Posts Tagged Catholic Church reform

How can Catholics Re–Member the Church when voices are so divisive

Headlines declaim Latin Masses, Communion wars and Vatican II attacks. Amid this divisiveness, the international group of reform-minded Catholics called Voice of the Faithful wants to Re—Member the Church, which will be discussed during its upcoming 2021 conference.

Featured speakers and attendees will look closely at the body of the Catholic Church to see how structure, power, participation and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world. As declared at a previous VOTF conference, “There is no body without its members. There are no members without participation. There is no participation without mutual recognition and accountability. Structural change is possible. Accountability is necessary. Re—Membering the church is essential.”

ReMembering the Church: Moving Forward takes place Oct. 22-23, 2021, via Zoom. At 7 p.m., Oct. 22, conference registrants will meet in free Zoom listening sessions to talk about issues affecting the Church. At 8:30 a.m., Oct. 23, registrants will gather in a Zoom waiting room for the 9 a.m. start of the all-day conference. Registration is $50, either online or by mail. College undergraduates register for free.

VOTF has long envisioned a Church of openness and respect between hierarchy and the laity, with more inclusivity, and with collaborations leading to activities and initiatives that reflect lay voices in the Church. To help present these ideas at the conference will be featured speakers Prof. Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, and Sister Carol Zinn, S.S.J., Ph.D., Leadership Conference of Women Religious executive director. Prof. Faggioli spoke at VOTF’s 2018 Conference, and the return of this internationally acclaimed theologian is highly anticipated. He is a prolific author and a leading worldwide authority on Catholic Church history and ecclesiology, that is, the inner workings of the Church. Sister Carol has served as consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is Saint John Vianney Center consultant for women religious community health and transition.

In addition, VOTF’s 2021 Conference will present a panel comprising women liturgy leaders from the Paulist Center Boston faith community, who will discuss lay-led liturgies, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. VOTF leaders also will offer presentations on VOTF projects in diocesan financial transparency; Church governance by and through lay involvement in Diocesan Financial Councils; adherence to protection of children guidelines in parishes and dioceses; and women’s emerging voices in the Catholic Church.


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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

August 9, 2021

TOP STORIES

Bishop: Albany diocese covered up priest abuse for decades
“The longtime former head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany says the diocese covered up sexual abuse by priests for decades and protected clergy by sending them to private treatment instead of calling police(link is external). Bishop Howard Hubbard, who ran the diocese in New York’s Capital District from 1977 to 2014 and has himself been accused of sexual abuse, made the admission in a statement issued through his lawyer to the Albany Times-Union in response to questions from the newspaper.” By Associated Press

Defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teenager in 1970s
“Defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged Wednesday (Jul. 28) with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College(link is external) in the 1970s, making him the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the United States to face criminal charges in the clergy sexual abuse scandal. McCarrick, 91, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who fraternized with popes and presidents before he was expelled from the priesthood over sexual abuse allegations, is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 in a criminal complaint filed by Wellesley Police in Dedham District Court.” By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe

Vatican trial opens into financial scandal rocking papacy
“A cardinal who allegedly induced an underling to lie to prosecutors. Brokers and lawyers who pulled a fast one over the Vatican No. 2 to get him to approve a disastrous real estate deal. A self-styled intelligence analyst who bought Prada and Louis Vuitton items with the Vatican money that she was supposed to send to rebels holding a Catholic nun hostage. Vatican prosecutors have alleged a jaw-dropping series of scandals in the biggest criminal trial in the Vatican’s modern history(link is external), which opens Tuesday (Jul. 27) in a modified courtroom in the Vatican Museums. The once-powerful cardinal and nine other people are accused of bleeding the Holy See of tens of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers and apparent favors to friends and family. They face prison sentences, fines or both if convicted.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

The Vatican revealed its real estate portfolio for the first time – and it includes over 5,000 properties
“On the eve of a trial for financial malfeasance connected to the Vatican’s purchase of a property in London, the office that handles most of the Vatican’s investment portfolio, including real estate, made public a summary of its annual budget for the first time. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, known by its Italian initials APSA, released its budget synthesis July 24, and its president, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, described it as ‘a step forward in the direction of transparency and sharing.’ APSA directly administers 4,051 properties in Italy and entrusts to outside companies the administration of some 1,200 properties in London, Paris, Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland(link is external), the report said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

ACCOUNTABILITY

Catholic Church approved legal fees from fund meant for residential school survivors: documents
“New details have emerged about the Roman Catholic Church’s controversial multimillion-dollar legal bill paid from a fund intended for residential school survivors(link is external). In documents obtained Friday (Jul. 30) by CBC News, one of the church’s lawyers admits that the money came from that fund and said everything was done with full approval of all 50 Canadian ‘Catholic entities’ contributing to the fund. Legal and ethics experts interviewed Friday (Jul. 30) say they’re horrified, calling it another example of the Catholic Church’s betrayal of survivors.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

Canadian priest banned after downplaying residential school abuse
“A Catholic priest in Canada has been banned from speaking publicly by the Archdiocese, after accusing Indigenous residential school survivors of physical and sexual abuse, of lying to get money in federal court settlements(link is external). Father Rheal Forest made the comments on July 10 during a sermon in St Emile Roman Catholic Church in Winnipeg where he was reportedly filling in for the church’s regular pastor. ‘If they wanted extra money, from the money that was given to them, they had to lie sometimes – lie that they were abused sexually and, oop, another $50,000,’ Forest said, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC). ‘It’s kind of hard if you’re poor not to lie,’ he reportedly said.” By Aljazeera.com

Millions meant for residential school survivors spent on Catholic Church lawyers, administration: documents
“The Roman Catholic Church spent millions of dollars that were supposed to go to residential school survivors on lawyers, administration, a private fundraising company and unapproved loans(link is external), according to documents obtained by CBC News. The documents include a host of other revelations. They appear to contradict the Catholic Church’s public claims about money paid to survivors. ‘There are also a large number of serious accounting discrepancies that are alarming to Canada,’ states one document, a 53-page federal government ‘factum’ summarizing the evidence in a 2015 court matter.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

As Cardinal Becciu goes to court, Francis’ financial reforms also on trial
“The Vatican is opening criminal proceedings on July 27 against Giovanni Angelo Becciu, a once-powerful cardinal demoted by Pope Francis last fall, and nine other defendants. They are charged with embezzlement and other crimes linked to a 2013 investment of a purported $240 million in a London real estate venture that kept swallowing money until it went bust, leaving an approximate $415 million Vatican loss. The trial marks an emboldened turn in Francis’ papacy, likely to surpass other forensic dramas in the chain of scandals since ‘Vatileaks’(link is external) … In the current trial, the prosecution’s web work of links among defendants has attacked the leaders of both the Vatican bank (formally, the Institute for the Works of Religion) and the Vatican’s wider financial watchdog apparatus.” By Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. churches reckon with traumatic legacy of Native schools
“The discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada have prompted renewed calls for a reckoning over the traumatic legacy of similar schools in the United States(link is external) — and in particular by the churches that operated many of them. U.S. Catholic and Protestant denominations operated more than 150 boarding schools between the 19th and 20th centuries, according to researchers. Native American and Alaskan Native children were regularly severed from their tribal families, customs, language and religion and brought to the schools in a push to assimilate and Christianize them.” By Peter Smith, Associated Press, in Longview News-Journal

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis agrees: Equal pay for women is long (long) overdue
“For modern interpreters of Catholic social teaching, there is little question that women deserve equal pay and a chance to build prosperous careers that align with their desires for family and home life. It has not always been so(link is external). ‘Rerum Novarum,’ the seminal 1891 papal encyclical on the dignity of work, explicitly said that women should be working primarily in the home, but Catholic thinking has evolved, Kate Ward, a professor of theology at Marquette University, told me. ‘Pope Francis even talks about how it can be O.K. for women to work and men to stay home,’ she said.” By John W. Miller, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis’ Reforms to Canon Law On Sexual Abuse: True Change Or Wishful Thinking?
“‘Every time there is a single incident of abuse in the Catholic Church it is a scandal. And I’m glad it is a scandal’ – Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ response to questions on the Catholic Church’s continued association with rape and abuse of children was, in many ways, an understatement(link is external) … Against this background, the latest changes in canon law on sexual abuse, enacted by Pope Francis, represent a conscious and significant drive to remedy the ills that have marred the history of the Church. The reforms make some key changes: it is now a crime under canon law to omit the reporting of abuse; furthermore, the Church now recognizes that vulnerable adults are susceptible to abuse from members of the clergy, and that laypeople who hold church office can now be sanctioned for similar sex crimes.” By Raef Murphy, The Oxford Student

CARDINALS

Cardinal urges religious to join local preparation for Synod of Bishops
“Consecrated virgins, hermits and members of religious orders, individually and as communities, should take part in the consultations for the Synod of Bishops, because ‘to ensure that the synodal church is not a mirage, but rather a dream to be realized, it is necessary to dream together, to pray together and to work together(link is external),’ said Cardinal João Braz de Aviz. The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, asked consecrated men and women to participate in the diocesan-level listening sessions scheduled to begin in October as the first step of preparation for the 2023 assembly of the Synod of Bishops, discussing the theme, ‘For a synodal church: communion, participation and mission.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Prosecution of Cardinal Becciu shows Francis’ reforms will be hard to reverse
“Cardinals are not called ‘princes of the Church’ for nothing, and (Cardinal Giovanni Angelo) Becciu had acquired more power than most(link is external): In his previous role as sostituto at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, he functioned somewhat like a White House chief of staff. On paper, both roles do not appear as consequential as they are, but in practice, both serve at critical choke points for virtually all decision-making. In previous pontificates, Becciu’s cardinal’s hat would have been enough to shield him from prosecution. If, before Francis, Becciu had been caught doing something illegal or even terribly wrong, he might have been posted to a different job, and given a sinecure, the way Cardinal Bernard Law was named archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore after he resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Libasci allegations part of a wave in New York brought on by temporary elimination of statute of limitations
“A lawsuit alleging the bishop of Manchester abused an altar boy(link is external) in the early 1980s is part of a wave of clergy abuse suits in New York, where a law passed in 2019 opened a temporary exemption from the statute of limitations. The exemption allows survivors of abuse decades ago to come forward with their claims, and seek recompense. The look-back window will close Aug. 14. Thousands of survivors of abuse in New York have come forward, including more than 200 lawsuits against the Diocese of Rockville Centre, where Bishop Peter A. Libasci served as a priest in the 1980s. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in September 2020.” By Josie Albertson-Grove, New Hampshire Union Leader

PRIESTS

Remembering why I became a priest
“The priesthood of the Catholic Church has always lived with the trappings of a kind of mystique, perhaps because of the celibacy. When the sexual abuse crisis in the church arose, that mystique was tarnished or even eroded. Parishioners no longer put priests on pedestals, and there may be something very good in that. I keep reminding myself that we’ve been called to walk with the people rather than to lead from on high(link is external). The result has become remembering why it was that I became a priest.” By Joe Juknialis, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Historic Vatican trial may change Catholic Church’s finances forever
“Ten Catholic clergymen and laypeople will answer charges of corruption and fraud from Vatican judges on Tuesday (July 27) in preparation for the largest trial ever held in the city-state and the first in memory to put a cardinal in the dock. But the trial is in many ways as much a test of Pope Francis’ ambitious effort to overhaul the Vatican’s financial and judicial system(link is external). For the first time ever, the Vatican released on Saturday (July 24) the annual report outlining the expenditures of its bureaucracy, known as the Curia, and its real estate and financial operations, known by its Italian acronym, APSA.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

CHURCH REFORM

McCarrick Case Could Begin ‘A New Era’ For Going After Church Leaders, Says Lawyer
“Defrocked ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick last week became the highest-ranking Catholic church official to be criminally charged for sexual abuse, for assault and battery on a 16-year-old boy in Wellesley in the 1970s. Meanwhile, in unrelated cases, the archdiocese of Boston settled six lawsuits last week with former leaders accused of assaults across the state ranging from 1966 to 1990. Jim Braude was joined on Greater Boston by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of victims of church abuse to talk about the church’s longstanding problem with sexual abuse in its ranks. Garabedian said the McCarrick case could represent ‘a new era’ for going after powerful leaders in the church, as more victims keep coming forward(link is external).” By WGBH-TV News, Boston

New survey shows most Catholics have no idea who Cardinal McCarrick is. That’s a problem.
“When the news broke on Thursday (July 29) that the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been criminally charged with sexual abuse of a minor, many Catholics likely felt justice was one step closer to being served. Others may have wondered anew how the former archbishop of Washington had been allowed to abuse seminarians and minors for decades. But a new survey shows that perhaps the likeliest response to the McCarrick news among Catholics was: Who?(link is external)” By Kerry Weber, Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

N.J. Catholic diocese sets up line to gather tips about suspected theft, fraud in parishes
“Two months after one of its priests admitted in court to pocketing $516,000 in parish funds, a New Jersey Catholic diocese is introducing a multi-step system that will allow people to anonymously report financial misconduct in their parishes(link is external). The Diocese of Metuchen — which includes churches in Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties — is partnering with an ethics consulting company to set up a telephone and online system to gather reports of ethics violations in its parishes, schools and cemeteries, church officials said.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

How limiting the Latin Mass may become the defining moment for Pope Francis
“People have wondered whether Francis will cause a permanent division in the church with his new ruling. That seems like the wrong question. The divisions were already there. — Pope Francis took sudden steps on July 16, 2021, to curtail the traditional Latin Mass, in an abrupt reversal of his predecessor’s policy(link is external). To non-Catholics — and many Catholics — the decision may seem on first glance to be a technical, even obscure action not worth very much attention. But it sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic Church. As a scholar who studies the Catholic Church’s relationship to the world, I believe the move may be the most important action Francis has taken in an eventful papacy.” Commentary by Steven P. Millies, Chicago Sun-Times

Tabloids, scandal and spying: The U.S. Catholic Church has hit a new, dangerous low point.
“On July 20, a Catholic online news commentary site, The Pillar, published a report alleging that Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill of the USCCB ‘engaged in serial sexual misconduct, while he held a critical oversight role in the Catholic Church’s response to the recent spate of sexual abuse and misconduct scandals’ … Rare is the story that manages to be so depressing in so many ways(link is external). Unpacking and analyzing Monsignor Burrill’s story, and how it came to light, is difficult because so many complicated issues are involved, each with distinct troubling threads with unclear implications. But when the story is broken down, as I have tried to do here in five points, it suggests a troubling thesis: The U.S. Catholic Church has entered a dangerous new reality.” By Zac Davis, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Former Cardinal Could Encourage Victims To Seek Help
“Next month, a former Catholic Cardinal will face criminal charges in Massachusetts for alleged sexual molestation. Theodore McCarrick is the highest ranking member of the U.S. Catholic clergy to be criminally charged with sex abuse. The charges stem from an alleged incident involving a teenage boy that happened more than 45 years ago. Many of the sex abuse cases involving boys and young men are not reported until the victims are adults(link is external), and in the past many such reports have been disbelieved.” By Harrison Patiño and Maureen Cavanaugh, WPBS-FM Public Media

A living Catholic tradition
“July 16, 2021 was a great day for the Roman Rite and for the legacy of the Second Vatican Council. Finally, after years of accommodating those who dislike or actually reject the liturgical reforms of the Council, the Catholic Church’s highest authority took a definitive step to re-establish the reformed rites as normative for the whole Latin Rite Church(link is external), without exception. Pope Francis, in his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, not only firmly abrogated Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum pontificum (2007) which had ‘freed’ the older rites, allowing them to be celebrated by any priest at any time, he also declared and established that the reformed liturgy is ‘the unique lex orandi [law of prayer]’ of the Church today.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

Editorial: Another big step in Johnstown man’s mission on behalf of abuse victims
“Shaun Dougherty’s quest to support victims of child sexual abuse has reached a new level(link is external) with his appointment as board president for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The Westmont man is the face of the push for justice on behalf of adult victims in Pennsylvania, and now takes his knowledge, energy and passion to the national and international levels with his SNAP appointment, where his fierce lobbying efforts can have an even greater impact.” By Dave Sutor, The Tribune-Democrat

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Two suits filed under new law that expands time for sex abuse claims
“Two lawsuits have been filed under a new Louisiana law that gives child abuse victims a chance to file suits for old claims(link is external). The bill took effect Sunday (Aug. 1), and allows victims of sex abuse to file suits against anyone involved for the next three years. If someone was convicted in connection with the abuse, there is no limit on filing suits. Previous law allowed people to file suit for ten years after their 18th birthday.” By KATC-TV3 News

PA Supreme Court ruling sets back victims, spares Erie diocese from slew of lawsuits
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit that sought to create a way for child sexual assault claimants to sue in old cases(link is external), further hindering victims’ search for justice while sparing Roman Catholic dioceses statewide millions of dollars in potential claims involving abusive clergy. In northwestern Pennsylvania, the ruling in the case, issued Wednesday (Jul. 21), severely erodes the legal efforts of as many as 30 sexual abuse claimants who were seeking compensation from the Catholic Diocese of Erie.” By Ed Palattella, Erie Times-News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Lists of abusive priests remain obscure and incomplete. That much change.
“The Catholic Church’s attempt to repair the damage caused by decades of priestly abuse would be vastly improved by a full, transparent, easy-to-use national list of abusive clerics(link is external). And no, that still doesn’t exist. Two years ago, many dioceses — but not all — began publishing lists of priests ‘credibly accused’ of abusive behavior. But these are too often incomplete, as well as difficult to find and use.” By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

Male survivors of sexual abuse struggle to find treatment
“The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 men have been sexually victimized at some point. It’s a largely silent epidemic despite revelations of abuse by Catholic priests and Boy Scout leaders(link is external). Not confronting this issue only makes recovery harder. Rachel Rock brings us one man’s search for support. Jim Holland says he was raped by a priest when he was 13 years old. He locked his trauma away for 30 years, held it at bay with drinking, drugs and promiscuity. The 2003 Boston Globe Spotlight investigation of priest sexual abuse triggered Holland’s memories.” By Ari Shapiro and Rachel Rock, National Public Radio WWNO-FM New Orleans

Catholics weigh in on abuse scandal 3 years after McCarrick and Pennsylvania report
“Although many Catholics’ memories of the clergy sex abuse scandals that rocked the U.S. church in 2018 have dimmed, a majority of those who recalled the scandals said in a survey they felt more positive about the church’s progress in confronting the issue. Overall, 76% of respondents in the survey, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, said sexual abuse of minors by clergy has hurt the church’s reputation ‘at least somewhat(link is external).’ The report, commissioned by America Media, the Jesuit ministry, was released July 19.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

ILLINOIS

Former Oakland County priest faces trial in sex abuse case
“A former priest in Oakland County charged with sexually assaulting a youth(link is external) decades ago is heading to trial, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday (Jul. 21). Gary Berthiaume was bound over on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony, after a ruling by 47th District Court Judge James Brady, state officials said.” By Mark Hicks, The Detroit News

LOUISIANA

‘Justice will prevail:’ Man alleging sexual abuse at Holy Cross camp sues after filing restrictions lift
“After he says he was molested by a religious brother at a Holy Cross School summer camp(link is external) decades ago, John Losteau needed medication to control his anxiety and manage what he calls his ‘dumpster fire, train wreck’ of a life. He thought for years that he had forever lost the chance to file a lawsuit seeking damages for his alleged abuse when he turned 28. But a new law went into effect Sunday (Aug. 1) opening a three-year ‘lookback window’ in which survivors could come forward with child molestation claims no matter how old they were, and Lousteau was among the first in line.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4News

MASSACHUSETTS

Catholic priest at Norwood church, school accused of fondling 11-year-old girl
“The Boston archdiocese has settled a Norton man’s claim that higher-ups in the institution failed to protect him when he was 11 years old and sexually abused by a priest in Norwood(link is external). Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, well-known for representing sexual abuse victims in claims against the archdiocese, said in a news release Wednesday (Jul. 28) that a settlement in the ‘high five figures’ was reached last month.” By Mary Whitfill, The Patriot Ledger

MICHIGAN

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw removes priest from ministry due to sexual misconduct allegations
“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has permanently removed one of its priests from duty, years after the priest was accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). On Friday, July 23, Bishop Robert Gruss removed the Rev. Ronald J. Dombrowski from ministry, the diocese said in a statement. The diocese had suspended Dombrowski in March 2018 as a ‘precautionary measure’ after someone reported to the agency that Dombrowski sexually abused them as a minor. No criminal charges have been filed against Dombrowski.” By Cole Waterman, MLive.com

Former Michigan priest to face trial for alleged sex abuse of 14-year-old boy
“A former Catholic priest will go to trial for sexual abuse against a minor(link is external), officials announced today. An Oakland County judge ruled today, July 21, that there is enough evidence against Gary Berthiaume, 80, to bound him over to circuit court for trial on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC), a 15-year felony.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MISSISSIPPI

Man alleging sexual abuse as a child in Mississippi sues Franklin-based Catholic order
“A 32-year-old man who alleges he was sexually abused by a Franciscan brother(link is external) while in elementary school in Mississippi has sued the Wisconsin-based religious order. In the federal lawsuit filed Monday (Jul. 26), Raphael Love’s attorneys argue the abuse and a campaign to silence him have caused ‘permanent and debilitating damage’ and have negatively influenced the course of his life. ‘It’s typical with abuse victims, and I’ve represented many of them, that the trajectory of a victim’s life is changed completely by the abuse,’ Love’s Seattle-based attorney, Phillip Aaron, told the Journal Sentinel.” By Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

NEW JERSEY

Howell ex-pastor acquitted in sexual abuse case: ‘I pray for the accuser’
“Under the cloud of sexual abuse allegations for almost three years, the former longtime pastor of St. Veronica R.C. Church in Howell walked out of the Monmouth County Courthouse(link is external) Friday (Jul.23) after a judge acquitted him of the charges, and said he will continue to pray for his accuser. After Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor found the 80-year-old priest not guilty of three counts of sexual assault on a child more than two decades ago, the Rev. Henry Brendan Williams said he was ‘certainly very relieved’’ by the verdict.” By Kathleen Hopkins, Asbury Park Press

NEW YORK.

Bishop acknowledges child predators were sent for ‘treatment’
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany engaged in a decades-long cover-up of chronic child sexual abuse committed by its priests(link is external) by employing practices described in a recent statement from former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who ran the diocese from 1977 to 2014. Hubbard’s statement, issued through his attorney in response to a series of questions from the Times Union, confirmed that the diocese shielded priests and others facing sexual abuse allegations — sending them into private treatment programs rather than contacting law enforcement officials or alerting parishioners. Some of those priests allegedly emerged from treatment and committed more crimes.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times Union

Ogdensburg Catholic diocese named in another child sex abuse case
New accusations of child sexual abuse have been made public(link is external) against the Ogdensburg Catholic Diocese under New York’s Child Victims Act. The deadline for people to file a claim of abuse is August 13. An attorney representing victims in New York State says 43 people from priests, teachers, and lay members of Diocese of Ogdensburg have been named in one or more public claims of child sex abuse.” By Celia Clarke, North County Public Radio

Clergy accused of sex abuse made public
“A New York City law firm introduced an updated public database Thursday (Jul. 22) with 13 new alleged perpetrators accused of child sexual abuse(link is external) in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, filed under the Child Victims Act this year as the law’s lookback window nears it closing deadline.” By Kate Lisa, Hudson Valley 360, Johnson Newspaper Corp.

PENNSYLVANIA

Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg releases following statement regarding Rev. David Danneker
“Today, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg released the following statement regarding Rev. David Danneker. Rev. Danneker most recently served in the role of vicar general and moderator of the curia. ‘The Diocese of Harrisburg has received allegations of adult misconduct(link is external) made against Rev. Danneker. While this matter does not involve a child, we are taking the accusations seriously. Accordingly, a full investigation, conducted by an outside third party, has been launched to review the matter.’” By Diocese of Harrisburg

RHODE ISLAND

A R.I. priest was charged with sexual assault, but the case remains in limbo
“State authorities are quietly prosecuting a sexual assault case against a former Diocese of Providence priest(link is external). Edward Kelley, 79, had relocated to South Carolina, where he was arrested in mid-May on a warrant out of Rhode Island, according to court records. He was later brought to Rhode Island, where he faces an indictment on three counts of first-degree sexual assault dating to 1983 in North Smithfield.” By Brian Amaral, The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON

Abuse claims involving Sister Delores Crosby settled; she also worked at Edmonds’ Holy Rosary School
“The Archdiocese of Seattle on Friday announced final settlements totaling $165,000 for two separate cases involving allegations of sexual abuse by Sister Dolores Crosby(link is external) in the 1980s, when she served as principal at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School in Seattle from 1979 to 1992. Crosby also taught at Edmonds’ Holy Rosary School from 1973 to 1978. Crosby, who died in 2007, was also principal at Immaculate Conception School in Everett from 1992 to 1999. In 1999, Crosby surrendered her credentials for teaching and administration when an individual brought forward an allegation of inappropriate contact that took place in the 1980s.” By MyEdmondsNews.com

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin clergy abuse inquiry: AG Kaul provides update
“Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on Tuesday, July 27, provided an update on the statewide inquiry into clergy and faith leader abuse(link is external). The review of such abuse cases was announced in April as the first statewide independent review. Since then, Kaul said the state has received dozens of reports. ‘What we are doing is encouraging survivors to report,’ Kaul said. ‘We have received over 100 reports through this reporting system, many of who are reporting previously reported, but some of the people are reporting for the first time.’” By Christina Van Zeist, FOX-TV6 News Milwaukee

AUSTRALIA

Abuse survivors of now-deceased priest line up to seek compensation
“The first in a series of civil cases seeking compensation for abuse survivors and victims of a now-deceased pedophile priest(link is external) is expected to begin in the Supreme Court on Monday (Jul. 26). Bryan Coffey was found guilty in 1999 of 14 charges relating to indecent assaults on seven boys and one girl that took place across four Victorian parishes between 1960 and 1975. The complainants are seeking compensation for loss of income, pain and suffering, and medical expenses, and include children who were allegedly abused by Coffey in the south-west Victorian towns of Port Fairy, Terang and Yambuk, as well as Ouyen in the Mallee.” By Matt Neal, ABC South West Victoria

Legal payout brings hope for other victims of pedophile priest
“As the first of Kevin O’Donnell’s victims to report the pedophile priest to police(link is external), he paved a courageous path for other abuse survivors to follow. Now, he hopes the $1.375 million he will receive from the Catholic Church will stand as a landmark settlement that assists O’Donnell’s other victims who are seeking compensation. ‘I never let go of the bone. I just kept fighting it. I thought, ‘this is not right,” said BTZ, as he is known in legal files.” By Adam Cooper, The Age

CANADA

Quebec priest sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for sex crimes against minors
“A Quebec priest has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing minors at a Catholic boarding school(link is external) more than three decades ago. Jean Pilon, 79, was then sentenced to three and a half years in prison for his crimes. Before that, he heard victim impact statements from nine of his victims, including Brian Ford. Ford has been waiting a long time to see Pilon brought to justice.” By Global News

Roman Catholic Church to begin selling off properties to settle abuse claims
“Two properties belonging to the Archdiocese of St. John’s will be going up for sale in the coming weeks, the first of many properties to be put on the market. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s says it is continuing to work to address the abuse at Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s(link is external), for which the NL Court of Appeal held the Church responsible earlier this year. Archbishop Peter Hundt shared a statement on Sunday which was read aloud at masses throughout the diocese.” By VOCM.com

Saskatoon Catholic Diocese releases details on nine sexual assault and misconduct cases
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has released details about nine historical cases involving sexual abuse and misconduct(link is external) that were investigated as part of the Safer Churches, Safer communities Safeguarding Action Plan. The March 2020 commitment by the diocese involves reviewing historical cases of serious misconduct reported over the last 60 years in the diocese. The review released in July only involved complaints for which the investigation of the report had concluded.” By Kelly Skjerven, Global News

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Former priest speaks out over Cardinal Keith O’Brien abuse
“Brian Devlin was one of four whistleblowers who detailed a litany of allegations against the man who was the Catholic Church’s most senior cleric in Britain, prompting his resignation and admission of sexual misconduct(link is external). Eight years on, Devlin has spoken out for the first time about the man he considered a friend, mentor, and teacher, and outlined suggestions for reforms he believes could help end the “silence, secrets and omertà” in the church.” By Martyn McLaughlin, The Scotsman

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Sisters ‘released from shame that had haunted them’ as ex-priest who abused them as children is jailed
“Two sisters have said they have been ‘released from the shame which has haunted  then after a former Donegal priest was jailed for 15 months for the horrific sexual abuse he inflicted upon them when they were children(link is external). Con Cunningham, now aged 86, pleaded guilty before Letterkenny Circuit Court today to eight counts of indecent assault between 1971 and 1975. Passing sentence Judge John Aylmer said the abuse had had an appalling impact on the lives of victims Margaret and Paula Martin.” By Stephen Maguire, The Independent

Irish Jesuit Order statement regarding Joseph Marmion
“A statement from the Irish Jesuit Order following the publication of some of the contents of an inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) against Father Joseph Marmion during his time as a teacher at Belvedere College in Dublin during the 1970s … ‘After the naming in public of Joseph Marmion SJ last March the Jesuits in Ireland appealed for anyone who had any complaints, concerns or questions to contact our Safeguarding Office.’” By The Irish Times

NEW ZEALAND

Priest accused of abusing a child had links to two Wellington schools
“A priest accused of sexually abusing a child had historic links to two Wellington Anglican schools(link is external), with parents at one – Chilton Saint James in Lower Hutt – informed of the links on Monday (Aug. 2). During her testimony to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care two weeks ago, Joanna Oldham accused Reverend Ray Oppenheim of sexually abusing her when she was a young girl. She said that, when she was nine years old, Oppenheim molested her and took indecent photos of her three times before an uncle found out and put a stop to it.” By Tom Hunt, Stuff

Brave witness shares underwhelming experience with the Catholic church
“A brave witness at the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Pacific Investigation has shared her experience of coming forward to the Catholic Church and police about the abuse her relative suffered by a Catholic priest(link is external). The witness known as Ms. CU spoke on behalf of her niece, who was 15-years-old at the time of the abuse. She explained the Tongan society is very hierarchical, saying that ministers, priests and nuns elevate in both status and authority because of the godly factor.” By Sela Jane Hopgood, RNZ Pacific Journalist

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

February 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

Pope appoints more women to Vatican posts previously held only by men
“Pope Francis has appointed two women to Vatican posts previously held only by men(link is external), in back-to-back moves giving women more empowerment in the male-dominated Holy See. He appointed Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, on Saturday (Feb. 6) as co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, a department that prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years on a different topic. The previous day, Francis named Italian magistrate Catia Summaria as the first woman Promoter of Justice in the Vatican’s Court of Appeals.” By Reuters on NBC News

New York’s Catholic church leaders control billions outside the reach of abuse survivors
“The Catholic bishops of New York sold a lucrative insurance business they controlled and stored the proceeds in a foundation they also administer, keeping billions out of the reach of survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). The move occurred in 2018, with the church selling its Fidelis Care insurance company and moving $4.3 billion of the proceeds into the new Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. At the same time, the Child Victims Act in New York was gaining momentum in the Legislature, a measure that the church had lobbied against for more than a decade.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times Union

Pope again updates Vatican legal code amid scrutiny, probes
“Pope Francis has made another set of changes to the Vatican City State’s legal code, which has come under heightened scrutiny and criticism as Vatican prosecutors seek to crack down on financial crimes and mismanagement(link is external) by Holy See monsignors and money managers. In a new law published Tuesday, Francis made two modifications to criminal trial procedures when defendants don’t show up, one of which allows their lawyers to defend them fully even in absentia.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

St. Louis Archbishop Rozanski accused of covering up clergy sex abuse at previous post
“A civil lawsuit filed in Springfield, Massachusetts, alleges St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski was part of ‘abhorrent attempts’ to protect the reputation of a now disgraced Roman Catholic bishop while at his previous post in the northeast(link is external). The plaintiff, named John Doe in court records, had already claimed that the late Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldon sexually abused him in the 1960s when he was an altar boy. Now he alleges he was also harmed by the alleged cover-up of the abuse decades later when he first started reporting it to the diocese in late 2014.” By Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ACCOUNTABILITY

Kansas Catholic bishop under investigation by KBI for alleged sexual abuse of a minor
“Kansas’ top law enforcement agency is investigating an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Roman Catholic Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City(link is external), the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced Monday (Feb. 8). ‘An investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is under way,’ the archdiocese said in a statement published in The Leaven, its official newspaper. ‘Bishop Brungardt denies the allegation and is cooperating fully with the KBl.’” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

POPE FRANCIS

Opposition to Francis rooted in opposition to Vatican II
“At the end of January, Pope Francis delivered an important address to participants in a meeting of the National Catechetical Office of the Italian Bishops conference. It warrants attention from all the local churches because it shows, I think, why the opposition to Francis is rooted in the desire to put the Vatican II toothpaste back into a pre-conciliar tube(link is external). In the address, the pope presented an understanding of catechesis that is so far from the dry appeals to chapter and verse that tend to characterize a certain kind of apologetical, conservative Christianity.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Catholic priests accused of sex abuse increasingly use defamation lawsuits to fight allegations
“As clergy abuse lawsuits proliferate across the U.S., a growing number of priests who say they were falsely accused are pushing back(link is external) — by suing their accusers, investigators and even church officials. The list includes the Rev. Roy Herberger of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York. Last year, he filed a defamation case against a 42-year-old man who said the priest had assaulted him as a boy. The diocese cleared Herberger after a six-month investigation, but the experience was devastating, he said.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women’s voices necessary for genuine discernment at synods
“The good news: Pope Francis named Xaverian Sr. Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary to the Vatican’s office of the Synod of Bishops, possibly with voting rights. The other news: the second undersecretary named, Augustinian Fr. Luis Marín de San Martín, will become a bishop. The more things change. … Still, it is important to have a woman’s voice near the top(link is external), and the fact that Sr. Becquart will likely have a vote makes an important statement about the role of the nonordained.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Nun says her Vatican appointment means ‘clericalist mindset is changing’
“A French nun who could potentially be the first woman to cast a vote in the Synod of Bishops said Wednesday (Feb. 10) that her appointment is evidence the ‘clericalist mindset is changing’(link is external) as more and more women assume high-level decision-making responsibilities in the Catholic hierarchy. Sister Nathalie Becquart told journalists that Pope Francis has been underlining the importance of including women in the decision-making processes, helping move the Church from a clericalist attitude towards a more synodal one.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Pope’s move for women’s rights anything but a token gesture
“In what’s being hailed as a demonstration that Pope Francis is in earnest about empowering women within ecclesiastical structures(link is external), on Friday (Feb. 5), for the first time ever, the pontiff named a woman as the Promoter of Justice for the Appeals Court of the Vatican City State. In effect, the Promoter of Justice functions like a District Attorney in the United States, making the case for a criminal charge in front of the justices of the Vatican tribunal whenever a conviction comes up for appeal.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Women Religious, Women Deacons Q&A: Why would the ministry of women religious/women deacons be beneficial?
“Francis’ repeated calls for a ‘more incisive female presence’ in church leadership have met uneven implementation around the world(link is external) as well as at the Vatican. There are possible positions open to laypersons that might allow women — if appointed — to have a ‘more incisive presence’ in the church. These are typically administrative positions and, at the Vatican at least, can be limited to five-year terms. Again, women can be appointed to some positions, and women’s viewpoints can make a difference, but only if they are considered. Depending on the Vatican office or diocesan structure, a woman is too often at risk of being ornamental and eliminated from actual decision-making.” Last is a series of five by Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Priest in Vatican youth seminary trial denies abuse claims
“An Italian priest denied Wednesday (Feb. 10) that he sexually molested a fellow altar boy when both were teenagers at the Vatican’s youth seminary(link is external), taking the stand for the first time in a criminal trial over alleged abuse within the Vatican walls. The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli told the Vatican tribunal that the allegations against him were unfounded and implausible. He said they were the fruit of divisions in the seminary as well as ‘jealousy’ among former seminarians that he was eventually ordained a priest.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH FINANCES

Envoy’s case confirms culture, not law, is real roadblock to reform
“In virtually any reform effort, there are usually two targets, one of which is obvious and relatively easy to tackle if there’s the will to do it, the other far more elusive and resistant to change. The first of those targets is outright, blatant corruption, and the other is formed by cultural assumptions and patterns of behavior that aren’t generally perceived as criminal or even immoral. It would seem that Pope Francis’s financial reform of the Vatican has reached that second stage(link is external), and it’s an open question whether it will succeed and how many other contretemps may erupt along the way.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Sitting on billions, Catholic dioceses amassed taxpayer aid
“Scores of Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. had more than $10 billion in cash and other readily available funds when they received at least $1.5 billion from the nation’s emergency relief program(link is external) for small businesses slammed by the coronavirus, an Associated Press investigation has found. The financial resources of several dioceses rivaled or exceeded those available to publicly traded companies — like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House — whose participation in the Paycheck Protection Program triggered outrage last spring.” By Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

A cardinal in the dock would mark real reform in Vatican justice
“From the outside, the commonplace assumption about the Vatican’s system of criminal justice probably is that it’s too lenient, because, as people would see it, the system boils down to Vatican personnel policing their peers and thus, many likely assume, the temptation is to go easy. Insiders, however, have long felt it’s precisely the other way around. The whole point of Vatican tribunals, as they rather cynically perceive it, is to deliver lower-level scapegoats to insulate senior figures from culpability(link is external), so the system is stacked in favor of the prosecution.” By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

Legislation needed to help victims of child sexual abuse
“We’ve been told by thinkers and self-help gurus through the years that mistakes can be a source of learning, inspiration and growth(link is external) that we shouldn’t fear them, and we should courageously move on from them. Advice along these lines has undoubtedly been ricocheting through the mind of now-departed Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar in recent days. Boockvar fell on her sword and resigned last week after a mistake the State Department made that had the distinction of being both trivial and exceptional.” By Editorial Board, Observer-Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

House Sponsors Hope Derailed Sex Abuse Survivor Rights Amendment Will Get Back On Track
“A proposal to give childhood sexual abuse survivors in Pennsylvania two more years to sue after the statute of limitations has expired(link is external) is getting another chance in the state legislature. The measure would have amended the commonwealth’s Constitution, but its years-long approval process was set to start over when the Department of State revealed this week it failed to advertise the amendment last year, as required by the Constitution.” By Sam Dunklau, WSKG-FM National Public Radio

State agency bungles ballot referendum for child sex victims
“Some victims of child sexual abuse might have to wait two years or more to pursue legal claims because of a major bureaucratic bungle that prompted angry denunciations across the political spectrum Monday (Jan. 29) and the resignation of Pennsylvania’s top state elections official. A proposed state constitutional amendment allowing lawsuits over decades-old claims — prompted by investigations into child sexual abuse allegations inside Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic diocese(link is external) — wasn’t advertised as required and so cannot appear on the ballot this spring, the Wolf administration disclosed Monday (Jan. 29).” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

Abuse survivors and advocates push emergency measure for May ballot
“A bipartisan team of Pennsylvania lawmakers will invoke a rare emergency provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, seeking to restore a constitutional amendment ballot question long sought by victims of child sex abuse(link is external). An administrative error by the Department of State, discovered late last month, prevents the question from appearing on the May 18 ballot. The proposed amendment gives child sexual abuse victims a retroactive two-year ‘window’ in which to file civil lawsuits, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Charity says assault allegations against founder ‘plausible’
“International charity Aid to the Church in Need said it found ‘very plausible’ the claim that its founder, the late Fr Werenfried van Straaten, had sexually assaulted a former employee(link is external) in the 1970s. The charity, which supports Christians suffering under persecution or extreme poverty, confirmed in a statement last week that the victim came forward with the allegation in 2010 and that preparations for a sainthood cause for Fr van Straaten stopped at the time. ‘The leadership of the charity took the accusation very seriously. It immediately sought out the person concerned and, in a personal meeting, listened to her. Her portrayal of the incident seemed very plausible,’ ACN said in the statement published after Christ und Welt, a supplement of the German newspaper Die Zeit, reported the charity had paid the woman 16,000 euros ($25,000).” By CathNews.com

CALIFORNIA

New Diocese of Oakland sex abuse lawsuit reveals seminaries as a hot bed of abuse
“New revelations of disturbing sexual abuse at a seminary are coming to light(link is external) after a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Oakland settled last year. According to a local NBC affiliate, “The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago. He does not wish to be identified, so NBC Bay Area is calling him John Doe.” By Los Angeles Legal Examiner

DELAWARE

Diocese of Wilmington again found in compliance with plan to deal with sexual abuse of minors
“The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has once again been found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People(link is external), the comprehensive action plan adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 to effectively deal with sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy and other church personnel. The findings are a result of a review of data collected for the 2019/2020 Charter audit period by StoneBridge Business Partners, an independent firm hired by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Diocese of Wilmington has been found to be in compliance in all audits including its first audit in 2004.” By The Dialog

FLORIDA

Former Jacksonville bishops failed to report sexual abuse allegations, records show
“Since the early 1990s, at least four women have repeatedly come to the Diocese of St. Augustine with complaints of how now-deceased priest William Malone molested and fondled them, impregnating at least one of them(link is external), in the 1980s. His victims were young girls, the youngest just 11 years old. The Diocese of St. Augustine told its parishioners in 2019 — for the first time — it knew of credible allegations against Fr. Malone. Church leaders didn’t specify how many victims came forward or what they knew.” By Kelly Wiley, News4Jax

ILLINOIS

Cardinal Blase Cupich demanding details on abusive order priests but won’t post findings
“Two and a half years after the latest sex abuse scandal rocked the Catholic church and prompted new pledges of transparency, the church in the Chicago region has yet to make a full accounting to the public of its problem priests(link is external). Cardinal Blase Cupich has demanded for more than two years now that Catholic religious orders that operate in his territory fully disclose to him any information on their clergy members who now face or previously have faced accusations of child sexual abuse.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

LOUISIANA

New Orleans archdiocese to add clergy abuse survivor to allegation review board
“For the first time since a sexual abuse scandal erupted within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans decades ago, its leader is adding an abuse survivor to the panel that reviews allegations involving clergy(link is external). Archbishop Gregory Aymond announced Thursday (Feb. 11) that a clergy abuse survivor, whose identity will be kept confidential, will become part of his Independent Review Board. The board, comprised of ‘primarily lay professionals’ according to the archdiocese, reviews abuse claims to see if they are credible and then makes recommendations to the archbishop.” By Greg LaRose, WDSU-TV6 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Archives: Diocese wanted Rev. Holley out. Personal letters detailing priest’s situation obtained by T&G
“Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan in 1971 decided that one reason the Rev. David A. Holley should go into the care of Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico or some other location operated by the order was because they would be able to find a placement for him after he completed treatment, the bishop said in a letter written at the time. Rev. Holley, denied parole last week, is now serving a 55- to 275-year prison sentence in New Mexico for sexually abusing and raping eight boys(link is external) there. Although Rev. Holley was taken in as a priest of the Worcester Diocese in 1962 and incardinated in 1967, which means he became a priest of the diocese, he proved to be problematic because of his history of sexually molesting boys.” By Kathleen A. Shaw, Telegram & Gazette

Bishop Weldon accuser files lawsuit against Springfield diocese
“A former altar boy who accused the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of sexual assault(link is external) — and whose claim was found to be ‘unequivocally credible’ following a review ordered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield — has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the physical harm he suffered in the 1960s and continued emotional distress. The plaintiff says he was between 9 and 11 years old when he was raped multiple times at multiple locations by Weldon and two other members of the clergy.” By Ray Kelly, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

MINNESOTA

Diocese files plan for reorganization
“The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has reached a settlement with the Creditors’ Committee representing 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). ‘It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years. We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority. We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our Diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious, and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.’ said the Most Reverend John M. Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.” By Diocese of Winona-Rochester

  • Winona-Rochester Diocese reaches $21.5 million settlement with abuse victims, By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi trial delayed for friar accused of sex abuse
“A trial has been postponed until April for a former Franciscan friar accused of molesting students(link is external) in the 1990s at a Catholic school in Mississippi. Paul West had been scheduled for trial in February. His case was delayed so he could undergo a mental evaluation, The Greenwood Commonwealth reported, citing dockets on the local district attorney’s website. A Leflore County grand jury indicted West in August on two counts of sexual battery and two counts of gratification of lust. If convicted, he faces life in prison.” By Associated Press

NEW MEXICO

Catholic priest sex abuse trial to begin in December 2021
“A trial date was set in the case of the late Fr. David Holley, who allegedly sexually abused a victim in Alamogordo(link is external). New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Daniel Ramczyk set the jury trial date for the case as Dec. 13. The complainant, listed as John Doe, allegedly was one of several of Holley’s victims in Alamogordo in the 1970s, court records state.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Judge: Sex abuse lawsuits can proceed against the Church
“A federal judge has rejected an attempt by the bankrupt Archdiocese of Santa Fe to block three lawsuits accusing it of transferring millions of dollars(link is external) in property to individual parishes to shield the assets from settlements in sexual abuse cases. Last week’s ruling allows lawsuits for hundreds of victims to proceed, while the archdiocese says it will file another appeal. ‘The gist of the proposed actions was that [the archdiocese] allegedly transferred to its 93 parishes most of [its] property, without consideration, and with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud its creditors (almost entirely sex abuse claimants),” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma wrote in his ruling.’” By Dillon Mullan, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Diocese of Buffalo says audit shows it to be complying with youth safety procedures
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo says a newly-completed audit by a Rochester firm finds it is fully complying with guidelines put forth to protect children(link is external) and young people from harm. StoneBridge Business Partners looked at the years 2019 and 2020, collecting and measuring data from parishes, schools and key diocesan departments. The information collected covers topics including appropriate training, screening and hiring processes and procedures for working with victims.” By Michael Mroziak, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

PENNSYLVANIA

Former priest sentenced to 5 years’ probation in abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic priest in Pennsylvania who pleaded guilty to assaulting two altar boys(link is external) about two decades ago has been sentenced to five years’ probation. John G. Allen, 77, of York had pleaded guilty in November to indecent assault and corruption of minors in the assaults at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook between 1997 and 2002. He acknowledged having touched the children over their clothes.” By Associated Press

TEXAS

Archdiocese of San Antonio plans to update its clergy abuse list
“Two years ago, when Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller released a landmark list of priests credibly accused of sexually assaulting and abusing children(link is external), he said that apologizing once wouldn’t suffice. Two years after that defining moment, his words torment survivors of crimes that amounted to rape. None of the cases might have resulted in imprisonment, but they embroiled the Catholic Church in a global cover-up and scandal.” By Elaine Ayala, LMTonline.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church pedophile networks to be mapped ‘like organized crime’ by academics
“A ‘mafia-like’ code of silence among ‘dark networks’ within the Catholic Church has begun to emerge from a world-first project mapping clerical pedophile networks(link is external), says an academic behind the project. The project is led by Newcastle sociologist Kathleen McPhillips and criminologist Jodi Death (pronounced Deeth) from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) law faculty. The research builds on work done by Sally Muytjens, one of Dr Death’s doctoral students, who mapped Catholic paedophile networks in Victoria.” By Giselle Wakatama, ABC Newcastle

CANADA

Supreme Court sides with London, Ont., woman suing Catholic church
“The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with Irene Deschenes, the London, Ont., woman trying to reopen her civil suit against the Diocese of London(link is external), which has tried to legally stop her for more than a decade. Thursday’s (Feb. 11) dismissal of the diocese’s appeal application marks the end of the legal road for the church, at least for now, and it means Deschenes and the church can begin renegotiating her claim. ‘It’s in the hands of the church so we will see what will happen next. If they have any compassion for the victims they created, they’d be on the phone to us by the end of the day,’ said Deschenes at a virtual media conference after the ruling.” By Kate Dubinski, CBC News

Catholic Church sued in class-action suit linked to Mount Cashel case
“A class-action lawsuit has been filed over allegations that children at two Vancouver-area Catholic schools were abused by members of the Christian Brothers(link is external) who had been transferred to B.C. from the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage. The lawsuit says that the abuse at Vancouver College and St. Thomas More in the period from 1976 to 1995 continued a pattern of systemic child abuse at institutions run by the Christian Brothers in Canada first revealed at the Newfoundland orphanage in the mid- to late-1970s.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

St. John’s Catholic diocese named in proposed Vancouver class action
“The legal entity of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s has been named in a proposed class-action lawsuit involving alleged sexual abuse at schools in Vancouver where Christian Brothers taught(link is external) decades ago. The notice of civil claim was to be filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Monday (Feb. 8) and the local archdiocese has not had legal notification yet, according to the lawyer Joe Fiorante who hopes to get the class action certified in B.C. … Early police investigations in Newfoundland and Labrador were covered up at the time.” By Barb Sweet, The Chronicle Herald

GERMANY

Cologne Catholic sex abuse probe seen as cover-up
“Germany’s secular panel on sexualized violence against children says Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese has ‘severely damaged’ moves to own up to its abusive past(link is external). Cologne’s archbishopric ‘severely damaged’ the process of owning up to decades of sexualized violence against children in its ranks as demanded by victims and lay Catholics, a top secular German panel found on Monday. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse — a commission mandated by parliament since 2016 to probe cases across German society — decried the diocese’s own internal review, saying this must be done instead by outsiders.” By Deutsche Welle

German archbishop under fire over clergy sex abuse report
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference has criticized the handling by one of the country’s most prominent Roman Catholic archbishops of a report on past child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, faces mounting discontent in his diocese over his decision to keep under wraps a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm.” By Associated Press

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Christian Brothers abused children at Fife care home ‘with impunity’ inquiry concludes
“St. Ninian’s School in Falkland exposed youngsters to risks of sexual, physical, and psychological danger for almost the entire time it was open(link is external). Lady Smith’s damning conclusion of the Christian Brothers was revealed today with the publication of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. She said they were the perpetrators who would ‘pursue their abusive practices with impunity.’ And her view of St Ninian’s School in Falkland was ‘depressing.’ and that abusive Brothers had ‘unrestrained access’ to vulnerable children.” By Allan Crow, Fife Today

Victim speaks out after abusive priest sentenced
“The victim of a priest sentenced to serve more than a decade in jail for child sexual abuse has attacked the Archdiocese of Birmingham for trying to dissuade him from reporting the assaults to police. Last week, Fr Joseph Quigley was jailed for 11 years and six months for sexually and physically abusing a young man(link is external). At one stage he locked him in the crypt of a church as a punishment for supposed wrongdoing.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Catholic brother allowed to live by school had been charged with abuse of seven victims
“A Catholic brother who was allowed to live on school grounds was the former head of a school accused of abusing multiple children(link is external). The man spent several years living in France before moving onto accommodation connected to St Francis Xavier’s (SFX) College in Woolton. The ECHO has since learned that the man, a member of the French Catholic order the Brothers of Christian Instruction, was charged with 10 counts of indecent assault against seven victims, some under 13, at a school outside the Merseyside area.” By Jonathan Humphries, Liverpool Echo

GUAM

Vatican removed as defendant in Guam clergy sex abuse case
“The nephew of former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron removed the Holy See, or the Vatican, from the list of defendants in his clergy sex abuse case(link is external). Mark Apuron, through attorney Delia Lujan Wolff, filed a ‘notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice’ of all claims against ‘Defendant Holy See, State of the Vatican City, its instrumentalities and/or agents.’ A dismissal without prejudice means the matter is not dismissed forever, and can be brought to court again.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

MALTA

The long shadow of clerical abuse
“The Church has always been a key focal point in Maltese life and culture. Precisely because of its importance and dominance, and not just in Malta, the issue of clerical sex abuse has only begun to fully surface in recent decades(link is external). Evidence from countries which have had extensive experience of clerical abuse suggests that it is far more widespread than formal reporting would suggest. Experience to date indicates that victims are extremely slow to come forward while Church and state are notoriously slow to acknowledge the issue and society at large is significantly reluctant to even discuss it.” By Times Malta Editorial Board

Sex abuse in the Church; majority of victims don’t report cases, says expert
Victims of child and adolescent abuse rarely report their abuse, meaning many perpetrators are still within the community(link is external), a 2000 study by psychologist Mariella Dimech of 80 people with drug problems had found at the time. ‘Numbing The Pain’ focused on the link between child and adolescent abuse and drug addiction by following 80 people who had drug problems over time – 90% of these vicims had been abused during childhood and adolescence.” By Laura Calleja, Malta Today

POLAND

Poland’s Catholic church accused of failing to take action against paedophile priest for 25 years
“The Catholic church in Poland has been accused of failing to take decisive action against an accused pedophile priest for 25 years(link is external) after first being made aware of the allegations. The claims, broadcast in a new television report on Monday (Feb.15), are the latest revelations regarding the church’s alleged failure to properly investigate child sex abuse by clergy. In some instances, the institution has been accused of deliberately covering cases up and protecting perpetrators.” By NotesfromPoland.com

SPAIN

Madrid archdiocese provided support for 85 abuse victims in 2020
“The Archdiocese of Madrid provided support services for 85 victims of abuse in 2020, 75 of them direct victims and 10 who were family members(link is external). The 85 victims received free psychological care and listening sessions offered through the Repara Project for the prevention of abuse and care for victims, launched in January 2020. Altogether, the Repara Project provided free 400 psychological care and listening sessions in its first year of operation.” By Catholic News Agency

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Event series’ proposals aim to raise women’s voices in San Diego Diocese / National Catholic Reporter

“‘There’s a real need to address women’s issues in the church because historically we haven’t addressed them or we haven’t addressed them well,’ Eckery (Kevin Eckery, vice chancellor of communications and public affairs in the Diocese of San Diego) said.” (National Catholic Reporter)

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“The 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse sent shock waves through the U.S. Catholic Church. For Bridget Gramme, the moment felt like a ‘call to women’ to improve the church.

“‘I’m a cradle Catholic, it’s my community and my identity and my kids go to Catholic schools,’ Gramme said. ‘It’s something we really believe in and the community is so important to us. Maybe it’s time we step it up and not just sit around and let these things happen.’

“Gramme is an attorney and member of the advisory board of the Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of San Diego.

“Along with Catholic professionals involved in a variety of ministries, Gramme formed a planning team with the goal of healing the church by highlighting the voices of women and youth.

“This idea developed into a series called ‘Future of Faith,’ which resulted in three proposals designed to elevate women’s voices in the diocese. Those proposals include forming a speakers bureau of women, an all-women advisory council to the bishop and a diocesan synod on women’s issues.”

By Sophie Vodvarka, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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New appointees to Francis’s financial powerhouse signal progress of women / Cruxnow.com

The appointment of six women to the Council of the Economy now marks one of the most significant moves Pope Francis has made in making good on his many affirmations of the importance of women and their input. (Cruxnow.com)

Pope Francis has long advocated for a more ‘incisive’ presence of women in positions of authority and leadership in the Vatican, and while some have complained about the pace at which changes are being made, the recent appointment of six women to the Vatican’s chief financial office has jolted things into warp drive.

“On Thursday (Aug. 6), the Vatican announced that Francis had named two women each from Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom to his 15-member Council for the Economy.

“He also named one Italian layman and replaced six of the original eight cardinals on the council, naming Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark as the only American, and leaving in place German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich as the body’s coordinator …

“The appointment of six women to the Council of the Economy now marks one of the most significant moves Pope Francis has made in making good on his many affirmations of the importance of women and their input.”

By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Australian bishops’ report advocates major changes to church governance / National Catholic Reporter

Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed “the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion” and “give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.” (National Catholic Reporter)

 A new report commissioned by Australia’s bishops and religious orders recommends a series of radical changes to the way the Catholic Church operates across the country, tackling issues as far-ranging as women’s inclusion in decision-making roles and the Vatican’s opaque process for making episcopal appointments.

“The overarching theme for the report — written as part of the local church’s response to a five-year government inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse — is how governance in the church can be more ‘co-responsible,’ or better shared among bishops, clergy and laypeople.

“Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed ‘the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion’ and ‘give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.’

“The report, which encompasses seven chapters, four indices and a bibliography over its 208 pages, had originally been delivered to the Australian bishops in early May and kept confidential to allow the prelates time to digest its contents.”

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

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New Australian report may help church find its way out of abuse crisis / National Catholic Reporter

The new phase in the abuse crisis has shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance. (Massimo Faggioli in National Catholic Reporter)

There are signs that the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis is now getting at deeper, institutional questions. In particular, how local churches — parishes and dioceses — are governed.

“In the last few years, a unique example that could bring encouraging news has come from the Australian church.

“Since 2017-18, the abuse crisis has taken on a new dimension, thanks to the unveiling of cases (such as disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and of extensive cover-ups identified and published in the reports of nationwide and regional investigations (such as in Australia, Chile and Pennsylvania).

“The new phase of the crisis has focused on the direct involvement of bishops, cardinals and the Vatican. It has also identified that the crisis is not restricted to children and also involves women religious and other vulnerable persons — and has become a global crisis with huge repercussions on the relations between church and state in various countries.

“The new phase in the abuse crisis has also shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance.”

By Massimo Faggiolo, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Eighteen years later, concerned Catholics still addressing clergy abuse

BOSTON, Mass., Mar. 3, 2020 – Eighteen years after The Boston Globe brought to light widespread clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston and after a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation found credibly accused priests throughout the state just two years ago, Voice of the Faithful, founded within weeks of the Globe’s revelations, continues to address the scandal. VOTF members and others will gather later this year to promote their visions of a just Church. The organization’s 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church will take place on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel in Newton, Mass.

Offering her own vision of a just Church, the conference’s featured speaker will be internationally acclaimed theologian and Catholic studies scholar Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D. Dr. Zagano has lectured widely in this country and abroad, and she is a member of the Papal Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women. She has published hundreds of articles and reviews in the popular press and peer-reviewed journals and is the author or editor of twenty books in religious studies, including groundbreaking work on women in the diaconate, several of which have received awards from the Catholic Press Association and College Theology Society. Dr. Zagano is a recipient of the Voice of the Faithful Distinguished Layperson Award, which recognizes exemplary lay leaders who enthusiastically use their gifts in the Church’s service. She also has received the Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice from The Paulist Center Community in Boston for “her prolific body of work that has constantly echoed the cry of the poorest in our society for dignity and for justice, both inside and outside the Church.” She currently is adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University.

Attendees also will hear additional speakers on the conferences theme, who will be announced soon, and updates from VOTF leaders on the progress of the organization’s programs and initiatives.

Cost for the conference is $150 per person, and those interested in attending also can take advantage of a 2-for-$230 registration that will be offered through Labor Day, Sept. 7.

A continually updated webpage of conference information can be seen by clicking here …


Voice of the Faithful News Release, Mar. 9, 2020
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360

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

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In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests / National Catholic Reporter

“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a new book defending the Catholic Church’s practice of a celibate priesthood, in a shocking move that comes as Pope Francis is considering the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.

“According to excerpts from the volume released Jan. 12 by the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating the move, which was requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at October’s Vatican synod gathering.

“The book is co-written with Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office. It is to be released in France Jan. 15 and carries the title Des profondeurs de nos cœurs (‘From the Depths of Our Hearts’).

“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.

“One noted theologian reached shortly after the release of the excerpts called Benedict’s decision to write on the issue a ‘serious breach.'”

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

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Pope jettisons pontifical secret; Voice of the Faithful applauds

BOSTON, Mass., Dec. 18, 2019 – Pope Francis yesterday changed the Catholic Church’s Canon Law to abrogate the “pontifical secret,” the Vatican’s equivalent of “top secret,” with regard to clergy sexual abuse cases. Voice of the Faithful joins clergy abuse victims and survivors and their advocates in considering this reform long-overdue.

Voice of the Faithful has always promoted full transparency of clergy abuse, understanding that the Church used secrecy in an attempt to protect itself against scandal, which resulted in particularly unjust treatment of victims. Because of the Pope’s action, no one may in the future claim that they cannot hand over documentation of abuse, or testify at trials, or be uncooperative with civil authorities by claiming clergy abuse information is considered top secret by the Vatican.

The Church’s leading clergy abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, has called the Pope’s instruction “epochal.” Abuse survivor Marie Collins, a former member of the Papal Commission for the Protection of Minors who resigned in frustration at Vatican resistance, hailed the change, calling it “excellent” and a “real positive change.”

Will this reform usher in a new era of transparency and accountability in the Church? We can only hope.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Dec. 18, 2019
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 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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