Posts Tagged catholic church

This April 2023 help Voice of the Faithful mark National Child Abuse Prevention Month

By Patricia T. Gomez, Ph.D., Voice of the Faithful Trustee and Protection of Children Working Group Co-Chair

The Voice of the Faithful Protection of Children Team continues its work to ensure the safety of children in our faith communities. Building on early VOTF efforts, we call attention to the importance of ongoing local efforts to maintain safe environments during April, which the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In recent years POC members have noted a de-emphasis on maintaining safe environments in our faith communities. This de-emphasis diverts us from the shame and horror that abuse of children occurred and persisted for so many years in our parishes. But the need to safeguard our children and those at risk remains constant.

This annual observance in April is a powerful reminder that urges ongoing Child Abuse Prevention efforts! Moreover, timely reminders prompt us to remain vigilant and renew our safe environment efforts. Especially during this month, we renew our commitment to protect children and the vulnerable among us in every diocese and faith community.


What can you do? Here are a few suggestions.

At the diocesan level: The POC team recommends looking at the abuse prevention measures posted on your diocesan website. Does your diocese promote the annual observance of National Child Abuse Prevention month in April? If not ask your diocesan safe environment coordinator to do so on the diocese’s website. Here is a link to resources on the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference website — Moreover, this is a timely reminder for us in the pews to evaluate diocesan child protection measures and to determine whether we are living out those measures in our local parish communities.

At the local level: Are the posted diocesan measures for abuse prevention and safe environments comprehensive and, most importantly, are they carried out in your faith community? Call your parish safe environment coordinator and start a conversation. A good place to begin is asking if your faith community provides annual abuse prevention training to catechists, lectors, and eucharistic ministers. Become an advocate for safe environments in your parish!

The VOTF Safety Sunday project provides short tips for publication in parish bulletins, especially during National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. Safe environment coordinators in many parishes have continued to utilize VOTF resources. Here is a link to April: Child Protection Month on VOTF’s webpage — Child Protection – Voice of The Faithful (

At the national level: VOTF calls for the enforcement of standards set in the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Essential Norms. And we call for transparency and change in faulted structures and attitudes that foment clericalism, especially the insular and authoritarian culture fostered in many dioceses.

Recently, the POC Team investigated how the U.S. institutional church presents efforts to prevent abuse and respond to those abused. We completed the first diocesan website review for Child Protection and Safe Environment efforts last spring. The review scored the performances of the 176 dioceses in the U.S. on a series of thirty-three questions. A link to the detailed findings from that review is available on VOTF’s Child Protection webpage — Child Protection – Voice of The Faithful ( The second annual review will take place later this year.

Results of this first review indicate the need to enhance diocesan child protection policies and safe environment measures. Actions by all are essential to keep children safe in our faith communities:

  • Clearly-stated, publicly-available, and comprehensive diocesan guidelines for safe environments will provide measurable standards that can be modeled in parishes and are essential to prevent further child abuse.
  • The USCCB should more frequently update its Charter and Norms.
  • The USCCB National Review Board should more closely monitor compliance with the bishops’ own standards for child protection by augmenting annual audits.
  • VOTF will continue to monitor diocesan child protection measures on annually.

Parishioners have a key role to ensure the protection of children in our parishes. We need to work with diocesan and parish safe environment personnel to bolster child protection guidelines at the diocesan level and ensure that safety measures are carried out in their faith communities.

Alive in the life of Jesus, the entire People of God can transform into a sacramental community where children, youth, and the vulnerable are nurtured and protected in safe environments.

Keep the faith; change the church!

Click here to read Voice of the Faithful’s Child Protection webpage …

Click here to donate today to support VOTF’s many programs and projects …

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Pope Francis faces chance to radically reshape U.S. Catholic hierarchy / National Catholic Reporter

Thirteen American archdioceses and 21 dioceses could need new bishops by 2025.

National Catholic Reporter

“If Pope Francis continues to serve as bishop of Rome for another two years, he may have a notable opportunity to refashion the U.S. Catholic hierarchy. Dozens of bishops, several in historically significant archdioceses, will be required by canon law to submit resignation letters upon turning 75.

“At least 13 archdioceses and 21 dioceses could have new episcopal appointments by February 2025. In addition, two dioceses — Fairbanks, Alaska, and Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana — are operating without bishops. The number of episcopal openings could increase because of deaths or resignations.

“If he names new bishops to all those local churches, Francis will have appointed 64 percent of the U.S. episcopate since becoming pope in March 2013. Forty-six percent of current U.S. bishops are Francis appointees, said Catherine Hoegeman, a Missouri State University sociology professor who tracks U.S. episcopal appointments.

“‘Over the next two years, it looks like Francis is going from [having appointed] a little less than half of active bishops to a little less than two-thirds. I think that’s a notable shift,’ said Hoegeman. Since 1969, she said, popes have made an average of 15 episcopal appointments every year in the United States.

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Mar. 16, 2023

Mar. 16, 2023


A look back at Pope Francis’ legacy as he marks 10 years of papacy
Pope Francis marks 10 years of his papacy on March 13. The 86-year-old pontiff has pushed the Catholic Church to the left, cheering many Catholics but also angering traditionalists. Tomorrow, Pope Francis will mark 10 years as leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics. NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports on the papacy that, over the last decade, has steered the church leftward after more than three decades of conservative leadership.” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio

Does the Catholic Church really believe women are people?
“It can seem simplistic to say that the life and dignity of people within the Church begins with baptism and must be respected. But when the Church makes statements that imply or directly state that women cannot image Christ, the Risen Lord, there is much to be criticized. While it may seem incomprehensible in current times to say that women cannot—do not—image Christ, this is the bedrock of the argument that women cannot receive sacramental ordination. The implications of this statement or belief are enormous. Its errors are equally enormous.” By Phyllis Zagano, U.S. Catholic

Illinois bishop’s provocative essay suggests Cardinal McElroy is a heretic
“In a provocative essay published Feb. 28 at First Things magazine, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, appears to accuse San Diego Cardinal Robert McElroy of heresy, citing the cardinal’s views on how the Catholic Church should minister to LGBTQ people and Catholics who have been divorced and remarried. Paprocki, a hardline conservative prelate and canon lawyer, does not mention McElroy by name in the essay, but quotes directly from a Jan. 24 article the cardinal wrote at America magazine. Repeating a phrase in an October document from the Synod of Bishops, McElroy had called for a church that favors ‘radical inclusion’ of everyone, including those whose personal situations may not strictly conform with church doctrine.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Future Pope John Paul covered up child sex abuse while cardinal: report
“The late Polish pope John Paul II knew about child abuse in Poland’s Catholic church years before becoming pontiff and helped cover it up, private broadcaster TVN reported Sunday (Mar. 5). Michal Gutowski, the investigator behind the broadcast, said that Karol Wojtyla, as he then was, knew of cases of pedophile priests within the church while still a cardinal in Krakow. He transferred the priests to other dioceses — one as far away as Austria — to ensure no scandal ensued, he said.” By Agence France Press in Barron’s

Papal advisor says ‘Vos estis,’ Francis’ key clergy abuse reform, ‘not working’
“One of Pope Francis’ key advisors on clergy sexual abuse admitted that the pontiff’s signature effort to confront abuse and cover-up is ‘very often’ not working, as part of a virtual conversation with Catholic abuse survivors on March 2. Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner spoke about Vos estis lux mundi, a sweeping set of laws issued by Francis in 2019, as part of a question-and-answer session with survivors of clergy sexual abuse sponsored by Awake Milwaukee, a Catholic group focused on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.” By Aleja Hertzler-McCain, National Catholic Reporter


Judge approves public release of Baltimore Catholic church sex abuse report with redactions
“A Baltimore Circuit Court judge ordered the redactions submitted by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office must be included in the report regarding sexual abuse in the Baltimore Archdiocese.” By WJZ-TV CBS News, Baltimore

Adams says ending exception for child abuse reporting forces clergy to choose between faith, jail
Lawmakers have proposed several bills this session that would end the clergy exception for reporting child abuse, but with less than a week before the Utah Legislature adjourns, none have been granted a public hearing. When asked why the bills — all of which were publicly released before the legislative session began in January — have yet to come up for discussion, Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said he doesn’t want to force clergy to choose between breaking a tenet of their faith or breaking state law.” By Bridger Beal-Cvetko,


Bishop Daniel Flores named to synod preparatory commission
“Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod, has named Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, and six others to be members of the preparatory commission for the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October. According to the apostolic constitution for the synods, the secretary-general establishes the commission ‘for further exploration of the theme and for the redaction of any documents that may be issued prior to the Synod Assembly.’” By OSV News in America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic Church: Germany’s controversial Synodial Way
“A small revolution? No, but the German Synodal Way has paved the way for reform to change Church practices on same-sex couples and lay preaching. ‘The Holy Spirit expresses itself, above all, in the wisdom of an assembly,’ said the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, at the end of the plenary assembly of the Synodal Path in Frankfurt Cathedral on Saturday. Three years ago, at the end of January 2020, a service in the same building marked the beginning of the first assembly of the Synodal Path: a long conversation between Christian laity and bishops to make the Catholic Church, which had been heavily shaken by a series of abuse scandals, more credible and fit for the future.” By Christof Strack, Deustche Welle

A gentle warning for Pope Francis critics (and cheerleaders): The Synod is about conversion, not winning an argument
“Recent heated conversations among Catholic leaders about inclusivity and the church’s teaching on sexual morality, particularly in response to Cardinal Robert W. McElroy’s recent articles on these subjects for America, raise a question: What is the point of the Synod on Synodality? If the point is clarifying theological debate, then it seems like an inefficient and painful way to rehash old arguments in moral theology. But is that the call of the Spirit to the church right now? If the point of the Synod – and more broadly a synodal way of the church – however, is conversion, then we desperately need that.” By Bill McCormick, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

The synod is missing something essential: other churches
“The unprecedented worldwide consultation now underway in our church promises to be the most influential religious event of the 21st century … Never before has our church’s leadership so clearly desired to learn ‘the sense of the faithful.’ Never before has it implemented such a detailed, methodical process to discern that sense … The ‘National Synthesis’ reveals, however, that we have drastically limited our vision of reform and the resources available to accomplish it. We have ignored the gifts and graces of our sisters and brothers in other churches.” By Jon Nilson, America: The Jesuit Review

Bishops, theologians talk frankly about synodality at Boston College conference
“For the second consecutive year, dozens of theologians and bishops from across the United States gathered together to discuss how the Catholic Church can better live out the synodal path that Pope Francis has said is what ‘God expects of the church of the third millennium.’ The conference, “The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality,” was held March 3-4 at Boston College. Several bishops over the event’s two days were forthright in describing their thoughts and experiences during the local consultative process of the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops on synodality, noting challenges during the process and some resistance to the synod.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Official of Synod of Bishops advocates for ‘an African theology of synodality’
“The Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops is advocating for ‘an African theology of synodality,’ which he says would have a positive impact to the Catholic Church across the globe. In his speech at the ongoing Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on Thursday, March 2, Mario Cardinal Grech acknowledged with appreciation the ‘significant resources’ on the African continent that can benefit the Universal Church.” By ACI Africa Staff

The most defining characteristic of Francis’ papacy is synodality
“In assessing the pontificate of Francis at the 10-year mark, we have looked at his self-understanding of the papal role as a pastor, his placement of mercy at the heart of his teaching, and his efforts to reform the church. All three themes find their fullest ecclesial expression in Francis’ commitment to synodality. Commonweal senior writer Paul Baumann recalled a written symposium sponsored by The Wall Street Journal in the weeks after Pope Benedict XVI resigned but before Francis was elected. Several Catholic writers (including myself) were asked what the Catholic Church needed in its new pope. George Weigel said we needed a ‘culture warrior.’ In a sense, Weigel got his wish, albeit not in the sense he intended!” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Pope Francis’ decade of division
“Lent is with us, and so is the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ ascent to the papal throne — an appropriate conjunction, since these are days of tribulation for his papacy. There is the two-front war that Rome finds itself fighting on doctrine and liturgy, trying to squash the church’s Latin Mass traditionalists while more gently restraining the liberal German bishops from forcing a schism on Catholicism’s leftward flank.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Pope Francis’ papacy in his own words
“Below are some memorable quotes from Pope Francis, who marks the 10th anniversary of his election as pontiff on March 13. The quotes are arranged according to subjects that have cropped up during his papacy, in chronological order within each theme.” By Reuters

Catholic paradigm shift: 10 years of Pope Francis dismantling the papal court
“Just months after his election in 2013, Pope Francis announced he would break with 400 years of tradition and would no longer spend summer holidays at Castel Gandolfo, a papal villa outside of Rome, instead preferring to remain at the Vatican and work through the summer months. In a January 2023 interview with the Associated Press, Francis cited his decision not to move to the summer palace, saying, ‘Castel Gandolfo was a bit of a court. The court spirit. In June, the court was moving there as from London you go to Scotland, the court. It’s that kind of court idea. It’s the last absolute court in Europe.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

The evolution of Pope Francis on women: some movement, but more needed
“Pope Francis is a synodal pope. It may have taken the church 10 years to recognize that, but his papacy has been a constellation of synods leading the church both into and out of darkness … Francis is a man who has changed his mind. Call it dialogue, encounter, accompaniment or whatever buzzword you like; Francis has modeled leadership that listens. While not the fireworks of change that many pray for, nor the revolution that women need, it is movement. Particularly after decades of spiritual stagnation and silencing endured under previous papacies, Francis is equally on the journey he calls the church to embark on through synodality.” By Kate McElwee, national Catholic Reporter

Close friend, aide says Pope Francis has left pastoral imprint on the Church
“One of Pope Francis’s closest friends and aides has said that after ten years, the pontiff has left an indisputably Jesuit mark on the church and has propelled Catholicism into a more open conversation with the world, eliciting criticism but also distinguishing himself as a pastor and a global moral authority. Speaking to Crux, fellow Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, Editor in Chief of the Jesuit-run periodical La Civiltà Cattolica, said he believes that as the tenth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election approaches, ‘it seems that a great parrhesia has developed in the church, which is exactly what the pope asked and is asking for.’” By Elise Ann Allen,

‘Sorry’ is not enough: Abuse victims need answers, support, pope says
“It is not enough to ask people who have suffered abuse for their forgiveness, Pope Francis said.
They also must be offered ‘concrete actions to repair the horrors they have suffered and to prevent them from happening again’ as well as the truth, transparency, safe spaces, psychological support and protection, the pope said in a video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network March 2. ‘The church must serve as a model to help solve the issue and bring it to light in society and in families,’ he said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis dedicates March to praying for victims of abuse
“In his latest prayer video, Pope Francis dedicated the month of march to praying for victims of abuse, saying simply asking forgiveness is not enough, but the church must put victims first and avoid coverup. In his video, released March 2, Pope Francis said that in response to abuse cases, specifically abuse committed by members and representatives of the church, ‘it’s not enough to ask for forgiveness.’” By Elise Ann Allen,


Cardinal McElroy on how Pope Francis has changed the church – and why some U.S. bishops are opposed to it
“‘In Pope Francis’ pontificate, the global south is present in a radically new and prominent way in the life of the church,’ Cardinal Robert W. McElroy told Gerard O’Connell, America’s Vatican correspondent, in an exclusive hourlong interview via Zoom on March 4. ‘There has been a fundamental shift in perspective, of cultures, and sometimes of priorities, within the life of the church.’ Cardinal McElroy reflects on the first 10 years of Francis’ leadership of the Catholic Church, shares his impressions of the Argentine pope as a person and the changes he has ushered for the papacy, the Roman Curia and the universal church over the past decade.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Cardinal Cupich on 10 years of Pope Francis: women, LGBT Catholics, sex abuse and what comes next
“When Pope Francis named Blase Cupich as archbishop of Chicago in 2014, some interpreted the appointment as a signal that the pope sought to reorient the U.S. hierarchy. Francis, who was elected pope 10 years ago on Monday (Mar. 13), has spent the last decade reforming the Vatican bureaucracy and trying to implement his vision of a church that acts as what he describes as a field hospital, responding with mercy to the needs of ordinary Catholics. In the United States, home to a vocal group of Catholics who have challenged Francis’ vision, Cardinal Cupich has proven a key papal ally, acting as an interpreter of the pope’s message for Catholics here and advising Francis on key matters, including the appointment of new bishops and the church’s handling of sexual abuse allegations.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope renews cabinet of cardinal advisors, adds new members
“Pope Francis has renewed his cabinet of cardinal advisers from around the world, naming a handful of new members Tuesday (Mar. 7) and reconfirming others to help him run the Catholic Church. Francis instituted the Council of Cardinals one month into his papacy, on April 13, 2013, with a primary goal of advising him on the reform of the Vatican bureaucracy. After nearly a decade of consultation, Francis issued a new blueprint for the Vatican bureaucracy last year.” By Associated Press in Religion News Service

Cardinal McElroy responds to his critics on sexual sin, the Eucharist, and LGBT and divorced/remarried Catholics
“In January, America published an article I wrote on the theme of inclusion in the life of the church. Since that time, the positions I presented have received both substantial support and significant opposition … I seek in this article to wrestle with some of these criticisms so that I might contribute to the ongoing dialogue on this sensitive question—which will no doubt continue to be discussed throughout the synodal process.” By Robert W. McElroy, America: The Jesuit Review


Implications of fall-off in priest numbers outlined in two rural Catholic dioceses
“The stark decline in the number of priests has been outlined in a Lenten pastoral letter by Bishop of Achonry Paul Dempsey, while the Bishop of Ferns, Ger Nash, has appealed to people to personally attend Masses as they did before the Covid-19 pandemic. Achonry diocese, one of the smallest and most rural in Ireland, covering parishes in Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon, has had no ordination in 10 years and has no seminarian currently studying for the priesthood. ‘At best, there will be 12 priests serving in the 23 parishes of our diocese in 10 years time,’ Bishop Dempsey said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Bishop says priests would rather go to jail if state requires violation of confessional seal
“Two states are currently considering legislation that amends mandatory reporter laws to force Catholic priests and other religious clergy to divulge information about sexual abuse, even when the priest learned of the abuse while hearing a confession. Bills currently under consideration in the Washington and Vermont legislatures would make all clergy in the state mandatory reporters of sexual abuse and would remove so-called clergy-penitent privilege, which otherwise exempts religious ministers from reporting anything that is heard in confession.” By Jeremiah Poff, Washington Examiner


Pope Francis understands, appreciates and trusts women religious
“‘What would the church be without religious sisters and consecrated laywomen?’ These were the words of Pope Francis in a video released Feb. 1, 2022, to mark his prayer intention for the month to be for consecrated women. Pope Francis insisted in the video that ‘the church cannot be understood without them’ — religious women and consecrated laywomen! Again, Pope Francis encouraged women religious to fight when they are treated unfairly, even within the church. This is a bold move from the pope of a church whose culture over the centuries has ensured women maintained a low profile with regard to crucial decision-making.” By Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


On Women’s Day, church challenged to open new forms of leadership
“As the world observed International Women’s Day, the Catholic Church was challenged to open more space for women in leadership, with some groups calling for access to priestly ordination and the ability to preach at Mass, as well as modifications to teachings on sexual morality. Pope Francis himself observed International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, during his Wednesday general audience, during which he thanked women ‘for their commitment to building a more human society through their capacity to welcome reality with a creative gaze and tender heart.’” By Elise Ann Allen,

Pope says equal opportunities for women are key to a better world
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Mar. 8) decried violence and prejudice against women and said granting equal pay and opportunities could help create a more peaceful world, as a new survey of Catholic women showed that many felt the Church discriminated against them. In a book preface published by the Vatican News website on International Women’s Day, Francis stressed the differences between men and women but called for ‘equality in diversity’ on ‘a playing field open to all players.’” By Gavin Jones and Philip Pullella, Reuters

Small victories as women challenge Vatican patriarchy
“Once a rare sight in the Vatican’s halls of power, women are increasingly being seen in senior posts under Pope Francis, but the gender battle is far from won. The centuries-old institution has an inherently patriarchal image, from the Swiss Guards at the gates to the cardinals seated in St Peter’s Square. It reflects the wider Roman Catholic Church, which outlaws divorce, abortion and the ordination of women.” By Agence France Presse

Women play decisive role in Vatican diplomacy, says official
“Women play an increasingly ‘decisive’ role in Vatican diplomacy and promoting peace worldwide, said the undersecretary in the Vatican’s foreign ministry office. In an interview published March 3 by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Francesca Di Giovanni reflected on her tenure as the first woman named to a managerial position in the Secretariat of State. Pope Francis appointed Di Giovanni to her role in January 2020, after working in the Secretariat of State for 27 years.” By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service, on

Catholic women’s cries for change to be heard at the Vatican on International Women’s Day
“The most extensive global survey of Catholic women ever undertaken, detailing experiences of women in the church, will be presented by Australian researchers in-person at the Vatican this International Women’s Day. The newly published International Survey of Catholic Women (ISCW) comprises more than 17,000 responses from participants across 104 countries. Led by Drs Tracy McEwan and Kathleen McPhillips from the University of Newcastle, Australia, the report details 20 key findings and further presents 14 key recommendations from the responses.” By The University of Newcastle News


Diocese renews commitment to be a ‘leading light’ for safety
“Parramatta Diocese has become the first Catholic entity to be accredited as a safe environment for children and adults at risk. Over the past 12 months, the diocese’s chancery office participated in Quality Innovation Performance’s (QIP) Standards for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults pilot program. The chancery was audited against measurable standards based on the 10 principles for child-safe organizations recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.” By


Catholic Church and reform
Most Catholic Church leaders in Germany are convinced of the urgent need for change as record numbers of followers quit. Last year, 350,000 Catholics left the church. But the Vatican is putting the brakes on the reform process.” By Deutsche Welle

Vatican draws new red lines in dispute over church reforms in Germany
“The conflict between Catholic reformers in Germany and the headquarters of the church in Rome continued to escalate as the Vatican issued a new stop signal at the start of the spring plenary meeting of the German Bishops’ Conference in Dresden on Monday (Feb. 27). The pope’s ambassador to Germany, Nuncio Nikola Eterovic, reiterated Roman concerns in his welcoming address and drew new red lines. The president of the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, had insisted shortly beforehand that the bishops wanted to stick to the reform process despite all the opposition to it.” By KNA International in America: The Jesuit Review


The way forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality
“A major conference at Boston College earlier this month, co-hosted by the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, is believed to be the largest gathering of Catholic leadership at a college campus in the nation’s history. ‘The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality,’ which took place March 3-4, brought together 80 participants—including cardinals, bishops, and other Catholic Church leaders, as well as theologians, historians, and journalists—to discuss synodality, the call by Pope Francis for the universal Church to ‘walk together,’ to continue the reception of Vatican II, and to embrace the ecclesiological challenges facing the Church.” By Phil Gloudemans, University Communications, Boston College

German Catholic bishops back blessings for same-sex couples
“Delegates of a synodal assembly on the reform of the Catholic Church adopted a paper to allow blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples from 2026. The Synodal Assembly — which is focused on reforming the Church — adopted a paper in Frankfurt on Friday (Mar. 10) to allow for same-sex couples to have their relationships blessed by the German Catholic Church from 2026. Of the 202 members of the Synodal Assembly, 176 voted in favor of the paper, while 14 against and 12 abstained.” By Deustche Welle

Vatican statistics show decline in clergy, religious women, worldwide
“The number of Catholics and permanent deacons in the world rose in 2021, while the number of seminarians, priests, and men and women in religious orders declined, according to Vatican statistics. At the end of 2021, the number of Catholics in the world reached 1.378 billion, up 1.3 percent from 1.36 billion Catholics at the end of 2020, according to the Vatican’s Central Office of Church Statistics. By contrast, the world’s population increased by 1.6 percent over the same period. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published a brief overview of the global numbers March 3. The number of seminarians, priests, and men and women in religious orders declined in 2021, according to the Vatican’s Central Office of Church Statistics, which released its latest numbers March 3, 2023.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Review


Dramatic week for financial reform answers old questions, asks new ones
“Pope Francis’s campaign for financial reform in the Vatican continued this week on multiple fronts, from the courtroom to new legislation, appearing both to answer old questions and raise new ones in roughly equal measure. In the Vatican’s ongoing ‘trial of the century,’ featuring charges of financial corruption against ten defendants, including Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Thursday (Mar. 9) brought the release of 2021 correspondence between Becciu and Francis, in which the pontiff refused to endorse Becciu’s version of events on two transactions at the heart of the present trial.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,


Pope Francis says married priests possible, calls celibacy a ‘temporary prescription’
“Pope Francis has called celibacy for priests a ‘temporary prescription,’ signaling a potential end to a centuries-old requirement of the Roman Catholic Church that the clergy should not marry. The Argentine-born pontiff made the comments in an interview Friday (Mar. 10) just before he marked the 10th anniversary of his elevation to the papacy, a tenure marked by laical and clerical disputes over homosexuality, the ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal, Communion for pro-choice politicians and the traditional Latin Mass, among other contentious issues.” By Mark Kellner, Washington Times


I’m an abuse survivor. Pope Francis met with me and changed my life.
“When I try to describe what Pope Francis means to me, I immediately think that I should write something a theologian would say, smart and peppered with citations. I am no theologian, but my story with Francis does have an episode from the New Testament that serves as a lens for me and is probably familiar to all of you. Jesus was called to Bethany by his friends Martha and Mary because their brother Lazarus had died. He had been dead for four days, and when Jesus went to the grave, he resurrected him, and Lazarus continued his life. So yes, I do feel like Lazarus. I am a regular person who has received way too much; therefore, I have a duty to return all I can.” By Juan Carlos Cruz Chellew, National Catholic Reporter


After years of defeat, Senate committee gives near unanimous recommendation to move child sexual abuse bill to full chamber
“As each Maryland senator with the Judicial Proceedings Committee cast their yes vote, David Lorenz cried and embraced his wife, Judy. That’s because the committee voted 10-1 on Friday (Mar. 10) to advance a bill that would retroactively, as well as prospectively, repeal statutes of limitation on lawsuits by plaintiffs who claim they suffered child sexual abuse. Lorenz, who pushed to get this legislation passed for 15 years, suffered abuse as a teenager when he attended a private school in Kentucky.” By William J. Ford, Maryland Matters


Catholic watchdog names bishops tied to sex abuse and urges pope to act
“Prominent researchers of accountability for clergy sexual abuse called on Pope Francis on Wednesday (Mar. 15) to release the names of bishops investigated by the Vatican since the implementation of 2019 rules that overhauled how the church responds to abuse accusations. The watchdog group,, criticized the pope at a news conference for failing to give a ‘full accounting’ of the impact of the revised rules, which they called a landmark effort to combat abuse. The organization also released a list, based on news reports from around the world, of 40 bishops who have been investigated under the four-year-old law.” By Marisa Iati, The Washington Post

Pope Francis tells bishops of Latin America, where new sex abuse protectioins aren’t in place, to make it a priority
“Pope Francis has again emphasized the importance that all the local churches fully implement the norms to protect minors and combat sexual abuse in the church that he issued in the 2019 decree ‘Vos Estis Lux Mundi.’ He did so today in a message to participants at the second Latin American Congress on the prevention of abuse that is being held in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, March 14 to 16. ‘Your work in favor of protection of the most vulnerable is urgent and essential,’ he said.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis has done many great things. But on sex abuse, he hasn’t done enough.
“My mother used to say that a man will sit in his living room and talk about how to save the world, while his wife is outside with a hammer and nails, fixing the front steps. Ten years into the Francis papacy and this is how I feel, as a member of the church, and specifically as a woman in the church. We’ve been hearing these living room lectures for a decade now. We’ve heard about openness and going out to the margins and smelling like the sheep and not judging, and we’ve heard about reform.” By Simcha Fisher, America: The Jesuit Review

NOW is the Time Sexual Abuse Victims Can Get Justice in New York
“As of November 24, the Adult Survivors Act (ASA) went into effect in New York State, allowing survivors of sexual offenses one year to file civil claims for cases that occurred even decades ago. The Adult Survivors Act was signed into law in May and removes the statute of limitations for certain civil claims regarding past sexual offenses between November 24, 2022, and November 24, 2023, regardless of when the alleged crime took place. If you were raped or abused, at or after age 18, anywhere in New York state, at any time, by anyone, you now have a chance to file a civil lawsuit … The Adult Survivors Act does not reopen the opportunity for a criminal prosecution, but victims can seek justice through the civil court system. This may sound ‘too good to be true.’ But believe us, it is not.” By Adam Horowitz Law on


Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese files for bankruptcy citing child sexual abuse cases
“The Diocese of Santa Rosa filed for bankruptcy Monday (Mar. 13), citing new lawsuits from more than 200 survivors of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests. In this petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed this morning, the Diocese of Santa Rosa estimates its assets between $10 and $50 million, and its liabilities to be the same because of a flood of new lawsuits from survivors of clergy sexual abuse. ABC7 News spoke with Santa Rosa’s bishop but also to survivors and their attorneys who believe the church is trying to avoid responsibility for horrific abuse by priests.” By Dan Noyes, ABC-TV7 News


Diocese condemns Delaware bill requiring priests to break the seal of confession
“The Delaware General Assembly is considering a bill that would require Roman Catholic priests to break the seal of confession to report child abuse and neglect, prompting condemnation from the Diocese of Wilmington. House Bill 74, the sponsors of which include state Senate President Pro Tempore David P. Sokola, could be heard before the House Judiciary Committee within weeks, according to OSV News.” By Jon Brown, Fox News


South suburban Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing minor decades ago
“A Catholic priest in south suburban Evergreen Park has agreed to step aside from ministry while authorities investigate an allegation that he sexually abused a minor as a layman decades ago, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Rev. Paul Guzman serves as associate pastor Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Evergreen Park. Archbishop Blase Cupich informed parishioners of the claim in a letter, saying the Archdiocese was informed of the allegation while Guzman was overseas on military duty.” By Matt Stefanski, NBC Chicago


Six more women sue the Main Catholic diocese for allegations of sex abuse
“Six more women have sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, alleging that a Portland priest abused them between 1958 and 1967 when they were between 5 and 11 years old. Ann Allen, 64, of Scarborough filed a suit in December, saying that the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino had assaulted her in the 1960s and that the church failed to prevent it. Allen’s suit names the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and its head, Bishop Robert Deeley, as defendants.” By Julie Harris, Bangor Daily News

Commentary: For how much longer can the Portland diocese play dumb?
“People are fond of saying, ‘That wouldn’t happen today.’ Occasionally this is offered in wistful remembrance of one or other bygone practice. More often it’s said with relief, a reassuring statement, some clear contemplation of how much more we know, now, how far we have come, how thresholds of acceptability have changed. Six civil complaints filed last week allege that the late Rev. Lawrence Sabatino abused plaintiffs in Lewiston and Portland when they were between 5 and 11 years old in the 1950s and 1960s. This brings to 20 the number of childhood sexual abuse lawsuits recently filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.” By Siobhan Brett, Editorial Page Editor, Portland Press Herald


An investigation of abuse by 150 priests of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will soon be released
“The Archdiocese of the Baltimore Catholic Church has been the subject of an investigation for sexual abuse. After a four-year grand jury investigation, a judge will soon release details of what children and young adults endured over the past 80 years. Member station WYPR’s Scott Maucione has our report … What we heard from survivors was that the abuse changed their lives. It marked them for life.” By Scott Maucione, National Public Radio


Michigan priest sentenced to prison for sexual abuse of second-grader
“A priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit has been sentenced for the rape of an elementary student at the Catholic school attached to the parish he served as pastor in the mid-2000s. ‘We trust the judgment of the court. We pray for everybody involved,’ Ned McGrath, director of public affairs at the Archdiocese of Detroit, told CNA March 2. ‘Our priority in all of these cases is always the victim-survivors.’” By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency


Albuquerque priest cleared in 2019 church abuse case
“A man who filed a 2019 lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused at a Downtown Albuquerque church has admitted that he misidentified a Jesuit priest he named as his abuser, resulting in the case’s dismissal, court records show. A district judge tossed the suit in February after the plaintiff — identified as John Doe 124 — admitted last year he had misidentified the Rev. J. Patrick Hough as his abuser.” By Olivier Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal


NY diocese facing flood of lawsuits files for bankruptcy
“The embattled Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany became the latest diocese in New York to seek bankruptcy protection Wednesday (Mar. 15) as it faces hundreds of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger announced the Chapter 11 filing after months of negotiations between the upstate New York diocese and lawyers representing plaintiffs over a potential settlement. The Albany diocese, like others in the state, is dealing with a deluge of lawsuits dating to when New York temporarily suspended the statute of limitations to give victims of childhood abuse the ability to pursue even decades-old allegations against clergy members, teachers, Boy Scout leaders and others.” By Michael Hill, Associated Press

Defrocked, ex-con priest who stole $300K heads NYC nonprofits with city contracts
“A defrocked, ex-con priest who was a diocesan spin doctor at the height of the Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal now heads a pair of New York City nonprofits which have raked in millions in taxpayer cash. Edward Bolognini, who used to be a high-ranking New Hampshire holy man named Edward Arsenault, pled guilty in 2014 to stealing some $300,000 from a Catholic hospital, his diocese and a dead priest’s estate.” By Melissa Klein, New York Post


Diocese of Steubenville adds former priest to list of those credibly accused of abuse; critics say it’s too little, too late
“The Diocese of Steubenville announced on March 3 that they added a former priest to their list of clergy who were credibly accused of abuse, but SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused By Priests, says this declaration is ‘far too little and far too late.’ Jeffrey M. Monforton, Bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville announced in the diocese’s newspaper, The Steubenville Register, that Monsignor Mark J. Froelich, a retired diocesan priest, was added to the Diocese of Steubenville’s List of Priests Accused of Abuse.” By Karen Compton,


Sexual abuse investigation of Rapid City priest ends
“The investigation of a Catholic priest who was accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in South Dakota has ended; and while the allegation couldn’t be proven, the Church stated the priest will ‘remain out of public ministry.’ Rev. Michel Mulloy was removed from public ministry in August 2020 following the allegation presented to the Diocese of Rapid City that a minor was abused in the early 1980s. Mulloy had served in the dioceses of Sioux Falls and Rapid City, where he was vicar general. The allegation came around the time Mulloy was named bishop-elect of the Diocese of Duluth. He resigned from that post the next month, September 2020.” By KVEN-TV News


Documentary on priestly abuse of children focuses on Wisconsin
“In her documentary, Manufacturing the Clerical Predator, director-activist Sarah Pearson puts the spotlight on Southeast Wisconsin, especially through the experience of Kevin Wester. Although he was molested repeatedly at age 12 by a Roman Catholic priest, he took the vows himself and served in the ministry for more than 10 years before being released from the priesthood in 2007. His account of the abuse he endured is harrowing, his fear of speaking up (it happened during the ‘70s in a small Catholic town) is revealing, and his eagerness to pursue the vocation a testimony to blinding power of faith.” By David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express


Catholic church uses pedophile’s death to try to block NSW survivor’s lawsuit
“The Catholic church is attempting to use the death of a pedophile, who had been jailed for the abuse of 17 children, to shield itself from further civil claims from his survivors. In recent months, the church has adopted an increasingly aggressive approach to survivors in cases where pedophile clergy have died. It has sought to capitalize on a recent decision in New South Wales’s highest court that ruled a priest’s death meant the church could not receive a fair trial in a claim brought by a woman known as GLJ.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian


Nearly 200 church sex abuse victims get compensation from France’s Catholic Church
About 190 victims of child sexual abuse by priests or other church representatives have been promised financial compensation so far from France’s Catholic Church under a sweeping reparations program, the independent body in charge of the process said Thursday (Mar. 9). A report from the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation, or INIRR, said 11 other people received other types of reparations. Hundreds of other cases are still awaiting review. More than 1,180 victims of priests or other church representatives have come forward to claim compensation since the body was established.” By Associated Press on FOX News


Peterborough priest Dennis Finbow jailed for child sexual abuse
“A 74-year-old Catholic priest has been jailed for abusing a young girl in the 1980s despite trying to dismiss the claims as ‘nonsense.’ Dennis Finbow was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault against a girl aged between 10 and 13 while he worked in Dogsthorpe in Peterborough. Judge Philip Grey told him he had been ‘unmasked for what you really were.’ Finbow, of Bealings Road, Martlesham, near Ipswich, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.” By BBC News

Pedophile Catholic priest spared jail after abusing four your girls at Glasgow churches and his home
“A shamed priest who sexually abused four girls walked free from court today. Father Neil McGarrity, 58, preyed on his victims at two churches in Glasgow as well as his parish home in the city. McGarrity played ‘footsie’ under the table with one of the girls and was caught in a ‘prolonged embrace’ with another. The priest of 33 years, from city’s Maryhill, also touched and rubbed the girls with one victim claiming he hugged her while sat on a couch.” By Connor Gordon and Harry Williamson, The Scottish Sun


Irish bishops ‘welcome’ government inquiry in abuse in schools run by religious orders
“Bishops in Ireland have welcomed the announcement by the Irish government of a ‘scoping inquiry’ to shape the government’s response to revelations of historical sexual abuse in schools run by religious orders. Minister for Education Norma Foley announced the inquiry on Tuesday (Mar. 7), saying it is ‘vitally important that survivors of historical child sexual abuse have the opportunity to be heard in full, and with appropriate respect and sensitivity.’” By Charles Collins,


Poland’s Catholic church to appoint ‘team of independent experts’ to investigate abuse
“Poland’s Catholic episcopate will appoint a group of experts to investigate the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. The decision follows new claims that the future Pope John Paul II was negligent on the issue while serving as archbishop of Kraków. ‘The bishops have decided to start work on appointing a team of independent experts to undertake an investigation into the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy in the church in Poland,’ announced Archbishop Wojciech Polak, who is the primate of Poland.” By Notes from Poland

Pope John Paul II’s handling of sex abuse needs ‘further research,’ says Poland’s Catholic church
“Further research is needed into John Paul II’s response to cases of child sex abuse in order to establish a ‘fair assessment,’ Poland’s Catholic episcopate has announced in the wake of a new report alleging that the future pope showed neglect in dealing with the issue while serving as the archbishop of Kraków. One Polish archbishop, however, has offered a sterner response, describing the new claims as an attempt by ‘gender ideologists, supporters of abortion’ and other enemies of the church to ‘destroy’ John Paul II’s legacy. Poland’s prime minister has also come to the late pope’s defense.” By


Portuguese bishops offer mixed reactions to abuse report
“Two dioceses in Portugal decided to suspend priests accused of child abuse by an independent commission investigating decades of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The Diocese of Angra, in the Azores, suspended two priests. The Diocese of Evora received charges against two priests as well, but one of them is deceased. The cases involve the sexual abuse of seminarians.” By Eduardo Campos Lima,

Portuguese bishops announce steps to end sexual abuse in the Church
“The bishops of Portugal on Friday (Mar. 3) began taking concrete steps to respond to a damning investigative report last month that estimated well over 4,000 children have been victims of sexual abuse within the country’s Catholic Church since the 1950s. Meeting in a plenary assembly in Fátima, the Portuguese Episcopal Conference announced the creation of all-lay diocesan commissions and a memorial to victims that will be unveiled during World Youth Day, taking place in Lisbon Aug. 1–6, among other measures.” By Clara Raimundo, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report


Spain’s ombudsman registers 445 church sex abuse complaints
“Spain’s ombudsman said Monday (Mar. 13) that an independent commission set up a year ago to investigate historic sex abuse by the Catholic church has collected testimonies from 445 victims, as the nation tackles an issue other European countries acted on long ago. Spain’s parliament voted on March 10, 2022, to open the first official investigation, led by ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo, into the extent of sexual abuse committed by priests and church officials. The government was forced to act after allegations of abuse involving more than 1,200 victims were published in Spanish newspaper El País, provoking public outrage.” By Associated Press

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Bishops, theologians talk frankly about synodality at Boston College conference / National Catholic Reporter

‘It’s not enough simply to maintain and adapt what has existed until now; it is necessary to creat something new,’ Rafael Luciani

National Catholic Reporter

“For the second consecutive year, dozens of theologians and bishops from across the United States gathered together to discuss how the Catholic Church can better live out the synodal path that Pope Francis has said is what ‘God expects of the church of the third millennium.’ The conference, ‘The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality,’ was held March 3-4 at Boston College.

“Several bishops over the event’s two days were forthright in describing their thoughts and experiences during the local consultative process of the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops on synodality, noting challenges during the process and some resistance to the synod. (The bishops spoke in conversations that were under the ‘Chatham House Rule,’ meaning that journalists covering the event were free to report on the discussions but not identify who made any particular comment. The rule is intended to encourage open and frank discussion.)

“One bishop said he felt a tension between listening to people’s unvarnished thoughts about the church and his understanding of his role to be a ‘conservator’ or defender of Catholic doctrine.

“Another bishop commented that better catechesis must be a part of the synodal process moving forward because most participants in his diocese saw the Catholic Church more as an institution than a spiritual communion.”

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

Read also, “Boston College conference didn’t just discuss synodality. Bishops and theologians modeled it,” by Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

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Catholic women’s cries for change to be heard at the Vatican on International Women’s Day / University of Newcastle News

The most extensive global survey of Catholic women ever undertaken, detailing experiences of women in the church, will be presented by Australian researchers in-person at the Vatican this International Women’s Day (March 8, 2023).

University of Newcastle News

‘The newly published International Survey of Catholic Women (ISCW) comprises more than 17,000 responses from participants across 104 countries.

‘Led by Drs. Tracy McEwan and Kathleen McPhillips from the University of Newcastle, Australia, the report details 20 key findings and further presents 14 key recommendations from the responses.

“‘The survey captured the complex diversity, insights, and shared concerns of thousands of Catholic women from around the world,’ Dr McEwan explained.

“‘We asked about identity, views on church reform and various issues impacting women, including women in church leadership and sexual abuse, among many other things.

“‘We found even when women have considerable struggles with Catholic institutions, nearly 90 per cent said their Catholic identity is important to them. Many continue to practice their faith despite significant concern, frustration and dissatisfaction with the institutional church,’ she said.”

By University of Newcastle News — Read more ...

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Does the Catholic Church really believe women are people? / U.S. Catholic

We cannot forget that “God created humankind in his image… male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). The imago dei implies, in fact, requires, a single-nature anthropology that recognizes male and female persons existing equally. Even canon law allows for this fact with the first canon in the section describing the rights and duties of the Christian faithful …

By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., U.S. Catholic

“It can seem simplistic to say that the life and dignity of people within the Church begins with baptism and must be respected. But when the Church makes statements that imply or directly state that women cannot image Christ, the Risen Lord, there is much to be criticized.”It can seem simplistic to say that the life and dignity of people within the Church begins with baptism and must be respected. But when the Church makes statements that imply or directly state that women cannot image Christ, the Risen Lord, there is much to be criticized.

“While it may seem incomprehensible in current times to say that women cannot—do not—image Christ, this is the bedrock of the argument that women cannot receive sacramental ordination. The implications of this statement or belief are enormous. Its errors are equally enormous.

“To begin with, men and women are ontologically equal. That is, all human beings, all persons, are equal before God. Because they are equal—male and female—one cannot be subordinated to the other. While history is rife with heretical statements of ontological subordination, their existence and expulsion from Church teaching supports the essential point that men and women, while not the same, are equal.”

By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., U.S. Catholic — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Mar. 2, 2023

Mar. 2, 2023


New archive of Santa Fe clergy abuse documents hailed as unprecedented
“An unprecedented public archive of clergy sexual abuse documents is being established at the University of New Mexico thanks to a collaborative agreement between abuse survivors and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. The archive, documenting one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s epicenters of sexual abuse and coverup, is the result of a commitment Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester made to the creditors’ committee that represented clergy sex abuse claimants in the archdiocese’s concluding Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.” By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, National Catholic Reporter

The Catholic Church in crisis
“As the shockwaves of last week’s revelations about child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Portugal subside somewhat, it is worth remembering that Catholicism has been at the forefront of atrocious behavior towards children for centuries. The Catholic Church has certainly not been the only religious or political entity involved in inhumane activity, and historical records are just a backdrop to the moral misconduct in recent decades that has at last been highlighted by those Catholics who have courageously lifted the veil of silence on abuse.” By Len Port,

New suit alleges San Diego Catholic diocese transferred assets to avoid sex abuse claims
“A law firm representing alleged sexual abuse victims in California is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, claiming the diocese fraudulently moved around real estate assets in an attempt to hide its wealth and avoid paying child sex abuse claims. The suit, filed Tuesday (Feb. 21) by the Zalkin Law Firm in San Diego County Superior Court on behalf of more than 100 plaintiffs, alleges that the diocese transferred at least 291 real estate parcels, with a total tax-assessed value of more than $453 million, to parish corporations in order to defraud creditors at a time when the diocese was aware of ‘significant claims’ by victims of childhood sex abuse.” By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

Pope Francis has opened the door to real Church reform but hasn’t stepped through
“The 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis offers an opportunity to consider the contributions and missteps of this remarkable pontificate. As a comprehensive assessment is impossible, I will consider the related contributions of this pontificate to the theology, structure, and exercise of ministry and authority. From the beginning of his pontificate Francis has emphasized the priority of Christian baptism … For the pope, ‘laicity’ is not a negative term, identifying the non-ordained; rather it identifies the fundamental missionary calling conferred upon all of us in baptism.” By Richard Gaillardetz, National Catholic Reporter


Synod process in North America coming to close, shows ‘deep love for Jesus Christ and church,’ says bishop
“The latest phase of the 2021-24 Synod on Synodality is coming to a close, with a final document to be written over the next six weeks and submitted to the Vatican by March 31. On Feb. 17, the North American Synod Team, led by bishops from Canada and the United States, wrapped up a weeklong retreat in Orlando, Fla., to synthesize the results of synod listening sessions throughout the two countries. The team — eight bishops, three laywomen, two priests, two laymen and two women religious — spent time in prayer, discernment and discussion to distill responses for inclusion in the text, which forms a response to the Document for the Continental Stage issued by the Vatican’s general secretariat of the synod in October 2022.” By Gina Christian, OSV News, on

Is the Holy Spirit leading you – or driving you – into synodality?

“The question isn’t whether or not we are all going to be changed by the synodal process, which is what many people hope for and some others fear. The question is whether we trust in the divine action of the Holy Spirit among the body of Christ. Do we actually believe in the sensus fidelium, the ‘sense of the faithful’ that is a gift shared by all the baptized? Or do we mistakenly think that only ordained clergy or vowed religious or Christians of a certain ideological stripe have access to the inspiration of the Spirit?” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

Francis & the ‘elitist’ German synod: why the pope’s criticism is so striking
“Pope Francis has given countless interviews, but over the past few years he has rarely spoken to the public at large about the ongoing synodal process that he initiated in 2021. One exception is the January 25 interview he gave to the Associated Press, in which he talked about the Synodal Path in Germany. He didn’t delve into the specifics of the calls for reform the German bishops are addressing, such as the teaching on sexuality, new roles for women in Church leadership and ministry, or new structures of governance.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Continent by continent, Pope’s Synod on Synodality gathers steam
“Around the world, Pope Francis’s Synod on Synodality is moving full steam ahead as bishops gather at the continental level to discuss the concerns and priorities of their local churches, ahead of a major gathering in Rome later this year. Formally opened by Pope Francis in October 2021, the Synod of Bishops on Synodality is officially titled, ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission,’ and is a multi-stage process that will culminate in two Rome-based gatherings in October 2023 and October 2024.” By Elise Ann Allen,


Francis the reformer is rooted in Vatican II. Full stop.
“As we approach the 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, his role as pastor shines through first and foremost, followed by his understanding of his role as teacher of the faith, specifically re-centering the core proclamation of God’s mercy. Both, in turn, shape the third aspect of this pontificate that warrants attention: Francis the reformer. To understand Francis as a reformer, it is first necessary to clean up a misunderstanding about his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Some commentators and bishops have invoked Benedict’s 2005 address to the Curia to claim the pope demanded a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ between the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II church. In fact, while Benedict deprecated a ‘hermeneutic of rupture,’ he called for a ‘hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

For 10 years, Pope Francis outlasts the conservative resistance
“The dubia cardinals. The “Pachamama” affair. The Viganò dossier. Regular criticisms of his pontificate on the Eternal Word Television Network. Pope Francis’ 10 years on the chair of St. Peter have been marked in large part by persistent criticisms and tenacious resistance from the conservative wing of the Catholic Church, particularly in the Anglophone world, where formerly ardent papal defenders have lashed out against the current pontiff in ways once thought unthinkable.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

As synodality summit looms, navigating a papacy’s imperial phase
“When Pope John Paul II marked his 25th year in office in 2003, American Catholic theologian Richard McBrien spoke for many liberal critics in opining that the pontiff’s legacy was decidedly mixed, with the biggest negative being ‘his re-centralization of authority in the papacy at the expense of the [Second Vatican Council’s] teaching on collegiality’ … The presumption in many quarters was that with the transition to the more progressive Pope Francis, the Vatican II vision of collegiality, meaning shifting control over many matters away from Rome and toward local bishops, finally would be realized.” By John Allen, Jr.,

The Francis revolution: Over the past 10 years, the pope has recovered the church’s true power
“The path was signposted at the start, but looking back after 10 years, it can be seen more clearly: Pope Francis has sought a transformation of the internal life and culture of the Catholic Church, at the heart of which is a conversion of power … But as he has spent the past decade teaching and enabling, all true authority in the church is the participation in that same divine power. From Rome, through the college of bishops, and extending through the synods, to the whole church, the recovery of that divine power that serves has been the hallmark of his reform. And its fruits are visible.” By Austen Ivereigh

Pope Francis reaffirms authority of Vatican’s worship office to limit Latin Mass
“Pope Francis on Feb. 21 reaffirmed that the Vatican’s worship office has been given full authority to limit the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, in what may be seen as a major blow to some U.S. bishops seeking to circumvent the office’s decisions on the matter … In recent months, however, a number of U.S. bishops have cited a provision from the church’s Code of Canon Law, arguing that it allows for local bishops to offer a dispensation when deemed necessary for the good of their diocese. The pope’s latest clarification reiterates that such decisions must be approved by the Vatican’s worship office.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


Former U.S. cardinal McCarrick seeks to dismiss sexual abuse case, citing dementia
“Lawyers for former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick on Monday (Feb. 28) asked a Massachusetts judge to dismiss a criminal case charging him with molesting a 16-year-old boy in 1974, saying the 92-year-old is not mentally competent to face trial due to dementia. McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., last July became the only current or former U.S. Catholic cardinal to ever face child sex abuse charges after prosecutors charged him with three counts of indecent assault and battery.” By Nate Raymond, Reuters


Canadian bishops outline plans for reconciliation with indigenous peoples
“With 26 commitments across three separate pastoral letters, the Canadian bishops have, albeit only in broad strokes, outlined how they plan to honor a pledge to embark ‘into a new era of reconciliation’ with the nation’s indigenous peoples. The pastoral letters, released by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Feb. 8, were sent to the First Nations, the Inuit of Canada, and Métis Indigenous Peoples. The commitments made vary slightly from letter to letter, but largely focus on deepening dialogue, working with community leaders to address social challenges, education, engaging indigenous youth and supporting advocacy efforts.” By John Lavenburg,


A shortage of Catholic priests is why the largest congregation in the U.S. is so big
“The largest Roman Catholic parish in the nation is now in California’s Central Valley. The recently opened St. Charles Borromeo congregation serves tens of thousands of worshippers each week. Church leaders say the size of the parish is caused in part by a shortage of priests.” By Esther Quintanilla, National Public Radio

A priesthood for all: Synodal church requires new look at ministry
“If the goal of a ‘synodal’ church is to have all the baptized recognize their responsibility for the life and mission of the Catholic community, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said that necessarily means taking a new look at priesthood. The cardinal, outgoing prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, organized an international conference on the theology of priesthood in February 2022, which drew some 500 priests, religious and theologians to the Vatican. Yet one year later, he and other conference organizers said that coming to grips with the clerical abuse crisis and trying to promote a real understanding of the vocation of all the baptized — priests or laity — is an exercise that cannot be limited to priests and theologians.” By Justin McLellan, Catholic Review


Partners in mission: Dicastery promotes ‘co-responsibility’ of clergy, laity
“For too many Catholics, ordained or lay, the responsibilities of the laity are those ‘delegate’ by the priest or bishop. As the continental assemblies for the Synod of Bishops make clear that hot-button issues — like sexuality, climate change and the role of women in the church — are not going away, the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life is pointing at a more fundamental issue at stake in learning to be a ‘synodal church’: What responsibility comes from baptism and unites all Catholics? And, related to the synod’s goal of promoting a church where people listen to one another and work together to share the Gospel and care for the poor, the dicastery is asking: How do clergy and laity walk and work side by side?” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis: Laypeople are not guests in the Church
“The Church is a home that priests and laypeople need to care for together, Pope Francis said on Saturday (Feb. 18). ‘It is time for pastors and laypeople to walk together, in every area of the Church’s life, in every part of the world,’ he said in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall on Feb. 18. ‘The lay faithful are not ‘guests’ in the Church, they are at home, so they are called to take care of their own home,’ he said. ‘The laity, and especially women, need to be more valued in their human and spiritual skills and gifts for the life of parishes and dioceses.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, ACI Africa

Conference explores shared mission for clergy and laity
“Archbishop Christopher Prowse says a gathering at the Vatican this week will help clergy and lay people alike better understand how they can work together to carry out God’s mission. Archbishop Prowse, chair of the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry, is attending the conference, which has the theme ‘Pastors and Lay Faithful Called to Walk Together.’ Clara Geoghegan, the Bishops Commission’s executive secretary, and Malcolm Hart, director of the National Centre for Evangelization, are also in Rome for the event.” By


Pope Francis: Conduct by some Church members have made Vatican trials ‘painfully necessary’
“Pope Francis said Saturday (Feb. 25) that Vatican trials for cases of grave financial mismanagement have become unavoidable in recent years. ‘The problem is not the trials, but the facts and conduct that determine them and make them painfully necessary,’ the pope told a group of Vatican magistrates on Feb. 25. ‘In fact,’ he added, ‘such behaviors by members of the Church seriously harm its effectiveness in reflecting divine light.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Jesuits impose new restrictions on Rupnik as questions linger on Vatican role
“Pope Francis’s Jesuit order has decided to prohibit a prominent member, whose prized murals adorn churches and chapels around the world, from further artistic activity following fresh allegations of sexual misconduct. Slovene Jesuit Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, 68, has been accused of sexual misconduct with nuns and barred by his order from public ministry.” By Elise Ann Allen,


A shortage of Catholic priest is why the largest congregation in the U.S. is so big
“The largest Catholic congregation in the U.S. is now in California’s Central Valley. It serves more than 14,000 families. Its size correlates with the dramatically falling number of Catholic priests. The largest Catholic parish in the nation is now in California’s Central Valley. The recently opened St. Charles Borromeo congregation serves tens of thousands of Catholics each week. Church leaders say the size of the parish is caused in part by a priest shortage. From Valley Public Radio, Esther Quintanilla reports from Visalia.” By Esther Quintanilla, National Public Radio


Pope Francis reinforces centralization of Vatican finances
“In an apostolic letter on Thursday (Feb. 23), Pope Francis reaffirmed that the property and assets of the Holy See are ‘ecclesiastical public goods,’ not private property. ‘The universal destination of the Holy See’s assets gives them an ecclesiastical public nature,’ the pope wrote in the Feb. 23 motu proprio. ‘The entities of the Holy See acquire and use [the assets] not for themselves, like the private owner,’ he continued, ‘but, in the name and authority of the Roman Pontiff, for the pursuit of their institutional purposes, which are likewise public, and thus for the common good and at the service of the Universal Church.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Indiana church employee sentenced after stealing $574k for gambling, vacations: ‘fueled by pure greed’
“A 72-year-old Indiana woman will spend two years in federal prison after transferring nearly $574,000 from a Catholic Church and its associated school to her personal accounts for gambling and month-long vacations. The Department of Justice announced Monday (Feb. 20) that Marie Carson, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to wire fraud after 13 years of handling money as a business manager for the parish … Carson was the sole staff member responsible for processing checks received from parishioners and conducting financial transactions on behalf of the church and school for over a decade.” By Elizabeth Pritchett, Fox News


As Francis reinforces limits on Latin Mass, it’s past time to embrace Vatican II
“The implementation of Traditionis Custodes, the motu proprio from Pope Francis that limited the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin liturgy or ‘extraordinary form,’ should not be so hard, should it? As I wrote at the time, the liberalization of access to the old rite that Pope Benedict XVI had granted in 2007 had become a movement, even an ideology, in which the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council was increasingly questioned.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

A downward slide: how the Church got here on sex abuse
“Temptation works like gravity. When you’re trying to walk uphill, it pulls you downhill. Worse, at the bottom of the hill are places you think you want to go and at the top of the hill are places you don’t want to go — you want the place with the great ribs rather than the gym. It’s easier to go downhill, and you want to go downhill … We have a sad example in our own Church’s sex abuse scandal. The pain of publicly dealing with a predator could be avoided by not dealing with him, by not removing him from office and by not telling his people and possible victims — and therefore the newspapers and all the Church’s enemies — what he’d done.” By David Mills, U.S. Catholic


The Pa. House is back Tuesday to kick off ‘a week for the victims’
“The Pennsylvania House will return Tuesday (Feb. 21) for the first time in more than a month to vote on two measures to help childhood sexual abuse survivors seek justice from their abusers and the institutions that protected them. In what House Speaker Mark Rozzi (D., Berks) called ‘a week for the victims,’ he called the House back into a special session where they’ll be tasked with voting on only two bills: one that would propose an amendment to the state constitution and another that would change state law; both would create a two-year window for adult victims of childhood sexual assault to file civil lawsuits against their abusers or the institutions that protected them.” By Gillian McGoldrick, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Kanakuk survivors testify to support Seitz abuse bill
“Survivors and family members of victims of sexual abuse at Kanakuk camps testified at a hearing before the Missouri House Judiciary Committee regarding a bill proposed by local state Rep. Brian Seitz to change laws to help survivors of childhood sexual assault. The bill, H.B. 367, creates a cause of action for vulnerable victims to allow filing civil actions at any time before the victim is 55-years-old, and for situations which had been dismissed because of statute of limitation issues before the passage of the bill to be revived.” By Jason Wert, Branson News


Bills requiring clergy to report abuse disclosures won’t advance in Utah legislature
“House Minority Leader Angela Romero confirmed to FOX 13 News on Friday (Feb. 17) she’s been told her bill and others mandating clergy report abuse disclosures to law enforcement will not be advancing in the legislature. There were four bills introduced in the legislature on the topic following reports of sexual abuse within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not being handed to law enforcement.” By Ben Winslow, FOX-TV13 News


Diocese of Sacramento considers bankruptcy due to sex abuse lawsuits
“For the second time this month, a California diocese has announced that bankruptcy is possible as it figures out how to best address hundreds of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. Bishop Jaime Soto announced Feb. 26 that the Diocese of Sacramento faces more than 200 lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of minors, and that while nothing is set in stone, bankruptcy is one of multiple options being explored to adequately address the claims.” By John Lavenburg,

Church sex scandal widens: hundreds more Catholic clergy accused across California
“An NBC Bay Area analysis of nearly 700 lawsuits filed against Catholic institutions across Northern California over the past three years suggests the church’s child sexual abuse scandal in the region is significantly worse than the public previously knew. More than 200 of the clergy and lay employees of the Catholic Church named in the wave of lawsuits have never been publicly accused of being sexually abusive towards children and teenagers until now, NBC Bay Area’s investigation found. Some of the newly accused continue to work as priests.” By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott, Mark Villarreal and Michael Horn, NBC-TV News


Benedictine order admits keeping cleric at Marmion Academy for years after child sex abuse accusations
“The Catholic religious order that runs Marmion Academy in Aurora is acknowledging for the first time that one of its members had ‘established allegations’ of child sex abuse in the 1970s and remained at the school for years. During that time, Brother Jerome Skaja was accused of more sexual misconduct involving minors. The Benedictines long hid the fact that Skaja, who died in 2016, had been accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a Marmion student in the 1980s, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported in October — and also that they reached a secret financial settlement with the accuser when he threatened to sue when he turned 18.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times


Judge upholds Maine law on retroactive lawsuits, says Catholic diocese challenge has a point
“A Maine judge has upheld a state law that retroactively eliminates the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse lawsuits, though he acknowledged that attorneys for the Catholic Diocese of Portland raised “serious” constitutional concerns in their legal challenge. Justice Thomas McKeon of Cumberland County Superior Court upheld a 2021 law that allowed retroactive legal claims regarding sexual abuse allegations.” By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency


Judge orders release of redacted report on child sex abuse in Baltimore Archdiocese
“Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Robert Taylor Jr. ruled Feb. 24 that a redacted version of the Maryland Attorney General Office’s report on child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore must be released publicly. The judge ordered the attorney general’s office to redact more than 200 names from the report and submit it to the court by mid-March. ‘Ever-aware of the pain endured by survivors of child sexual abuse, the archdiocese once again offers its sincere apologies to the victim-survivors who were harmed by a minister of the church and who were harmed by those who failed to protect them and who failed to respond to them with care and compassion,’ said Christian Kendzierski, archdiocesan spokesman.” By George P. Matysek, Jr., National Catholic Reporter


Five years after Buffalo Diocese sexual abuse scandal erupted, victims still waiting for compensation
“The lid on the Buffalo Diocese’s long-held secrets about clergy molesters was pried open in 2018 when a Catholic priest admitted he had sexually abused dozens of boys. Five years later, despite promises to do right by abuse victims, the diocese has not paid a penny in damages to an estimated 900 people who filed claims alleging they were sexually abused by priests or other diocese employees. Despite pledges of greater transparency, the diocese has yet to make public internal documents on its handling of abuse cases. And no one connected with the diocese has been charged with any crimes related to child sex abuse or its cover-up in the past five years.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Buffalo diocese substantiates abuse allegations against two priests
Allegations of sexual abuse of a minor were substantiated against two Catholic priests in the Diocese of Buffalo Friday (Feb. 17). Rev. Daniel Palys and Rev. Msgr. Ronald Sciera were previously removed from ministry following allegations of abuse, according to the diocese. Both priests are now retired. Rev. Palys was removed from ministry in 2018 as result of an allegation of abuse that had been substantiated. Msgr. Sciera was placed on administrative leave in September 2021.” By Sean Mickey, WKBW-TV7 News


Group demonstrates on behalf of victims in Chickashaw
“A group of five demonstrators gathered on Sunday morning in support of abuse victims in the Chickasha community. The group’s spokesperson, Christopher Coutts, said the group gathered in support of victims from all walks of life who have been abused. ‘We are here today to stand for victims of all kinds, whether it be mental abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse. We do not care your identify, your age, your race, your sex, your beliefs, your politics,’ Coutts said. ‘It is simply that the citizens of our town deserve better than to be abused in any way shape or form.’” By Jessica Lane, The Express Star


Harrisburg Diocese’s bankruptcy case ends with $18M trust for victims of clergy sex abuse
“A federal bankruptcy court on Wednesday (Feb. 18) approved a plan calling for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg to establish an $18 million trust to pay settlements with victims of clergy sex abuse. The so-called reorganization plan approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania also establishes stipulated child protection protocols.” By Ivey DeJesus,


Men claim in lawsuit that Texas nun gave them alcohol before priest abused them as children
Two men have sued the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and a charity in Texas over the alleged cover-up of their sexual assault. The victims, who have not been named in the lawsuit filed last week, say they were sexually assaulted by Reverend Henry McGill at the Dunne Memorial Home for Boys orphanage between 1962 and 1971, the Dallas Morning News reported. They claimed a nun by the name of Sister Mary Bridgette would give them alcohol before leaving them in a dark basement, where they were then assaulted.” By Andrea Blanco,


Victims urge debate, though Utah child sex abuse reporting bills may be dead
“Several plans to change state law on clergy reporting of child sex abuse, including one that would remove the ‘clergy exemption,’ seem dead at the Utah State Capitol — though two child abuse victims, one of them a rabbi, urged the measures get a hearing in the waning days of the legislative session.” By Brian Mullahy, KUTV-TV14 News


Senate panel gets first look at bill to scrap clergy exempions for reporting child abuse and neglect
“A proposal to do away with clergy exemptions for reporting child abuse and neglect got a first look Wednesday (Feb.22) from a Vermont Senate committee. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee took no action on the bill, S.16, after listening to several witnesses speak about it. The senators said they wanted to hear from more witnesses, including constitutional scholars. Vermont law says members of the clergy are obligated to report abuse and neglect, but the law adds exemptions for what they learn while hearing a confession or acting as a spiritual adviser.” By Alan J. Keays, Vt. Digger


Former DeForest church staffer enters guilty plea in sexual abuse case
“A former St. Olaf Church staff member accused of sexual misconduct with a young parishioner pleaded guilty to a single count of child enticement in a Feb. 20 hearing, with sentencing to be decided in April. Rajnal Rehmat, 31, entered the plea in a hearing in Dane County Circuit Court on Monday. As part of a plea agreement, a separate charge of sexual assault was dismissed, but read into the record. Prosecutors agreed not to seek additional charges, while seeing a sentence of two years in prison and three years of extended supervision. Sentencing will be decided in an April 5 hearing.” By Johathan Stefonek, DeForest Times-Tribune


Serial pedophile priest charged with indecent assault
“Pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale has been charged with indecently assaulting a boy during the late 1980s. Ridsdale, who has sexually assaulted dozens of child victims, was excused from appearing in Horsham Magistrates Court on Monday (Feb. 20). The 89-year-old is facing one charge over an allegation he indecently touched the child at St Brigid’s College in Horsham between July 1987 and May 1988. Ridsdale, who is behind bars, is due to face Ballarat Magistrates Court on March 2.” By Melissa Meehan, The Canberra Times


Court dismisses Vatican from church sex abuse lawsuit
“The Vatican has been dismissed from a sexual abuse lawsuit filed by an alleged victim of disgraced former archbishop Anthony Apuron. The Guam District Court found that the Holy See is absolved of certain responsibilities by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. But the 35-page decision and order does provide explicit details of the allegations against the now-defrocked Apuron. The Holy See, also commonly referred to as the Vatican, was one of several Catholic Church defendants in the lawsuit, which alleged that it was aware of numerous similar sexual abuse acts by then-Archbishop Apuron, and should share in the responsibility.” By Nestor Licanto, KUAM News


Future Pope John Paul II allowed priest to return to work after child sex abuse conviction
“The future Pope John Paul II allowed a priest to return to priestly duties after he had served a prison sentence for self-confessed multiple cases of sexually abusing 10- and 11-year-old girls, according to archival documents and interviews published in a new book. The revelations come amid debate in Poland over the legacy of John Paul II – a national hero not only for his spiritual leadership but also for the role he played in inspiring opposition to the communist regime – with regard to historical abuse cases in the Catholic church.” By

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Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego accused of fraudulently transferring assets to foil sex abuse liability / Los Angeles Times

The total tax assessed value of those properties is $453 million, Irwin Zalkin, a San Diego lawyer who represents about 120 sex-abuse claimants, said at a news conference Wednesday (Feb. 22).

By Greg Moran, Los Angeles Times

“A sweeping lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court accuses the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego of a scheme to fraudulently transfer hundreds of properties to avoid potentially large payouts stemming from a new wave of lawsuits alleging abuse by clergy members.

“The suit was filed on Tuesday, less than two weeks after the diocese held a news conference warning it might have to file bankruptcy for the second time since 2007, because of the threat from potentially large payouts to approximately 400 people who have sued alleging they were abused years ago.

“The latest lawsuit said that the diocese transferred 291 properties into real estate holding companies in late 2019, just after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that opened a three-year window for people who claimed they were victims of past sexual abuse to file new claims, long after the legal timeline had passed.”

By Greg Moran, Los Angeles Times — Read more …

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New archive of Santa Fe clergy abuse documents hailed as unprecedented / National Catholic Reporter

The archive agreement states that the archive will include documents ‘including but not limited to’ clergy personnel files, other perpetrator personnel files, victim files, investigative files, investigative transcripts, depositions, clergy risk assessments, minutes of Personnel Board and Permanent Review Board meetings, assignment records, seminary records, statements given to investigators or law enforcement, and under oath proof of claim forms from the Chapter 11 case.

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, National Catholic Reporter

“An unprecedented public archive of clergy sexual abuse documents is being established at the University of New Mexico thanks to a collaborative agreement between abuse survivors and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

“The archive, documenting one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s epicenters of sexual abuse and coverup, is the result of a commitment Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester made to the creditors’ committee that represented clergy sex abuse claimants in the archdiocese’s concluding Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

“The archdiocese, five participating religious orders and their insurers are funding the $121.5 million settlement trust, finalized in December 2022. In addition, the religious orders will contribute more than $7.7 million for specific claims against their members.

“Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall, along with law partner Levi Monagle and co-counsel Lisa Ford, represented 145 abuse survivors in the bankruptcy — more than one-third of the 395 claimants. Hall told NCR he hopes Santa Fe’s abuse document archive will become a template for current and future Chapter 11 cases involving sexual abuse.”

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Partners in mission: Dicastery promotes ‘co-responsibility’ of clergy, laity / National Catholic Reporter

‘The laypeople are not there at our service,’ (Quebec Cardinal Gerald) Lacroix said. ‘We are together at the service of the mission of the church.’

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

For too many Catholics, ordained or lay, the responsibilities of the laity are those “delegated” by the priest or bishop.

“As the continental assemblies for the Synod of Bishops make clear that hot-button issues — like sexuality, climate change and the role of women in the church — are not going away, the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life is pointing at a more fundamental issue at stake in learning to be a “synodal church”: What responsibility comes from baptism and unites all Catholics?

“And, related to the synod’s goal of promoting a church where people listen to one another and work together to share the Gospel and care for the poor, the dicastery is asking: How do clergy and laity walk and work side by side?

“The dicastery is exploring those questions Feb. 16-18 at a conference titled, ‘Pastors and lay faithful called to walk together.’ The meeting, in the Vatican Synod Hall, has an enrollment of 210 participants from 74 countries: 107 laypeople, 36 priests and 67 bishops.”

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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