Posts Tagged Catholic Church reform

USCCB president disinvites Bishop Bransfield from fall assembly / Catholic News Service

“The people of this diocese would be very upset and angry to think he (Bishop Bransfield) would be participating in decisions that might well affect them,” Bishop Brennan explained. (Catholic News Service)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in consultation with the members of the USCCB Administrative Committee, has taken the highly unusual step of disinviting a fellow bishop from the conference’s fall general assembly.

“The decision affects Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, retired bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who left his position in September 2018 under a cloud of allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Pope Francis accepted Bishop Bransfield’s resignation Sept. 13, 2018.

“The USCCB meets Nov. 11-13 in Baltimore.

“The action comes under one section of the recently adopted “Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops.”

“Bishop Mark E. Brennan, who succeeded Bishop Bransfield, said he initiated the process under the protocol soon after he was installed Aug. 22 to head the West Virginia diocese.”

By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful surveys U.S. dioceses’ financial transparency / National Catholic Reporter

This is the third consecutive year VOTF has studied U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency.

Catholics in the icy north of Anchorage, Alaska, know the warmth of financial transparency in their local church, while Catholics in tropical St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, are getting the cold shoulder.

“Those two dioceses represent the polar opposites of this year’s financial transparency survey of American dioceses compiled by Voice of the Faithful. The Anchorage Archdiocese rated a perfect 100 score, while the St. Thomas Diocese rated the lowest, at 14 points. A total of 177 dioceses were rated.

“This is the third year of studies on financial transparency compiled by Voice of the Faithful, which was founded in 2002 as a lay organization devoted to monitoring church management on sex abuse and finances.

“‘It’s a tale of two churches,’ said Margaret Roylance, a Voice of the Faithful trustee and chair of the organization’s Finance Working Group, announcing the results of this year’s survey at the group’s annual conference here Oct. 19.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Catholic bishops back ordination of married men as priests in Amazon region, a milestone / The New York Times

It is the first time a grouping of bishops convened by a pope has endorsed such a historic change to the tradition of a celibate priesthood. (The New York Times)

A summit of Roman Catholic bishops meeting at the Vatican recommended on Saturday that Pope Francis allow the ordination of married men as priests in the Amazon region, which would lift a roughly 1,000-year-old restriction and potentially revolutionize the priesthood.

“It is the first time a grouping of bishops convened by a pope has endorsed such a historic change to the tradition of a celibate priesthood. The proposal is limited to remote areas of South America where there is a scarcity of priests but could set a precedent for easing the restriction on married priests throughout the world.

“If Francis, who has already signaled an openness on the issue, accepts the bishops’ recommendation, he will turn the remote areas of the Amazon region into a laboratory for a Catholic Church looking to the global south for its future, with married priests and indigenous rites mixing with traditional liturgy.

“The pope is expected to respond to the proposals by the end of this year.”

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times — Read more …

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Illinois chief justice distrusts church hierarchy to police itself on abuse / National Catholic Reporter

“Unfortunately, the hope I extended to you in 2012 has been severely eroded,” she (Illinois Chief Justice Anne Burke) said. “I no longer have faith in the hierarchy.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Don’t count on the bishops to clean up sex abuse in the church, Anne Burke told the annual gathering of Voice of the Faithful here Oct. 19.

“Burke, chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and a justice of the court’s First Judicial District, formerly served as interim chair of the National Review Board for the U.S. bishops’ conference; she last addressed Voice of the Faithful in 2012. At that time, she saw reason for optimism that the bishops were willing to address the sex abuse crisis.

“‘Unfortunately, the hope I extended to you in 2012 has been severely eroded,’ she said. ‘I no longer have faith in the hierarchy.’

“Voice of the Faithful was founded in 2002 in response to the sex abuse crisis in the Boston Archdiocese, where this year’s convention was held. The group now boasts affiliates around the country, which monitors progress on transparency by the church hierarchy on sex abuse and finances.

“‘I am disheartened to say we continue to learn of new instances of clerical misconduct and discover anew that some members of the hierarchy have engaged in secrecy and cover-ups,’ Burke said.

“The cover-ups, Burke said, have a long history. In her time at the National Review Board, she encountered stiff resistance among some bishops.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


October 18, 2019

TOP STORIES

Bridgeport Diocese report on sex abuse among priests blames former Archbishop Edward Egan; nearly 300 individuals allegedly abused by 71 priests since 1953
“A scathing report released Tuesday (Oct. 1) by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport on the alleged sexual abuse of hundreds of victims by clergy(link is external) since the early 1950s blames former bishops Edward Egan and Walter Curtis for violating state law, destroying records and either outright ignoring or inadequately responding to ‘an unfolding crisis.’ As the number of priest abuse victims piled up, church leaders were more concerned about protecting assets and avoiding “scandalous news articles” than protecting children and removing priests, the report found.” By Dave Altimari and Amanda Blanco, Hartford Courant

Vatican prosecutors raid Secretariat of State in financial transaction investigation
“Vatican police officers conducted a raid Oct. 1 on the offices of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and the city-state’s financial watchdog(link is external) authority regarding an investigation into unspecified financial transactions. The Vatican press office, which announced the raid in a two-sentence note, did not give many details about its scope or the matter being investigated. Its statement said merely that “documents and electronic devices” had been collected with regard to transactions that took place this summer.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican orders apostolic visitation for Diocese of Buffalo
“The Vatican announced on Oct. 3 that it has appointed the Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn to lead an apostolic visitation for the troubled Diocese of Buffalo(link is external) ‘in the near future.’ The results of this fact-finding mission will be reported to the Holy See’s Congregation of Bishops. The Vatican communique described the visitation as a non-judicial and non-administrative process that will not be subject to a recent papal decree that updated procedures on bishop accountability.” By America Staff

Archdiocese of New York concludes year-long review into child sex abuse scandal
“A special investigator has concluded her year-long review into how the Archdiocese of New York handled the child sex abuse scandal(link is external). One year ago, Timothy Cardinal Dolan asked (former federal judge) Barbara Jones to look into how the archdiocese responded. She discussed her findings and recommendations Monday (Sept. 30) … Jones said all of the complaints received over the last several years involved alleged conduct from years, sometimes decades, ago. Most of the priests in question have since died. She said there have only been two substantiated complaints of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest in the archdiocese after 2002, and the archdiocese is effectively investigating each complaint.” By CBS-TV News New York

German bishops vote to adopt statutes for synodal assembly
“The bishops of Germany have voted to adopt a set of statutes for their long-planned ‘Synodal Assembly(link is external).’ The decision was taken in a vote on Wednesday, Sept. 25, the final day of the plenary session of the German bishops’ conference. The bishops voted to adopt the statutes by a margin of 51-12 with 1 abstention. The vote followed hours of debate concerning several amendments. Various changes were proposed and considered in response to Vatican concerns that a previous draft of the plans was ‘not ecclesiologically valid.’” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Australian states will require priests to report abuse disclosed in confession
“The Australian states of Victoria and Tasmania have become the latest in the country to pass legislation criminalizing priests who fail to report the abuse of children disclosed during confession(link is external). The country’s six states and two territories are all expected have such laws in place in coming months. But some clerics, including Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli, one of Australia’s most senior and vocal bishops, have vowed to ignore the laws in an effort to uphold the seal of the confessional.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service

ACCOUNTABILITY

Pontifical university takes up sex abuse of nuns by priests
“A Togolese nun has successfully defended a first-ever dissertation at a Vatican-sanctioned university on the sexual abuse of nuns by priests(link is external) in the latest evidence of a problem confronting the Catholic Church in the #MeToo era. Sister Makamatine Lembo was awarded summa cum laude at her defense Thursday (Sept. 26) at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and was praised by her examiners for her courage in taking on such a taboo subject.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Unsupervised accused priests teach, counsel, foster children
Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar(link is external) with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found. These priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach middle-school math. They counsel survivors of sexual assault. They work as nurses and volunteer at nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk kids. They live next to playgrounds and day care centers. They foster and care for children.” By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, Associated Press

Catholic priest sentenced to prison for molesting teenager
“A Catholic priest who pleaded no contest to sexually assaulting a Northern California teenager for more than a year has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison(link is external). KPIX-TV reports that Father David Mendoza-Vela, was sentenced Friday (Sept. 27). Prosecutors say Mendoza-Vela began molesting the boy in June 2016 when the victim was 14.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis may not change the world. But he is reshaping the church.
“Pope Francis and his push for openness — toward migrants, Muslims and gay people — may no longer have influence on a global stage where nationalists, populists and the far right dominate the political conversation. But inside the church is another story(link is external) … After Saturday (Oct. 5, when Francis elevates new cardinals at consistory), Francis will have named more than half of the voters within the College of Cardinals, where a two-thirds majority of those under the age of 80 are required to elect his successor.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

CARDINALS

Pope names 13 new cardinals, cements majority vote and the power to reshape the Church
“During a ceremony welcoming new cardinals into the Catholic Church, Pope Francis spoke of the danger that occurs ‘when a man of the Church becomes an official,’ calling them to more ‘compassion’ in a time when the Vatican faces financial scandals and internal divisions. ‘So many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion, and by the habit of averting one’s gaze — the habit of indifference,’ he said. Pope Francis created 13 new cardinals at his sixth consistory on Saturday (Oct. 5), 10 of whom are under 80 years old and therefore eligible to vote at the next conclave for his successor(link is external).” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

CARDINAL PELL

Australian prosecutors argue no ground for ex-Vatican treasurer’s final sex crimes appeal
“Prosecutors have urged Australia’s High Court to refuse to hear a final appeal by former Vatican treasurer George Pell(link is external) against his convictions for sexually abusing two 13-year-old boys in the late 1990s. In opposing arguments put by Pell’s lawyers to Australia’s highest court, prosecutors said there was no error in the approach taken by the Victorian state Court of Appeal.” By Reuters

BISHOPS

New Zealand bishop resigns over ‘unacceptable’ sexual behavior
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a New Zealand bishop Friday over what church officials said was ‘completely unacceptable’ sexual behavior with a young woman(link is external). Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan, 59, had offered to resign following an independent investigation into the woman’s complaint, according to a statement from Cardinal John Dew, head of the Church in New Zealand.” By Nicole Winfield, Associate Press, on Cruxnow.com

Despite disagreements, German bishops commit to ‘synodal way’
“The German Bishops’ Conference completed its fall plenary assembly in Fulda with an announcement that the synodal way, a roundtable between the German Bishops’ Conference and the Zentralkomittee der Deutschen Katholiken (the Central Committee of German Catholics, or ZdK), Germany’s largest lay organization, will begin on the first day of Advent. ‘There are no stop signals from Rome for the synodal way and we will proceed with it(link is external) …’ according to a statement released by Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, for the assembly’s conclusion on Sept. 26.” By Zita Ballinger Fletcher, National Catholic Reporter

Bishop Bransfield facing new abuse allegations
“Former Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston Michael Bransfield is facing an allegation that he touched inappropriately a nine year-old girl during a pilgrimage to Washington, DC, in 2012(link is external). A subpoena was delivered to diocesan authorities in the West Virginia diocese Oct.1. According to a report by the Washington Post, the girl, now 16, alleges that the unelaborated incident took place when she was supposedly left alone in a room with Bransfield in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington during a diocesan-sponsored trip.” By Catholic News Agency

Catholic bishops consider married priests, face opposition
“At dusk in this small indigenous village, Antelmo Pereira calls local Catholics to prayer, changes into a white robe and leads a religious service that is the closest thing the faithful in this remote part of the Amazon can get to a proper Mass … Pereira, 61, has been a part-time missionary for the past 15 years, volunteering his time on weekends to visit indigenous communities that rarely see a priest. He leads prayer services called Celebrations of the Word but cannot celebrate Mass or hear confessions in the isolated places he visits, because he is married and has nine children(link is external), and cannot become a priest.” By Manuel Rueda, Associated Press

WOMEN DEACONS

Possibility of woman deacons proposed on day three of the Amazon Synoc
“Several speakers at the synod have also proposed the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate(link is external). At the press briefing, Bishop Kräutler said that two-thirds of the communities in the Amazon are ‘coordinated and directed by women, so what do we do?’ He added, ‘We hear a lot about announcing the role of women, but what does it mean?… We need concrete solutions. I’m thinking of the women’s diaconate.’” By Luke Hansen, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Women in church leadership: 40 years after Sr. Theresa Kane’s request to pope
“On an October day four decades ago, Sr. Theresa Kane, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and head of the Sisters of Mercy in the U.S., stood before 5,000 other sisters gathered to greet Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. She spoke of the sisters’ ‘profound respect, esteem and affection’ for the pontiff. Then Kane uttered these memorable words: ‘Our contemplation leads us to state that the church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our church …’” By Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Past Vatican practice suggests Buffalo’s bishop won’t be ousted soon
“The saga of a disgraced Catholic bishop in Missouri reveals how unlikely it is that the pope would quickly force Buffalo Diocese Bishop Richard J. Malone to resign(link is external) over his handling of a clergy abuse scandal. In 2012, Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph became the first Catholic prelate in the country to be convicted of protecting from prosecution a priest who had child pornography. A judge found Finn guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to tell police that one of his priests collected lewd images of young girls on his computer.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

VATICAN II

A Jesuit cardinal-designate says Pope Francis is making Vatican II real
“Pope Francis will ordain Michael Czerny, S.J., bishop on Oct. 4 and place the cardinal’s red hat on his head the following day, giving him the right to vote in the conclave to elect the pope’s successor. As he prepared for his elevation to the leadership ranks of the Catholic Church, the Canadian Jesuit spoke to America about how he interprets these events, what impresses him most about Pope Francis(link is external) and what he considers the three main challenges facing the church today.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: the Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Rochester diocese expects abuse claims to outstrip its assets
“The Rochester Catholic Diocese expects Child Victims Act sex-abuse claims to outstrip its entire stated assets by nearly $50 million(link is external). In papers filed Oct. 4, the diocese stated total assets of some $67 million against liabilities of $113.1 million. An estimated $90 million in anticipated sex-abuse claims accounts of almost all of the diocese’s liabilities. The $90 million in expected new claims would come on top of $1.9 million the diocese has already agreed to pay 19 claimants with whom it settled sex-abuse claims before its Sept. 12 Chapter 11 plea for court protection from creditors.” By Will Astor, Rochester Beacon

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Vatican defends married priest proposal on Amazon agenda
“Organizers of a Vatican meeting on the Amazon defended plans to introduce debate on married priests(link is external), saying Thursday (Ocyt. 3) the proposal represents the ‘the voice of the local church’ and isn’t an official proposal of the pope. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri acknowledged the Oct. 6-27 synod on the Amazon has generated criticism, including from cardinals who have accused organizers of making ‘heretical’ proposals in the working document.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

What’s wrong with priestly celibacy?
“Like a marriage, nobody enters seminary to join the Catholic priesthood against their own will — or at least they shouldn’t. A vow of celibacy is no different than a wedding vow, and both require personal consent. Though to live a celibate life willingly is a divine gift of bearing witness for Christ;(link is external) and to take up such a cross is seemingly unbearable for a life without grace. In a society that is progressively becoming more sexually permissive, priestly celibacy is a sure demonstration of non-conformity to the world and full submission to Christ and His Church.” By Rene Albert, Patheos

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Francis, cardinals urge Amazon synod to consider new ideas, including married priests
Openness to new ways of thinking emerged as the primary theme of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops for the Amazon(link is external) region on its first day of business (Oct. 7), with Pope Francis and the cardinals leading the three-week event telling the participating prelates not to be resistant to new ideas. Clearly enunciated among those new ideas: the possibility of ordaining married men to address the severe lack of Catholic ministers across the nine-nation region, and finding a way for the church to offer women there some kind of official ministerial work.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Chair of pope’s Amazon summit puts married priests, women squarely on the table
“Not wasting any time, the chairman of Pope Francis’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon kicked things off Monday Oct. 7) morning by putting the hotly contested issues of married priests and the role of woman squarely on the assembly’s table(link is external). ‘Another issue consists in the lack of priests at the service of local communities in the area, with a consequent lack of the Eucharist, at least on Sundays, as well as other sacraments,’ said Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, appointed by Francis to serve as the relator, or chair, of the Oct. 6-27 gathering.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

VOICES

Notre Dame panel asks about clerical crisis: ‘Where are we now?’
“Some of the leading figures in the U.S. Catholic Church in charge of the response to the clerical sex abuse crisis convened(link is external) on the campus of the University of Notre Dame on Wednesday (Sept. 25) with a consensus that while the Church has been slow to reform, that change is underway. The event was an initiative of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, who opened the forum by summoning the famous words of Saint Francis of Assisi, ‘rebuild my church,’ as inspiration for the event dubbed ‘The Church Crisis: Where are we now?’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Catholic Church is still lax on oversight
“The scope of the child sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, which was exposed early in this century, grew dramatically last year when U.S. dioceses began releasing names of clergy considered to be credibly accused. More than 5,000 names have now been disclosed. But that’s not the end of it(link is external).” By Times Herald-Record Editorial Board

We need to stop calling the pattern of sex abuse in the Catholic Church a travesty. It was a criminal conspiracy and the state hasn’t done enough to hold the guilty accountable.
“The latest revelations about sexual abuse aren’t new but they are nonetheless shocking(link is external): Edward Egan, during his tenure as bishop of the Bridgeport diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, methodically covered up allegations that priests in the diocese had sexually abused children. The man who would become a cardinal in New York aided and abetted the depravity of priests who found sexual pleasure in fondling innocent children.” By Hartford Courant Editorial Board

Can review of abuse cases ‘cleanse’ Lexington’s Catholic diocese? Only if victims come forward.
“Last December, Bishop John Stowe, the head of the Lexington Catholic diocese, announced that two lawyers would review the personnel files of every priest who’s worked here since the 50-county diocese was formed in 1988 and every sexual abuse claim ever made. The investigation would determine if sexual abuse complaints had been handled properly or if anything had been missed(link is external). That included any new complaints … But they haven’t heard about any new complaints, and are worried that word is not getting out beyond the Church that a new investigation is ongoing.” By Linda Blackford, Kentucky.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Making sense of the Vatican’s looming financial scandal
“Last week, the Vatican released a mysterious statement acknowledging a raid by Vatican police on the offices of its Secretariat of State and of its financial watchdog agency(link is external), saying it was carried out by judicial order by the Vatican tribunal and with permission from unspecified ‘superiors.’ The Secretariat of State is the most powerful department in the Vatican bureaucracy. The Financial Information Authority, or AIF, was created in 2010 by then-Pope Benedict XVI to combat money laundering following the Vatileaks banking scandal.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Survivors of clergy abuse vs. Catholic Church lobbying dollars
“Survivors of clergy sexual abuse are up against big money in politics as they push for criminal and justice reform. A recent report showed the Catholic Church spent $10.6 million lobbying in northeast states since 2011(link is external). FOX43 Reveals how much money the Church paid out to lobby lawmakers in Pennsylvania, fighting bills that would have helped child sexual abuse survivors like the Fortney sisters.” By Rachel Yonkunas, FOX43-TV

Clergy sex abuse victims call for changes to Connecticut Law
“Advocates and victims of clergy sex abuse are calling for changes to Connecticut’s statute of limitations law(link is external). The Hartford Courant reports that victims hope the recent release of a report critical of Bridgeport church leaders’ response to clergy abuse will aid their fight to change the law. The report found 281 people were abused by 71 priests since the diocese’s inception.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Lawsuit alleging decades-old clergy sex abuse will be first test of new R.I. statute of limitations law
“A former altar boy accusing a long-dead parish priest of sexually abusing him is bringing the first litigation under a new state law(link is external) expanding the statute of limitations for similar sexual misconduct cases. The Rev. Philip Magaldi has been dead for more than a decade, but the lawyer for his accuser says the Diocese of Providence and its hierarchy can be held accountable as perpetrators of the alleged abuse.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Glove

The Catholic Church and Boy Scouts are lobbying against child abuse statutes. This is their playbook.
“Pennsylvania state Rep. Tom Murt slid into a pew at his childhood church, seeking a break from politics and the stress of work. Instead, Murt got an earful. In his sermon, the priest talked about a bill pending in the state Legislature that would give survivors of child sexual abuse more time to sue their … Tom Murt, the priest said, wasn’t defending the church in its time of need. In fact, the Republican and lifelong Catholic was supporting the legislation. Such efforts may have appeared hyperlocal and deeply personal, but they weren’t. They were part of a coordinated effort by the Catholic Church to kill the Pennsylvania legislation(link is external). That effort extended from the halls of the statehouse – where church-sponsored lobbyists worked behind the scenes and testified publicly – to the very pews where some legislators bowed their heads in prayer.” By Marisa Kwiatkowski and John Kelly, USA TODAY

Child sexual abuse victims, legal scholars and pro-Catholic Church experts to testify before Senate Committee
“Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday (Oct. 2) will embark on the next phase in the decade-old effort to reform the state’s child sex crime laws. A little more than a year since a scathing grand jury report recommended an overhaul to those laws, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will determine the fate of three proposals aimed at reforming the statute of limitations(link is external). In particular, proposals to enable adults who were sexually assaulted as children to bring predators to justice are expected to prominently figure in the conversation.” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

New report shows over half of children in Cameroon face abuse
“A new report on child abuse in Cameroon shows that over 50 percent of Cameroon’s children have suffered various forms of abuse(link is external), with children with disabilities suffering proportionally far worse. The study was carried over a three-year period by the Cameroon Baptist Hospital Services in partnership with the Netherlands-based Liliane Foundation, using a variety of methods including focus group discussions and in-depth interviews.” By Cruxnow.com Staff

ALASKA

A reporter charted the harm caused by abusive priest in Alaska, a survivor lived through it
“The legacy of sexual abuse perpetrated by Jesuit priests against Alaskans in rural villages has haunted families and communities for decades(link is external). Shame and fear kept many victims silent for years but courageous voices brought light to the crimes. An investigative series tracked some of the worst offenders from Alaska to a retirement compound outside of the state. We’ll discuss the investigation and hear from an outspoken survivor on the next Talk of Alaska.” By Lori Townsend, Alaska Public Media

CALIFORNIA

Abuse case against former Yakima priest in Fresno moves forward
“Witnesses have begun testifying in the case against a former catholic priest who once worked in the Yakima Valley and is now facing charges of sexual abuse(link is external). Jesus Antonio Castañeda-Serna is facing 20 counts including 16 counts of felony sexual battery against adult members of his church.” By KIMA-TV News

COLORADO

Colorado Catholic church abuse compensation program details revealed
“A new program was revealed Monday (Oct. 7) morning that will provide support for victims who have been sexually abused as minors by clergy of the Archdiocese of Denver, Diocese of Colorado Springs and Diocese of Pueblo. In February, the Colorado Office of the Attorney General, the Archdiocese of Denver, Diocese of Colorado Springs, and Diocese of Pueblo announced a new initiative to assist survivors of priest sexual abuse by launching an Independent Compensation Program (ICP).” By Janet Oravetz, 9News.com

CONNECTICUT

Investigation found 281 victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the Bridgeport Diocese
“An independent investigation into sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Bridgeport has identified 281 victims of abuse(link is external) over the past 65 years. The report on the investigation, which was done by retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg, was released on Tuesday (Oct. 1). Holzberg discussed the report during a news conference Tuesday morning and said they believe there are more victims. He said his investigation found 71 priests within the Bridgeport Diocese who were credibly accused of sexual abuse. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 18 years old.” By NBC-TV News Connecticut

FLORIDA

Lawsuit filed against Diocese of Venice for inappropriate contact during confession
“An Avon Park woman has filed a $15 million suit against the Diocese of Venice, alleging that the Rev. Nicholas McLoughlin, 77, formerly of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Avon Park, attempted to grope and sexually assault her during confession(link is external) in April 2018. The Oct. 2 lawsuit filed in the 12th Judicial Circuit by Fort Lauderdale-based attorney Adam Horowitz on behalf of the woman — who was identified only as L.B. — alleges the Diocese and Bishop Frank. J. Dewane should have known that McLoughlin was ‘unfit, dangerous, and/or a threat to the health, safety, care, health and well-being of their parishioners such as L.B.’” By Earle Kimel, Herald-Tribune

KANSAS

Diocese of Dodge City names 10 priests, two seminarians accused of child sex crimes
“The Diocese of Dodge City has released the names of 10 priests and two seminarians accused with ‘substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of children(link is external).’ Five of the priests: Donald Fiedler, John Haberthier, Augustine Hanchak, Cletus (“Jerry”) Stein, Edward Young – had allegations within the Dodge City Diocese. The other five: Orestes Huerta, Mario Islas, Richard Kolega, Donald Straub and Joseph Thiesen – worked in the diocese but had allegations from outside of it. The two seminarians are Heleodoro (“Leo”) de Hoyos and Joel McClure.” By KWCH-TV12 News

LOUISIANA

Ex-deacon and Jesuit, Shaw high schools targeted by lawsuits alleging clergy abuse
“Three new lawsuits filed last week in Orleans Parish Civil District Court allege separate cases of sexual abuse decades ago by a former deacon(link is external) currently facing criminal charges, a priest at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, and a priest and a religious brother who worked at Archbishop Shaw High School in Marrero.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

MICHIGAN

Former Catholic priest takes plea deal in sexual abuse investigation
“A former Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after a Detroit-area jury said it was having trouble reaching a unanimous verdict in his sexual abuse tria(link is external)l. The Michigan Attorney General’s office says Patrick Casey pleaded guilty Tuesday (Oct. 8) to aggravated assault. He was accused of engaging in sex acts with a younger man who was struggling with his Catholic faith and homosexuality and had sought Casey’s counsel in 2013. The maximum penalty is a year in jail.” By Steve Carmody and The Associated Press, Michigan Public Radio

Sexual assault charges dismissed against priest with ties to Brighton church
Sexual assault charges have been dropped against a Catholic priest(link is external) with ties to a Brighton church, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney Generals Office confirmed Wednesday (Oct. 2). Timothy Michael Crowley, 70, was charged in May with four counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 15th District Court in Washtenaw County. He was one of the first five priests Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office charged in late May.” By Kayla Daugherty, Livingston Daily

Lansing diocese names 17 accused priests; says no credible accusation since 2002
“Over the past eight decades, 17 priests were credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) in the Diocese of Lansing, according to a new report issued on Friday (Sept. 27). The data released by the diocese says this makes up just 2.8 percent of the clergy who have served in the Michigan diocese since its founding in 1937.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

MISSOURI

Missouri AG rejects sunshine request from survivor network regarding abuse in Catholic church
“A clergy abuse survivors group is accusing Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt of making a ‘secret deal’ with the Catholic church(link is external) to not go after church hierarchy in its recent release of a list of predator priests. The Missouri Attorney General’s office has rejected a Sunshine Request made by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a request to find out if the church made a deal with the AG to protect higher-ups in an investigation of accused priests.” By Kevin Killeen, KMOX-AM

MONTANA

Retired Montana priest gets five years on child porn charge
“A retired Catholic priest in Montana who pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography has been sentenced to five years in priso(link is external)n. The Great Falls Tribune reports 81-year-old Lothar Konrad Krauth was sentenced Thursday (Oct. 3) to the minimum term allowed by statute. He was accused in November of receiving child pornography after investigators received a tip identifying a Great Falls IP address as uploading an image of a nude prepubescent male child.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

NEW YORK

Westchester priest placed on administrative leave by archdiocese over child abuse allegation
“The pastor of the only Catholic church in Mamaroneck has been placed on ‘administrative leave’ over allegations under the Child Victims Act(link is external). The letter was sent out by Dolan, obtained by PIX11 News. Monsignor James E. White has had his ministry “temporarily restricted” according to a letter sent by Archbishop Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan of New York and obtained by PIX11 News.” By WPIX-TV11 News

Suspended priest accused in lawsuit of molesting teen 43 years ago
“The Rev. Arthur J. Smith, who has been a magnet for controversy in the Buffalo Diocese clergy abuse scandal, is accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy(link is external) 43 years ago during a field trip to Washington, D.C., for eighth-grade students from a local Catholic school. The boy and his two sisters were permitted by the principal at St. Bernadette Elementary School in Orchard Park to go on the field trip in 1976, according to the lawsuit. The boy was assigned to sleep in the same hotel room as Smith during the trip.” By Mike McAndres, The Buffalo News

Case dismissed against New York priest accused of abuse
“A priest of the Archdiocese of New York has been cleared of accusations of sexual abuse(link is external) after the judge dismissed the case at the request of District Attorney’s office. ‘We were pleased today to learn that the charges against Father Thomas Kreiser have been dismissed,’ said a statement from the Archdiocese of New York on Sept. 24. ‘Father Kreiser has steadfastly maintained his innocence, and it is good to see justice has been done.’” By Catholic News Agency

OKLAHOMA

Diocese of Tulsa: Report released on credible allegations of child sexual abuse by clerics
“The Catholic Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma has released the names of priests and deacons they say are credibly accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external) over the last 46 years. Bishop David A. Konderla published a report of all clerics who, since the beginning of the diocese in 1973, have been credibly accused. The report names nine priests and two deacons.” By Ashley Ellis, KTUL-TV8 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania priest placed on leave after allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor
“A priest in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, has been placed on leave from public ministry after being accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor(link is external), according to a statement issued September 27 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Rev. David R. Rizzo, administrator of Saint Augustine Parish and Saint Monica Parish, is the subject of the allegations involving an incident that took place several years ago. Authorities have been alerted to the accusation.” By Jeffery Martin, Newsweek

New Chapter opens in Pennsylvania in fight over suing church
“When post offices close Monday (Sept. 30), the last victim compensation funds at Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses will also close(link is external), hours before lawmakers plunge back into a years-old fight over whether to let long-ago victims of child sexual abuse sue perpetrators and institutions that may have covered it up. It comes more than a year after last year’s landmark grand jury report that accused senior Catholic Church officials of hushing up the abuse for decades.” By Marc Levy, Associated Press, in The State

Diocese: Retired priest said he abuse minor in 1980s
“The Diocese of Allentown says an 87-year-old priest recently said he sexually abused a minor in the 1980s(link is external). Stephen J. Halabura has been barred from ministry. Halabura was ordained in 1961 and retired in 2008. Since his retirement he had been serving as a substitute priest.” By Associated Press

RHODE ISLAND

Former altar boy alleges abuse by R.I. Catholic priest in lawsuit
“A former altar boy says in a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence as well as its current and former bishops that he was sexually abused by a priest(link is external) decades ago. The 53-year-old plaintiff says in the suit filed this week that the Rev. Philip Magaldi, pastor at St. Anthony Church in North Providence, abused him 100 to 300 times from the late 1970s until the early 1980s when he was between 12 and 17 years old.” By Karla Rendon-Alvarez, New England Cable News

State Police create hotline to report clergy sexual abuse
“The Rhode Island State Police have created a new hotline for people to report allegations of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The State Police announced the new telephone line within the Major Crimes Unit. Detectives are working with Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha to review of allegations of sexual abuse by clergy since 1950. Neronha, a Democrat, announced in July he had gained access to nearly 70 years of records from the Diocese of Providence for the review.” By Associated Press in Stamford Advocate

TEXAS

Another Jesuit Dallas graduate sues school and diocese, alleging priest sexually assaulted him
“Another graduate of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas has sued the school, claiming that a priest sexually assaulted him while he was a student(link is external) there in the 1980s. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Dallas County civil court, also names the Catholic Diocese of Dallas among the defendants. The suit alleges the school and the diocese did not protect the student from being abused by the Rev. Patrick Koch and then covered up the abuse.” By Tom Steele, The Dallas Morning News

VERMONT

One boy: how a Vermonter rose above priest abuse
“The stranger pulled a privacy curtain around the bed. A cleric’s hands hold healing powers, the adult said before placing a communion wafer on the boy’s tongue, followed by a kiss on his lips. ‘You will be cured,’ (Dan) Gilman recalls hearing, ‘and you will be a normal kid again.’ The boy wanted to believe as the priest went on to undress him. ‘I closed my eyes and hoped to God it was true,’ Gilman recalls. ‘I prayed that putting my faith in his hands, literally in his hands, would lead to great things for me.’ That’s why the boy stayed silent about the subsequent two years of sexual abuse(link is external).” By Kevin O’Connor, VtDigger.com

One priest: How a Vermont cleric kept abusing children
“The personnel file of the former Rev. Edward Paquette, hidden by Vermont’s Catholic Church for nearly a half-century, contains a startling confession as to why leaders expelled the most problematic priest in the history in the state’s largest religious denomination. ‘No longer could keep lid on things,’ a 1978 internal memo says. But a rare look at the records shows that’s not the biggest surprise … (In a letter to the diocese requesting ministry, he said he wanted to) move back east to be closer to his aging parents. Almost as an aside, he added: ‘I did have problems but received medical treatment, and I am now cured.’ Paquette didn’t say his problem was sexually abusing boys(link is external).” By Kevin O’Connor, VtDigger.com

One diocese: how Vermont’s Catholic Church aims to atone
“Dan Gilman can cite too many reasons for questioning his childhood faith in God. Take the freak accident that paralyzed him at age 15. The subsequent two years of sexual abuse by a priest.(link is external) His adult attempt to return to his hometown parish, where the pastor greeted him by asking, “Does your equipment work?” The cleric, looking at Gilman’s lap, wasn’t inquiring about his motorized wheelchair. But none of that stopped the 62-year-old Rutland resident from reaching out to Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne last fall when the leader of the state’s largest religious denomination gave long-locked personnel files to a lay committee to review and publicly release the names of problematic priests.” By Kevin O’Connor, VtDigger.com

WISCONSIN

‘May God have mercy on your soul’: Vicitms speak as ex-priest gets maximum sentence for sexual assault
“An audible sigh of relief was let loose in the Sawyer County Courthouse on Thursday (Sept. 26) as a former Wisconsin priest received a maximum prison sentence for sexually assaulting young boys(link is external) in the 1980s. Four men celebrated the moment in the Hayward courtroom after sharing stories of abuse perpetrated by a man they once trusted. One of the victims, a teacher from Merrill, went public with his identity for the first time Thursday.” By Laura Schutte, Wausau Daily Herald

AFRICA

Top African cardinal says pope’s anti-abuse rules should be extended
“Africa’s top prelate has hit back against the notion that clerical sexual abuse is a purely western problem(link is external), saying it happens on his home turf, too. Speaking to Crux, Cardinal Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo said: ‘Crimes of sexual abuse offend our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful.’” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest charged with sexual offenses against 11 children at NSW school
“A Catholic priest who allegedly abused 11 children at a New South Wales college(link is external) 30 years ago now faces more child sexual abuse charges. On Tuesday (Oct. 1) the 78-year-old, who is already before the courts after being charged in April with nine sexual and indecent assaults at a Southern Highlands boarding school, was rearrested and charged with another 18 offences. These include sexual assault offences, indecent assault offences, and offences of gross indecency.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

Gerald Risdale victim to receive more than $1 million from Catholic Church
“The Catholic church will pay more than $1m to a victim of Gerald Ridsdale(link is external), one of the country’s most notorious pedophile priests, in a landmark settlement reached on Friday (Sept. 27). The man, who can only be identified by the pseudonym JCB, was raped by Ridsdale in April 1982. At the time, he was nine years old and Ridsdale was the parish priest at St Colman’s church in the town of Mortlake.” By Naaman Zhou, The Guardian

Sex abuse scandal leaves Australian Church, government scrambling for solutions
“In the wake of a major clergy sex abuse scandal and the high-profile, controversial trial and conviction of sex abuse of Cardinal George Pell, government and Church officials in Australia are scrambling for solutions(link is external). Among these proposed or enacted interventions are those that would break with teachings or traditions of the Catholic Church. One such oft-proposed intervention is the scrapping of the seal of confession, a proposed solution included in the Australian Royal Commission’s report on clergy abuse published last year.” By Catholic News Agency

BANGLADESH

Bangladesh cardinal says Church has updated its abuse reporting policy
“Bangladesh’s bishops’ conference has decided to have each diocese appoint a designated priest to handle sex abuse accusations, and not establish a central office(link is external) at the bishops’ conference for child protection. Bangladesh has two archdioceses and six dioceses for the country’s fewer than 400,000 Catholics, approximately 0.5 percent of the predominantly Muslim population. Most of the Catholics come from the country’s most marginalized communities, and the Church is relatively poor.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

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Women in church leadership: 40 years after Sr. Theresa Kane’s request to pope / Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

“… some sisters see signs of hope in the advancement of women religious and other laypeople to leadership roles. They are also heartened by the pastoral approach of Pope Francis, who shares their desire to dismantle clericalism and create more decision-making roles for laity.” (Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter)

On an October day four decades ago, Sr. Theresa Kane, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and head of the Sisters of Mercy in the U.S., stood before 5,000 other sisters gathered to greet Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. She spoke of the sisters’ ‘profound respect, esteem and affection’ for the pontiff.

‘Then Kane uttered these memorable words: ‘Our contemplation leads us to state that the church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our church. I urge you, Your Holiness, to be open to and respond to the voices coming from the women of this country who are desirous of serving in and through the church as fully participating members.’

“Kane’s televised statement, a politely worded but direct challenge to the pontiff, drew intense media coverage. Just days before, in an address to an audience of vowed religious men and women in Philadelphia, John Paul had reaffirmed the ban on women priests, saying that an all-male priesthood ‘was the way that God had chosen to shepherd his flock.’

“But many American nuns and some Catholic laypeople saw a pressing need for the church to reform itself. For sisters, in the wave of enthusiasm that followed the Second Vatican Council, “there was a sense of hope that change was going to come, hope for reform. Change was coming, and the sisters could be a part of the change,” said Sandra Yocum, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton, in an interview.”

By Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful members gather for 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church

BOSTON, Mass., Sept. 24, 2019 – The present crisis in the life of the Catholic Church, which has been called the biggest “since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century,” is drawing members of the Church reform group Voice of the Faithful together in the Boston area for their 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church. Founded in 2002 during heightened awareness of clergy sexual abuse of minors in the Boston Archdiocese, VOTF seeks a church with greater transparency, accountability, and lay involvement in Church governance.

VOTF’s 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church takes place on Saturday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Boston Marriott Newton, 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton, Mass. In addition to featured speakers and a panel discussion addressing Church scandal in local faith communities, conference attendees will hear the results of VOTF’s “2019 Report on Measuring & Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency.” Conference attendees also will hear from VOTF’s Child Protection Working Group about their vision of a new initiative, which could measure the vigilance of dioceses in following child protection guidelines. The initiative would leverage the way VOTF monitors diocesan online financial information and would be similar to that effort.

A special return guest speaker will be the Honorable Anne M. Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice, who spoke to us at our 10th Anniversary Conference in 2012. For more than two years, she served as the interim chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board, directing its efforts to investigate the causes and effects of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and helping to establish guidelines and policies for effectively responding to the scandal. She will provide invaluable perspective on the abuse scandal.

Justice Burke will be joined by Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Exec. Dir. Char Rivette. Together, they will show how ChicagoCAC can be a model for battling clergy child abuse in your diocese. ChicagoCAC is Chicago’s front-line responder to reports of child sexual abuse, physical and other serious abuse, and the only not-for-profit coordinating the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts, and mental health clinicians under one roof.

A second featured speaker will be Fr. Richard Lennan, professor of systematic theology at Boston College. He presently directs Boston College’s sacred theology licenture program. Together with Boston College theology professors Thomas Groome and Richard Gaillardetz, Prof. Lennan wrote “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” which calls for reexamining the formation process for diocesan priests and eradicating the priesthood’s embedded clerical culture. The paper resulted from a seminar at Boston College begun in 2016 and composed of lay and ordained, women and men, theologians and ministers working in pastoral and academic settings.

In addition, the conference will feature a panel discussion during which parishioners from the Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo, New York, areas will discuss actions they are taking at the grassroots level to help create a just Church in light of scandals particular to their communities. Discussions of issues arising from the panel presentations and question and answer period will continue during lunch. Conference attendees will have the chance to ask the panel members about the broad variety of activities in which they are engaged and which have energized both their local faith communities and faith communities they have contacted in other parts of the country.

Additional information and links for online conference registration, online hotel reservations, and downloadable registration forms are at www.votf.org.


Voice of the Faithful News Release, Sept. 24, 2019
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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