Posts Tagged catholic church

Justices review priest abuse lawsuit’s ruling on time limits / National Catholic Reporter

“Pennsylvania’s highest court on Tuesday (Oct. 20) grappled with whether a woman’s lawsuit on claims of sexual abuse by a priest decades ago should be allowed to proceed — a lower-court ruling that has launched many other lawsuits since it was issued a year ago.

“In oral argument, the justices focused questions on whether the plaintiff, Renee Rice, waited too long to sue the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

“Rice has argued that a 2016 grand jury report alerted her to allegations that church officials’ silence about a priest who she says molested her amounted to fraudulent concealment.

“The 2016 report in Altoona-Johnstown preceded the wider 2018 report that found decades of sexual attacks on children by priest in other Pennsylvania dioceses.”

By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Clergy shortage grows to more than 14k Catholics for every priest, Vatican data shows / Religion News Service

The reasons for the steady hemorrhage of Catholic clergy worldwide are varied, from secularization to the church’s ongoing sexual and financial scandals. And the COVID-19 pandemic has brought its own challenges. (Religion News Service)

“Catholic missions are struggling amid dwindling vocations and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Vatican ahead of the World Mission Day this Sunday (Oct. 18).

“The number of priests and ordained leaders has dropped significantly, especially in Europe and America, according to the report issued on Friday (Oct. 16) by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, charged with distributing clergy and coordinating missions around the world.

“The total number of priests in the world decreased to 414,065 in 2018, with Europe registering a drop of 2,675 priests compared to 2017. The report also reveals a slight decrease in the number of Catholic faithful in America, Europe and Oceania. Meanwhile, Africa and Asia continue to show signs of growth, according to the data.

“‘We mustn’t be afraid! Mission goes on thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit,’ said Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, the secretary of the evangelizing congregation, during a press conference at the Vatican on Friday.

“However, the diminishing number of clergy coincides with an increase in the global population, putting pressure on priests who must minister to larger numbers of people. As of December 2018, the report shows, there are 1,328,993,000 Catholics in the world.”

By Claire Giangrave, Religion News Service — Read more …

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Ruling allows victims to sue archdiocese over millions transferred to parishes

“A U.S. bankruptcy judge in Albuquerque has ruled that lawyers for clergy sex abuse survivors can file lawsuits alleging the Archdiocese of Santa Fe fraudulently transferred an estimated $150 million in assets to parishes in an attempt to avoid bigger payouts to victims.

“The decision by Judge David T. Thuma in the Chapter 11 reorganization case opens the door to what could be a multimillion-dollar boon to hundreds of alleged victims. Or it could set off protracted, costly legal appeals that would tap funds that could have paid valid abuse claims.

“Lawyers for the 94 archdiocese parishes, several of which predate the archdiocese by many decades or even centuries, predicted at a court hearing in August that the “decimation” of certain parishes would result if the lawsuits into the transfers go forward.”

By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal — Read more …

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Poland’s powerful Cardinal Dziwisz accused of covering up abuse case

“Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish bishops, and the Vatican’s ambassador in Poland are responsible for the case of Janusz Szymik, a long-time victim of the abusive priest Fr. Jan Wodniak. Why does the injured person have to fight for justice for over 25 years, and still waits?

“The question, still hanging open, raises difficult issues for the Vatican, as Dziwisz was Pope John Paul II’s trusted secretary for 27 years before serving as the Archbishop of Krakow from 2005 to 2016.

“Szymik claims that between the years of 1984 and 1989 he was sexually abused almost 500 times by Wodniak in the village of Międzybrodzie Bialskie, about two hours southeast of Krakow.

“‘It lasted so long, because I was a child who was cornered by him, lived in a snare, because there was nobody to turn to for help, and Wodniak knew it perfectly well,’ Szymik explained to me, adding that due to the experience he came close to committing suicide.

“From 1992 forward, the village in which Szymik was abused became part of a new diocese, Bielsko-Zywiec, which was established by John Paul. It was headed by one of the Holy Father’s closest associates: Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy. This name is worth remembering as it will prove crucial to the whole story.”

By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Vatican trial for sex abuse in pope’s youth seminary opens

“For the first time, a clergy sex abuse trial opened Wednesday (Oct. 14) in the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, with one priest accused of molesting an altar boy in the Vatican’s youth seminary and another priest accused of covering it up.

“The case concerns the closed world of the St. Pius X youth seminary, a palazzo inside the Vatican walls just across the street from where Pope Francis lives and the criminal tribunal itself. The seminary, which is run by a Como, Italy-based association of priests, serves as a residence for boys aged 12 to 18, who serve as altar boys at papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“According to the indictment read aloud Wednesday (Oct. 14), the Rev. Gabriele Martinelli, 28, is accused of abusing his authority as a more senior seminarian to force a younger seminarian into ‘carnal acts’ of sodomy and masturbation, using violence and threats, from 2007-2012.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court sets hearing in clergy abuse case

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Oct. 20 on the appeal from a Roman Catholic diocese in a case that could allow plaintiffs to sue over sexual abuse by priests in cases that otherwise would be barred by the statute of limitations.

“The court will hear the case of Renee Rice of Altoona, who sued the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown alleging sexual abuse by one of its priests, the Rev. Charles F. Bodziak, in the 1970s and 1980s. The case is scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 20, with arguments livestreamed on YouTube, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

“Ms. Rice’s lawsuit, filed in 2016, was dismissed by a Blair County judge who said the statute of limitations precluded suing over long-ago abuse.

“But the state Superior Court ruled in 2019 that she could pursue her claim that the Altoona-Johnstown diocese covered up sexual abuse by numerous priests using a pattern of alleged fraud and conspiracy that continued right up to the 2016 release of a grand jury report into sexual abuse in the diocese.”

By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

October 12, 2020

TOP STORIES

Report finds flaws in Catholic Church abuse-prevention plans
“Child-protection policies adopted by Roman Catholic leaders to curb clergy sex abuse in the United States are inconsistent and often worryingly incomplete, according to a think tank’s two-year investigation encompassing all 32 of the country’s archdioceses. The analysis by Philadelphia-based CHILD USA said the inconsistencies and gaps suggest a need for more detailed mandatory standards for addressing sexual abuse of children by priests(link is external) and other church personnel, a problem that has beset the church for decades and resulted in many criminal investigations, thousands of lawsuits and bankruptcy filings by numerous dioceses.” By David Cray, Associated Press, in Martinsville Bulletin

Facing 200 Abuse Claims, Diocese Becomes U.S.’s Largest to Seek Bankruptcy
“Facing more than 200 lawsuits over sexual abuse allegations, the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island said on Thursday (Oct. 1) that it filed for bankruptcy, the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States to do so(link is external). The diocese, which serves about 1.5 million people, said it was seeking financial protection in part because of the passage of New York State’s Child Victims Act, which allows adults who were victims of sexual assault as children to file claims.” By Michael Gold, The New York Times

Vatican envoy’s removal from India brings relief for some Catholics
“Several Catholic groups in India have expressed relief after the Vatican removed its controversial envoy from the country. Pope Francis Aug. 29 suddenly transferred Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal, to Brazil(link is external) amid accusations of inaction against allegedly corrupt bishops. ‘I saw the nuncio’s transfer as a small moral victory, not something to gloat about, but more a sense of relief,’ Chhotebhai, coordinator of the Indian Catholic Forum and former president of the All India Catholic Union, the largest lay association in the country, told NCR.” By Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Becciu allegations mount as Vatican appoints new prosecutor
“Italian businessman Gianluigi Torzi has provided detailed information to investigators in the ongoing Vatican financial scandal(link is external), according to new reports. News of Torzi’s cooperation with prosecutors follows the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu last week, and the announcement that Pope Francis has appointed a new prosecutor to strengthen the case.” By Catholic News Agency

Church says Cardinal Pell returning to Vatican in crisis
“Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ former finance minister, will soon return to the Vatican during an extraordinary economic scandal(link is external) for the first time since he was cleared of child abuse allegations in Australia five months ago, a church agency said Monday (Sept. 28). Pell will fly back to Rome on Tuesday, CathNews, an information agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said, citing ‘sources close to’ Pell.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

ACCOUNTABILITY

Mincione used former Vatican fund to invest in mafia-linked bond managed by Torzi company
“An investment fund created for the Holy See Secretariat of State to invest Church assets was used to purchase millions in a bond of debt products issued by companies, some with alleged mafia links. Both the investment fund and the bond, which packaged hospital receivables into a debt security, were managed by companies belonging to two businessmen at the center of the ongoing Vatican financial scandal(link is external).” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Gonzaga Scholars Awarded Grant to Host Conference on Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church
“Gonzaga University has been awarded a $40,000 grant to host a four-day research conference in spring 2022 as part of a new interdisciplinary initiative entitled ‘Taking Responsibility.’ The initiative, made possible by a new nearly $1 million grant to Fordham University in New York City, aims to address the crisis in the Catholic Church related to sexual abuse by priests(link is external) … Other universities awarded grants by the ‘Taking Responsibility’ initiative include Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, and Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Each is pursuing a specific project within the effort.” By Gonzaga University News

POPE FRANCIS

Under Pope Francis, ‘accountability’ finally crosses the Tiber
“Although the drama triggered by the sudden fall from grace of Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu is far from over, things nonetheless have reached the stage where it’s also possible to stand back and ponder the bigger picture … Such diversions aside, there is at least one big-picture insight confirmed by the Becciu affair: ‘Accountability,’ in the full American sense of the word, is finally crossing the Tiber in the Pope Francis era(link is external).” By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Women in the Catholic Church: An unresolved issue
“This article emerges from two complementary thoughts. The first is essential when reading the pronouncement of some Mexican Catholic female theologians, published on March 9, 2020, in which they join the national women’s strike: ‘To denounce the Kyriocentric hierarchical patriarchy that has appropriated the sacred, the spiritual and leadership(link is external) under the pretext of a more ‘Christlike’ corporeality, and has denied women recognition of ordained ministries. Because the church has not been a safe place for women, and many have been victims of sexual predators, abuse, threats and harassment by leaders, priests, theologians, and laymen who have participated in these violations against women.’” By José Zepedal and Isabel Corpas De Posada, OpenDemocracy.net

VATICAN

Vatican releases financial figures, promises transparency
“The Vatican released its most detailed-ever financial figures on Thursday (Oct. 1), acknowledging it might have been swindled before but promising the faithful who have been shocked by money scandals that it would become like a ‘glass house’ in its transparency(link is external). The Vatican economy minister, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, said the Vatican’s total net assets in 2019 were about 4 billion euros, which is believed to be the first time any such figure has been given.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

CHURCH REFORM

New group calls for church reform
“A new group has been formed in Tasmania to promote reform in the Church, calling for it to become more collaborative, accountable and transparent(link is external). The Concerned Catholics Tasmania group will be launched in Launceston on Saturday (Oct. 3) with Francis Sullivan, the former chief of the Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, named as one of the guest speakers. Chairman and retired Burnie lawyer Kim Chen says there is no formal means whereby lay Catholics can converse with Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous about ‘their hopes, wishes and needs.’” By CathNews.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Camden Latest Catholic Diocese Bankrupted by Clergy Abuse Claims
“The Diocese of Camden in New Jersey filed for bankruptcy, becoming the latest U.S. Catholic Church district to seek court protection from a surge of lawsuits filed by victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The Camden diocese filed for protection late Thursday (Oct. 1) in New Jersey, joining at least five other dioceses that have declared bankruptcy this year to deal with sexual abuse claims. One of the largest church districts in the U.S., Long Island’s Diocese of Rockville Centre, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this week.” By Josh Saul, Bloomberg

VOICES

Vatican causes chaos by invalidating baptism formula
“Computers are unforgiving, but Christianity is supposed to be forgiving. Computers insist that humans, especially programmers, be exact. A single wrong letter in a line of code can crash a program. But even ordinary users can experience this. Nothing puts us into panic like a computer telling us: ‘Invalid Username or Password.’ The religion of Jesus is supposed to be forgiving. He attacked the Scribes and the Pharisees for their emphasis on the minutiae of the law(link is external). Yet, even under Pope Francis, who is all about compassion and forgiveness, the literalists appear to be alive and well in the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Analysis: Vatican financial report stops short of questions on Peter’s Pence
“The Vatican on Thursday (Oct. 1) published a 2019 financial report on the Holy See, citing calls for greater transparency in how the Roman Curia has used the money at its disposal(link is external). But with a Church-wide collection for the pope’s charity taking place this Sunday, the report leaves open questions about how the Vatican has administered the millions of dollars of donations made to Peter’s Pence in recent years.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Abuse in the Catholic Church: Meisner’s Truth
“When the abuse scandal of the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external) reached the public at the beginning of 2010, Joachim Cardinal Meisner was in the Cologne University Clinic. He had to have an operation on his left knee. Meisner later said he had thought of a smear campaign at first. And then it came out that the reports were well-founded: ‘That horrified me, that horrified me!’” By TellerReport.com

Britain’s reckoning with past systemic child abuse is long overdue
“For the past decade, investigations in Ireland have exposed the legacy of the state-funded, religious-run institutions, from industrial schools to Magdalene laundries. Canada and Australia have confronted a similar past of institutional abuse and forced adoption. Now, as abuse inquiries in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to issue final reports, a reckoning is overdue in Britain(link is external).” By Caelainn Hogan, The Guardian

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Podcast: The church still needs to stay on top of the sexual abuse crisis
“In the midst of a global pandemic, an economic recession and renewed unrest around racial injustice, it can feel overwhelming to highlight yet another crisis. But the Catholic Church is only two years removed from the summer of 2018, when the sexual abuse crisis came roaring back(link is external) after the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and the crimes of former Cardinal Theodore McCarick had come to light.” By Jesuitical, America: The Jesuit Review

Many victims fall through the cracks of New York’s Child Victims Act
“More than 4,400 lawsuits have been filed against alleged child abusers under New York’s Child Victims Act, but there are still many victims remain unable to access the court system in order to seek justice(link is external). A decade-long political fight preceded the passage of the CVA last year. It expanded the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and rape cases and opened a look-back window for bringing lawsuits against alleged abusers who had previously been immune from civil liability because of the time that passed.” By Edward McKinley, Times Union

ARIZONA

Lawsuit: Catholic priest abused children in Indigenous, rural communities in Arizona
“A Catholic priest with a history of sexually abusing children was placed in several Arizona schools(link is external) in Indigenous and rural communities, a lawsuit alleges. The Rev. James Grear worked across Arizona and in other parts of the country and U.S. territories. The lawsuit filed Thursday (Oct. 1) claims the priest sexually abused a teenager, who is a citizen of the Navajo Nation, when Grear worked at Chinle High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” By Lauren Castle, Arizona Republic

GEORGIA

Lawsuit: Georgia Diocese covered up sex abuse allegations
“A lawsuit filed against a diocese in Georgia alleges officials knew about and covered up allegations that a Catholic priest sexually abused young students(link is external) and failed to prevent the crimes more than 30 years ago. The lawsuit was filed last week in Chatham County against the Diocese of Savannah and its current bishop, accusing the Catholic jurisdiction of conspiracy and fraud in mishandling alleged abuse by former priest Wayland Brown in the 80s.” By Associated Press

LOUISIANA

Man says 2 New Orleans priests abused him; church gave him unlimited therapy but no abuse listing
“Retired Catholic priest Luis Fernandez let his answering machine take the journalist’s call last month, but picked up when he heard the reporter mention molestation allegations(link is external). Initially, Fernandez said he couldn’t talk about the claims brought against him by one of his former students because ‘he didn’t know anything about it.’ But after hearing the ex-student’s name — Tim Trahan — Fernandez changed his tone.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

Slidell pastor removed after admitting to sexual abuse of a minor in 2013
“Two local Catholic priests have been removed from active ministry, and one has been criminally charged with obscenity(link is external), according to the Archdiocese of New Orleans in a statement released on behalf of Archbishop Gregory Aymond on Thursday (Oct. 1). The two priests are Rev. Patrick Wattigny, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist in Slidell, and Rev. Travis Clark, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul in Pearl River, have been removed from ministry, effective immediately.” By WWL-TV4 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield Diocese online survey seeks to improve response to clergy sexual abuse claims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is seeking input from the public on how it can improve its response to clergy sexual abuse allegations(link is external) as well as assistance to the claimants through an online survey on its website beginning Thursday (Oct. 8) and running through Oct. 19. A recent report that investigated diocesan practices on how such allegations were handled by the diocese in a case involving sexual abuse claims against the late Bishop Christopher Weldon found the process in that case to be flawed with delays, unexplained missing reports and contradictory communications that left the claimant waiting years for a response.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

Diocese, priest named in abuse lawsuit
“Bishop McManus announced that the Diocese of Worcester has been named in a lawsuit, along with Father Thomas E. Mahoney, retired priest of the diocese, for abuse of a minor(link is external) in the 1970s. The law office of Attorney Carmen Durso is representing “John Doe” as the claimant.
Bishop McManus said, ‘Because of the serious nature of the allegation, and consistent with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Father Mahoney was notified that I have relieved him of his faculties as a priest.’” By CatholicFreePress.com

MICHIGAN

Investigation Leads to Sexual Assault Charge Against Former Catholic Priest with a Criminal Past
“A former Catholic Priest with a past of abuse towards young boys is once again locked up and charged for even more abuse allegations(link is external). In the never ending saga of Catholic priests being charged for sexual abuse of children who attended church where the priest was in authority, yet another appears to have come to light after an investigation by the Michigan Attorney Generals Office. A former priest who severed the community in the Farmington area has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel continues to investigate sexual abuse within the seven Catholic dioceses across the state.” By B. Thompson, MIHeadlines.com

MISSOURI

Notice of credible allegation of abuse
“Bishop Johnston and diocesan leaders recognize how difficult it can be for a survivor of clergy sexual abuse to come forward and appreciate the great courage it takes in making a report to the Church. The diocese has received and deemed credible an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Thomas Reardon(link is external). This allegation was deemed credible following the diocesan Policy for Response to Allegations, by the Ombudsman, Independent Review Board and Bishop Johnston. The abuse occurred in 1972 at Camp Little Flower, a diocesan camp for children ages 7-12, at 83rd and Raytown Rd. where Reardon was Camp Director.” By Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

NEW HAMPSHIRE

New legal protections for sexual assault victims in N.H. take effect this week
“New Hampshire’s protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence were widely expanded(link is external) this week, after a broad package of reforms pushed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Chris Sununu this summer took effect. House Bill 705, known as the ‘Crime Victims’ Rights Enhancement Act of 2020,’ ushered in significant changes. The statute of limitations for civil actions in sexual assault cases is now eliminated; the rights of victims during court proceedings have been increased; and those who commit sexual assaults against people with disabilities who are unable to consent – or 13- to-16-year-olds – may no longer use marriage as an excuse, among other changes.” By Ethan DeWitt, Concord Monitor

NEW JERSEY

Camden’s Catholic diocese left two-thirds of claims filed with sex abuse victim fund unpaid as it sought bankruptcy protection
“More than two-thirds of the victims who signed up to participate in a fund set up by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden to compensate survivors of clergy sex abuse were left with their claims unresolved and diminished expectations of seeing a payout(link is external), according to previously unreleased information included in the diocese’s bankruptcy filings this week. Now, 141 people who were encouraged by Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan to come forward and recount their trauma for fund administrators last year must join a line of other creditors — including banks, independent contractors and lawsuit plaintiffs — to jostle in court over a limited pot of money that will be divided up by the bankruptcy court.” By Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer

Former NJ Catholic School Chaplain Charged With Endangering Welfare Of Students
“A priest and former chaplain of a North Jersey Catholic school was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of six students(link is external), authorities announced Thursday (Oct. 1). Salvatore DiStefano, 61, who most recently resided at Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church New Providence, is charged with engaging in a pattern of behavior that threatened the welfare of six Oratory Preparatory School students, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo said.” By Cecilia Levine, Daily Voice

NEW YORK.

Cash-strapped Buffalo Diocese wants to speed up bankruptcy case
“Buffalo Diocese officials, citing a sharp decline in donations and an estimated $4 million per year in bankruptcy costs, are pleading with a federal judge to speed up its reorganization by reducing the time childhood sex abuse victims can file claims(link is external) and appointing a mediator to negotiate a settlement. Diocese officials told Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki that the diocese is strapped for cash and no longer provides financial support for 19 programs and ministries, including outreach to youth and migrants, lifelong faith formation, evangelization efforts and aid to Catholic elementary schools.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Former Pastor Named In Child Victims Act Suit
“A Child Victims Act lawsuit filed in July names a former Jamestown pastor who died in a 2007 plane crash at Chautauqua County Airport. The lawsuit, filed on July 28 in the state Supreme Court in Erie County, claims that the Rev. Msgr. Antoine Attea abused a male victim while serving at St. James Roman Catholic Church in Jamestown(link is external). The 17-page lawsuit list the plaintiff as ‘PB-37 Doe’ and names St. James Roman Catholic Parish Outreach, known currently as St. James Parish, as the defendant.” By Cameron Hurst, The Post-Journal

OHIO

Podcast features survivor of priest sex abuse who is working with Columbus diocese
“Neither priests nor the public really understand what survivors of clergy sexual abuse go through(link is external), but they’re beginning to, says survivor Teresa Pitt Green. Co-founder of Spirit Fire, a national “Christ-centered restorative-justice group” that helps Catholic churches reach out to survivors, Pitt Green recounted her personal story of being abused by a priest as a minor on a Sept. 30 episode of the podcast ‘Crisis: Clergy Abuse in the Catholic Church.’” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

Appeals Court Judge: Catholic priest Geoff Drew’s $5 million bond is ‘staggering’ but within lower courts’ ‘discretion’
“Geoff Drew, the Cincinnati Catholic priest charged with raping an altar boy(link is external) 30 years ago, has no income, sold his condo and car, and will live with his 81-year-old mother if released on bond, according to a court document filed with the Ohio Court of Appeals on September 18 by Drew’s defense attorney, Brandon Moermond. Drew has been held in the Hamilton County Justice Center since his August 2019 arrest.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Screwed twice over: victims of abusive NJ Catholic clerics
“Catholic Diocese of Camden in New Jersey, headed by Bishop Dennis J Sullivan, above, was filing for bankruptcy, people immediately began asking where this will leave victims of clerical abuse who were in line for compensation. Well, it looks as if their claims could either go unresolved, or fall well below expectations(link is external).” By Barry Duke, Patheos.com

RHODE ISLAND

Ex-altar boy who says R.I. priest sexually abused him on trip to NYC sues in New York
“A man who said he was sexually abused as a minor by a now-deceased North Providence priest(link is external) is suing Rhode Island’s Catholic diocese — but doing it in New York, which makes it easier to sue over abuse from decades past than Rhode Island does. Philip Edwardo, now 53, said the Rev. Philip Magaldi of St. Anthony Church took him to a Waldorf Astoria hotel room in New York City and sexually assaulted him in 1983. It was one of at least 100 instances of sexual abuse over five years, he said.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal

R.I. judge hears arguments over whether Catholic Church leaders can be sued as ‘perpetrators’ of sexual abuse
“When Rhode Island lawmakers in 2019 extended the deadline to file lawsuits over childhood sexual abuse, they said victims could sue even if the clock had already run out under the old law — so long as the victims were suing a ‘perpetrator. What is a perpetrator? A state Superior Court judge on Wednesday (Sept. 30) heard more than an hour of arguments on that issue from three victims of clergy abuse who say the leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Providence could be considered ‘perpetrators(link is external)’ under the new law even if they didn’t physically carry out the abuse — and from the diocese, which said they cannot.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal, on SouthcoastToday.com

VERMONT

Attorney general’s report on Catholic Diocese to be released soon
“It has been 13 months since the Burlington Catholic Diocese released its report on sexual abuse allegations, naming 40 priests(link is external). We’re still waiting for the Vermont attorney general’s team to tell us what their investigation found. Now, they say that wait is almost over. Attorney General T.J. Donovan tells us we can expect the report by the end of October or early November. Donovan says he met with many of the survivors as recently as last week and plans on seeing them again Friday (Oct. 2).” By Christina Guessferd, WCAX-TV3 News

AUSTRALIA

‘Perverse’ subpoena costs dispute over Ridsdale abuse
“A decision from a Supreme Court judicial registrar in a civil case involving a victim of paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale(link is external) has revealed a push against costs for extensive subpoenas. The plaintiff, whom The Standard has declined to name, alleges he was sexually abused by Ridsdale when he were a teenager. Ridsdale is currently in prison after being convicted for these crimes, as well as dozens of other child sexual offenses.” By Alex Ford, The Courier

Senior Catholic William Wade sentenced for concealing child sex abuse at Marist schools
“The first senior Catholic to plead guilty to concealing child sexual abuse in Australia has escaped jail(link is external) despite a judge acknowledging his ‘reprehensible’ inaction contributed to ‘terrible consequences.’ William Wade admitted to failing to provide information to police during a 2014 investigation into abuse at Marist schools in the 1970s. Wade’s roles at Marist Brothers schools included headmaster in Canberra, at Hamilton, in Newcastle, and Kogarah, in Sydney alongside convicted child sex offenders Darcy O’Sullivan, known as Brother Dominic, and Francis Cable, known as Brother Romuald.” By Jamie McKinnell, ABC News

Victorian child sex abuse survivor wins second chance to sue Catholic Church in ‘landmark’ case
“A victim of historical child sexual abuse has won what is believed to be a landmark case in Victoria against the Catholic Church(link is external), giving him a second shot at suing for compensation. The Supreme Court heard the former altar boy was abused between the ages of 11 and 14 by the late priest Daniel Hourigan in Gippsland from 1977 to 1980. Hourigan died in 1995.” By James Hancock, ABC News

BANGLADESH

Bangladeshi Catholic priest accused of raping minor girl
“Police in northern Bangladesh have arrested a Catholic priest and produced him before a court on allegations of confining a 14-year-old indigenous girl for three days and raping her(link is external). Father Prodip Gregory, 41, parish priest of St. John Mary Vianney’s Church in Mundumala, covered by Rajshahi Diocese, was arrested on Sept. 29 evening, a police official confirmed.” By UCANews.com

CANADA

Church seeks to take Mount Cashel abuse ruling to Supreme Court of Canada
“The archdiocese of St. John’s will ask the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn a decision that declared the city’s Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation liable for sexual abuse(link is external) at the Mount Cashel orphanage in the 1950s. The archdiocese says in a release that its lawyers today petitioned for leave to appeal the July decision from the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal. Geoff Budden, the victims’ lawyer, had said the Appeal Court ruling meant the archdiocese would have to pay about $2 million to four lead plaintiffs in the case.” By The Canadian Press

CHILE

Chilean abuse survivors fear COVID crisis will stop investigations into accused clergy
“Chilean abuse survivors allege that the government is using the COVID-19 pandemic to delay having to deal with South American country’s clerical abuse scandal(link is external). ‘The emails of the [Chilean ecclesiastical] Survivors Network are on fire seeing the situation of the allegations in the prosecutor’s office,’ said Eneas Espinoza, a survivor from the Marist Brothers who is still waiting for justice. ‘The expectation grows and there’s much concern over the possibility of the pandemic being the truck of dirt that the Catholic Church needs to cover up its crimes.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

EAST TIMOR

Vatican began looking into ex-priest for child molesting, in 2016
“The Vatican began an investigation into a former U.S. priest accused of child abuse and child pornography(link is external) in East Timor began in September 2016 but he was only removed from where he allegedly committed the crimes three years later. Documents seen by Lusa show that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was investigating the case involving former Father Richard Daschbach between September 2016 and October 2018, when it decreed his ‘punishment for life’ and expulsion from the priesthood.” By Macau News Agency

GERMANY

German Catholic Church to offer abuse victims compensation
“The victims of sexual abuse in Germany’s Catholic Church can apply for compensation(link is external) payments of up to 50,000 euros from next year, the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) said on Thursday. According to a study from 2018 on abuse in the Catholic Church, at least 3,677 minors were victims of sexual violence by at least 1,670 members of the clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. Experts, say, however, the number of unreported cases could be as high as 100,000.” By Reuters on WTVB-TV

JAPAN

Japan Catholic Church sued for damages in alleged sex abuse
“A woman has filed a suit against the Roman Catholic Church in Japan alleging that a priest raped her four decades ago(link is external), as the church’s unfolding worldwide sexual abuse crisis gradually reaches Japan. The civil lawsuit, filed this week in Sendai District Court, seeks 56.1 million yen ($534,000) in damages. It accuses a priest, who has not been charged or penalized, as well as a bishop who counseled the woman in recent years about the alleged abuse.” By Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press

NEW ZEALAND

Abuse in care: Man who suffered as a child gives evidence
“A man with an intellectual disability who went into care as a young child and was physically and sexually abused(link is external) has described his childhood as a nightmare. Kerry Johnson, which is a pseudonym, is now 48-years-old. He first spent about one year, 1980, in the Catholic-run St John of God, Marylands School in Christchurch before moving into state-run institutions. On Monday (Sept. 28), he gave evidence to the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry sitting in Auckland.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


September 28, 2020

TOP STORIES

Investigation: Abuse allegations against Catholic bishop ‘credible’
“An independent investigation found that allegations of child sexual abuse by a former Roman Catholic bishop in Massachusetts were ‘unequivocally credible,(link is external)’ according to an executive summary of the report released Wednesday (sept. 16). Retired Superior Court Judge Peter Velis’s report of abuse allegations against late Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon also criticized the way the diocesan review board handled the allegations. Velis found that there was a ‘reluctance to fervently pursue an evaluation of allegations against (Weldon) due to his prominence and revered legacy in the religious community.’” By Associated Press in The Boston Globe

Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis Isn’t Over
“The Catholic University of America and The Catholic Project present Crisis: Clergy Abuse in the Catholic Church, a podcast on clergy sex abuse(link is external). Hosted by the University spokesperson Karna Lozoya, the 10-part audio documentary explores how the Catholic Church continues to struggle with the issue of sex abuse, despite the many reforms it has adopted. Episode one revisits 2018, the Catholic Church’s ‘summer of shame.’ High-ranking American cleric, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. More accusations followed, including from former seminarians.” By The Catholic University of America

Clergy abuse survivors face a lifetime of PTSD recurrence
“New job in hand, Jim Richter was adjusting well to life in Minneapolis several months after leaving his hometown of Chicago. He was enjoying his fellowship at the University of Minnesota Medical Center despite the long hours and he was coming to realize his move was a good one. Sexually abused as a teenager by a South Side Chicago Catholic priest(link is external) who had similarly assaulted other young men, Richter wasn’t expecting to hear more about the clergy abuse scandal in Minnesota.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Catholic Groups Seek Apology From Brennan and Removal of His Enablers
“A letter addressed to the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, from two groups representing lay Catholics seeks further action taken in the wake of disgraced former bishop Michael Bransfield’s ignoble resignation(link is external).The letter, which was sent Sept. 3 to Brennan, comes from Morgantown-based Lay Catholic Voices for Change, and ACT: A Church Together, which lists a Wheeling address, which represent lay, or non-clergy, members of the Roman Catholic Church.” By Alan Olson, The Wheeling Intelligencer

Diocesan Synod calls for reforms
“The call for reform of diocesan and parish governance at the first session of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will strongly influence planning for future sessions. A Governance Focus Group is evaluating diocesan governance structures and processes(link is external) and will prepare documents and recommendations for the next Synod session in 2021 … Lawrie Hallinan, chair of the Synod’s Governance Focus Group said the group had embraced the recently released national report on diocesan and parish governance, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

New laws in Queensland mean priests no longer protected by seal of confession
“Priests in Queensland will no longer be protected by the seal of confession(link is external) and must report cases of child abuse or face criminal charges. State parliament rejected protests from the Catholic church to pass new laws on Tuesday (Sept. 8). Other states continue to debate similar proposals, and in several jurisdictions clergy remain exempt from prosecution for failing to report child sexual abuse.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis: ‘Never again to the culture of abuse’
“Pope Francis has written a prologue to a recently published book on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) entitled “Theology and Prevention.” ‘Fighting against abuse means fostering and empowering communities capable of watching over and announcing that all life deserves to be respected and valued, especially that of the most defenseless who do not have the resources to make their voices heard,’ Pope Francis wrote in the introduction to the book.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic Sentinel

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Newark archdiocese bought second beach house for use by McCarrick
“Months before officials in the Archdiocese of Newark sold a beach house used by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual abuse and coercion,(link is external) the archdiocese bought a second beach house on the Jersey Shore, at which McCarrick reportedly hosted friends and courted donors. The second beach house, according to an investigative report from northjersey.com, was purchased in 1997 by the Newark archdiocese from the neighboring Diocese of Metuchen.” By Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

German Catholic bishop dismisses cardinal’s fear that ‘Synodal Way’ could lead to split
“The president of the German bishops’ conference dismissed Friday (Sept. 18) suggestions that the controversial ‘Synodal Way’ could lead to a split in the Church(link is external). Bishop Georg Bätzing made the comment Sept. 18 after Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said that the worst outcome would be if the process ‘leads to a split and thereby outside of the Church, out of communion with the universal Church.’” By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Irish priest spurns Vatican plan that would have allowed return to ministry
“A well-known Irish priest who has been in a dispute with the Vatican for several years over his controversial views has rejected a plan from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that would have restored him to public ministry(link is external). Redemptorist Father Tony Flannery has been forbidden to exercise public ministry since 2012 after he was censured for saying that he no longer believed that ‘the priesthood as we currently have it in the Church originated with Jesus’ or that he designated ‘a special group of his followers as priests.’” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

‘Fratelli tutti’ does not include women, and neither does ‘fraternity’
“Forget about women in church leadership. Do you think maybe the Vatican could hire a few women editors? The latest embarrassment: ‘Fratelli tutti,’(link is external) the title of the coming papal encyclical, is Italian for ‘all brothers.’ Vatican Media says that includes women. Oh, they say, the title comes from the writings of St. Francis. Well, yes. Except that St. Francis’ Admonitions were written to all his fellow friars: ‘omnes fratres’ or, in Italian, ‘fratelli tutti.’” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

‘We lost what we cherished’: Cincinnati parish fights back when a new priest brings change
“The changes at St. Anthony’s are part of a broader debate in the American church over the role regular Catholics, or lay Catholics, should play in the day-to-day operation of their parishes(link is external). But they also have ignited an intensely personal fight over what it means to be a religious community and what it means to be Catholic. At St. Anthony’s, the community has for years been guided by the belief that lay Catholics can and should be empowered to do important work in the parish, including, at times, work typically left to priests.’ By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

VATICAN

Vatican envoy’s removal from India brings relief for some Catholics
“Several Catholic groups in India have expressed relief after the Vatican removed its controversial envoy from the country. Pope Francis Aug. 29 suddenly transferred Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal, to Brazil amid accusations of inaction against allegedly corrupt bishops(link is external). ‘I saw the nuncio’s transfer as a small moral victory, not something to gloat about, but more a sense of relief,’ Chhotebhai, coordinator of the Indian Catholic Forum and former president of the All India Catholic Union, the largest lay association in the country, told NCR.” By Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German Catholic Church is losing priests and parishes
“A key issue for this fall’s Bishops’ Conference will be the pressures facing the Catholic Church in Germany. Fewer priests mean fewer communities, even in one of the world’s richest dioceses(link is external). As head of the Bonn Münster, one of Germany’s oldest churches, Wolfgang Picken is the Catholic Church’s most recognizable face in the former German capital. More churches are about to fall under his purview, according to new plans from the Archdiocese of Cologne. “It’s a sweeping change,” Picken told DW.” By Deutsche Welle

Reimagining parishes is a step along road to renewal
“It’s now been well established that the Catholic Church here in Western New York is facing unprecedented challenges that strike at the heart of its credibility(link is external), its ability to serve so many critical needs and, yes, its viability as a force for good. Those in church leadership must admit that many of these challenges are a result of woeful failings over many years that have caused devoted Catholics to question the fundamentals of their faith and identity.” By Edward B. Scharfenberger, The Buffalo News

Charlotte Diocese opens college seminary to serve growing Catholic population
“It was a day to thank God for sending more laborers to gather his harvest, Diocese of Charlotte leaders said as they blessed and formally opened St. Joseph College Seminary. The newly completed college seminary was blessed by Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis(link is external) Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, after an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. With its striking Gothic architecture and 30,000 square feet of living-and-learning space, the college seminary serves as home to young men who are exploring a vocation to the Catholic priesthood while also pursuing undergraduate degrees at nearby Belmont Abbey College.” By Patricia L. Guilfoyle, SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

What if women comprised 50% of sex abuse victims in the Catholic Church?
“What if the cornerstone of our conventional wisdom about the victims of the Catholic Church and clergy sex abuse crisis was wrong(link is external)? What if, in a statistically viable sample of survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church, 50% of respondents were female? What if you also knew that this result is almost statically impossible to achieve with the conventional wisdom, which says that boys outnumber girls four to one? Would that change how you, the church, advocacy groups, and the general public respond to the crisis?” By Joelle Casteix, Worthy Adversary Blog

Why there’s more to the question of the confessional
“I DON’T always get to see letters written about me to editors or online, and maybe that’s a good thing. However, one particular letter to the editor earlier this month from a local politician which I did read gave me reason to pause. He had just finished reading The Altar Boys by ABC journalist Suzanne Smith, a book on the abuse of children in the diocese of Maitland and the cover-up by the church(link is external).” By Father Brendan Lee, Wellington Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Accuser and excommunicated priest both wait as sexual violation case drags on
“The accuser prefers the traditional Tridentine rite Latin Mass. That way she only sees the celebrant from the back and can pray in peace, she told NCR. ‘That’s real separation; it doesn’t feel like the priest interacts with you,’ she said. A few thousand miles away in Sacramento, California, Jeremy Leatherby, the former pastor of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, excommunicated priest, and the man she accuses of sexual exploitation(link is external), is said to be living quietly with his family.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

New podcast series examines history of U.S. clergy sex abuse
“A new podcast series, ‘Crisis,’ has debuted, which examines the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. church(link is external). Produced by the Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America, Washington, its 10 episodes plan to recount the history of the crisis and church leaders’ responses to it. ‘Catholic University really found itself in a unique position to offer a response to the sexual abuse crisis,’ said Karna Lozoya, executive director of strategic communications in the president’s office at the university, and narrator of ‘Crisis.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

ARIZONA

Another Former Brophy Priest Has Been Accused of Sexual Abuse
“A Jesuit priest who taught at Brophy College Preparatory for seven years in the 1980s and coached the boy’s football team is the latest Phoenix-area Catholic priest to be accused of sexual abuse(link is external). In a lawsuit filed today (Sept. 24), an anonymous alum now living in California alleges that Reverend James A. Sinnerud, S.J. engaged in sexual contact with him without his consent and when he was a minor incapable of giving consent. The lawsuit does not specify the nature or time frame of the alleged misconduct, but Sinnerud would have been been in his late 40s when he taught at Brophy.” By Erasmus Baxter, Phoeix New Times

LOUISIANA

Former De La Salle principal, fellow religious brother accused of molesting student in 1980s
“A former principal of De La Salle High School and a subordinate are accused of sexually molesting one of the Uptown school’s students(link is external) in the 1980s, according to a new lawsuit filed last month. While the Aug. 7 lawsuit appears to mark the first time ex-principal Richard Langenstein and Robert Gandara face public abuse accusations stemming from their service at the 71-year-old school on St. Charles Avenue, each has previously pleaded no contest to charges of child molestation for unrelated conduct in St. Tammany Parish.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

People alleging sex abuse by New Orleans clergy must come forward by March 1, judge rules
“A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday (Sept. 17) set a March 1 deadline for purported victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy to make claims(link is external) against the Archdiocese of New Orleans, resolving months of legal arguments over how much time to allow before they are barred from seeking compensation. After a four-hour court hearing, Judge Meredith Grabill ruled that anyone alleging they were abused before the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 1 must come forward in the next 5½ months or lose the right to seek money via the judicial system.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, New Orleans Times-Picayune, on NOLA.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts clergy child sexual abuse claims against three priests settled: Mitchell Garabedian
“Clergy child sexual abuse claims against three former Massachusetts priests have been settled, the victims’ lawyer announced on Monday (Sept. 14). Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who specializes in sexual abuse cases, said he settled the clergy sexual abuse claims with the Archdiocese of Boston(link is external) earlier this year. The former priests were Fr. Sylvio Ruest, Fr. John Salvucci and Fr. T. Raymond Sullivan, according to the lawyer.” By Rick Sobey, Boston Herald

Vatican bars former Catholic priest in Lynn from active ministry; had been accused of sexual abuse in 2012
“A former longtime priest at a Catholic church in Lynn who’d been accused in 2012 of sexually abusing a child has been banned from exercising “any public ministry” and sentenced by church authorities to a life of prayer and penance, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. In a statement, the archdiocese identified the priest as Rev. James E. Gaudreau and said he’s “not permitted to exercise any public ministry, including not being allowed to celebrate public Mass.” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe

NEW JERSEY

2 new sex abuse suits filed against Metuchen Diocese include clerics not accused before
“Two lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church on Wednesday (Sept. 9) include allegations of sexual abuse against two clerics(link is external) — including a brother who worked at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen. The suits, brought under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act and New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill, allege abuse by Brother Regis Moccia and the Rev. Patrick H. Barrett, both who had not been publicly accused of abuse before Wednesday.” By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News

NEW YORK.

Child Victims Act lawsuits accuse ex-Seton coach of sexually abusing students during 1960s
“A now-deceased during the 1970s faces similar allegations from his past employment at a Catholic school in Poughkeepsie. Four lawsuits filed since December in the state Supreme Court of New York County accuse Vincent Dutkowski of sexually abusing students(link is external) at Our Lady of Lourdes High School during the early to mid-1960s.” By Anthony Borrelli, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Number of WNY priests accused in Child Victims Act suits grows to 173
“Child Victims Act lawsuits filed over the past year have accused 173 Catholic priests in Western New York of sexually abusing children(link is external). More than 30 of those priests were accused publicly for the first time only in recent weeks, including one cleric who has continued to run a South Buffalo parish despite being linked to abuse in a July lawsuit. The Rev. Donald J. Lutz said he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit when The Buffalo News contacted him last week.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Buffalo Survivors Group seeks meeting with Pope Francis
“A group of survivors of abuse by Catholic priests(link is external) in Buffalo is seeking a meeting with Pope Francis. The Buffalo Survivors Group, which was founded by abuse survivors Gary Astridge, Kevin Koscielniak, Chris Szuflita, Michael Whalen and Angelo Ervolina, wrote the following letter to Pope Francis …” By WKBW-TV7 News

Bankruptcy judge sets deadline for filing clergy abuse claims against diocese
“Sexual abuse victims will have until next August to file a claim against the Buffalo Diocese in federal bankruptcy proceedings. Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York ruled Friday (Sept. 11) that the bar date for abuse victims to submit claims should be the same day that the extended Child Victims Act expires – Aug. 14, 2021(link is external). Bucki also ruled against a request by the diocese to push the bankruptcy proceedings into mediated settlement talks.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Former Columbia priest returns to ministry after being cleared of sex abuse charge
“A Catholic priest who formerly worked in Columbia was cleared to return to the ministry after charges of sexual abuse involving a minor were dropped(link is external). Prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against Father Javier Heredia in February, according to Maria Aselage, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston. York County court records show the charge, criminal sexual conduct with minor — commit/attempt lewd act, was disposed on Feb. 3.” By Noah Feit, The State

SOUTH DAKOTA

DCI investigating allegation that priest abused child in Faith
“The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating an allegation that a Rapid City-based priest sexually abused a child in Faith(link is external) in the early 1980s, according to the Meade County State’s Attorney. States’s Attorney Michele Bordewyk said the Diocese of Rapid City contacted her office about the allegation against Father Michel Mulloy when he was working in Faith. She said she referred the case to DCI, which is under the Office of the Attorney General.” By Arielle Zionts, Rapid City Journal

WEST VIRGINIA

WV Court considers whether the First Amendment protects diocese from consumer protection laws
“The  West Virginia Supreme Court is considering whether it’s a violation of the First Amendment for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to pursue a case against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston under the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act. During about an hour’s worth of arguments in Charleston on Tuesday (Sept. 22), the justices asked attorneys whether it was possible for the attorney general to hold the diocese accountable for potential violations of the consumer law(link is external) in a way that didn’t impede its faith doctrine or church governance.” By Lacie Pierson, Charleston Gazette-Mail

Groups, saying trust in church leaders has been ‘devastated,’ push for further action on disgraced Bishop Bransfield
“Two groups have sent a strongly-worded letter to the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston, saying ‘amends’ by disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield have been inadequate(link is external) and pushing for further steps. ‘Our faith has not been destroyed but our trust in our church leaders has been devastated,’ they wrote. Bransfield served as bishop of the Wheeling-Catholic diocese from 2005 to 2018, when he retired. Following that, a church investigation examined multiple credible allegations of sexual harassment of adults, as well as financial improprieties.” By Brad McElhinny, West Virginia Metro News

CANADA

Catholic Church appeals to Supreme Court of Canada on bombshell Mount Cashel ruling
“The Archdiocese of St. John’s is looking to the Supreme Court of Canada to examine a landmark ruling that puts the Catholic Church on the hook for millions in sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external). The ruling involves Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, where over the course of decades boys suffered immense sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers of Ireland. The Brothers were not employees of the archdiocese, but in July Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal ruled the church created space for them to abuse children and get away with it, and therefore was liable to pay out damages owed by the now-defunct Christian Brothers organization.” By Ryan Cooke, CBC News

Vigil calls on Catholic Diocese to drop legal fight against abuse survivor
“Those taking part in a vigil outside St. Peter’s Basilica in downtown London on Tuesday (Sept. 15) called on the Catholic Diocese of London to drop its appeal in a decades-long legal battle with a sexual abuse survivor(link is external). ‘The way that the church is treating me now through litigation is so traumatizing, and it’s much more traumatizing than the actual abuse,’ said sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes. Deschenes reached a settlement in 2000 for sexual abuse she suffered as a child in the early 1970s at the hands of the late Father Charles Sylvestre.” By Bryan Bicknell, CTV News

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth Sexual Abuse Class Action Lawsuit
“McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax has filed a class action against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth on behalf of persons who allege they were sexually abused by priests from the Archdiocese(link is external) from 1960 to date. The class action, filed by Douglas Champagne on behalf of other sexual abuse survivors, claims that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax-Yarmouth, more commonly known as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, had a decades long policy of secrecy of any allegations of sexual abuse against a priest.” By APMLawyers.com

Catholic church settles Vernon lawsuit, apologizes for sexual abuse
“Two brothers who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest in Vernon(link is external) during the 1970s have come to an out of court settlement with the Archdiocese of Kamloops. The brothers filed separate civil claims last year, both alleging they had been sexually abused by Father Herbert Bourne when they were teenagers while the now-deceased priest was working at the St. James Catholic Church in Vernon. The brothers’ lawyer Bill Dick told iNFOnews.ca the case was settled out of court a couple of weeks ago.” By Ben Bulmer, InfoNews.ca

St. Catharine’s Catholic Diocese reaches settlement with witness of her sister’s chronic sex abuse
“A woman whose sister was sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) has reached a settlement with the Diocese of St. Catharine’s for abuse she witnessed in a case that expands the common understanding of who is a victim … The woman, whom The Globe and Mail is not identifying to protect the identity of her sister as a child victim of sex abuse, said she wants to share her story with others who may not have recognized abuse in their own lives. It was only six years ago that she realized she was also a victim.” By Kelly Bennett, The Globe and Mail

INDONESIA

How Catholic order from the Philippines set up orphanage where sexual abuse occurred
“The Philippines-based Catholic religious order the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of Charity (BSMC) was largely unknown to the Indonesian public until one of its members, Lukas Lucky Ngalngola, calling himself Brother Angelo and later Geovanny, put the congregation on the map, and for all the wrong reasons. Angelo allegedly abused orphanage boys under his care, sexually and physically(link is external). While the abuse against the boys who lived at the Kencana Bejana Rohani orphanage that Angelo set up in 2015 in Depok, West Java, was reported to the police in September last year, the crime was revealed to the public only very recently after victims and child protection activists spoke out in the media.” By Margareth S. Aritonang The Jakarta Post

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Victim of Malachy Finegan to launch legal action against Pope and Catholic authorities in Ireland
“A victim of Malachy Finegan is to launch legal action against Pope Francis and Catholic Church authorities in Ireland. The priest has been accused of sexual abuse across Co Down(link is external), including at St Colman’s College in Newry where he taught from 1967 and was president for a decade. At least 12 young boys are thought to have been sexually abused while he was at St Colman’s, while many more were physically abused.” By Connla Young, The Irish News

ITALY

Trial of Catholic lay leader highlights gaps in church’s sex abuse oversight
“The sexual abuse trial of Piero Alfio Capuana(link is external), the lay leader of the 5,000-member Catholic Culture and Environment Association, began in this small Sicilian city on Tuesday (Sept. 15), three years after the abuse allegedly took place … While the trial is taking place in Catania, a small city under the shadow of the volcano Etna, it has highlighted the Catholic Church’s lack of oversight over lay Catholic movements, particularly the actions of their often charismatic leaders.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

NEW ZEALAND

State abuse inquiry makes slow progress
“Nearly three years have grumbled by since the government first signed off on the Abuse in Care Royal Commission. What on earth have they been up to?(link is external) Announcing the inquiry shortly after assuming her premiership, Jacinda Ardern said it would be a historic opportunity for the nation to ‘confront our history and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.’ A little noticed omission in the fine print appears to have been that rather a lot of this historical confrontation would take place behind closed doors.” By David Cohen, Radio New Zealand

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Investigation: Abuse allegations against Catholic bishop ‘credible’ / Associated Press in The Boston Globe

“The findings of retired Judge Peter Velis provide further evidence of the Catholic Church’s continued shameful cover-up of the wholesale sexual abuse of children at all levels no matter what the human cost …,” said attorney Mitchell Garabedian (Associated Press in The Boston Globe)

An independent investigation found that allegations of child sexual abuse by a former Roman Catholic bishop in Massachusetts were ‘unequivocally credible,’ according to an executive summary of the report released Wednesday (Sept. 16).

“Retired Superior Court Judge Peter Velis’s report of abuse allegations against late Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon also criticized the way the diocesan review board handled the allegations.

“Velis found that there was a ‘reluctance to fervently pursue an evaluation of allegations against (Weldon) due to his prominence and revered legacy in the religious community.’

“Velis also found that mandatory reporters had not notified law enforcement.”

By Associated Press in The Boston Globe — Read more …

 

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Duluth Bishop-elect Michel Mulloy after abuse allegation
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Bishop-elect of Duluth, Minnesota, Michel J. Mulloy, after an accusation that he abused a minor(link is external) in the 1980s surfaced in early August. Mulloy, 66, was appointed to lead the Minnesota diocese on June 19, and his consecration and installation as bishop were scheduled to take place Oct. 1. According to a statement from the Diocese of Rapid City, where Mulloy had been administrator since August 2019, the diocese on Aug. 7 ‘received notification of an allegation against Father Mulloy of sexual abuse of a minor in the early 1980s.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Report abuse learned in confession or go to jail, says Australian state
“A new law requires priests in the state of Queensland to break the seal of confession to report child sex abuse to police or face three years in jail. The law was passed by Queensland Parliament Sept. 8. It had support from both major parties and was opposed by the Catholic Church. One Queensland prelate, Bishop Tim Harris of Townsville, tweeted a link to a story on the passage of the new law and said, ‘Catholic priests cannot break the seal of confession.’” By Catholic News Service on Catholic-SF.org

Former West Virginia bishop should reexamine his conscience
“Repentance is something that Catholics usually understand. That is one reason why former Bishop Michael Bransfield’s response to the charges leveled against him is so egregious(link is external). Bransfield formerly led the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. There he proceeded to, according to a church investigation, embezzle $792,000 while sexually harassing seminarians. Bransfield, according to the diocese, has paid back $441,000, and will retire with benefits, including a $2,250 monthly pension. That’s far less than the normal $6,200 for a retired bishop, but not a bad deal for Bransfield considering the circumstances.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

New survey of German religious orders finds decades of abuse accusations
“A new survey of heads of German Catholic religious orders found abuse allegations against at least 654 members over a period of decades(link is external), reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. The survey of 392 orders found at least 1,412 children, adolescents or wards were the victims of sexual abuse. Of the victims, around 80% were male and around 20% female, KNA reported. Franciscan Sister Katharina Kluitmann, president of the German Conference of Catholic Superiors, said there was an unquantifiable additional number of unreported cases. She said the victims had suffered additional pain from the way they were treated by leaders and other members of orders.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Philly native and ex-Bishop Michael Bransfield apologizes for financial and sexual impropriety — yet still says he did nothing wrong
“The Rev. Michael Bransfield — the Philadelphia-raised priest and former West Virginia bishop who resigned in 2018 amid a scandal over his lavish spending and sexual misconduct allegations(link is external) — issued a tepid apology Thursday (Aug. 20), his first to Roman Catholic faithful in his former diocese and one made under orders from the Vatican. Despite saying he was ‘profoundly sorry’ if anything he said or did made priests of seminarians uncomfortable during his 13-year tenure at the helm of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bransfield continued to defend himself and took no responsibility for the millions he spent on pricey personal accommodations in one of the country’s poorest states.” By Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer

Catholic leaders shine light on Church governance
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have published an ‘important and substantial’ document on the review of diocesan and parish governance and management(link is external). The review was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Church’s Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) oversaw the development of the report, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia. The IAG engaged the Governance Review Project Team (GRPT) to research and study Church governance and to prepare the report, which runs to 208 pages and includes 86 recommendations.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

O.C.’s bishop, a $12-million problem and a secret fight stretching to the Vatican
“The FedEx envelopes landed at dawn on the doorsteps of some of Orange County’s most influential Catholic philanthropists … who had raised tens of millions of dollars over the years for the local diocese. Inside were letters from Bishop Kevin Van that boiled down to two words: You’re fired(link is external). Those June missives ignited a revolt inside the Orange County church that has burned all the way to the Vatican while remaining largely hidden from the diocese’s 1.3 million rank-and-file Catholics.” By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times

Vatican tells Australian Church that seal of confession not up for debate
“Although reaffirming the principle that the seal of confession can never be violated(link is external), the Vatican has told Church leaders in Australia that victims of sexual abuse should be encouraged to report abuse to the proper authorities. Recognizing the question of the seal of confession ‘is one of great delicacy and that it is related intimately with a most sacred treasure of the Church’s life, that is to say, with the sacraments,’ the Vatican said ‘the confessional provides an opportunity – perhaps the only one – for those who have committed sexual abuse to admit to the fact.’” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope preaches on need to correct others privately, a policy some say allows abuse to fester
“Pope Francis said Sunday (Sept. 6) that gossiping was a ‘plague worse than COVID’(link is external) that was seeking to divide the Catholic Church. Francis strayed from his prepared text to double down on his frequent complaint about gossiping within church communities and even within the Vatican bureaucracy. Francis didn’t give specifics during his weekly blessing but went on at some length to say the devil was the ‘biggest gossiper’ who was seeking to divide the church with his lies.” By Associated Press in Los Angeles Times

Pope says synod used ‘parliamentary logic’ when debating married priests
“When it comes to the private notes of a pontiff, the world usually has to wait until they’ve died to have access to them, but Pope Francis this week made some of his personal notes public. They were about last October’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon region and the debate over the ordination of married men into the priesthood, the so called viri probati(link is external). ‘There was a discussion…a rich discussion…a well-founded discussion, but no discernment, which is something other than arriving at a good and justified consent or relative majorities,’ he wrote.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Bishop Bransfield offers ‘apology,’ repays $400k to W Virginia diocese
“Bishop Michael Bransfield has repaid more than $400,000 to his former diocese and issued a narrowly-worded apology to the faithful(link is external). The apology comes nearly two years after Pope Francis accepted his resignation amid accusations of personal and financial misconduct. The letter from Bransfield, dated August 15, was released by his former diocese on Thursday (Aug. 20), along with a letter from his successor, Bishop Mark Brennan, outlining how Bransfield will ‘make amends’ following an investigation into his conduct by the Vatican.” By Catholic News Agency

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

New advocacy group shows different faces of Catholic ‘feminism’
“Seven French women who recently ‘applied’ for ecclesial jobs traditionally open only to men last have quickly become icons for the Catholic ‘feminist’ movement, among other things illustrating there’s no single vision for how to achieve the more welcoming and inclusive Church they envision(link is external). That diversity was on clear display during a recent online event featuring the French activists.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Catholic women still don’t have suffrage in their church
“Tomorrow (Aug. 26) marks the 100th anniversary of the day that women’s right to vote was enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The passage of the 19th amendment was the result of more than 80 years of women agitating, picketing and lobbying; some endured jail time and force-feedings when they went on strike to protest their arrests. The moment celebrated as the official ‘start”’of the suffrage movement was the first ever women’s rights convention held 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York … Even in those earliest days of the fight for suffrage, women realized, and spoke openly about, the need for equality not only in the government, but also in the church(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

The Scriptural case for women deacons
“The synod on the Pan-Amazonian region re-opened the question of whether women can be deacons in the church. But we can return to the beginning as we contemplate the future. The New Testament not only gives us women deacons, but we know one of their names:(link is external) Phoebe. This is her hour. Because Jesus never refers to priests, deacons or ordination in any direct way, our discussion should take us to the earliest literature in the New Testament: the letters and ministerial practice of the Apostle Paul.” By Micah D. Kiel, America: The Jesuit Review

Will the Catholic Church soon allow ordained women deacons?
“This month marked the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States. Seventy years of protest and consciousness-raising made it happen in 1920. The Catholic church moves even slower, if at all, but the time seems ripe to ordain women as deacons soon(link is external). Women deacons served the church up until the 12th century, but the church’s desire to control finances and require celibacy stigmatized women even more for the last 900 years. Pope Francis has now formed two commissions, which include women, to determine if the church can ordain them as deacons once again.” By Rev. Alexander Santoro, NJ.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Laity called to share responsibility for church, say experts
“The laity are called to take greater responsibility for church life(link is external), as parish boundaries expand into what the Vatican calls ‘existential territory.’ That shift was the focus of an Aug. 25 discussion of “Co-Responsibility for the Church’s Being and Action in Parish Life” at this year’s Cardinals’ Forum at St. Charles Borromeo. The annual event advances seminarians’ academic formation while educating lay faithful about contemporary concerns in the church … ‘Co-responsibility is an idea easy enough to understand,’ said Father Dailey, ‘since by virtue of our baptism, we are all in this church thing together.’” By Gina Christian, CatholicPhilly.com

German bishops say talks with Rome on parishes must include laity
“The German bishops plan to seek talks with the Vatican about its instruction on parish reforms in the Catholic Church. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops said they want lay Catholics to be involved in the discussion(link is external). The bishops’ conference made the announcement after a meeting of its 27-member Permanent Council. The announcement said the president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, would accept an offer for talks recently conveyed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, head of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

VATICAN

Australia: Holy See responds to Royal Commission recommendations
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has looked into the Holy See’s response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. A media release, published on their website, explains ‘the Royal Commission proposed that the Bishops Conference engage with the Holy See on those recommendations because they relate to universal Church law or practice.’ Of the 80 recommendations proposed by the Royal Commission, 47 were accepted, 1 was not accepted, 13 were passed on to the Holy See, 1 is being taken into further consideration, 5 were accepted in principle, 12 are supported, and 1 is supported in principle.” By Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Since the Amazon synod, what has happened to talk of synodality?
“Lest we forget, the church is not a democracy. In a democracy, theoretically at least, everyone has a voice and a vote. But the church is controlled by less than 1% of its members. The church — at every level — is controlled by its clerics. So what is all this talk about ‘synodality?’(link is external) How can the talk become the walk when it comes to women in the church? On one level, synodality means collegiality, which brings us back to where we started from.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Catholic priest says he was silenced by the church for speaking out on abuse
“This spring, I received a letter from my boss ordering me to take down my blog or lose my job. Workers all over the country have found themselves in this kind of situation. But I may yet become the first Catholic priest removed for blogging(link is external). Until recently, I was the pastor of two parishes in southwest Virginia, one in Martinsville and the other in Rocky Mount. I love my work and my community of some 800 families. I began blogging in 2008 as an additional way of reaching the faithful.” By Mark White, NJ.com

The Newcastle Herald’s Opinion, Thursday, August 20, 2020: The Altar Boys will reopen wounds for some, and provide vindication and salvation for others
“Sadly, one of the worst indictments of our society has been the terrible and insidious prevalence of child sexual abuse(link is external) across a range of once trusted institutions. Julia Gillard – who as prime minister ordered the Royal Commission that did so much to calibrate the extent of the problem – thanked the Newcastle Herald’s Joanne McCarthy for convincing her of the need for an investigation.” By Editorial Board, Newcastle Herald

Pull back the curtain of secrecy on abuse by priests
“St. Peter in Chains Cathedral is now a ‘minor basilica.’ It is clear that Archbishop Dennis Schnurr is excited and proud, and it is clear that he welcomed members of the news media into the cathedral (now basilica) space on Aug. 15 so he could talk about ceremonial bells and special privileges. This openness to the press is a dramatic shift. Two years ago, Archbishop Schnurr was considerably less welcoming of the media(link is external) into St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrated its first Mass for Healing for the Church and for Victims of Abuse.” By Kathy Weyer, Cincinnati Enquirer

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Pennsylvania court to review diocese lawsuit
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear arguments in October on an Altoona woman’s attempt to redefine the statute of limitations as it applies to her 2016 sexual abuse lawsuit(link is external) against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Renee Rice, 52, has sued the diocese, contending she was a child victim of sexual abuse committed by a priest at the former St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Altoona.” By Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Bigger picture: Media can showcase overlooked sex-abuse survivors
“In reporting historical and recent abuse of minors, the media should broaden its focus to include portrayals of survivors as active agents of reform(link is external), one survivor said. Interviewing survivors about their abuse and the emotional impact of it brings an important ‘human face’ to the crimes, said Mark Vincent Healy, an advocate in Ireland for safe spaces, care and services for survivors of child sexual abuse. But reporters also should be asking them ‘the bigger questions’ about ongoing injustices, unnecessary hurdles and the kind of response and care that would truly help, he said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Poland struggles to deal with pedophilia in the Catholic Church
“A few days after receiving her first communion in May last year, nine-year-old Julia told her mother she was sick and refused to go to church for further ceremonies planned in relation to this key moment in a Catholic family’s life. ‘When I asked her why she didn’t want to go, she said she didn’t like the priest. When I asked her why, she said the priest was touching her(link is external),’ Magda, Julia’s mother, told BIRN, speaking on the phone from Ruszow, a village of about 2,000 people in south-west Poland where the family lives.” By Claudia Ciobanu, BalkanInsight.com

ARIZONA

Diocese of Phoenix sued for alleged child sex abuse by former priest
“Two lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Phoenix and one of its churches Wednesday (Aug. 26) for alleged sexual abuse from a former priest(link is external). Father John P. Doran allegedly abused two boys while they attended the St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in the 1970s, according to the suit filed by the now-adult victims. ‘The two men who have come forward today have waited decades for the Bishop of Phoenix to be fully transparent about the pedophile priests working in this Diocese,’ said attorney Robert Pastor.” By NBC-TV12 News

ARKANSAS

Little Rock diocese adds priest to list of accused sex abusers
“The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock announced Wednesday (Aug. 26) that it has added another priest to its list of clergy that have been ‘credibly’ accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). Father Edward Simpson, who died in 1988, was a priest in Arkansas from the time of his ordination in 1954 until his retirement in 1986. Simpson’s record shows that he served at Catholic churches in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Blytheville, North Little Rock, Jonesboro, Searcy, Eureka Springs, Malvern and Texarkana.” By Francisca Jones, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

CALIFORNIA

Judge denies request by prosecutor in case against priest facing rape charge
“The prosecutor on the case against a Catholic pastor accused of a decades-old rape of a child(link is external) was denied a request in court Monday (Aug. 24) to have certain witnesses stricken from the upcoming trial. The request, made by Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark, was denied by Wayne County Circuit Judge Bridget Mary Hathaway, court records show.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press

LOUISIANA

Group demands local diocese add new name to list of credibly accused abusers
“A group that advocates for Catholic Church sex abuse victims is asking the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux to add a new name to its list of ‘credibly accused’ priests(link is external). On Aug. 18, Archbishop Gregory P. Aymond added the Rev. Henry Brian Highfill to the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ list of priests with credible accusations of child sexual abuse.” By Dan Copp, The Courier

Abuse victims challenge legitimacy of archdiocese bankruptcy claim
“Sex abuse victims and others with claims against the Archdiocese of New Orleans argued the local church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection ‘in bad faith’(link is external) and the case should be thrown out during a virtual U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing Thursday (Aug. 27). Their claims appeared to be bolstered by a letter written to the Vatican by New Orleans Archbishop Greg Aymond on April 28, just two days before the May 1 bankruptcy filing. In the letter, Aymond assures his bosses in Rome, ‘The archdiocese is not insolvent. We have sufficient cash, cash equivalents and investments to cover 100 percent of our liabilities.’” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Sexual assault victims speak
“Two women who were sexually abused by the Rev. John J. Gallagher(link is external) in the 1970s are speaking publicly — for the first time — about their childhood trauma with the hope of empowering other survivors and themselves. The women, one who chooses to be named and another who does not, are among 11 people — 10 women and a man — represented by Boston Attorney Mitchell Garabedian in a joint lawsuit against the Catholic Church resolved earlier this year with a $1.4 million settlement.” By Breanna Edelstein, Andover Townsman

Lee Bartlett, former priest in Worcester, Leominster and Southbridge, accused of abusing teen in 70s, loses status
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a man when he was a teenager in the 1970s has been laicized at his request(link is external), Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Worcester Diocese announced Wednesday (Aug. 26). Lee F. Bartlett III, 74, was dispensed from the clerical state by Pope Francis and, as a result, may not function in any capacity as a priest or be referred to as a priest or as ‘Father’ in writing such as in event announcements or obituaries.” By Cyrus Moulton, Worcester Telegram

Church settles sex abuse cases for $1.4M: Case involves 10 women, 1 man who attended St. Mary’s School in Lawrence
“The Catholic church has agreed to pay $1.4 million to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse against 11 children(link is external) who attended St. Mary’s School in Lawrence, according to the victims’ joint attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. Garabedian, who is well known for representing victims of clergy sexual abuse, said the clients in this case were all victims of the Rev. John J. Gallagher between 1974 and 1978, when Gallagher was assigned to St. Mary’s Church and taught at the parish school.” By Breanna Edelstein, Lawrence Eagle Tribune

MINNESOTA

Priest accused of child sex abuse was allowed at Minnesota Catholic music camp
“Isaac Henson was monitoring recent reports of sexual misconduct by Twin Cities Catholic music composer David Haas when he ran across disturbing information about an adult leader at the summer music program run by Haas at St. Catherine University. A retired priest who was a regular at the weeklong program, George DeCosta, had been sued by at least six men for alleged child sexual abuse(link is external) in his home state of Hawaii, Henson learned, with the first lawsuit filed in 2012. An attorney for the men said five of the cases have been settled.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

MISSISSIPPI

Former Catholic brother returned to face Mississippi charges
“A former Catholic brother has been extradited from his home state of Wisconsin to Mississippi, where he faces sexual battery charges in a case involving two impoverished Black boys who say they were pressured as men into accepting paltry payouts to settle their abuse claims(link is external). The men have accused Paul A. West, once a Franciscan Friar and fourth-grade teacher, of molesting them in Mississippi, Wisconsin and New York while they were elementary school students.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press, on NewsPressNow.com

MISSOURI

Lawsuit says St. Louis priest abused boy in 1980s
“A federal lawsuit says the Archdiocese of St. Louis has failed to remove a De Soto priest who has had four accusations of sexual abuse against him. A man identified in the suit only as John Doe contends the Rev. Alexander R. Anderson sexually abused him as a boy(link is external) in the late 1980s at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in St. Louis, where Doe was living at the time and Anderson was chaplain.” By Robert Patrick, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Ex-priest is accused of abusing 4 kids. Monett woman says church ignored her pleas
“For at least the past 16 years, Elizabeth Mangler has kept a file saved on her computer: ‘FatherGaryCarr.doc.’ Mangler, 59, had a feeling that someday a man would come forward and accuse Father Gary Carr of child sexual abuse(link is external). And she wanted people to know that in Monett, they tried to stop him. ‘We did follow the best chain of command the Catholic Church has to offer,’ Mangler said. And she’s got the receipts.” By Harrison Keegan, Springfield News-Leader

NEW JERSEY

Priest abuse lawsuit: Former student sues Red Bank Catholic, St. James Church
“A former student at Red Bank Catholic High School was sexually abused in the early 1980s by a priest who has faced accusations of abuse at other assignments(link is external), according to a lawsuit recently filed in state Superior Court. The lawsuit says Francis McGrath abused the student, who is identified only by the initials B.T., in 1982 and 1983, causing permanent emotional and mental anguish. McGrath, now 70, was removed from ministry and left the priesthood in 1995.” By Michael L. Diamond, Asbury Park Press

Lawsuits accuse three Camden diocese priests of clergy sex abuse
“A lawsuit accuses a former principal at two Catholic high schools of sexually abusing a child(link is external) while serving at a Camden County parish. The Rev. Kenneth L. Johnston was among three priests, all now dead, who were named in four suits filed Thursday (Aug. 20) against the Diocese of Camden. The allegations of sexual misconduct were the first to be brought against Johnston, a former principal at Gloucester Catholic and St. James high schools. Johnston, also a pastor at three South Jersey parishes, was described as a ‘kindly, gentlemanly priest’ in a June 2018 obituary.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

NEW MEXICO

Two more sex abuse suits filed against ABQ orphanage
“Two more former students of the now-closed St. Anthony Home for Boys came forward Monday (Aug. 24) to file childhood sexual abuse lawsuits against nuns(link is external) who ran the orphanage after a top superior at the religious order recently stated she didn’t believe children had been molested there, their attorneys say. The two men ‘are not motivated by compensation, as the sexual abuse happened many decades ago, but primarily want the truth to be known, and are asking the Court to put into public archives all documents that point to the need for accountability and transparency,’ said their attorneys Brad D. Hall and Levi Monagle in a statement on Monday.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEVADA

Las Vegas diocese adds name to list of credibly accused clergy
“Church officials in Nevada said Friday (Aug. 21) they’re following their counterparts in Louisiana in adding a Roman Catholic priest who was suspended in 2018 to a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). The Diocese of Las Vegas said it suspended Henry Brian Highfill in August 2018 after learning he had been accused of abusing a now-deceased relative while Highfill was a priest in New Orleans from 1974 to 1981.” By Associated Press, on NBC-TV3 News

OHIO

Case settled for $1 million after claims Columbus priest sexually abused student
“The Catholic Diocese of Columbus announced a $1 million settlement to a former Saint Charles Preparatory School student after claims Monsignor Thomas Bennett abused the student(link is external). A complaint by the student, who attended the school in the early 2000s, was filed in 2018 claiming he was abused by Bennett. Bennett was a priest for more than 40 years and a teacher at the school. He died in 2008. Bennett is not on the list of credibly abused clergy and the Diocese notes, ‘This litigation matter has now concluded and a determination of credibility has not yet been made.’” By WTOL-TV11 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Fayette County priest charged with sexual assault
“Authorities on Wednesday (Aug. 26) arrested a Roman Catholic priest from the Diocese of Greensburg on charges that he sexually assaulted an altar boy on multiple occasions(link is external) from 2004 to 2007, beginning when the alleged victim was 11. The Rev. Andrew Kawecki surrendered to agents of the office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro in Fayette County, where the alleged offenses occurred, according to the office.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

47 names of clergy abuse victims part of accidental email leak
“A clergy abuse victim who participated in the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s independent compensation program for survivors is alleging that the confidentiality of nearly 50 other victims was compromised(link is external) when the program administrator mistakenly sent the individual an email in 2019 with the names of participants from another diocese’s program … The email included the names of 45 individuals who had been deemed eligible to participate in the program and two others whose abuse was perpetrated by religious order members, not priests of the Pittsburgh Diocese.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Erie diocese puts number of abuse lawsuits at 31: A total of 21 suits filed in Erie County
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie’s potential legal problems over the clergy abuse crisis extend beyond Erie County(link is external). Though the diocese is facing 21 lawsuits filed at the Erie County Courthouse, it must also deal with another 10 suits filed elsewhere in the 13-county diocese and statewide, including in Philadelphia. The suits concern claims of a cover-up and fraud by the diocese, with the plaintiffs saying clergy within the diocese abused them as minors.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Greensburg Diocese reveals ‘credible’ sex abuse claims against priest convicted of theft
“A priest convicted of stealing money from a South Huntingdon church has been added to a list of suspected sex abusers(link is external), according to the Diocese of Greensburg. Bishop Edward C. Malesic on Wednesday (Aug. 26) issued an update on the diocese’s handling of sex abuse allegations as he prepares to depart for Cleveland, revealing previously undisclosed allegations against the Rev. Emil Payer.” By Jacob Tierney, TribLive.com

VIRGINIA

Diocese of Alexandria frequently moved priest accused of sexual abuse
“A lawsuit filed this month in Alexandria calls a Catholic priest a ‘diseased pedophile who raped and sexually assaulted many young boys(link is external).’ The priest, the Rev. Leo Van Hoorn, was among 27 named in a February 2019 letter from Bishop David P. Talley as having credible accusations of sexual abuse against minors. The lawsuit claims Van Hoorn, who died in 2006 at age 74 in Baton Rouge, was ‘moved frequently throughout the various parishes of the Diocese of Alexandria.’” By Melissa Gregory, Alexandria Town Talk

WEST VIRGINIA

Ex-bishop Michael Bransfield’s ‘creepy’ behavior detailed
“With Michael Bransfield issuing a six-sentence letter of apology to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston last weekend for years of sexual and financial abuse, the church hopes to consider the matter closed. The marks from his tumultuous term of office, however, remain. Bransfield issued his statement in a letter dated Aug. 15 claiming that he did not mean to make those under his power feel sexually harassed, as well as denying that a pattern of excessive and lavish spending was inappropriate(link is external). Nevertheless, he agreed to comply with a demand from The Vatican to pay back $441,000 and to take a reduced retirement package, in what one canon lawyer described as an ‘unprecedented’ show of accountability from the church.” By Alan Olson, The Weirton Daily Times

AUSTRALIA

Canberra’s Damian De Marco has helped expose years of sexual abuses by Catholic Church pedophiles
“It was purely coincidence but the timing of National Child Protection Week and a warm spring day couldn’t be more appropriate for tireless campaigner Damian De Marco to be conferred with his Member of the Order of Australia. The AM award presented on Tuesday by Governor General David Hurley is the latest of many which have been delivered to Mr. De Marco for his unstinting efforts over decades to expose the sexual abuse of children under the care of the Catholic Church(link is external).” By Peter Brewer, The Canberra Times

CANADA

Class-action lawsuit claims systemic negligence by archdiocese
“A proposed class-action lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Vancouver claims the archdiocese was ‘systematically negligent’ in protecting parishioners from abuse by clergy(link is external). The Archdiocese was aware of the abuse and allowed the abuse to continue. The Archdiocese was also complicit in silencing survivors, who were required to take oaths of secrecy when making complaints to the Archdiocese, the claim states.” By Agnieszka Ruck, the B.C. Catholic

Catholic priest sex abuse victim awarded $844,140
“The Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese will pay a priest’s sexual abuse victim $844,140 in damages(link is external), a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Aug. 25. Rosemary Anderson, now 70, alleged in a Dec. 22, 2016, notice of civil claim that sexual abuse at the hands of Erlindo Molon, now 88, started when she was 26. She names Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole, in the claim.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Syndicated, North Shore News

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Victims of sexual abuse urged to come forward following former Middleton priest’s death
“Executors of the estate of a former Middleton priest are looking for individuals who may have suffered sexual abuse at his hands to come forward(link is external). Michael Studdert worked in Langley, Middleton, during the 1960s and is believed to have abused children in England, Wales, Poland, Denmark and Italy. Following his death, Studdert’s estate was frozen to allow his victims a chance to file claims for compensation.” By RochdaleOnline.co.uk

Appeal shows London diocese not ready to ‘do the right thing,’ sex abuse survivor says
“Once again, the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, as Irene Deschenes said, isn’t ready to ‘do the right thing(link is external).’ You could set your watch this week for when the diocese would drop its application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, hoping to overturn a lower court decision allowing the sexual abuse survivor to reopen her two-decades-old civil case.” By Jane Sims, The London Free Press

MALTA

Priest accused of sex with teen suspended from his duties
“A priest who appeared in court last Thursday (Sept. 3) over a sexual relationship he was allegedly having with a teenage girl(link is external) has been suspended from his duties, according to a spokesman for the church. The priest must refrain from public ministry while criminal process against him is ongoing, the spokesman for the church’s Safeguarding Commission told Times of Malta. This means that he cannot celebrate Mass or administer any of the sacraments in the community.” By Matthew Xuereb, Malta Times

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