Posts Tagged Catholic Church reform

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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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


September 2, 2019

TOP STORIES

Australian court upholds Cardinal Pell’s conviction on abuse charges
“A panel of three Australian judges has upheld the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for sexually assaulting two choirboys in the 1990s in a 2-1 decision(link is external), ordering the Vatican’s former number-three official to continue serving a six-year prison term. The decision, announced by the Court of Appeal in the southeastern state of Victoria early Aug. 21 in Australia, marks another historic moment in an historic case. Pell, who was long the highest-ranking Catholic in Australia but was brought to Rome in 2014 by Pope Francis to restructure the Vatican’s finances, is the first Vatican official charged by authorities on abuse allegations, the first convicted, and the first sentenced to jail. He is now also the first to lose on appeal.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Rep

RICO suit against Buffalo diocese alleges conspiracy in sexual abuse cases
“Twenty-two plaintiffs filed a lawsuit Aug. 14 against the Diocese of Buffalo, a province of the Society of Jesus, multiple priests, eight parishes, three high schools, a seminary, among others, alleging ‘a pattern of racketeering activity’ that enabled and covered up clerical sexual abuse(link is external).

The lawsuit was filed on the first day of a legal ‘window’ allowing for sexual abuse lawsuits to be filed in New York even after their civil statute of limitations had expired.” By Catholic News Agency

Wyoming bishop’s decades of abuse destroyed lives, traumatized families
“As parishioners attended the Feast of the Assumption Mass inside Guardian Angels Catholic Church on August 15, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) gathered outside on the sidewalk for a press conference marking an occasion that many believed would never come. Less than 24 hours earlier, police in Cheyenne, Wyoming, recommended to prosecutors that a one-time Guardian Angels priest, who would go on to become a beloved Catholic bishop, face criminal charges for the sexual abuse of minors.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Hundreds of lawsuits filed on first day of New York litigation window
Over 400 lawsuits were filed in New York state on the first day of a one-year window in the statute of limitations(link is external), allowing abuse survivors to file suit against their abuser or the institution where the abuse occurred. The lawsuits include an allegation against a sitting bishop and a RICO suit against the Diocese of Buffalo and the Northeast Province of the Jesuits. Other suits were filed against laicized former archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and against retired Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany. Hubbard has denied the allegations.” By Catholic News Agency

Retired pope responds to criticism of his reflection on abuse crisis
“Responding to criticism of notes he published about the roots of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, retired Pope Benedict XVI said the fact that the critiques barely mentioned God proved his point(link is external). ‘As far as I can see, in most reactions to my contribution, God does not appear at all,’ which is ‘exactly what I wanted to emphasize’ as the central problem, he wrote in a brief note to Herder Korrespondenz, according to KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

In Mississippi Delta, Catholic abuse cases settled on the cheap
“A famed Catholic religious order settled sex abuse cases in recent months by secretly paying two black Mississippi men $15,000 each and requiring them to keep silent about their claims, The Associated Press has found. The cash payments are far less than what other Catholic sex abuse survivors have typically received(link is external) since the church’s abuse scandal erupted in the United States in 2002. An official with the Franciscan order denies the two men’s race or poverty had anything to do with the size of the settlements.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

ACCOUNTABILITY

Aussie headaches on Pell case could be child’s play compared to Rome’s
“Up to this point, the ire of those who believe Cardinal George Pell is innocent of the charges of child sexual abuse brought against him in his home country has been directed largely at the Australian judiciary, most recently at a Victoria appeals court that upheld his conviction on Wednesday in a 2-1 split decision. Assuming that ruling holds up, however, such frustration could quickly shift from the Australian system to the Vatican’s(link is external), because that’s where the action would be next – and honestly, the heartburn there could be much more intense.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CARDINAL PELL

Editorial: Those who dismiss Pell verdict ignore integrity of legal system
“The response in certain circles to the Aug. 21 court decision upholding Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for sexually assaulting two choirboys(link is external) in the 1990s was as swift as it was irrational. Edward Peters, a canon lawyer who teaches at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary, claimed in a tweet some 40 minutes after the verdict that ‘the testimony used to convict Thomas More was more plausible.’ Hours later, John Paul II biographer George Weigel questioned at First Things whether people would want to travel to Australia anymore because of ‘mob hysteria.’ First Things editor Matthew Schmitz likened an aggrieved Pell to the suffering Christ.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Why Justice Mark Weinberg believed George Pell should go free
“One of the three Court of Appeal judges who heard George Pell’s appeal believes there is a ‘significant possibility’ the cardinal did not commit the child sex crimes(link is external) he’s in jail for and would have acquitted him. Justice Mark Weinberg said he was not convinced by the victim’s evidence and could not exclude the possibility that some parts of the former choirboy’s testimony were ‘concocted.’” By Adam Cooper, The Age

Appeals court upholds Cardinal Pell conviction on abuse charges
“An Australian appeals court upheld the conviction of Cardinal George Pell on five counts of sexually assaulting two choirboys(link is external) more than two decades ago. A three-judge panel of the Appeals Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria announced its decision Aug. 21 in Melbourne. Chief Justice Anne Ferguson read the decision during a 30-minute hearing.” By Catholic News Service

BISHOPS

Pressure mounts on Buffalo bishop after two seminarians resign over scandal
“As pressure continues to mount for Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone to step down over his handling of sex abuse cases(link is external), two seminarians have publicly left the diocesan seminary and echoed calls for his resignation. The first seminarian, Stephen Parisi, withdrew in a 6-page letter dated August 15 where he outlines what he describes as a lack of proper governance. He concluded his letter by directly addressing Malone, offering a stinging assessment of his leadership and pleading for his resignation.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

World’s oldest living bishop, who is uncle of Chile’s president, accused of abuse
“Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera, has urged for the Catholic Church to be investigated over clerical sexual abuse, and he gave his full support to new law that ends the statutes of limitations on abuse cases. However, when it comes to the allegations made against his uncle, the world’s oldest living bishop(link is external), he’s having a hard time believing it. Archbishop Bernardino Piñera, who served as Archbishop of Serena from 1983-1990 after previously serving as Bishop of Temuco, is being investigated by the Vatican over allegations that he sexually abused a minor 50 years ago.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Facing lawsuit, retired Albany Bishop Hubbard says he has ‘never sexually abused anyone’
“Retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany said in a statement Aug. 16 he ‘never sexually abused anyone’ and is taking a voluntary leave of absence(link is external) from the Diocese of Albany to deal with the allegations. The Evangelist, Albany’s diocesan newspaper, reported that a lawsuit filed Aug. 14 accuses Bishop Hubbard of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old in the late 1990s. The suit was filed the day New York state’s Child Victims Act went into effect.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Face facts, says LCWR president: Sisters have been part of Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal
“Catholic sisters must face the reality that they have also been part of the sexual abuse scandal in the church(link is external), said the president of the leadership conference representing most women religious in the United States. Holy Cross Sr. Sharlet Wagner, the 2018-2019 president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), spoke on the issue in her Aug. 15 presidential address at the organization’s annual assembly, which drew nearly 700 women religious and guests to the Aug. 13-16 event.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Real reform in the Church requires a faithful laity, priests says
“For the Catholic Church to be renewed, the entire body of Christ – especially the laity – must strive to live the faith devoutly(link is external). This was the message of Father Roger Landry, who works for the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, at a Eucharistic assembly in July. ‘While in history, reforms have been championed by popes, bishops, founders of religious orders and their spiritual sons and daughters, the real reform of the Church happens when lay people assimilate it and live it,’ he said.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic Herald

Sisters count on the ‘multiplication factor’ of lay partners in their ministries
“Every person has a gift that they bring with them, no matter how insignificant. I can only be aware of this gift if I am open and accept the possibility of change. So partnering/working with non-vowed people has positively made my life and ministry more effective(link is external). I worked with a young woman whom I see as the epitome of honesty and transparency. In my work, I have to give an accurate, updated account of the funds of a group of people. This young woman helped me through it. She is very accurate in accounting for the funds that come in and go out of the office.” By The Life Panelists, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Vatican tells Argentinian court accused bishop has job in Rome, despite being suspended
“Despite being investigated for allegations of having sexually abused two seminarians, an Argentinian bishop close to the pope(link is external) has once again been allowed by a judge to travel to Rome. The judge said that Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta has ‘collaborated’ with the investigation and has a document from the Vatican saying he must return to Rome ‘to continue with his daily work’ – even though he has been suspended from his job.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Vatican invokes Cardinal George Pell’s ‘right to appeal’ after child sexual abuse conviction upheld
“The most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be convicted of child sexual abuse, Cardinal George Pell, has lost his appeal against his conviction, but maintains he is innocent. In a brief statement issued after the decision the Vatican reiterated that Pell maintained his innocence, and that it was now ‘Pell’s right to appeal to the high court.’(link is external) ‘At this time, together with the church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members who commit such abuse,’ the statement also said. No mention was made of stripping Pell of his cardinal title.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

VOICES

U.S. bishops should drop everything and focus on preventing schism
“I have a modest proposal for the U.S. bishops’ conference. They should scrap their entire agenda for the upcoming November plenary and address a single question: To what degree are the seeds of a de facto schism being sown within the U.S. church?(link is external) Last week, a friend called my attention to a website called ‘Faithful Shepherds’ that was launched a year ago by LifeSiteNews. They state that their purpose is to provide a ‘one-stop database’ about where Catholic bishops stand on certain issues and to ‘encourage bishops to be faithful to Christ.’ By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church sex abuse: the difference a Pennsylvania grand jury made in lives of survivors
“It has been one year since the Pennsylvania grand jury report named 300 sexually abusive Roman Catholic priests in the state. After an 18-month investigation, the grand jury concluded that ‘over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church’s own records’ … As a scholar who has spent the last eight years interviewing Catholic survivors of clergy sex abuse, I know that even though there were only a few convictions in Pennsylvania, the release of the grand jury report was a watershed moment for survivors(link is external).” By Brian Clites, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Is it time for the U.S. church to hold a regional synod to address the abuse crisis?
“The conference of bishops, meeting in Dallas, had lately adopted a charter and norms for the protection of children. Now the eight called for something more. Convene a plenary council or regional synod, they urged their fellow bishops, and use it to get at the roots of what had happened so as to prevent anything like that from ever happening again … Now it seems that those eight bishops were ahead of their time. In the face of a crisis even worse than 17 years ago, the idea of a regional synod for the Catholic Church in the United States looks increasingly appealing(link is external).” By Russell Shaw, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

A year later, Pennsylvania Senate still dodging grand jury findings on clergy abuse
“One year after an investigating grand jury gave Pennsylvania legislators all the evidence they needed to update laws on child sexual abuse — in fact, Pennsylvania’s groundbreaking work led to reforms in other states, including New Jersey — the response in Harrisburg has been little more than ‘we’ll get to it.’ Someday(link is external). The grand jury report identified more than 300 priests as sexual predators and thousands of victims. It spawned investigations by other states’ attorneys general and a probe by the U.S. Department of Justice.” By Lehigh Valley Express Times Editorial Staff

Let the handlers of predatory priests pay in full
“Priests are supposed to offer spiritual comfort to adults and counsel young people on the values they will need later in life. They are not supposed to be sexual predators taking advantage of children(link is external). That’s what makes the release of a list of alleged pedophile priests from this area, including one formerly of the Sacred Heart Church in Cairo, a tragedy and a disgrace. The priests were named in lawsuits filed against the Albany Diocese by alleged sexual abuse victims under the Child Victims Act. It’s an offensive litany of accusations, both legally and morally.” By HudsonValley360.com Editorial Board

CHURCH FINANCES

As the Archdiocese of Detroit awaits its judgement day, it plays hide-and-seek with its money—including a Cayman Islands venture
“While the local Catholic Church promotes its efforts to protect children today, it’s been busy protecting its financial assets(link is external) as a day of fuller reckoning for past sexual abuse survivors draws closer. Across the country, statute of limitations laws on civil actions have been eroding, leading to costly settlements for abuse victims. Only intense lobbying by the insurance industry and the Catholic Church has restrained this tide in Michigan.” By Michael Betzold, Detroit Metro News

Priest accused of stealing nearly $100K from Downingtown parish
“A priest is accused of stealing close to $100,000 from his Downingtown parish, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office said. Father Joseph McLoone was arrested Wednesday (Aug. 21) for the theft of $98,405.50 from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church(link is external). McLoone, 56, took over as pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish following the removal of Msgr. William Lynn due to Lynn’s indictment and incarceration. Officials said McLoone accomplished the theft by diverting parish funds into a secret account, misappropriating fees charged to parishioners, and other fraudulent activity.” By ABC-TV6 News Philadelphia

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Corey Feldman calls for Hollywood sexual abuse victims to support bill to change California statute laws
“Corey Feldman is hoping to use his voice and celebrity status to help fellow victims of sexual abuse(link is external). The actor, who serves as Child USA’s ambassador and has spoken out extensively about the alleged abuse he suffered as a child actor, is urging abuse victims in Hollywood to sign a letter that he will be sending on Thursday (Aug. 15) to the California Senate in relation to current laws about the state’s statute of limitations.” By DNYUZ.com

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Why childhood victims stay silent about abuse for decades
“It took Ann Fossler more than 25 years to reveal that she had been repeatedly molested when she was as young as 6 years old. Fossler said she first confided in a counselor in the 1980s that a Buffalo Diocese Catholic priest who was a close family friend sexually abused her for several years and that she kept it secret because she feared her parents, who adored the priest and were devout Catholics, would be crushed by the revelation(link is external).” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Why is the Child Victims Act ‘look-back’ window so short?
“Buffalo News readers have asked a number of questions since Wednesday (Aug. 14), when the Child Victims Act opened a one-year window for filing civil lawsuits(link is external) over old allegations of childhood sexual abuse. The questions ranged from why the look-back is only a year long to why steps are not being taken against the Vatican. To answer the questions, The News gathered information from attorneys representing people who say they were abused, attorneys representing priests accused of molesting children, the Buffalo Catholic Diocese and past stories in The News.” By Lou Michel and Qina Liu, The Buffalo News

ALASKA

Bombshell report: Seven local clergy named in sex misconduct cases
“A bombshell report released by local Catholic leadership named seven Southeast Alaska clergymen who since 1951 have been ‘credibly’ accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). The Diocese of Juneau on Wednesday (Aug. 21) announced the results of an Independent Commission’s review of decades of files including sexual misconduct allegations within the diocese. The commission was formed in late 2018 by Bishop Andrew Bellisario, and it consisted of a retired police lieutenant and retired judges.” By Ben Hohenstatt, Juneau Empire

ARKANSAS

Arkansas church, Diocese of Little Rock sued over alleged sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Little Rock and the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Tontitown are being sued by an unidentified person who alleges both were negligent for allowing a priest to sexually abuse him(link is external). The lawsuit filed by ‘John Doe 201’ claims that he was sexually assaulted when he was a teenager by priest Joseph Correnti. John Doe 201 is now an adult resident of the State of Arkansas and is claiming the repeated sexual battery happened from approximately 1995 to 2002, beginning when John Doe 201 was approximately 14 to 15 years old.” By Associated Press on CBS-TV11News

CALIFORNIA

Bakersfield priest sues founder of Catholic group for defamation
“A Valley priest who has been the target of several sexual abuse allegations is suing the founder of a Catholic organization for defamation(link is external). According to the civil lawsuit, filed through Kern County Superior Court earlier this month, Stephen Brady, founder of Roman Catholic Faithful, made statements about Msgr. Craig Harrison that were ‘false, defamatory, libelous and slanderous.’” By Monica Velez, Valley Public Radio News

East Bay priest charged with sexually abusing child facing nearly five years in prison
“An East Bay priest who repeatedly sexually assaulted a child is facing nearly five years in state prison(link is external), officials said. Hector David Mendoza-Vela on Friday (Aug. 16) pleaded no contest to five counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child age 14 or 15, court documents show. David Mendoza-Vela, 42, a Catholic priest in Fremont, has been arrested on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, according to arrest records and the church. (Courtesy of Alameda County Sheriff’s Department). Last month, he pleaded not guilty to 30 criminal counts filed against him in April by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.” By Joseph Geha, East Bay Times

ILLINOIS

Illinois attorney general and Cardinal Cupich have private meeting; discuss clergy sex abuse investigation
“Amid a protracted state investigation of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, Illinois’ top law enforcement official has met with Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich(link is external), the ABC7 I-Team has learned. The one-hour, one-on-one discussion took place at Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office in the State of Illinois Thompson Center about two weeks ago. The Archdiocese of Chicago and Illinois’ five other Roman Catholic dioceses have been subjects of an ongoing investigation by the state attorney general’s office for the past year.” By ABC-TV7 News Chicago

KANSAS

Activists urge Kansas to broaden reporting of clergy abuse
“David Clohessy and Larry Davis stood on a busy Topeka street corner Tuesday (Aug. 20) for a moment of silence on behalf of people who committed suicide after they were abused by priests … Both men had plenty to say, however, across the street from Topeka’s Mater Dei Catholic Church about their belief Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, hadn’t been proactive enough in reaching out to victims or in identifying alleged perpetrators involved with Catholic churches(link is external).” By Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capitol-Journal

MICHIGAN

Michigan priest accused of tying up teenage boy, taping mouth and eyes
“The ongoing investigation into sex-abuse claims involving Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses has resulted in more charges by the state attorney general’s office, this time against a former Otsego priest. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today that Father Brian Stanley, of Coloma, is being charged with one felony count of false imprisonment(link is external). If convicted, Stanley would face up to 15 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender, according to state law.” By Ryan Boldrey, MLive.com

MINNESOTA

Clergy abuse survivor to coordinate Minnesota archdiocese’s outreach
“Paula Kaempffer, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse she suffered as an adult working in the church, knows firsthand about the kind of healing that can take place. And as the new outreach coordinator for restorative justice and abuse prevention(link is external) for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, she said healing ‘takes a lot of personal work’ and ‘a lot of inner strength to recapture the power that has been taken away from you.’” By Joe Ruff, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

MISSOURI

St. Louis County priest already deemed sexually violent sentenced again
“The first U.S. Catholic priest to be labeled sexually violent when he was convicted in Illinois has been sentenced to 10 years in prison(link is external) for abusing two boys in Missouri in the 1990s. Fred Lenczycki pleaded guilty in May to two counts of sodomy for abuse that occurred at a St. Louis County parish in Bridgeton. Lenczycki is 75. Lenczycki was removed from the ministry in 2002, when he was charged with abusing three boys in the 1980s in Illinois. He pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to five years in prison.” By Associated Press on NBC-TV5 News

NEW JERSEY

First Catholic priest charged with sex assault after tip to AG’s clergy abuse hotline to be sentenced
“A disgraced Roman Catholic priest who admitted to sexually assaulting a teenage girl three decades ago will be sentenced(link is external) Monday (Aug. 26) in Superior Court in Middlesex County. Thomas P. Ganley, 63, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a girl who was a member of the youth group he led in the 1990s. The priest’s case was the first criminal case prosecuted after the start of the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Task Force, which was formed last year to investigate allegations of clergy abuse.” By Sophie Nieto-Munoz, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK

Five adult siblings claim a childhood of abuse by the priest who kept them as his mostly secret family
“Five adult siblings recently claimed a childhood of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse by Francis Melfe, a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) whom, they say, kept them and their mother as his mostly-secret family at a large suburban Guilderland home. Edith Thomas, the mother of the five adult children, told The Enterprise this week, ‘They haven’t spoken to me since 1992.’” By The Altamont Enterprise Guilderland

Child Victims Act tears open North Country’s history of sexual abuse
“Lawsuits filed last week under the Child Victims Act claim children were targeted by abusers and pedophiles over a period of decades in dozens of communities(link is external) across the North Country. The Boy Scouts are named in at least one of the suits, but most of the cases target the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. More than 400 lawsuits were filed statewide last week under the Child Victims Act, after New York temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on sexual violence cases.” By Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio

In disturbing allegations anonymously filed, three priests accused of abusing 7-year-old boy together
“In a graphic and disturbing case filed under the Child Victims Act, three priests are accused of sexually abusing a seven-year-old at St. Francis High School(link is external) in the late 1970s. The anonymous plaintiff says that in 1977, Father James Smyka, Father Aurelian Brzezniak and Father Patrick Mendola sexually abused him in a shower room in front of an audience of between 15 to 20 other priests.” By WVIB-TV4 News

Long Island hit with dozens of sexual abuse lawsuits under Child Victims Act
“Since Aug. 14, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed across New York State related to the Child Victims Act(link is external), which went into effect that day. The law, signed in February by Governor Andrew Cuomo, gives a one-year grace period, eliminating the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims. Suits have already been filed against every Catholic diocese in the state, Boy Scouts of America, Rockefeller University, schools, hospitals, nonprofits and other organizations.” By Marco Schaden, Long Island Weekly

Filings detail clergy, school abuse in Niagara County
“Lawsuits filed in Niagara County reveal the details of abuse suffered by scores of children over the past several decades(link is external). The filings are among the hundreds of court documents that flooded state courts after the opening of the Child Victims Act ‘look-back window,’ which allows survivors to submit civil lawsuits against their abusers that may have lapsed due to the legal statute of limitations. The majority of the civil legal complaints accuse clergy or employees of the Diocese of Buffalo of sexual and physical abuse.” By Philip Bambini, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

NORTH DAKOTA

Priest won’t face child sex abuse charges in Fargo
“A Catholic priest in south-central North Dakota will not face criminal charges after being accused of sexual misconduct involving a child in Fargo(link is external), but the case could go to a prosecutor in McHenry County after an investigation revealed one incident allegedly happened there. The Cass County Attorney’s Office announced Monday (Aug. 19) it would not pursue a criminal case against the Rev. Wenceslaus Katanga, who has served as a priest at three North Dakota churches in McIntosh County since 2010.” By April Baumgarten, Forum News Service, in The Bismark Tribune

OHIO

Activists demand Columbus Diocese expand list of clergy accused of abuse
“Advocates from SNAP gathered in front of St. Joseph Cathedral to demand the Catholic Diocese of Columbus add the names of three more ministers to its official list of clerics credibly accused’ of sexual abuse(link is external). The Columbus Diocese in March published a list of 36 clergy, both alive and deceased, alleged to have sexually abused minors.” By Adora Namigadde, WOSU-FM Columbus National Public Radio

Cincinnati priest arrested and indicted for sexually abusing minor
“A Cincinnati priest removed from ministry last month for grooming behavior has been indicted on nine counts of raping an altar server(link is external). Fr. Geoff Drew was arrested Aug. 19 on allegations dating back 20 years, which concern Drew’s time as music minister at a local parish, prior to his ordination as a priest. The accusations concern abuse said to have taken place over two years, when the reported victim was 10 and 11 years old. If convicted, the priest could face life in prison.” By Catholic News Agency

SNAP leader: Catholic churches need better vetting for priests
“The Rev. Geoff Drew, suspended last month after allegations of inappropriate behavior, now stands charged with nine counts of rape(link is external) — all for incidents that allegedly happened before he entered the priesthood. Dan Frondorf, a local leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Drew never should have been able to become a priest — and the Catholic church should develop a better process for keeping predators out of its clergy.” By WCPO-TV9 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Two more Catholic priests accused of child sex abuse
Two more Catholic priests are being accused of child sex abuse(link is external). The Diocese of Pittsburgh says it is aware that someone registered with the compensation fund. The complaint named fathers Larry Smith and Joseph Girdis. It says the abuse happened when the victim was 12 years old and was living at the Holy Family Institute in Emsworth.” By KDKA-TV2 News

Court allows lawsuit against diocese
“The Pennsylvania Superior Court has denied the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown’s application for re-argument in the lawsuit(link is external) of a woman who claims a pedophile priest consistently molested her in the 1970s and ’80s in Blair County. Wednesday’s (Aug. 14) ruling reaffirming that Renee A. Rice can pursue her lawsuit against officials in the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese reflects an evolving legal landscape, according to Rice’s attorney, Richard Serbin of the Janet, Janet & Suggs law firm.” By Russ O’Reilly, Altoona Mirror

SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina Catholic priests and diocese silent on how they’ll handle allegations on Sunday
“Sunday will once again bring South Carolina’s Catholics to church as fresh allegations of child sexual abuse surface, this time in a lawsuit against the bishop who presides over the state(link is external). Bishop Robert Guglielmone, who has led the state’s Catholics for more than a decade, has denied the allegations, which are alleged to have happened in the late 1970s while he was a priest in New York. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday (Aug. 14) along with hundreds of others as New York state loosened its statute of limitations for such lawsuits.” By Mike Ellis, The Greenville News, in The Independent Mail

TEXAS

Victims of child sex abuse have new chance to hold abusers accountable in court
“John Delaney, a survivor of child sex abuse, wants other victims to know this: Starting Sept. 1, they could have another chance to hold their abusers accountable in court(link is external). Delaney and the San Antonio chapter leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered outside the Bexar County Courthouse Tuesday (Aug. 27) morning to raise awareness about a new Texas law going into effect next month that allows victims of child sex abuse to file civil lawsuits against abusers up to 30 years after they turn 18.” By Marina Starleaf Riker, San Antonio Express-News

VERMONT

Catholic Diocese of Burlington to release names of priests in church investigation
“A 10-month investigation into potential pedophile priests is done. The Catholic Diocese of Burlington will release its report Thursday (Aug. 22). But our Darren Perron obtained details of that report, revealing decades of abuse by 40 priests(link is external). ‘I’m 66 years old… This individual had an elevated place in my family’s life. So, no, I never told my parents,’ John Mahoney said. He didn’t tell them that he was repeatedly abused by a priest starting in eighth grade. Mahoney kept the secret– until now.” By WCAX-TV3 News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Priest guilty of sex abuse; list of D.C., Baltimore accused priests
“A Catholic priest who served in both Maryland and Washington, D.C., was convicted Thursday (Aug. 15) of four counts of child sexual abuse(link is external) against two children that happened on the grounds of his parish, Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish in Northwest Washington. The Rev. Urbano Vazquez, 47, of Washington, D.C., committed the abuse from 2015 to 2017, prosecutors said. He was arrested in November 2018.” By Deb Belt, Patch.com

WISCONSIN

Clergy abuse: Here are the resources offered to victims in Wisconsin by diocese
“The Catholic church both nationally and in Wisconsin has been under intense scrutiny recently with a rising number of people claiming priests sexually abused them. In Wisconsin alone, more than 130 priests are known to have sexually assaulted children in the state(link is external). That number is likely to grow as Madison, La Crosse and Superior dioceses review their files and investigate abuse allegations. Officials with each of Wisconsin’s five Catholic dioceses said they urge anyone who knows about or is suspicious of current, ongoing abuse to report directly to local police immediately. Dioceses then ask that a report be filed with the church, as well.” By Laura Schulte, Wausau Daily Herald

WYOMING

Diocese says more abuse victims have come forward
“More people who say they’re victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Wyoming clergymen have come forward(link is external) since the release in early June of a list of 11 men who the Diocese of Cheyenne deemed had faced substantiated accusations of abuse. That list identified 30 known and substantiated victims of the 11 men. Twenty-nine victims were juvenile boys and girls, while one was identified by the diocese as a vulnerable adult. It’s unclear how many more victims have come forward since the list was released in the diocese’s newsletter and on its website June 12.” By Seth Klamann, Casper Star Tribune via Wyoming News Exchange

AUSTRALIA

Coalition agrees to pass laws forcing priests to report child abuse
“New legislation forcing priests to report child abuse to authorities even if disclosed in confession(link is external) now has enough support to pass through both houses of Victorian Parliament. The Andrews government introduced the legislation earlier this month compelling priests to break the seal of confession to report disclosures of child abuse, but the Coalition stopped short of supporting it at the time. However, on Monday (Aug. 27) Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien revealed he would back the bill.” By Benjamin Preiss, The Age

Argentina prelate says clerical abuse crisis ‘just beginning’ in pope’s country
“Although by now Catholics in some parts of the world have lived with the ferment caused by revelations of clerical sexual abuse for decades, a bishop who heads a commission for preventing abuse in Argentina says that in Pope Francis’s native country, the crisis is ‘just beginning(link is external).’ ‘It’s not that the abuses are beginning, but society’s awareness, with cases becoming public,’ said Bishop Sergio Buenanueva, of San Francisco, in the region of Cordoba.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CHILE

Pope sends video message to new abuse prevention center in Chile
“Pope Francis begins by saying that, through this video message, he wants to be present on this day on which the Fundación Cuida takes shape. The purpose of this new centre, he says, is not only to address the serious problems of prevention and abuse, but to conduct research and to seek policies(link is external) that can ‘save more and more minors from everything that is abuse, everything that is manipulation and that in some way destroys their hearts.’” By Vatican News

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica priest wanted for sex abuse of minors arrested in Mexico
“Costa Rican Catholic priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano, on the run since January of this year, was arrested this Sunday (Aug. 18) at dawn in San Nicolás de Los Garza, Monterrey, in the Mexican state of Nuevo León(link is external). The priest, 55, was wanted in 194 countries since he fled Costa Rica for alleged sexual abuse, qualified rape and aggravated corruption against minors. See more: Catholic Priest Mauricio Víquez fled after the Church warned him about a criminal complaint? The Attorney General of Mexico confirmed the detention.” By QCostaRica.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Chichester publishes in-depth study of abuse in its diocese
“The diocese of Chichester should not be too hasty in its attempts to consign sexual abuse to history, a new report suggests(link is external). The diocese was marked out by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse for special interest, based on the number of high-profile cases of abuse. An earlier report by Dame Moira Gibb also examined aspects of abuse in Sussex. This week, the diocese quietly published a third report, Sexual Abuse by Clergymen in the Diocese of Chichester: ‘You Can’t Say No to God’ … The authors warn the diocese ‘not to be tempted to approach the future by adopting the mantra ‘That was then; this is now.’” By Hattie Williams, Church Times

GUAM

More than 220 former altar boys, students and Boy Scouts launch sex abuse lawsuit Guam’s archdiocese
“More than 220 former altar boys, students and Boy Scouts are suing the Catholic clergy in Guam in a shocking sex abuse scandal(link is external) that has spanned generations and involved the island’s archbishop. The Catholic clergy in U.S. has been shrouded in a sex abuse scandal over the past decade and now it has left its mark on the American island territory of Guam.” By Brinkwire.com

INDIA

Judge in India says Christian education ‘highly unsafe’ for future of children
“A representative of the local Catholic bishops’ council called the remarks of an Indian High Court judge attacking Christian education ‘unfortunate.’ Madras High Court Justice S. Vaidyanathan on Friday said, ‘there is a general feeling among parents of students, especially female students, that coeducational study in Christian institutions is highly unsafe for the future of their children(link is external).’” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


August 17, 2019

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

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

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

McCARRICK CASE

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

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

BISHOPS

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

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

PRIESTS

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

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

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

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

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

LAITY& THE CHURCH

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

VATICAN

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

CLERICALISM

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

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

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

VOICES

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

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

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

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

CALIFORNIA

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

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

COLORADO

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

DELAWARE

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

ILLINOIS

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

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

LOUISIANA

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

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

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

MICHIGAN

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

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

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

MINNESOTA

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

MISSISSIPPI

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

MISSOURI

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

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

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

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

NEW HAMPSHIRE

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

NEW JERSEY

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

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

NEW YORK

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

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

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

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

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

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

NORTH CAROLINA

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

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

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

NORTH DAKOTA

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

OHIO

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RHODE ISLAND

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

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

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

SOUTH CAROLINA

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

TENNESSEE

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

VERMONT

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

VIRGINIA

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

WASHINGTON, D.C.

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

WEST VIRGINIA

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

WYOMING

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

ARGENTINA

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

CHILE

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

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

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

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

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

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

For Immediate Release, Aug. 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in reforming administrative structures that have failed. VOTF’s mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. More information is at votf.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Priest and lay reform organizations take on clerical culture


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

 

VOTF Logo
Voice of the Faithful®
(Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, dbdoucette@votf.org)
Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in reforming administrative structures that have failed. VOTF’s mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. More information is at votf.org.

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