple with these questions, we spoke to people who have responded to the sex abuse crisis in different ways. Geoff Boisi and Kerry Robinson talk about why they formed Leadership Roundtable, an organization which brings best business practices to church leaders and which has convened experts to discuss the church’s future … Donna Doucette of Voice of the Faithful also joins the episode to offer her take on how lay people can contribute to healing, and Monica LaBelle offers her experience of setting up listening sessions in her parish. We also hear from you, our listeners, in this final episode. You tell us what you’ve been doing to help the church move forward.” By Maggi Van Dorn, Deliver Us, America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Attorneys reviewing ‘massive’ number of documents in Catholic Church investigation
“Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is working around the clock and then some in its review of thousands of pages of information(link is external) seized from Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses. More than 25 assistant attorneys general are assigned to the investigation, in addition to their other assignments, and several regularly work for free on the weekends to process the ‘massive’ amounts of information, said Nessel’s spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney.” By Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News

Georgia attorney general opens Catholic priest abuse investigation
“Georgia has become the latest state to open a formal investigation into the Catholic Church’s priest sex abuse scandal in the state(link is external). The state does not have a large Catholic population within the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah. However, the newly-minted archbishop of Washington DC is the former Archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton Gregory. Gregory’s predecessor in Washington was forced to retire after the scathing Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report concerning his tenure as Bishop of Pittsburgh.” By Joseph Saunders, The Legal Examiner

Los Angeles Archdiocese’s handling of sex abuse cases under investigation by attorney general
“The California attorney general’s office will review how the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has handled sexual abuse allegations(link is external), including whether it followed mandatory reporting requirements to law enforcement, according to a letter reviewed by The Times. The letter, dated Thursday (May 2), from Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to Archbishop Jose Gomez, requests that church officials preserve an array of documents related to clergy abuse allegations.” By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times

Catholic University sex abuse series wraps with starkly different viewpoints
“Two well-known lay Catholic leaders in the United States presented strikingly different opinions on the cause of the clergy sex abuse crisis, the role of the laity and the centrality of victim-survivors(link is external) at an April 25 conference at Catholic University of America, titled ‘The Way Forward: Principles for Effective Lay Action.’ The day-long conference, the fourth and final installment of the ‘Healing the Breach of Trust’ series, was marked by the divergent 25-minute presentations of George Weigel and John Carr, who spoke at different points in the day.” By Jesse Remedios, National Catholic Reporter

How far can statewide investigation of Catholic Church sex abuse go?
“Peter J. Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, has one goal in the review of sex abuse allegations in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Savannah Diocese. ‘We will follow the facts where they lead us and go from there(link is external),’ said Skandalakis, a career prosecutor, who joined PAC last year after more than two decades in public office. There could be further investigation or, perhaps, prosecutions by local district attorneys.” By Sheila M. Poole, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A lawsuit against all of California’s bishops will be allowed to proceed
“Last year, a California man sued bishops from every one of California’s 11 dioceses(link is external), arguing that the church’s history of concealing abusers’ identities is a threat to free speech. This month, a California judge ruled that some of the claims in the lawsuit would be allowed to proceed—a decision that could force church officials to release the names of alleged abusers in dioceses across the state.” By Emily Moon, Pacific Standard Magazine

Vatican reveals more about guidelines on children of priests
“The Vatican has confirmed that guidelines on dealing with Catholic priests who father children are sent to any episcopal conference(link is external) that requests them. Mgr Andrea Ripa, of the Congregation for the Clergy, wrote to Vincent Doyle, founder of the Coping International, which defends the rights of children of priests worldwide, confirming the policy of the Vatican concerning the document.” By Ruth Gledhill, The Tablet

POPE FRANCIS

Documentary chronicles Francis by showing Church changing the world
“An El Salvadoran countryside, a Canadian mosque, a carpenter’s workshop on the small Italian island of Lampedusa and a family home in Minnesota serve as the setting of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation’s latest documentary, The Francis Impact(link is external). Unlike most Vatican or papal-themed documentaries, there’s little footage of Rome. Instead, the documentary – released May 5 – aims to turn the viewer’s attention to the often forgotten regions of the world, much like the mission of its protagonist.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis urged to end clergy abuse in Argentina
“Pope Francis is being urged by campaigners to return to his homeland to deal with revelations of child sexual abuse committed by Roman Catholic clergy. Two international campaign organizations are in Argentina to meet the victims(link is external). They are also calling for clergy involved in abuse to be removed from office and to be prosecuted.” By Daniel Schweimier, Al Jazeera

Letter signed by more than 1,500 accuses Pope Francis of the ‘canonical delict of heresey’
“A group of Catholic scholars and priests has written an open letter to the College of Bishops accusing Pope Francis of heresy(link is external). The letter, published by LifeSiteNews April 30, accuses Francis of a ‘comprehensive rejection of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexual activity, on the moral law, and on grace and the forgiveness of sins’ and is framed as the third step in a process that began with a private letter to the cardinals and Eastern Catholic patriarchs in 2016.” By Maria Benevento, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

In Washington meeting, U.S. bishops dialogue with abuse victims
“On May 1, just behind the walls where the tales of abuse and healing were on display, a small group of Catholics just like the ones in the stories gathered with bishops, clergy, victim advocates and others for a daylong event on the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church(link is external), but also to acknowledge the pain caused, to offer comfort, express sorrow, to share a meal, to pray and extend the wish to heal a broken trust.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Profile of women religious rising at the Vatican
“The Vatican can move at a snail’s pace but looking back over the past six years, the profile of women, especially women religious, at Vatican events has risen sharply(link is external). The Roman Curia is not teeming with women leaders and Pope Francis has given no indication, for example, that he will open the diaconate to women, but women are taking center stage more often and doing so with the ‘parrhesia’ or boldness Francis encourages.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

International Union of Superiors General advocates for women, sees influence grow
“In the three years since Pope Francis announced he would create a commission to study the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church(link is external), signaling a possible openness to ending the global institution’s practice of an all-male clergy, there has been little news about the group’s work … Now, that looks set to change. Approximately 850 leaders of the world’s congregations of Catholic women religious are preparing to come to Rome May 6-10 for their triennial weeklong meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), an umbrella organization that represents more than 450,000 sisters and nuns around the world.” By Joshua J. McElwee, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Vatican relaunches women’s magazine team after resignations
“The Vatican announced a new editorial leadership team for its women’s magazine(link is external)Tuesday (Apr. 30), following the clamorous exit of its previous editor who alleged a campaign of delegitimization by the Holy See’s communications operation. Three of the members of the editorial team of Women Church World previously worked for the magazine and stayed on following the resignation of founder Lucetta Scaraffia and other editorial committee members in March.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Speakers address role of laity as church moves forward from abuse scandal
“In introductory remarks during a conference examining the laity’s role in helping the Church move forward from the clergy abuse crisis(link is external), a speaker pointed out that what has happened impacts, and continues to affect, the whole Church. ‘We can’t fix the Church by our own efforts,’ but Catholics, like Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry the cross, ‘can carry some of the weight,’ said Stephen White, executive director of The Catholic Project, a group sponsored by The Catholic University of America in response to the Church abuse crisis.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Rome conference ponders the rise of ‘everyday’ lay saints
“Since the beginning of his pontificate, one of the things Pope Francis has advocated most vocally is a less clerical church with a greater involvement of laypeople at every level(link is external), including the Roman Curia. At a time when the push for lay leadership is growing in the wake of further scandals related to Catholicism’s global sexual abuse crisis, with many arguing lay intervention would help break a systemic cycle of cover-up among bishops and priests, a Rome conference has highlighted the lives of seven lay individuals whose causes for sainthood are underway …” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

MILLENNIAL CATHOLICS

Young progressive Catholics really do care about the church
“Almost every conversation I listen to about the future of the Catholic Church in the United States makes two assumptions(link is external). First, that the only young adults still interested in the Catholic Church are very conservative. Second, that all of the other young adults have either rejected the church or are utterly indifferent to it. If that is the case, why do campus ministry programs at progressive Catholic universities have their liturgies packed with students, and why are there waiting lists for their retreat programs and immersion trips?” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

The hopes and challenges of priestly celibacy today
“Celibacy in the priesthood is once again up for discussion. The diminished number of candidates for ordination and the abuse crisis have prodded the discussion, which seems mainly focused on the elimination of celibacy as a mandatory discipline for priests(link is external)in the Western church. But a more foundational concern, in my estimation, needs our reflection before we consider any change. That concern has to do with formation for celibacy and formation in celibacy.” By Louis J. Carroll, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH REFORM

Call to Action – the ‘loyal left opposition’ – reorganizes amid an uncertain future
“About a mile west of Wrigley Field, in Chicago’s trendy Roscoe Village neighborhood, sits a three-story, yellow-brick building, where those who can’t afford the nearby million-dollar, single-family homes can get a three-bedroom condo for half that. The building’s first-floor commercial occupants are a spiritual gift shop and bookstore run by volunteers and open only on the weekends, and Call to Action, the 40-year-old Catholic church reform organization(link is external).” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Secretariat of State looks to become even stronger in Vatican reforms
“After nearly 6 years of work, it looks like the new governing constitution of the Vatican should be published by the end of the summer(link is external). On Saturday (Apr. 20), the Spanish publication Nueva Vida will publish an article outlining some of the changes in the document, called Praedicate Evangelium, which Crux reported on earlier this week. The big news is that the once-dominant Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is being effectively demoted. A new ‘super-dicastery’ for evangelization will be given pride of place in the new order, with another ‘super-dicastery’ for charity also superseding the CDF in the new Vatican hierarchy.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Plenary Council changing how faithful communicate
“The Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council 2020 process has changed the way people within the Church communicate with one another(link is external), three key figures have explained. Source, according to ACBC Media Blog … Plenary Council coordinators from the Diocese of Sale, Archdiocese of Brisbane and Diocese of Darwin – part of a network of more than 40 local coordinators across the nation – told Media Blog the Listening and Dialogue process has had a profound and nourishing impact on people in their communities.” By CathNews.com

Vermont synod yields proposals on communications, evangelizing, parish life
“Recommendations on evangelization, vibrant parishes and communications emerged from the Diocese of Burlington’s first synod to be held since before the Second Vatican Council(link is external) took place. On April 16, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne promulgated the documents of the synod at the annual chrism Mass April 16 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington. Recommendations on evangelization, vibrant parishes and communications emerged from the Diocese of Burlington’s first synod to be held since before the Second Vatican Council took place.” By Cori Fugere Urban, Cruxnow.com

Number of ‘nones’ in the U.S. ties with Catholics
“Americans who do not identify with any religion are now as big a part of the country’s population as Catholics and evangelical Christians(link is external), according to a new survey, according to “Our Sunday Visitor.” The General Social Survey, which interviewed more than 2,000 people in 2018, indicates that the religiously unaffiliated, if the present trend continues, will comprise the largest segment of the United States’ population within four to six years.” By CathNews.com

Catholics on Delmarva: Holding firm or struggling with faith
“Jackie Conner is a self-identified ‘cradle Catholic.’ Growing up in the faith, she attended mass every Sunday with her family in Troy, New York, and has continued the tradition each week with her husband, Ernie, since moving to Salisbury in the late 1970s. But it wasn’t always like that. In the early weeks of their 1954 marriage, Jackie said she resisted the Sunday ritual(link is external) because her mother wasn’t there to make her go.” By Rose Velazquez, DelmarvaNow.com

Michigan residents leaving the Catholic Church as many turn away from religion
“The Catholic Church has loomed large over Gloria Emmons’ life.

Growing up in metro Detroit in the 1950s and ’60s, her devout Catholic family was surrounded by other devout Catholics. Everybody went to church on Sundays. Nobody ate meat on Fridays. Almost every home had a statue of Mary … But today, Emmons describes herself as an ‘ambivalent’ Catholic(link is external).” By Julie Mack and Scott Levin, MLive.com

VOICES

The Heat: Catholic Church sexual abuse
“Pope Francis, the leader of over 1 billion Roman Catholics across the world, is visiting Eastern Europe this week with stops in Bulgaria and North Macedonia. He has been talking about issues like wealth inequality and he’s defended migrants. But, an issue that still dominates the pontiff’s attention is the decades-old child sexual abuse crisis involving Catholic clergy. Earlier this year he brought together leaders of the Catholic Church from around the globe to the Vatican as he tried to address it. CGTN’s John Gilmore filed this report, and discussions included(link is external) Tim Lennon, sexual abuse survivor and President of SNAP; Ray Flynn, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican; Matthias Katsch, German activist who was sexually abused; and Donna Doucette, executive director of a Voice of the Faithful.” By Nathan King, CGTN-TV

Why I stayed, and why I’m leaving: The Church Must Comfort, not Judge
“My daughter Moy Moy died suddenly and unexpectedly in July 2018. My first Commonweal column—written in 1999 when she was ten years old—was about her. Our pediatrician had told us then that Moy probably only had months left to live. My column was about our anguish and grief; about what we had learned from her brief life(link is external) and how much we still didn’t understand. Longtime Commonweal readers may remember that our pediatrician got it wrong. Moy Moy didn’t die.” By Jo McGowan, Commonweal

Here’s how the Catholic Church can mopve from vague promises to bold action, former federal official says
“While in some ways a hopeful step, a four-day meeting in Rome earlier this year called by Pope Francis to respond to the sexual abuse crisis that has impacted the lives of countless victims(link is external) and undermined the moral authority of the Catholic Church was sadly bereft of concrete reform. There is still ample opportunity for the Church to recover from the decades-old scandal and regain the trust of the public, but it will require fundamental reforms in two critical areas that permitted and then covered up those abuses: bishop accountability and Church governance.” By Tom Healey, Star-Ledger

Ideological bias cannot taint our approach to sexual abuse
“Since last summer I have taken part in about a dozen panels and programs across this country that were organized to discuss the causes and consequences of the crisis of sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by members of the Catholic clergy. I have visited several cities and met people from every walk of life—victims, survivors, bishops, priests and religious, lay leaders, moms and dads, young and old. It has been humbling, enlightening and inspiring to take part in these important conversations—the most important conversation we could ever have.” By Mat Malone, America: The Jesuit Review

Confronting the specters
“Paul Elie, a friend and valued contributor to Commonweal for nearly three decades, has written a long article for the New Yorker on the renewed upheaval over clergy sexual abuse(link is external). It is a confusing and ultimately disappointing piece, which conflates older crimes and contemporary revelations while providing little explanation for the varying patterns of priestly sexual abuse and the church’s different responses over the past fifty years.” By Paul Baumann, Commonweal

Your thoughts on Pope Francis’ sixth year, clericalism, unbelief and more
“NCR readers are welcome to join the conversation and send us a letter to the editor. Below is a sampling of letters received in the month of March 2019(link is external). If you want to respond to an article published in NCR, follow the steps listed at the end of this post ― When Francis was elected pope, I didn’t pay much attention (and I’m a priest). Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI’s episcopal nominees had already left me cold. Not as cold and abandoned as I felt in the presence of the schismatic Roman Curia, which has long since abandoned the people of God, but frozen enough to feel that in matters of faith I’d just have to weather through on my own …” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholics want church to invest in ethical funds, survey says

“More than 90% of Catholics said they believe that Catholic organizations should invest church funds in ways that are consistent with church teaching and values(link is external), according to results of a new survey. In addition, about 31% of respondents to the survey conducted by Boston-based Catholic Investment Services said that news of clergy sexual abuse and the church’s handling of such allegations has caused them to give less to their parish. Still, 7% of respondents said they have given more to their parish. However, 41% of respondents said they either plan to donate less to their parish or are considering giving less in the future.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Fatal flaw: Drafting error sinks child sex crime bill
“New Mexico was poised this year to join a wave of states nationwide that are allowing victims of child sex crimes more time to report their perpetrators for possible criminal prosecution(link is external). A last-minute clerical error derailed that effort – at least for this year. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she was forced to veto the legislation last month, because her legal team found a fatal flaw that would have given some victims even less time to report the crime than they have under current law.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic priest sex abuse scandal hits home, with more pain sure to come
“‘What’s next?” Roman Catholics worldwide are asking as their church reels amid explosive revelations of sexual assault and abuse of minors by priests(link is external). It certainly has hit home for me. During Mass in January, a representative of the Archdiocese of Chicago announced that the beloved pastor of my church had been accused of sexual abusing a minor in 1979, while serving in a south suburban parish.” By Laura Washington, Chicago Sun Times

My priest was an accused abuser: the Catholic sex abuse story gets personal
“In the photograph, I am smiling brightly, and so are the two men I am standing next to. One is the future father of my children. The other is currently accused of sexual abuse involving ‘multiple’ victims(link is external): his name is Robert Chabak. That’s how he signed my marriage certificate. We called him Father Bob. I’ve wondered over the last several years, of course, about the priests of my youth. As revelation upon revelation of sexual abuse in the Catholic church has emerged, I asked myself if I had known any of the men involved, if the cash I’d faithfully tucked into my collection plate envelopes had gone toward settlements with victims.” By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro says clergy abuse shadows Catholics’ Notre Dame response
“Pennsylvania Attorney General Joshua Shapiro was impressed with the response of the Catholic Church and Catholics around the world when Notre Dame went up in flames last week in Paris. But he’s disappointed in what he sees as the church’s lackluster response to protecting clergy abuse victims(link is external). In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Shapiro took the church to task for spending millions to influence lawmakers to block his recommendation that they open a window of opportunity for abuse survivors with old claims to sue the church.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

CALIFORNIA

Victim shares story of clergy sexual abuse at Jesuit high school
“A man who says he was sexually abused by a Jesuit brother(link is external) his freshman year of Catholic School is speaking out. Kurt Hoffmann says he was assaulted by his swim coach Brother William Farrington. Now he’s sharing his story and hoping other victims feel inspired to do the same.” By Marissa Perlman, CBS-TV13 News

San Francisco among last Catholic dioceses in state to withhold names of accused clergy
“A lawsuit that would force the Archdiocese of San Francisco to release the names of clergy accused of sexual misconduct(link is external) was allowed to proceed last week. The Archdiocese of San Francisco is among 11 diocese across the state that, along with the California Catholic Conference (CCC), are named in the lawsuit that could force church officials to release the names of alleged abusers and provide documents on clerical offenders. The lawsuit alleges that these documents are kept in the dioceses possession, concealed from the public.” By Laura Waxmann, San Francisco Examiner

Man vows to proceed with California clergy abuse lawsuit
“A man who says he was molested by his parish priest(link is external) decades ago vows to proceed with a lawsuit targeting all Catholic bishops in California after a judge dismissed part of the suit. The so-called ‘nuisance’ lawsuit filed in October by Thomas Emens claims a civil conspiracy among church officials to cover up clergy assault and move offending priests to other parishes.” By Associated Press on SFGate.com

Credible sex abuse claims levied against three former Winters priests, one deacon, diocese says
“Three Catholic priests and one deacon who previously served at churches in Winters had credible claims of sexual abuse and other misconduct levied against them(link is external) across a span of several decades, according to a list published early Tuesday (Apr. 29) morning by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. Those names were among nearly four dozen priests and other clergy members identified by church officials as having been ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors and young people in the Diocese of Sacramento,’ a statement released by church officials said on Tuesday.” By Matthew Keys, Winters Express

‘Necessary reckoning’ – Sacramento Catholic diocese to publish list of accused clergy, bishop says
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento will release a list this week naming priests and deacons determined to have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors(link is external), Bishop Jaime Soto said in a letter Sunday (Apr. 28). ‘The list will account for our history of sexual abuse over the last seven decades and is a necessary reckoning for our local Church,’ Soto wrote. ‘I am repulsed and heartbroken by the evil acts that were perpetrated upon the innocent by those entrusted with their care. When you read the list you will experience your own feelings of shock, anger and disgust. This undoubtedly will reopen wounds for some.’” By Michael McGough, The Sacramento Bee

Sexual misconduct allegation levied against Fresno Catholic Diocese priest
“A 59-year-old priest with the Diocese of Fresno is on leave after being accused of sexual misconduct in Firebaugh(link is external). Rev. Monsignor Craig Francis Harrison is being investigated after the allegation was made this month by an adult male, who was a minor when the alleged offense happened, according to a statement from the diocese.” By Yesenia Amaro, Sacramento Bee

GEORGIA

Statewide investigation launched into sex abuse allegations in Catholic Church
“Georgia has become the latest state to launch an investigation into past sexual abuse claims within the Catholic Church(link is external), Attorney General Chris Carr said Tuesday (Apr. 30). The repercussions could be widespread. In Pennsylvania, a grand jury report identified hundreds of priests accused of molesting at least 1,000 minors over the past seven decades in that state.” By Shelia M. Poole and Christian Boone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ILLINOIS

Swansea Roman Catholic clergyman charged with sexual assault
“A clergyman with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville was charged Friday (Apr. 26) with sexually assaulting an adult woman on March 1. Deacon Robert J. Lanter, 68, of Swansea, was charged with felony criminal sexual assault, and is accused of assaulting a 29-year-old woman who was unable to give consent(link is external).” By Erin Heffernan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

KENTUCKY

Allegations against Fr. Bradley turned over to Vatican
“When Mark Lyon heard that the allegations made against Father Bradley were substantiated(link is external), he broke down. He would have never dreamed that the man he has known and respected could ever be involved in something like this. ‘When all of these other allegations went on with the other priests, I would have said… Father Bradley? I would have bet everything that I have to say that this would never have happened,’ said Lyon. Lyon tells 14 News that he does not want to believe it’s true. But he is not sure what to believe.” By Joseph Payton, WFIE-TV14 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Former Massachusetts priest John Sweeney sexually abused teens, performed exorcisms on them, according to new allegation
“Nadine Tifft’s faith has been tested. The 37-year-old publicly accused a priest on Tuesday (May 7) of sexually molesting her as a teenager growing up in New England(link is external). ‘I’m still Catholic,’ she said, but adding, ‘It makes it hard to go to church.’ Two decades ago, Tifft and several friends attended leadership retreats organized through her church for young members. The retreats were held around New England, designed to connect Catholics throughout New England with leaders in the church.” By Michelle Williams, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Lawmakers: State must open courtrooms to priest-abuse survivors
“Two Grand Rapids state lawmakers said the timing could be right this year for legislation that would open courtroom doors for survivors of child sexual abuse(link is external) at the hands of Catholic priests and others. The so-called “window” legislation, which would temporarily eliminate the statute of limitations, could have a huge impact on the Catholic Church in the state.” By Ken Kolker, WOOD-TV8 News

For many abused by priests, no window for justice
“A Barry County man said he was looking for justice when he recently called Target 8, along with the church and the Michigan Attorney General, to report a Roman Catholic priest had molested him when he was 12(link is external). He thought his case was recent enough, just 20 years ago, that he could send his molester to jail or make him and the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids pay by suing them. But while a growing number of states have passed laws allowing survivors in years-old cases to file civil lawsuits, there’s nothing he can legally do in Michigan.” By Ken Kolker, WOOD-TV8 News

Sentencing of ‘Father Bob’ follows year of scandal for Catholic Church and Saginaw Diocese
“A longtime Catholic Diocese of Saginaw priest who pleaded no contest to sex crimes faced sentencing on Thursday, April 25. The Rev. Robert J. ‘Father Bob’ DeLand in March pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct(link is external), gross indecency between two males, and manufacturing or distributing an imitation controlled substance. The most serious charge is second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony.” By Heather Jordan, MLive.com

MISSOURI

Missouri bishop urges broader approach to help survivors, parishes heal
“Missouri Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City came face to face with a victim of sexual abuse long before he was a bishop(link is external), when a friend in college confided in him about a rape. That experience, as a friend of a person who has suffered similar trauma, seems to have shaped his approach as a vocal bishop denouncing the clergy sex abuse scandal, even if, at 50, he’s one of the youngest and most junior members of the U.S. Catholic bishops.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

NEW JERSEY

Law firm says it will name 300 New Jersey priests accused of sex abuse, including those not named by the Church
“A New Jersey attorney says he has a list of more than 300 priests accused of sexual misconduct(link is external) in New Jersey — far more than the 188 priests the Catholic Church has said were ‘credibly accused’ in the state’s dioceses. Attorney Greg Gianforcaro said he will release the list Monday (May 6) at an afternoon press conference where he will announce that an unnamed victim of sexual abuse is filing a lawsuit against New Jersey’s five Catholic dioceses alleging they created a “public hazard” by not naming all accused priests.” By Kelly Heyboer, New Jersey Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK

Syracuse Catholic diocese pays $11 million to 79 sex abuse victims
“The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has paid nearly $11 million to settle claims with 79 sex abuse victims(link is external), according to a report released today. The Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program was administered by New York City lawyers Camille Biros and Kenneth Feinberg, who have handled victims’ funds after tragedies including 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing.” By Julie McMahon, Syracuse.com

Long Island diocese declines to release list of priests accused of sexually abusing children
“The Diocese of Rockville Centre will not release a list of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children(link is external) although it may do so in the future, church officials said Monday (Apr. 28). The decision is in contrast with those of the Archdiocese of New York and other dioceses around the country which have published such lists.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

New York archdiocese names 120 Catholic clergy members accused of sex abuse
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York on Friday (Apr. 26) identified 115 priests and five deacons who have been accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in what is one of the largest disclosures that has been made by the church. The list of clergy members joins a flood of names that have poured from dioceses and religious orders across the country in recent months as the church grapples with a scandal over its handling of abuse.” By Rick Rojas, The New York Times

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie’s Persico: ‘We really need to clean this up’
“In April 2018, Erie Catholic Bishop Lawrence Persico released the first version of the Catholic Diocese of Erie’s list of clergy and laypeople credibly accused of sexual abuse and other misconduct with minors. A year later, the list continues to grow(link is external) — it started with 51 names and is now at 81 — and so has the diocese’s financial exposure. As state lawmakers extended their debate about whether to adjust the statute of limitations to allow abuse victims to sue over old cases, Persico joined other dioceses statewide and created a compensation fund to pay claims to victims outside of court.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Trial for York-area defrocked priest accused of molesting two altar boys
“A 74-year-old defrocked Catholic priest who lives in West Manchester Township is now facing trial for allegedly sexually assaulting two altar boys(link is external) when he served at a Harrisburg church. John G. Allen, of the 1600 block of Kenneth Road, had his preliminary hearing at the office of Harrisburg-area District Judge Joseph Lindsey on Wednesday, April 24, according to court records.” By Liz Evans Scolforo, York Dispatch

Alleged predator priest accused of sexually abusing boys faces multiple counts in PA court
“Their stories are strikingly similar, recorded three months apart by a Dauphin County detective. They have names, but they’re known now as Victim 1 and Victim 2. Both men say John G. Allen sexually abused them(link is external) from 1997 to 2002 while they were altar boys at St. Margaret Mary’s Alacoque Church in Harrisburg.” By Candy Woodhall, York Daily Chronicle

SOUTH CAROLINA

After list of SC Catholic priests accused of abuse, no simple path to healing
“For victims of abuse by Catholic priests in South Carolina, the past month has opened old wounds but also fostered new hope(link is external). Since the 1990s, reports have surfaced implicating priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston in the abuse of minors dating back to at least the 1950s— cases that for years were treated in isolation.” By Gergory Yee and Rickey Dennis, the Post and Courier

UTAH

Grand jury indicts former Conroe priest on child sex abuse charges
“A grand jury on Thursday (May 2) indicted a former Conroe priest on charges stemming from child sex abuse allegations(link is external), according to court records. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez was indicted on two of the four counts of indecency with a child that led to his Sept. 11 arrest, records show. The two charges stem from incidents alleged to have happened to a female parishioner on April 9, 2000, while the cleric was assigned to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Montgomery County.” By Nicole Hensley, Houston Chronicle

WEST VIRGINIA

Catholic community needs Archbishop Lori to listen
“Almost a year before Michael Bransfield’s resignation as bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (DWC), the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA) wrote a letter to Pope Francis and other Vatican officials to express concerns about our diocese(link is external) and to share thoughts on the kind of bishop we would like to see follow Bransfield. Drawing from the Appalachian Catholic pastoral letters and the example of Pope Francis, both of which challenge people of faith to respond to the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth, our letter requested a bishop who …” By Michael Iafrate

ARGENTINA

Demand for trial against clergy accused of abusing kids
“International and Argentine activists on Monday (May 6) called on Pope Francis to ensure that his ‘zero tolerance’ pledge against sexual abuses by clergy is enforced in his homeland and demanded a trial for those accused of raping deaf and mute children at a Catholic school(link is external). Prosecutors say that members of the clergy abused at least 20 children at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza province. The case has caused a worldwide uproar and more than a dozen people face charges.” By Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press, on Madison.com

AUSTRALIA

Expert panel to conduct Church governance review
“A panel of experts has been convened to conduct a national review of the governance and management structures of Catholic dioceses and parishes. This will include issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and lay participation(link is external). The review was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse after the commission concluded that the governance and management of some dioceses and parishes contributed to the child sexual abuse crisis.” By CathNews.com

CHILE

Abuse survivors in Chile blast deal between Church and prosecutor
“A recently signed agreement between the Catholic Church in Chile and the local prosecutor’s office has caused uproar, with critics charging that it unduly provides protections and privileges to the Church(link is external). The agreement was signed on Tuesday (Apr. 30) by the national prosecutor, Jorge Abbott, and the secretary general of the Chilean bishops’ conference, Bishop Fernando Ramos, who’s one of ten bishops called to testify facing allegations of having covered up cases of abuse.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Chilean bishops fear new measure would enforce breaking confession seal
“Chilean bishops said that while they support legislation requiring priests and religious authorities to report crimes, they also fear that an update to the country’s current law would force clergy to break the sacramental seal of confession(link is external). The 155-member Chilean House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure April 23 that would add clergy and religious men and women to the list of police, members of the armed forces, teachers and civil servants who are obliged to report all crimes under article 175 of Chile’s penal code.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Child sexual abuse inquiry to be held into religious organizations
“Child sexual abuse in a wide range of religious organizations and settings, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Buddhists, is to be scrutinized in an official inquiry. The investigation by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA)(link is external) will review child protection and policies in organizations belonging to nonconformist Christian denominations, Baptists, Methodists, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Hinduism.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

GUAM

Guam priests’ child sexual abuses would have remained a dark secret were it not for one man
“Back when no one dared to publicly accuse any Guam priest, much less the archbishop, of sexually abusing a child(link is external), former Agat resident John Toves did so in 2014. It was about 12 years after the Archdiocese of Boston’s sex abuse scandal exposed widespread wrongdoing in the American Roman Catholic Church. ‘My aunt referred to my brother as the David who slew Goliath,’ Noreen Toves-Phillips, of California, said about her brother John.’” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

INDIA

In India, charges against a Catholic bishop a victory for abused nuns
“In the dirt courtyard of St. Teresa’s Women’s College, in this port city in the southern Indian state of Kerala, a group of nuns cast curious glances toward a knot of chatty first-year students huddled together. The young women are mindful not to speak too loud, lest the sisters overhear the topic of their conversation — the alleged rape of a nun by the bishop who oversees a local religious order(link is external). Bishop Franco Mulakkal, a native of Kerala, an enclave of Christians in predominantly Hindu India, is accused of attacking the nun nine times between 2014 and 2016.” By Brooke Thames, Religion News Service

ITALY

Sicilian priest wages decade-long crusade against ‘pedophilia pride’
“Incredibly enough, on April 25th, self-professed pedophiles online celebrate ‘Alice Day’ to promote the normalization of the sexual abuse of minors. For the past 23 years, a priest from a small southern Italian diocese has launched a global initiative on the same day to raise awareness for the protection of minors(link is external). ‘The strength of an initiative is given by its continuity,’ said Father Fortunato Di Noto, founder of Meter Onlus dedicated to protecting children from abuse.” By Claire Giangravè, Cruxnow.com

SPAIN

Former Catholic school teacher gets 21 years in jail for sex abuse in Spain
“A Barcelona court sentenced Monday (A[pr. 29) a former gym teacher at a Catholic school to over 20 years in jail for sexually assaulting students(link is external), in the latest abuse scandal rocking the church in Spain. Joaquin Benitez, who taught for nearly three decades at a Barcelona school run by the Marist community, a Roman Catholic order at the centre of a clerical abuse scandal in Chile, got a jail term of 21 years and nine months for assaulting four students.” By Agence France-Press on NewIndianExpress.com

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Francis mandates clergy abuse reporting worldwide, empowers archbishops to do investigations / National Catholic Reporter

Under the scope of the new laws, such disclosure (of abuse or coverup) could be rather wide-ranging, even retroactively. Article six of the apostolic letter makes clear that anyone who is serving or has served as a bishop can be investigated for acts committed during the time of their ministry. (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis issued sweeping new laws for the Catholic Church on the investigation of clergy sexual abuse May 9, mandating for the first time that all priests and members of religious orders worldwide are obligated to report any suspicions of abuse or its cover-up.

“The pontiff has also established a new global system for the evaluation of reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops, which foresees the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates in their local regions with the help of Vatican authorities.

“The new norms, contained in a brief apostolic letter titled Vos estis lux mundi (‘You are the light of the world’), are exhaustive in scope, applying in some way to every ordained or vowed member of the 1.3 billion-person church. They also encourage lay people to make reports of abuse, and provide for involvement of lay experts in investigations.

“In his introduction to the document, which goes into effect June 1, Francis says he has created the new laws so the church will ‘continue to learn from the bitter lessons of the past, looking with hope towards the future.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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