Posts Tagged catholic church

‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops / National Catholic Reporter

“You would think by now the church would have learned the lesson that secrecy in these matters does not work,” said (civil and canon lawyer Nicholas) Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. “What is done in the darkness will be seen in the light. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” (National Catholic Reporter)

It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.

“They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.

“Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are The Light Of The World’): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.

“Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point …”

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 22, 2020

TOP STORIES

Cincinnati bishop resigns after failing to report local priest later accused of rape
“A Cincinnati bishop has resigned for his role in handling alleged inappropriate conduct by a priesthttps://local12.com/news/local/cincinnati-bishop-resigns-after-failing-to-report-local-priest-charged-with-rape(link is external). Bishop Joseph Binzer offered his resignation from his office as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in late April. Pope Francis accepted the resignation, which is effective Thursday (May 7). Binzer was previously removed as the Director of Priests’ Personnel after he failed to bring past concerns about Father Geoffrey Drew’s conduct to the attention of Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and the Priests’ Personnel Board.” By WKRC-tV12 News

Will the Royal Commission’s investigation bring any consequences for Cardinal Pell?
“On this week’s episode of the ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast, Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell and I discuss the Australian Royal Commission’s findings that Cardinal George Pell knew about priests abusing children(link is external) in the Ballarat diocese as early as 1973, a year after he began working in that diocese, and that Cardinal Pell was involved in transferring pedophile priests between parishes.” By Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

NY judge upholds Child Victims Act after challenge by Rockville Centre diocese
“A judge ruled Wednesday (May 13) that New York’s Child Victims Act is constitutional, rejecting a suit filed by the Diocese of Rockville Centre(link is external) that claimed the law is barred by the due process clause in the state constitution. ‘The court finds the Child Victims Act is a reasonable response to remedy the injustice of past child sexual abuse,’ Justice Steven Jaeger of the New York Supreme Court in Nassau County wrote in his May 13 decision. ‘Accordingly, it does not violate defendant diocese’s right to due process under the New York State Constitution.’” By Catholic News Agency

How central is Catholic church in New Orleans? Many federal judges recuse themselves from abuse cases
“One served as the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ in-house attorney. Another was on the board of the archdiocese’s seminary and earned an award for organizing monthly Masses for special-needs parishioners. A third is married to an attorney who is representing the archdiocese as it seeks bankruptcy protection. Yet another serves on an archdiocesan charity’s board. Respectively, U.S. District Judges Wendy Vitter, Jay Zainey, Sarah Vance and Ivan Lemelle are four members of the federal bench in New Orleans who have recused themselves from clergy abuse lawsuits(link is external) that were transferred to their courthouse after the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 1.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

Victims of clerical sex abuse suffer from P.T.S.D. They deserve better treatment.
“Oceans of ink have been spilled about the church’s sexual abuse crisis, mostly focusing on the perpetrators and cover-ups. The magnitude of the crimes deserves attention and condemnation, but the victims should not be ignored(link is external). Their pain and long-term psychological damage cannot be undone by simply identifying and punishing the offenders, many of whom are already dead. Prayer, fasting, penance, forgiveness—some of the tools in the Catholic arsenal—are not enough to heal the wounded.” By Edwin T. Collins, America: The Jesuit Review

New Australian report may help church find its way out of abuse crisis
“There are signs that the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis is now getting at deeper, institutional questions(link is external). In particular, how local churches — parishes and dioceses — are governed. In the last few years, a unique example that could bring encouraging news has come from the Australian church. Since 2017-18, the abuse crisis has taken on a new dimension, thanks to the unveiling of cases (such as disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and of extensive cover-ups identified and published in the reports of nationwide and regional investigations (such as in Australia, Chile and Pennsylvania).” By Massimo Fggioli, National Catholic Reporter

ACOUNTABILITY

Assessment of Vos Estis Lux Mundi on Its First Anniversary
“Last Thursday, on May 7, one year to the day since Vos Estis Lux Mundi was promulgated, we learned of what appears to be its first removal of a complicit bishop(link is external). A two-line announcement in the Vatican’s daily bulletin noted that the Pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph R. Binzer from the office of the auxiliary of the Cincinnati archdiocese. Lay Catholic media are reporting that Bishop Binzer was found guilty under Vos Estis, meaning that he was found guilty of intentionally interfering with or avoiding an investigation of an abusive cleric. We don’t know this for sure, however; neither the Pope nor his proxies have made any comment. Some might point to Binzer’s resignation as a sign that Vos Estis is working. Seen differently, it reveals serious flaws in the Pope’s plan.” By Anne Barrett Doyle, BishopAccountability.org

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal Pell ‘knew of’ clergy abuse, says Australian Royal Commission
“Cardinal George Pell knew of child sexual abuse by priests in Australia as early as the 1970s but failed to take action(link is external), a landmark inquiry found. The findings on Cardinal Pell – an ex-Vatican treasurer – come from Australia’s royal commission into child sexual abuse, which ended in 2017. Details were only revealed on Thursday. A court had previously redacted the report because the cleric was facing child abuse charges at the time. The cardinal has denied the findings.” By BBC News

Clergy abuse survivor draws support for petition to defrock Pell
“A petition started by a clergy abuse survivor has received more than 30,000 signatures supporting his call for Cardinal George Pell to be defrocked. Paul Levey, who was abused by convicted pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, began the Change.org petition on Friday and said he was surprised by the response.” By Matt Neal, ABC South West Victoria

BISHOPS

Coleridge re-elected as head of Australian Bishops’ Conference
“On Friday (May 8), the Bishops of Australia re-elected Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane as President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference(link is external). Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP, also won re-election as Vice-President of the Conference. Both will be serving a second two-year term. The elections were held at the beginning of the Conference’s biannual plenary meeting, which runs from 7-14 May. The meeting is being held using videoconferencing on account of the coronavirus pandemic.” By Vatican News

Pope accepts resignation of Cincinnati auxiliary bishop accused of negligence in priest’s case
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of 65-year-old Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer of Cincinnati, less than nine months after it was revealed he had failed to inform the archbishop and priest personnel board of a priest’s inappropriate conduct with minors(link is external). Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr removed Binzer as director of priest personnel for the archdiocese in August after his failure to report the incidents became known; Binzer also resigned from the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Priest who had controversial blog has been suspended
“A Catholic priest in Virginia has been suspended of all priestly duties(link is external) from the two parishes he leads in southwestern Virginia. The suspension is the latest development in the ongoing dispute between Father Mark White and the Bishop of Richmond. White had maintained a well-known blog that was critical of the church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

New Jersey parishioners protest priests’ ouster
“About 150 parishioners from St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Elizabeth, N.J., traveled by caravan Jan. 6 to Sacred Heart Cathedral here in an effort to reverse an order by Archbishop John Myers that the four priests living in their parish rectory vacate this month(link is external). The archbishop’s order — which parishioners view as an eviction notice and a summary dismissal of hard-working clergy without recognition of their longtime contribution to the church and the people of Elizabeth — was delivered to three of the priests by telephone the week before Christmas.” By Patricia LeFevere, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Female theologians back Ouellet: Seminaries need women involved in formation
“Several women theologians who teach in Catholic seminaries have applauded Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who argued in a recent interview that to foster a healthy relationship between the sexes, more women should be involved in priestly formation(link is external). “When women are not present in influential roles within all areas of seminarians’ formation … seminarians are at risk of gaining a distorted view of women,” author and speaker Dawn Eden Goldstein told Crux.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY& THE CHURCH

The role of laity in covering up abuse
“If we are going to do real soul-searching about clergy sexual abuse, it’s time we turned the spotlight on to the laity and their role in enabling abusers(link is external). This is a difficult conversation to begin. We are used to seeing ourselves as the good guys, and the solution, not the problem: that if we had lay-led parishes or diocesan offices, this would rid us of clergy abuse for good. Unfortunately, history is not on our side. Cases of clergy sexual abuse in the English-speaking world reveal any number of compromised lay people who have helped with covering up and explaining away, either directly or indirectly.” By Dr. Phillippa Martyr, Catholic Weekly

CHURCH FINANCES

Podcast: The Vatican’s $200 million London real estate scandal, explained
“Last week, an Italian newspaper reported that Pope Francis had fired five employees who were under investigation(link is external) for their involvement in the $200 million purchase of minority stake in a luxury apartment development in London’s upscale Chelsea neighborhood … The Vatican’s judicial system is now investigating staffers who were involved in the deal for possible financial improprieties. Last year, Vatican police raided several offices in the Secretariat of State and the Vatican’s financial watchdog office and suspended the staff members.” By Coleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

With COVID-19 Hurting Church Finances, Catholic Parishes In Boston May Consider Merging
“As many as two-thirds of the 280 Catholic parishes in Boston are working with the archdiocese to find a solution for their financial difficulties(link is external), according to church officials. Houses of worship across the commonwealth have been closed for close to two months since Gov. Charlie Baker issued a stay-at-home advisory and closed non-essential businesses in mid-March. The lack of weekly collections has made it difficult for some parishes to cover their expenses.” By Marilyn Schairer, WGBH News

CHILD PROTECTION

Child protection policies in Twin Cities ‘good in comparison to other archdioceses’
“Nearly five years after the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis entered settlement with civil authorities over its mishandling of child sex abuse cases, an independent review of its protection policies finds the archdiocese new policies ‘are good in comparison to other archdioceses in the U.S.(link is external)’ The final report was released on May 15 and conducted by CHILD USA, a research-based think tank that promotes child protection policy improvements, and compared the archdiocese’s policies to that of the other 31 archdiocesan policies around the country.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Plenary Council assemblies set for 2021 and 2022
“The two assemblies for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will now take place in October 2021 and April 2022, following the disruption of the original schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference last week decided to postpone the opening assembly by 12 months(link is external), with it now to be held in October 2021. Adelaide remains the venue for the first assembly. The second assembly will be in Sydney in April 2022.” By CathNews.com

How will the Catholic Church change after the coronavirus pandemic?
“A 25-minute conversation between President Trump and hundreds of bishops and other Catholic leaders sparked an intense debate about the right way for Catholic leaders to engage in politics. While the conference call got a lot of attention, it is just one story among many affecting the church in the United States(link is external), and as the national correspondent for Crux, Chris White has to try to cover them all.” By Jesuitical Podcast, America: The Jesuit Review

Sex, women, power – the three challenges Germany is issuing to the church
“The coronavirus pandemic has made the ‘synodal path’ of the Church of Germany disappear from the news. But meanwhile it continues forward. And on it not only the German Church, but the universal Catholic Church is staking its future: The synod held its first session in Frankfurt from January 30 to February 1. And the inaugural Mass, officiated by Munich cardinal Reinhard Marx, provided the portrait of it, with bishops, priests, and lay people, men and women, mixed together in the nave and arranged in alphabetical order, exactly as in the synodal assembly where each of the 230 delegates votes on an equal footing with the rest and the bishops are in the minority(link is external).” By Settimo Cielo, di Magister Blog

VOICES

Pell findings show extent of Catholic Church’s cover-up
“The cases of child abuse by Catholic clergy that have come to light over the past few decades have been damaging to the church, not just because of the horror of the individual crimes but because of what they said about the church’s higher echelons. Senior clergy were prepared to turn a blind eye to the crimes and even protect the perpetrators(link is external) in the interests of avoiding scandal and sometimes even saving cash by avoiding paying compensation to victims.” By The Sydney Morning Herald Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

New York extends civil ‘look back’ for child sexual assault victims
“New Yorkers who were sexually assaulted as children will have a little more time to take legal action against their alleged abusershttps://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-cuomo-extending-child-victims-act-20200508-jbpl4tbbc5cg7bx6w7g3ckq3he-story.html(link is external). Gov. Cuomo on Friday extended a “look back window” created as part of the Child Victims Act last year that allows survivors abused as kids, to file civil suits beyond the normal statute of limitations.” By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Abuse survivor’s spiritual growth shows the church can heal, too
“This past February I sent a ‘welcome back to Philadelphia’ letter addressed to Archbishop Nelson Perez. This was written in the capacity of a survivor of clergy sex abuse at the hands of two parish priests(link is external) dating back to 1981 and as the SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) leader for Philadelphia. So imagine my surprise when I was asked to have a Zoom call with the Victim Assistance Coordinator assigned along with the Director for Children and Youth Protection. It was during our conversation that I was informed that the archbishop had received my letter and would welcome a meeting. What do I want to share with him? What will he share with me?” By Michael McDonnell, CatholicPhilly.com

‘Why didn’t he help these little boys?’: how George Pell failed the children of Ballarat
“‘Why isn’t all of Australia talking about what happened here in Ballarat?” That’s the question Clare Linane remembers asking her husband, Peter Blenkiron, 12 years ago as they were sitting in the kitchen talking about his abuse. Linane’s husband, brother and cousin had all been abused when they were children between 1973 and 1974 by Christian Brother and now convicted pedophile(link is external) Edward ‘Ted’ Dowlan. They knew they were among thousands of people living in and around Ballarat – Victoria’s largest inland city – who had been affected by child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

When should clergy report child abuse?
“Even though some mandatory social distancing measures are being lifted, the vast majority of young children will not be going back to school or participating in sports until fall. However, as soon as restrictions are lifted, many of these children and their families will attend religious observances where they will be seen by and talk to clergy members. Some of those returning have committed acts of child abuse and may confess these acts to members of the clergy(link is external). This raises the question: can a clergy member testify in court that an abuser confessed? It depends on whether the clergy-penitent privilege applies.” By Blake R. Hills, Real Clear Religion

Minors accounting for unprecedented amount of calls to National Sexual Assault Hotline
“For the first time, minors are making up half of the victims receiving help(link is external) from the National Sexual Assault Hotline. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), this is directly related to COVID-19. The Sexual Assault Center in Nashville said it expects Middle Tennessee to see a similar trend. Right now, SAC said kids make up 35 percent of the population it serves.” By Rachael Tiede, FOX17 News

KANSAS

KBI is investigating priests in Kansas town that draws parishioners from across U.S.
“For four decades, the Society of St. Pius X has made its home in this northeast Kansas town, its followers coming from across the country to raise their children according to traditional Catholic values. Now, with attendance at Latin Mass topping 4,000, plans are underway for the breakaway Catholic society to build a $30 million church high on its campus overlooking St. Marys. The Immaculata, the SSPX says, will become the biggest traditional Catholic church in the world. But something else is underway that threatens to overshadow the jubilation over a new house of worship with enough room to accommodate the ever-expanding flock: A criminal investigation by the state’s top law enforcement agency into allegations of priest sexual abuse(link is external).” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

Retired New Orleans priest invokes rights against self-incrimination in molestation lawsuit
“In a clear sign of concern about potential criminal charges, a retired New Orleans priest who is accused in a lawsuit of sexually molesting ‘countless’ children(link is external) invoked his constitutional rights against self-incrimination shortly before his deposition. Lawrence Hecker, through his attorney, served notice March 13 that he would essentially exercise his right to remain silent ‘from this point forward’ in a lawsuit filed against him and the Archdiocese of New Orleans in April 2019, according to court records.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

Leader of New Orleans archdiocese ministry’s board resigns after filing clergy sex abuse lawsuit
“The leader of the board of directors for one of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ various ministries resigned his post recently after claiming in a lawsuit against the church that he was molested by one of its priests decades ago(link is external). The plaintiff spoke out about his case after an April 30 letter from the ministry to his fellow board members said he had agreed to resign to avoid ‘at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.’” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

A New Orleans priest was accused of molestation; he still collected $2,500 monthly in retirement
“Accused of sexually molesting a boy he taught before he become a priest, Paul Calamari walked into New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes’ office on Feb. 5, 2004, to discuss what might be ahead. The Catholic church had only recently been rocked by the sexual-abuse scandal in Boston. Bishops across the U.S. were dealing with allegations in their dioceses, and New Orleans was no different. Calamari ultimately chose to retire, and he began receiving a monthly pension of $1,566 from the archdiocese — which later rose to more than $2,500 a month(link is external), according to court records.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield agrees to report all clergy sexual abuse allegations to law enforcement
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield says from now on it will notify area law enforcement once it learns of any allegations of clergy sexually assaulting minors(link is external) or any other “vulnerable persons” at Western Massachusetts parishes. In a statement issued Wednesday (May 6) by the diocese’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski has entered into what is called “Memo of Understanding” with the district attorneys for Hampden, Hampden and Franklin, and Berkshire counties.” By Patrick Johnson, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Employee sues Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, claiming retaliation for reporting sex-abuse complaint
“A man who says his job with the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw was impacted after he reported a sex-abuse complaint against a priest has filed a lawsuit against the diocese. In the suit, Gabriel Villarreal alleges he was retaliated against by the diocese(link is external) and its agents for reporting a relative had been assaulted by the Rev. Robert J. DeLand. A jury acquitted DeLand of charges related to the relative, but DeLand was convicted of sexual assaulting a different person in a separate case.” By Cole Waterman, Saginaw and Bay City News

MISSOURI

Chaminade clergy abuse case challenges First Amendment protection for church officials accused of negligence
“The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday (May 13) heard arguments in a sex abuse case that asks the court to break with a previous ruling protecting church officials from negligent supervision claims(link is external) because courts deciding such claims could violate separation of church and state. The lawsuit before the state’s top court claims now-deceased Marianist Brother John Woulfe sexually abused a Chaminade College Preparatory School student in 1971 while working as a guidance counselor at the school.” By Nassim Benchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW MEXICO

St. Jude’s, Immaculate Conception named in lawsuit for 1970s child sexual abuse
“A lawsuit centered on child molestation by Fr. David Holley named two Alamogordo Catholic parishes and several dioceses as defendants. The suit, filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County, alleged the Servants of Paraclete, the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Diocese of Worcester, Diocese of Las Cruces, the Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Jude Parish allowed Holley to prey on boys within the Alamogordo parishes(link is external) during his time in New Mexico in the 1970s.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

NEW YORK

Court denies Diocese of Rockville Centre’s attempt to dismiss 44 lawsuits filed by sexual abuse survivors under New York’s Child Victim’s Act
“A Nassau County Court has denied the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s callous attempt to throw out 44 lawsuits filed by sexual abuse survivors(link is external) under New York’s Child Victims Act. Yesterday (May 12), Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Steven M. Jaeger issued an order denying the dozens of motions to dismiss filed by the diocese. Judge Jaeger rejected the diocese’s argument that the Child Victims Act was unconstitutional and violated its right to due process.” By Jeff Anderson & Associates Staff Writer

Child sexual abuse deadline extended – but not for claims against Rochester priests”
“The one-year window for filing lawsuits over past acts of child sexual abuse has been extended by five months — except for claims against the Rochester diocese for misconduct by its priests(link is external). New York’s Child Victims Act, approved by the state Legislature in early 2019, carved out a one-year period for reviving old child sexual abuse claims that had been barred the statute of limitations. That one-year window was to close Aug. 13.” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Buffalo Diocese facing backlash for seeking federal funds, relief in CVA cases
“Advocates for survivors of sexual abuse are denouncing the Buffalo Diocese this week after the institution, temporarily headed by Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, moved forward with two legal filings that activists say diminish victims’ experiences and could allow the diocese to dodge consequences for decades of alleged abuse and cover-up(link is external).” By Cayla Harris, Albany Times Union

OHIO

Diocese of Youngstown removes clergy member from abuse list
“The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown announced today that William Smaltz’s name has been removed from the list of clergy in the diocese against whom credible, substantiated allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) of a minor have been made. After further inquiry and consideration of additional and new information, the allegations are not deemed credible and substantiated, the diocese said in a news release.” By Mahoning Matters Staff

PENNSYLVANIA

Lawsuit: Man alleges Allentown Diocese priests sexually abused, tortured him in church basement in the 1970s
“A Texas man is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown and one of its churches, St. Catharine of Siena in Reading, claiming he was sexually abused and tortured by several priests in a church basement(link is external) in the 1970s. Timothy Paul McGettigan’s attorneys say their client learned that he was not alone in being abused by Allentown Diocese priests from the scathing 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on unchecked sexual abuse by clergy across the state, and decided to come forward. He is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, Morning Call

Judge Sets Deadline for Abuse Claims Vs. Harrisburg Diocese
“A federal judge is giving most claimants until Nov. 13 to seek compensation over child sexual abuse from the Harrisburg Roman Catholic Diocese(link is external), which sought bankruptcy protection earlier this year. The order signed last week by Chief Bankruptcy Judge Henry Van Eck also gave governmental entities until Dec. 11 to file proofs of claims for debts.” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

TEXAS

San Antonio Archdiocese removes Helotes priest following 2 sexual misconduct allegations
“The San Antonio Archdiocese has removed the pastor of a Catholic church in Helotes after two people accused him of sexual misconduct(link is external). According to a letter dated April 30 from the archdiocese that was sent to parishioners, Monsignor Carlos Davalos sent two sexually inappropriate text messages to an adult parishioner earlier this year.” By KSAT-TV12 News

AUSTRALIA

Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale sentenced to 10 years’ jail for sexual abuse of boys in 1970s
“Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale will spend at least another three years in jail after pleading guilty to 14 new offenses(link is external) committed against young boys under his care. Some of the offenses happened during Confession while reading the Bible. ‘Your sexual abuse, at times when the child was seeking comfort, reveals your utter hypocrisy,’ the sentencing Judge Gerard Mullaly said.” By Iskhandar Razak, ABC News

Broome Bishop bows out of national conference as police and Vatican investigations continue
“The Catholic Church is maintaining its silence on the status of its ongoing investigation into the leadership and financial practices(link is external) in its Broome diocese in West Australia’s Kimberley region. Catholic Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders voluntarily stood aside in March after the Vatican took the unusual step of ordering an investigation into the running of the remote northern diocese … The Vatican inquiry came in the wake of a series of complaints to catholic authorities and the public revelation of a WA Police investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley

National protocols to replace Melbourne Response
“The Melbourne Response scheme set up in 1996 to compensate victims of clergy abuse in Melbourne is set to be replaced as Australia’s bishops develop new national protocols for survivors(link is external). Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli is keen to retain some of the more-positive elements of the scheme – such as ongoing care for victims – but is working towards a state-wide approach, based on nationally consistent guidelines, rather than having the Melbourne archdiocese ‘go it alone’ with its own separate process.” By CathNews.com

POLAND

Polish archbishop refers sex abuse case to Vatican
“The head of Poland’s Roman Catholic Church has said he is asking the Vatican to investigate the cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests(link is external). Archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Church hierarchy to ‘launch proceedings’ following the release of a documentary on the subject on Saturday (May 17). The film tells the story of two brothers who seek to confront a priest who allegedly abused them as children. The Vatican is expected to assign an investigator to the case.” By BBC News

SPAIN

Cartagena Diocese to investigate child abuse from 1950
“The Diocese of Cartagena intends to investigate the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people that has been committed within the Catholic Church(link is external) between 1950 and 2010. To do this, a special episcopal delegation has been created, detail of which were announced on Thursday by the bishop of Cartagena, José Manuel Lorca Planes, and his episcopal delegate, Gil José Sáez Martínez.” By The Leader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Massimo Faggiolo, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest
“Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children(link is external), and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded. A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.” By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com

The acquittal of Cardinal Pell
“In setting aside the guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell on sexual-assault charges, Australia’s High Court effectively concluded the criminal-justice aspect of a case that has consumed the nation and the Catholic Church for years. But the April 7 ruling doesn’t really settle anything in the relationship between the church and the Australian state, nor is it likely to resolve the clash between the different ‘kinds’ of Catholicism in Australia and elsewhere. In fact, the decision will probably keep the contentious debates alive(link is external), perhaps for a long time to come.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Archdiocese of New Orleans to file bankruptcy; Aymond meets with area priests
The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to file for bankruptcy, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday (Apr. 30) evening, as the mounting cost of unresolved clergy-abuse lawsuits and the shutdown of church services due to the coronavirus deliver crushing blows to church finances. The 227-year-old local institution serving half a million New Orleans-area Catholics will join 26 other American dioceses and Catholic religious orders that have sought financial protection(link is external) from creditors and claimants since the clergy-abuse scandal reached a fever pitch in 2002.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

German Catholic Church agrees to rules for investigating abuse cases
“The Catholic Church has become Germany’s first institution to agree to fixed and binding rules for investigating sexual abuse cases(link is external). The agreement, described as historic by the German government’s abuse commissioner, could become a blueprint for other institutions in the fight against abuse. The Protestant Church in Germany and churches in many other countries have yet to take that step, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service on AngelusNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Sooner or later, Pope Francis will have to face the perplexities of reform
“Granted, right now Pope Francis has bigger fish to fry. Among other things he’s trying to hold the nation of Italy together, appealing on Saturday (May 2) for political unity at a time when regional governors from the political opposition are threatening to sabotage Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s plan for gradually easing coronavirus restrictions by issuing their own ad hoc decrees. Yet at some point when this is over, Francis will have to face the fact that his own house needs some work too(link is external).” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

On a call with President Trump, Cardinal Dolan reveals his true colors
“The ongoing collusion between certain U.S. bishops and President Donald Trump hit its nadir point this weekend (Apr.25). Or at least we have to pray it did. Crux’s Christopher White obtained a recording of a phone call that took place on Saturday between Trump and an estimated 600 Catholics, among whom were bishops and Catholic school superintendents. Leading the pack was New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who seems to like to boast about his relationship with Trump almost as much as Trump likes to boast about himself(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

Victorian government clears release of Pell royal commission findings
“Unpublished findings about Cardinal George Pell’s handling of child sexual abuse complaints(link is external) have been cleared for release by the Victorian government. Attorney general Jill Hennessy has advised her federal counterpart, Christian Porter, that blacked-out sections of two reports from the institutional child abuse royal commission can be released, after the high court overturned the cardinal’s convictions for child sexual abuse earlier this month.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

BISHOPS

Nigerian bishop, rejected by former diocese, installed at new diocese
“Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke was installed April 29 as the bishop of the new Ekwulobia Diocese, after having been rejected in the Ahiara Diocese by priests and parishioners in a prolonged crisis that engulfed the Catholic Church in the region for about eight years(link is external). ‘It’s one of the greatest news of the decade in this part of the church in Nigeria because the creation of the new diocese has long been overdue,’ Fr. Martin Anusi, the director of communications at the Awka Diocese, told NCR. ‘People have dreamt and made appeals for a new diocese over the years.’” By Patrick Egwu, National Catholic Reporter

An Australian bishop speaks about a national church ‘fraught with division’
“Like many Catholics in Australia, Bishop Vincent Long speaks about the upcoming plenary council(link is external) as something of a final chance for the national church to show it has both reformed on clergy sexual abuse and can still be culturally relevant in the 21st century. In an emailed NCR interview focused on how the quashing of Cardinal George Pell’s convictions might affect the gathering, which has been in preparation for two years, Long called the assembly ‘the last throw of the dice.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Church members show support for priest in legal battle
“Congregation members of two Catholic churches are showing their support for a priest who was removed by Richmond Diocese Bishop(link is external). The priest has appealed his removal and is still in place at both churches while the process unfolds. Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount … Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount. Originally Father Mark White was told to stop his blog, which at times was critical of the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. He shut the blog down for some time, but once the pandemic hit and he wasn’t able to meet with his members face to face, he started it up again and he was removed shortly after.” By Eric Pointer, WFXR-TV News

CARA study on new ordinands spots trends worth watching
“The annual survey of seminarians scheduled for priestly ordination(link is external) this year reveals continuing trends and suggests potential trends in the making. ‘We’ve been consistent over the last 20 years in terms of the age of men being ordained to the priesthood. It continues to hover into the low to mid-30s,” said Father Luke Ballman, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in Rhode Island Catholic

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Peter’s Field Hospital: Interview with Dr. Phyllis Zagano on women in the Church
“This week on Peter’s Field Hospital, Dan Amiri and I had the privilege of interviewing the Catholic author and theologian Phyllis Zagano. Phyllis Zagano is an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the church(link is external). In 2016, Phyllis was named by Pope Francis to serve on the Papal Commission on women in the diaconate. Her new book, Women: Icons of Christ traces the history of ministry by women in the Church, especially women deacons. In this book, she shows how women were removed from leadership, prevented from using their voices, and eliminated from official ministries in the history of the Church. This book also argues in favor of the restoration of women to the ordained diaconate, while refuting the arguments against it.” By Mike Lewis, WherePeterIs.com

Seminaries must hire, involve more women, Cardinal Ouellet says
“For some priests and seminarians, ‘women represent danger, but in reality, the true danger are those men who do not have a balanced relationship with women(link is external),’ said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The cardinal was interviewed about the role of women in seminaries and seminary formation for the May issue of the women’s supplement to the Vatican newspaper; the interview was published April 24 by Vatican News.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Your thoughts on women’s roles in the church
“On April 8, Pope Francis announced he had created a new commission to study the ordaining of women as deacons in the Catholic Church. This is the second commission on the topic under Francis, however several members of this new commission seem to be opposed to women deacons. This revelation sparked a response from NCR columnist Jamie Manson, who writes: ‘By selecting these members for the commission, Francis has effectively killed the possibility of any real progress for women in the church(link is external).’ Relatedly, St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk wrote a column entitled ‘Women demonstrate what the priesthood of Jesus truly means,’ of which NCR executive editor Tom Roberts mentions in his last NCR Connections column.” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

CHURCH FINANCES

Fraudster jailed for stealing $340,000 from Catholic Church to fund ‘indulgent’ lifestyle
“Adelaide mother Kerry Ann Keen used more than $340,000 that she stole from the Catholic Church(link is external) to pay for expensive overseas holidays and indulgent consumer goods. Now, the 57-year-old will spend at least three years in jail for her crimes. ‘In short, this was protracted, calculated dishonestly over a prolonged period [and involved] a large sum of money to fund an indulgent lifestyle,’ SA District Court Judge Stephen McEwen said during sentencing.” By Meagan Dillon, ABC News

Clergy Abuse Costs Drive New Orleans Archdiocese to File for Bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans announced on May 1 that it is seeking federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection(link is external) amid growing legal costs related to sexual abuse by priests. The filing for reorganization could free the archdiocese from the threat of creditors’ lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances. The New Orleans archdiocese is the latest of more than 20 dioceses nationwide to take such action.” By Kevin McGill, Insurance Journal

Seychelles: Police Investigating Nigerian Priest’s ‘Suspicious’ Bank Transactions
“The police in Seychelles are investigating a Nigerian priest based in the island nation following suspicious bank account transactions(link is external), the authorities said Wednesday (Apr. 29). The police statement came a day after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Victoria announced in a communique that ‘a member of its clergy, Father Fidelis Mbanefo has been suspended from his ministerial duties as a priest in the Diocese of Port-Victoria, as of the 17 April 2020.’” By Patsy Athanase, Seychelles News Agency, in Eurasia Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Will the pandemic force the Catholic Church to transform
“While the church has a vast body of members, the pandemic is leaving one of the oldest religious institutions in financial limbo(link is external). The Catholic Church has survived many things, including the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, capitalism and secularism. As the world’s oldest religious institution, with nearly 1.3 billion followers, the Catholic Church is the largest continuously operating international organization, and the faithful would also like it to survive this deadly pandemic. But no one can deny that the Vatican’s finances are in disarray.” By TRTWorld.com

VOICES

Cardinal Pell: A decision with little certainty
George Pell is a cardinal in the Catholic Church. And that is where the problem lies(link is external). It lies as well in the institution. The two are inextricably intertwined so that the fate of one informs the other. Some, like Pope Francis, say, ‘I would like to pray today for all those persons who suffer an unjust sentence because someone had it in for them.’ The Vatican News reported that the pope made this statement at his morning Mass in Santa Marta, shortly after the news broke that the High Court of Australia had quashed the convictions against Pell.” By Gail Grossman Freyne, National Catholic Reporter

COLORADO

Colorado’s priest abuse reparations program has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims so far
“The Catholic Church so far has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims of priest abuse in Colorado(link is external) as part of a review of claims by an independent committee. The work of the oversight committee is ongoing, but its leaders announced Wednesday (Apr. 22) that they have received claims from 91 victims of abuse by priests who worked in one of Colorado’s three dioceses.” By Jennifer Brown, Colorado Sun

FLORIDA

Sexual abuse lawsuit filed in Polk County against retired priest
“On Monday, April 27, 2020 sex abuse attorney Adam Horowitz filed a Complaint in Polk County Circuit Court against Catholic priest Father Fred Ruse, who in 2018, suddenly retired from the active ministry. The suit, filed on behalf of a Sarasota County man, alleges that in 2001 and 2002, he was sexually abused multiple times by Father Ruse(link is external) in a classroom and in the chaplain’s office at the Demilly Correctional Institution in Polk City, Florida, when the plaintiff was approximately 14 and 15 years old.” By Horowitz Law

HAWAII

Hawaii courts filling with sex abuse cases
“Fallout from a slew of recently filed sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external) has a trustee from Punahou Schools stepping down. According to the school, Monica McLaren voluntarily stepped down from the Board, after her husband Christopher McLaren was named in one of several civil cases against Punahou. Hawaii courts have filled with last minute filings for sexual abuse cases.” By Paul Drewes, KITV-TV4 News

IDAHO

Idaho court upholds ex-priest’s prison sentence
“A former Boise priest convicted of possessing violent and extreme child pornography(link is external) will be sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, an appellate court ruled. William “Tom” Faucher, 74, was sentenced in December 2018 without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to distribution of sexually exploitative material, possession of sexually exploitative materials and drug possession, the Idaho Statesman reported.” By Associated Press in Lewiston Tribune

LOUISIANA

Louisiana priest convicted of molestation released on bond
“A former Louisiana priest convicted of molesting an altar boy was released from jail on bond(link is external) over coronavirus safety concerns. Michael Guidry, 77, was released Friday (APR. 24) nearly a year after he pleaded guilty to molesting a 16-year old boy after giving him alcohol in Guidry’s home. The victim said in a civil lawsuit that he woke up one day in 2015 after doing chores in Guidry’s home and found the former priest molesting him. The victim told authorities about the molestation when he was an adult, four years after it happened.” By Associated Press on WBRZ-TV2 News

Survivors of clergy sex abuse want accountability following priest released on house arrest
“The release of a priest convicted of molesting a teenage boy is raising questions for the judicial system and the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Guidry is out on bail tonight (Apr. 27). One-year-ago this week, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with three years suspended, after pleading guilty to molestation of a juvenile(link is external). According to court records, Guidry’s defense counsel, Jane Hogan, requested an emergency appeal hearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” By Chris Welty, KATC-TV3 News

MAINE

Maine high court upholds sex crime convictions of defrocked priest
“The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday (Apr. 23) upheld all but one of the 11 convictions of a former priest who is serving 16 years in prison for sexually assaulting a boy(link is external) during multiple vacations to Maine in the 1980s. Ronald Paquin, now 77, was found guilty in 2018 of 11 counts of gross sexual misconduct. A York County jury acquitted him of similar charges related to a second boy. A judge sentenced him last year to 20 years in prison with all but 16 years suspended.” By Matt Byrne, Portland Press Herald

MISSOURI

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese releases investigation into priest with many ties to the Ozarks
“The Springfield-Cape-Girardeau Diocese reports a review board determined inappropriate physical/sexual misconduct involving a priest(link is external). Father Gary Carr became an ordained priest in 1982. He then served at several churches and schools in the diocese, including in Springfield, Monett and West Plains. The allegations involve a male student between the ages of 10-13. The report has been forwarded to the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in southeast Missouri. This is only a report from the diocese. Police have not arrested Father Carr.” By KY3-TV News

MONTANA

Montana sees flurry of child sex abuse lawsuits as deadline approaches
“The one-year window Montana lawmakers opened to give child sex abuse survivors a chance to bring old claims is closing soon(link is external), and a flurry of lawsuits is hitting the courts. Adults who were abused as children have until May 6 to bring claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. The Montana Legislature created the window in 2019,” By Phoebe Tollefson, Helena Independent Record

NEW JERSEY

‘Prolific pedophile’ priest dies in News Jersey nursing home
“A pedophile priest who was defrocked in New Jersey after admitting abusing a dozen children(link is external) has died in a nursing home, the diocese confirmed to The Post. James Hanley — who abused young parishioners in Mendham and Pompton Plains over the course of 14 years — died last week, the diocese’s attorney, Kenneth Mullaney, confirmed.” By Lee Brown, New York Post

NEW YORK

Buffalo seeks halt to outstanding sex abuse lawsuits
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has taken legal action seeking to stop all outstanding clergy sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external) while it navigates bankruptcy proceedings in federal court. The diocese filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court on Saturday (May 2) seeking an injunction on lawsuits filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. About 250 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese since August, when the act gave victims one year to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse.” By Associated Press

23 suspended Catholic priests to lose their pay and health insurance
“In the last few days, 23 suspended priests have been contacted by senior leadership of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese and told they lose their pay and health insurance on Friday (Apr. 24). These are men who have ‘substantiated’ allegations of sexual abuse(link is external). They remain priests, but can’t hold themselves out as priests, are not allowed to say Mass publicly or wear clerical garb.” By Mike Desmond, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

Accused priests cannot be left ‘destitute’
“The Diocese of Buffalo clarified on Friday (May 1) that priests accused of sexual abuse cannot be left ‘destitute(link is external),’ even as the diocese acts to withdraw financial support payments. The diocese had announced earlier this week that 23 priests “with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse” would no longer receive financial assistance or health benefits from the Diocese of Buffalo as of May 1. However, the diocese said that pension plans would not be affected by the decision.” By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency

OHIO

Diocese of Toledo names seven deceased priests accused of sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Toledo on Wednesday (Apr. 29) released the names of seven deceased clerics who are credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). In each case an accuser had come forward after the cleric had died. The Diocesan Review Board considered their cases this year and last year. The diocese for years declined to name or consider allegations against clerics in such cases ‘as they can neither defend themselves against the accusation nor possibly be a future threat to anyone if the allegation were true,’ according to an explanation the diocese provided for years on its website.” By Nicki Gorny, The Blade

PENNSYLVANIA

Philadelphia Archdiocese committed to paying $130 million to sex abuse victims
“In a profound letter to parishioners, the newly installed Archbishop of Philadelphia, Nelson Perez, addressed claims of prior priest sex abuse of children head-on(link is external), saying the archdiocese is committed to paying about $130 million in reparations. When new Archbishop Perez came to Philadelphia from Cleveland a few months ago, he inherited a mess stemming from the priest sex abuse scandal. But on Tuesday (May 5), he says in a letter that he deeply regrets the pain and suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them.” By Dann Cuellar, WPVI-TV6 News

TEXAS

Dallas priest accused of abuse removed from ministry
“The Diocese of Dallas has removed a priest from the ministry after sexual abuse allegations(link is external) arose in the Colombian archdiocese where he formerly served. Father Oscar Mora was among 19 priests suspended last month by the Catholic Archdiocese of Villavicencio after the allegation arose earlier this year, The Dallas Morning News reported Monday (Apr. 27).” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

WISCONSIN

Waukesha County DA will not pursue new charges against priest accused of sex assault
“The Waukesha County District Attorney will not pursue new charges against a priest accused of sexual assault of a teenage girl(link is external). Father Charles Hanel was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in December 2017 during confession at Queen of Apostles Church.” By FOX6 News

AUSTRALIA

On the right track, work still to be done for Christian Brothers
“The audit, by the Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, found that the Christian Brothers had either implemented or was substantially progressed in the implementation of 91 (89 per cent) out of the 102 indicators(link is external) relevant to the province under the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. CPSL chief executive Sheree Limbrick said that on the back of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, CPSL is auditing Church organizations across Australia to make sure they have sound and robust processes in place to keep children safe.” By CathNews.com

Notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is almost certain to die in jail
“Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is likely to die in jail as he faces more sexual abuse charges(link is external). The 85-year-old will be heard on May 14 for 10 indecent assault charges and four buggery charges in Victoria between 1973 and 1979 to further his time behind bars. The charges will likely extend his time behind bars beyond 2022, his earliest release date. Ridsdale is suffering chronic health problems including heart conditions, arthritis, bowel problems and high blood pressure.” By Australian Associated Press and Jackson Barron for Daily Mail Australia

After 26 years, Eileen Piper has finally won an apology from the Catholic Church for her daughter’s abuse
“It’s taken 26 years, reams of legal documents and many tears, but Eileen Piper has done what she set out to do — cleared the name of her daughter, Stephanie, who was abused by a Catholic priest in the 1970s(link is external). In December, Mrs Piper, 95, received a written apology from Melbourne’s Archbishop, Peter Comensoli, and the Pallotine order of priests which, for years, had denied the crimes of Father Gerard Mulvale.” By Karen Percy, ABC News

‘The Catholic Church should close the Christian Brothers down’
“A McGowan Government minister and former student of CBC Fremantle has publicly criticized the Christian Brothers for a lack of care towards the victims of child sexual abuse(link is external). Dave Kelly, the MLA for Bassendean, attended CBC Fremantle in the 1970s from grade 4 to grade 12. Today on Mornings with Gareth Parker he has revealed his disgust with the Christian Brothers for failing to reckon with their shameful past in dealing with the legacy of child sexual abuse.” By Gareth Parker, 6PRNews

CANADA

Supreme Court says Basilian Fathers responsible for $2.5M in damages to sexual abuse victim Rod MacLeod
“Rod MacLeod, the victim of a pedophile priest in the 1960s at a Sudbury high school, said he hopes his latest legal victory will inspire other sexual abuse victims to come forward(link is external) and ‘seek justice through the court.’ MacLeod made the comments on April 30 when the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the Basilian Fathers of Toronto’s bid for a further appeal after they were held responsible when one of their priests was convicted in 2011 of abusing 17 students at schools over a 38-year period.” By SooToday.com

Supreme Court rejects Catholic Church appeal to reduce damages in sex abuse case
“The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a Catholic teaching order concerning damages awarded to a former Sudbury high school student. Lawyer Rob Talach says Father Hodgson Marshall was convicted of sexually abusing his client(link is external), Rod MacLeod, who was a student at St. Charles College from 1963-1967. In 2011, Marshall was ultimately convicted of abusing 17 young people over his 38-year career. He served two years in federal prison and died in 2014.” By CBC News

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Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest / Cruxnow.com

The inquiry rejected Pell’s evidence given by video link from Rome in 2016 that he was deceived and lied to by Catholic Church officials about Australia’s worst pedophile priest … (Cruxnow.com)

Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children, and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded.

“A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.

“The government decided to release the full report after the High Court last month overturned convictions against Pell on charges he molested two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral in the late 1990s when he was an archbishop.”

By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 27, 2020

TOP STORIES

Australian cardinal links corruption to child abuse charges
“Cardinal George Pell has linked his fight against corruption in the Vatican with his prosecution in Australia for alleged child sex abuse(link is external). Pell was regarded as the third highest-ranking Vatican official in 2018 when he became the world’s most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse. He served 13 months in prison before Australia’s High Court last week acquitted him for molesting two choirboys in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne while he was archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city in the 1990s.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Virginia priest with blog critical of Catholic Church’s sexual abuse handling removed
“A priest in Virginia was removed from his post after maintaining a blog critical of the Catholic Church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal(link is external). Rev. Mark White, whose blog reaches more than 1 million readers, was removed on Monday (Apr. 13), news outlets reported. He served as the priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount … His removal as the head of these two churches follows a months-long dispute with Bishop Barry Knestout, the head of the Diocese of Richmond, and other church officials over the blog.” By Associated Press in Daily Press

The end of clericalism
“As the human race joins the rest of the planet in a struggle for survival, the church is also trying to find its footing. Why? Clericalism. For too long — say, 800 to 1,000 years — the sacramental life of the church has been under priestly lock and key(link is external). Around the 10th century, the custom of stipends for Masses arose. Suddenly, the spiritual value of men’s prayers gained over the spiritual value of women’s prayers and women’s abbeys and monasteries failed one after another.” By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., National Catholic Reporter (Dr. Zagano will be a featured speaker at Voice of the Faithful’s 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church, Oct. 3, 2020, Boston Marriott Newton Hotel)

Clericalism and the pandemic
“As any diocesan director of worship knows, there has been much to navigate during this distorting period in human history. At the center of concerns lay the issue of how to deal with the celebration and administration of the sacraments. Yet, in my experience, the greatest difficulties lay not in the necessity of adapting to new norms and restrictions, but rather in the unanticipated reactions from clergy to the suggested adaptations(link is external). Little did I realize what sort of maelstrom would erupt as we put into place ideas and recommendations precipitated by the need for social distancing and stay-at-home orders.” By Fr. Jim Sabak, OFM, Pray Tell Blog

Cardinal Pell and the Victorian criminal justice system
“Cardinal George Pell has been acquitted of all charges of child sexual abuse by Australia’s highest court – the High Court of Australia. In criminal cases, they usually sit only a bench of five judges. In Pell’s case, the full bench of seven sat. They knew the world was watching. They often write separate opinions. But in the case of Cardinal Pell they all put their name to one judgment. They unanimously upheld his appeal and in almost record time … Readers need to understand that all is not well with the system of criminal justice in Victoria(link is external).” By Fr. Frank Brennan, The Catholic Weekly

ACCOUNTABILITY

A different kind of Catholic Church scandal at a Winchester (Mass.) parish
“Fistfuls of missing money. An FBI investigation. And a culture of secrecy that tore a suburban parish to shreds: What really happened at St. Mary’s in Winchester(link is external)By Mariya Manzhos, Boston Magazine

Pell faces Vatican inquiry into child abuse allegations
“Cardinal George Pell now faces a Church inquiry into allegations of sexually assaulting children(link is external), even though the High Court of Australia dramatically quashed his earlier convictions. Following the cardinal’s conviction by a jury, which became public in February 2019, the Vatican opened a case against the Australian prelate pending the final appeal.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

POPE FRANCIS

Downloadable publication of Pope’s prayers and homilies now available
The Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See is making available a downloadable book entitled ‘Strong in the Face of Tribulation(link is external),’ containing prayers, supplications and the Pope’s homilies as ‘a sure support in time of trial.’ ‘A little help offered to all, so as to know how to discern and experience God’s closeness and tenderness in pain, in suffering, in solitude and in fear,’ writes Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director of Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, presenting Strong in the Face of Tribulation: The Church in Communion – a Sure Support in Time of Trial.” By Eugenio Bonanata and Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ

Is the Francis pontificate in crisis? A response to Faggioli
When Massimo Faggioli offers a critique of this pontificate(link is external), as he did last week at La Croix in a two-part essay, everyone should take notice. Not only is Faggioli one of the leading ecclesiologists in the universal church, but he has been strongly supportive of Pope Francis. The first thing to note is how Faggioli engages the topic: He is deeply respectful, expressing concern not scorn, his analysis does not lead him down a rabbit hole in which the conversation is suddenly devoid of the ecclesial set forth at Vatican II.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal George Pell reportedly facing fresh criminal investigation
“Police have arrived at the NSW seminary where Cardinal George Pell is living amid reports he is facing fresh criminal investigations(link is external). Four Officers from the Auburn Police Area Command arrived at the premises on Abbotsford Road in Homebush about 2.30pm for what was a prearranged meeting to ‘discuss security protocols,’ a NSW Police spokesperson said. The meeting followed a story in the Herald Sun this morning (Apr. 15) claiming Cardinal Pell is being secretly investigated by police over new claims against him.” By News.com.au

It is not possible to divorce George Pell’s acquittal from the Catholic Church’s history of child abuse
“Cardinal George Pell’s acquittal was legally the correct decision. His relief and that of his family and many supporters will be palpable. He – not the Catholic church – was on trial and the high court has seen fit to ensure justice was served. But it is not possible to divorce the acquittal from the broader context of the Catholic church’s history of child sexual abuse(link is external).” By Francis Sullivan, The Guardian

George Pell says ‘culture wars’ contributed to him being wrongfully jailed for child sexual abuse
“Cardinal George Pell says he believes ‘culture wars’ and his conservative views on social issues contributed to him being prosecuted and jailed on child sexual abuse charges(link is external) — convictions that were overturned by the nation’s highest court. The High Court unanimously quashed Cardinal Pell’s convictions and acquitted him of abusing two choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1990s, finding there was the significant possibility that an innocent person had been convicted on evidence that did not establish guilt ‘to the requisite standard of proof.’” By ABC News

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

DC priest describes a culture of cover-up in wake of McCarrick scandal
“In early February, the second-highest-ranking prelate in the Vatican told news outlets that a long-awaited report into the ascent of disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick would be published in the ‘near future.’ In 2018, Pope Francis ordered that the Vatican investigate all of the documentation it had collected over the years regarding McCarrick, including data gathered in the dioceses of New York; Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey; and Washington, D.C., where he had served. Almost three months after the February announcement, the report has still not seen the light of day.” By Clare Giangravé, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

USCCB administrative committee cancels U.S. bishops’ June assembly
“The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has canceled the U.S. bishops’ spring general assembly(link is external) that was planned for June 10-12 in Detroit. “Given the current situation with the coronavirus that has been classified by the World Health Organization as a pandemic, the Administrative Committee of the USCCB voted earlier this week to cancel the June assembly,” said a USCCB news release issued the afternoon of April 8. This marks the first cancellation of a plenary assembly in the conference’s history.” By Catholic New York

PRIESTS

Virginia priest in battle with bishop over blog blasting Church’s abuse response
“In Oct. 2008, Father Mark White started a blog under his name in the hopes that his preaching would reach those who don’t go to church … But he’s also been critical of the way some within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church addressed the clerical sex abuse crisis(link is external). The targets of his criticism have included Pope Francis and his own Diocese of Richmond in Virginia, which he’s called “opaque.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis counsels world’s priests: ‘take risks for forgiveness’
“Pope Francis called on the more than 400,000 Catholic priests worldwide ‘to ask for forgiveness and to learn to forgive(link is external),’ as he celebrated Mass in an empty St. Peter’s Basilica on Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus before his passion and crucifixion. Because of the pandemic, liturgical celebrations with the pope have been pared down to the essential, eliminating or postponing optional rites and celebrations.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN DEACONS

U.S. Catholics wary of panel that will study the idea of women as deacons
“Some American Catholics are wary of Pope Francis’ call for a commission to study the idea of female deacons, saying the panel likely will be mostly conservative theologians(link is external). ‘The deck has really been stacked against [women deacons] with this commission,’ said Jamie L. Manson, a columnist with National Catholic Reporter. ‘I don’t think there’s any voice in this new crop of people who has argued that women deacons can be equal to male deacons.’ In a surprise announcement, Francis on Wednesday (Apr. 8) set up a 10-member commission to study whether women can serve as deacons — ordained ministers who can baptize, witness marriages and perform funerals.” By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times

Media reports shine light on emerging discussion of women deacons
“Recent declarations from the Vatican followed by assenting decrees from a number of bishops make it clear that Roman Catholic hierarchs will not entertain questions about ordaining women priests. They’ve underscored their decrees with excommunications, notably Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the women who have been ordained as part of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement. While priestly ordination is seemingly off the table and out of bounds, what is emerging is a fairly open discussion about ordaining women to the permanent diaconate(link is external).” By Porsia Tunzi, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Women demonstrate what priesthood of Jesus really means
“Virginia Saldanha’s superb Holy Thursday homily on Catholic Women Preach spoke of Jesus’ challenge to a servant leadership that involves ‘humility in service and sacrifice even to the extent of breaking one’s body and shedding one’s blood.’ Women, said Saldanha, are ‘living this model of priesthood.https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/simply-spirit/women-demonstrate-what-priesthood-jesus-truly-means?clickSource=email(link is external) … Where you may not find a sacramentally ordained priest, many women around the world are living the priesthood of Jesus.’ Women who serve economically poor indigenous people in India and Amazonia — sometimes even to the point of death — show the least and the last the loving and compassionate face of God. Women live their priesthood where they are planted, and demonstrate to the sacramentally ordained ministers what the priesthood of Jesus truly means.’” By Sister Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Pope Francis appoints Carmelo Barbagallo to head AIF
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Apr. 15) named Carmelo Barbagallo, of the Bank of Italy, as President of the Financial Information Authority(link is external) (It: Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria, the AIF). He succeeds Rene Brülhart, whose term ended last week. ‘I am honored to have received this appointment, aware of the full weight of the moral and professional responsibility it carries, and I thank the Holy Father for the trust he has placed in me,’ the new President of the Financial Information Authority, Carmelo Barbagallo, said when speaking to Vatican News after publication of the news of his appointment.” By Vatican News

With collection plates drying up, parishes race to SBA loans to avert layoffs
“Days before Easter Sunday, the worries for Fr. James Olson ranged from the momentous to the mundane. At one end, he grappled with the spiritual loss of a Holy Week in isolation, with empty pews in the four churches he pastors in northeast Philadelphia. At the other, he regretted not getting his hair cut before barbershops and other businesses shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But just behind the spiritual loss was the state of the parish finances(link is external).” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Empty pews, empty collection baskets: coronavirus hits U.S. church finances
“St. Anselm Roman Catholic Church in New York’s Brooklyn borough is used to limping along, month after month, at a budget deficit of several thousand dollars a week. But the church that sits in the city that is the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic(link is external) could always count on Easter. Last year, its Easter pew collection brought in $11,651. That was more than twice an average Sunday and, coupled with the church’s online Easter donations of $2,500, enough to cover its weekly operating expenses of $13,000, according to church records.” By Reuters in The New York Times

Catholic ministries get advice on finances during coronavirus crisis
“Andrew Robison is the owner and president of Petrus Development, which helps Catholic ministries build sustainable development programs. Over the past 15 years, the company has worked with over 125 Catholic ministries and raised over $500 million for campus ministries, high schools, universities, pro-life causes and more. He spoke to Charles Camosy about how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic lockdown is affecting Catholic organizations(link is external), and what can be done to help.” By Charles Camosy, Cruxnow.com

VOICES

Editorial: In this forced retreat, are we asking big enough questions?
“A few weeks into this forced retreat and the agita level is ramping up, a growing wondering from all corners of the Catholic lot about what we might look like, how we might be changed, post-pandemic. But are we asking the right questions(link is external)? No sidestepping here. We’ve been a full and willing participant, soliciting opinions from experts, for starters, on three questions: How will the church change as a community, in its understanding of what’s most important, and in its understanding of social mission.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

We must not accept any more self-serving bluster from the Catholic hierarchy
“On the day the High Court of Australia quashed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for child sex abuse offences, the Pope asked for prayers for those who suffer unjust sentences because ‘someone had it in for them’ and compared them to Jesus who ‘was judged ferociously even though he was innocent.’ While not referring directly to Pell, the Pope’s comments were either ill-advised and oblivious to the deep distress they would cause(link is external) to hundreds of thousands of child abuse survivors across the world, or they were deliberately chosen to be inflammatory and offensive to those same survivors.” By Peter Gogarty, Liverpool Champion

The fight for justice for sexual abuse survivors must go on
“While (Cardinal George) Pell’s acquittal may be seen as a setback, his accuser said he hoped the case would not ‘discourage’ other survivors from coming forward(link is external). He reassured them ‘that most people recognize the truth when they hear it,’ noting that he had felt supported by police and prosecutors. Undoubtedly, if survivors stopped coming forward, there would be no justice to pursue.” By Victor Sande-Andeiros, Al Jazeera

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

West Virginia Sexual Abuse Survivors Now Have More Time to Seek Justice
“In a growing national trend, West Virginia has become the latest state to pass legislation reducing barriers to justice for victims of sexual assault(link is external). West Virginia House Bill 4559 effectively gives those who have been sexually assaulted or abused more time to sue their abuser for damages in a civil lawsuit. The bill extends the civil statute of limitations (SOL) to sue a perpetrator from age 22 to age 36, or 4 years from discovery of the abuse, whichever is later. The bill also extends the civil SOL against other individuals or organizations who aided, abetted or concealed the abuse from age 20 to age 36.” By Joseph Saunders, The Legal Examiner

Advocates continue pushing legislation for sex abuse survivors
“Activists had hoped that the state Legislature would take up at least two bills supporting survivors of sexual abuse(link is external) this legislative session, but with an uncertain schedule amid a pandemic, they worry the measures will be left on the backburner. Survivors of sexual abuse and members of the advocacy group Safe Horizon hosted a press call on Monday urging legislators to resume session and pass the Adult Survivors Act. The measure – like the Child Victims Act that went into effect in August – would open a one-year look-back period for adult victims to pursue previously time-barred lawsuits against their alleged abusers.” By Cayla Harris, Albany Times Union

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Sexual abuse survivors react to Cardinal Pell’s acquittal
“On Monday (Apr. 6), justices on Australia’s highest court decided to overturn a unanimous guilty verdict and free a man convicted of sexually abusing two young boys. The news rocked the survivor community worldwide. There is no shying away from the fact that the decision to overturn the conviction of Cardinal George Pell was a gut punch for survivors of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The Pell case saw testimony from twelve witnesses, including the lone surviving victim. More accusers came later forward in the press and provided excruciating details of how the Cardinal manipulated them.” By Zack Hiner, Ms. Magazine

CONNECTICUT

Danbury clergy sexual abuse case pushed to June
“The pre-trial hearing of the former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys(link is external) has been rescheduled from April 24 to June 19. Jaime Marin-Cardona, 51, is charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact. He pleaded not guilty to all nine charges. The warrant for Marin-Cardona’s arrest alleges that he groomed two boys over the course of four years, and sexually abused one of them over the same period of time.” By Kendra Baker, News Times

HAWAII

Fr. Bart O’Leary named in new Hawaii sexual abuse case, Bishop Ferrario’s legacy of abuse continues
“Today (Apr. 14) Hawaii attorney Mark Gallagher and attorneys from the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates filed a complaint under Hawaii’s ‘window’ law (closing April 24, 2020) against the Diocese of Honolulu on behalf of clergy sexual abuse survivor Craig Christiansen(link is external). Christiansen courageously allowed his name to appear on the lawsuit even though survivors may bring claims confidentially. The lawsuit publicly identifies for the first time Father Bartholomew ‘Bart’ O’Leary, a globally-celebrated figure in Catholic seminary administration, as a child sexual abuser. The case also names the notorious former Diocese of Honolulu Bishop and child abuser, Bishop Joseph Ferrario.” By Jeff Anderson & Associates PC

ILLINOIS

Archdiocese of Chicago reaches $2.1 million settlement in lawsuit claiming 7-year-old girl abused at church camp
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay a $2.1 million settlement in a lawsuit that alleged a 7-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at a Catholic church camp(link is external) in 2015, according to a news release from the law firm representing the girl. The law firm, Romanucci & Blandin, did not name the camp where the abuse occurred, but a spokesman said it happened at a church in suburban Cook County.” By Javonte Anderson, Chicago Tribune

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 deceased Father Peter Clement Vatter(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 the late 1940’s when Vatter was assigned as Pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish, Moberly, Missouri. In 1955, the parish was renamed St. Pius X Parish.” By BishopAccountability.org

NEW YORK

Buffalo Diocese legal bill in sex abuse scandal: $2 million and counting
“The Buffalo Diocese is spending a lot of money defending itself. Hundreds of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. A landmark bankruptcy case. The result is a legal bill totaling more than $2 million the past year alone(link is external). And the meter is running. More than half of the money paid out by the diocese – $1.4 million – went to Connors LLP, the Buffalo law firm handling more than 260 Child Victims Act lawsuits against the diocese.” By Phil Fairbanks, The Buffalo News

Hundreds of claims against Rochester-area Catholic parishes blocked, but at what cost?
“The parishes that make up the Diocese of Rochester, some of them already hobbled by declining attendance and flagging finances, are facing a new threat. A wave of litigation. The diocese’s parishes, as well as charitable affiliates like the Catholic Youth Organization and Camp Stella Maris, are facing more than 400 legal claims that allege sexual abuse of young people by priests(link is external) and nuns connected to those organizations.” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Delays expected in sex abuse lawsuits
“Even without a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding by the Diocese of Buffalo, plaintiffs alleging sexual abuse by priests would be facing at least a two-year wait(link is external) for courts to hear their cases. A state Supreme Court Justice in Erie County has ruled that an unnamed man who attended the Holy Apostles Parish should receive a default judgement against Mark M. Friel, the priest who abused the plaintiff as a child. Damages can’t be decided in the case, though, until cases proceed against the Diocese of Buffalo and Holy Apostles Parish because they hired, retained and supervised Friel.” By John Wittaker, Post-Journal

NORTH CAROLINA

2 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse filed against Diocese of Charlotte
“Two people who say priests sexually abused them when they were children(link is external) are now suing the Charlotte Catholic Diocese. The civil lawsuits filed in Mecklenburg County claim the Catholic church concealed misconduct and sheltered abusers. The cases were filed against Fathers Richard Farwell and Joseph Kelleher. The plaintiffs’ attorney said their accusations are on the list of credible allegations that were released late last year, but their cases were previously dismissed based upon the statue of limitations.” By WSOC-TV9 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Man files lawsuit claiming he was sexually abused as a child by three Pittsburgh Catholic priests
“ By A man is suing the Catholic Pittsburgh Diocese, claiming he was abused by three priests as a child(link is external) — two of them who he knew only as ‘father.’ A 62-year-old man who lives in New Hampshire filed the suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. It alleges that the abuse began when he was 7 or 8 and was a student at St. Coleman’s Catholic School in Turtle Creek. He claims the abuse continued through the age of 15 as he was living at the New Castle Youth Development Center.” By KDKA-TV2 News

VIRGINIA

Diocesan Review Board Concludes Investigation of Rev. Msgr. Raymond A. Barton
“Following a lengthy investigation by the Diocesan Review Board, Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond has determined that Msgr. Raymond A. Barton, a retired priest of the diocese, will not have his name added to the diocesan list of clergy with a credible and substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse(link is external). On Feb. 14, 2020, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced it had received a report of allegations of child sexual abuse against the retired priest.” By Diocese of Richmond

AUSTRALIA

Vatican requires bishops ‘to cover up child sex abuse’ in absence of reporting laws, expert says
“A confidential instruction from the pope in 1922 directed bishops to treat canonical crimes such as ‘obscene acts with animals,’ ‘solicitation of sex during confession,’ and ‘gravely sinful offences perpetrated against children’ with the utmost secrecy. ‘And that secrecy has been confirmed, continued by every pope since(link is external), including the current one, Pope Francis,’ said Kieran Tapsell, an expert witness on a 2017 royal commission panel on canon law.” By Charlotte King, ABC News Ballarat

Cardinal Pell’s acquittal stirs abuse survivor memories in Ballarat hometown
“A thick line of black tape obscures Cardinal George Pell’s name on a board lauding ordained alumni of St Patrick’s College in the Australian town of Ballarat as colored ribbons flutter on doors and mailboxes. The high school in Pell’s home town has no immediate plans to remove the tape despite the former Vatican treasurer’s acquittal this week of the sexual assault(link is external) of two choirboys in Melbourne in the 1990s. The High Court’s decision to overturn a lower court’s ruling and clear 78-year-old Pell, releasing him from jail after serving just over a year of a six-year sentence, has stirred painful memories for child sex abuse survivors in Ballarat.” By Sonali Paul and Jonathan Barrett, Reuters

CANADA

Sign up to sex abuse redress scheme or lose funding, government warns
“Victorian private schools, religious entities and other organizations who don’t sign up to a redress scheme for child sex abuse survivors may lose funding(link is external), the state government will announce on Sunday. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended a national redress scheme to provide survivors with support such as compensation. Victoria’s Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said 49 non-government organizations operating in the state had not signed up to the scheme, which has a June 30 deadline.” By Goya Dmytryshchak, The Sydney Morning Herald

80-year-old Hearst priest accused of additional historic sex offences
“An 80-year-old priest from Hearst faces additional charges stemming from allegations of a historical sexual assaulthttps://www.thesudburystar.com/news/local-news/80-year-old-hearst-priest-accused-of-additional-historical-sex-offenses/wcm/de6ac01a-ded7-4807-a432-83b01ba27904(link is external). The Ontario Provincial Police say the offenses are alleged to have occurred in Hearst over a period between 1976 and 1985. As a result of the investigation launched Feb. 26, Fernand Villeneuve was charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of acting with gross indecency and one count of indecent assault on a female.” By The Daily Press

JAPAN

Sexual abuse of minors in dioceses ‘just the tip of iceberg’
“A new internal report by a Catholic bishops organization found that 16 sexual abuse cases against minors since the 1950s in Japan have been reported from the dioceses(link is external). Of these cases spanning seven decades, only four of the clergy have admitted to the abuse and five remain as priests. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan on April 7 released its investigative report on its website after surveying all 16 diocesan bishops in Japan.” By Maki Okubo, The Asahi Shimbun

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The end of clericalism / National Catholic Reporter

“It is the community that brings intimacy with Christ, that brings intimacy with the holy faithful people of God. It is community we need.” (Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter)

As the human race joins the rest of the planet in a struggle for survival, the church is also trying to find its footing.

“Why?

“Clericalism.

“For too long — say, 800 to 1,000 years — the sacramental life of the church has been under priestly lock and key. Around the 10th century, the custom of stipends for Masses arose. Suddenly, the spiritual value of men’s prayers gained over the spiritual value of women’s prayers and women’s abbeys and monasteries failed one after another.

“Coincidentally, the cursus honorum (‘course of honor’) ended the diaconate as a permanent vocation. Unless one was destined for priesthood, he could not be ordained as deacon. Very few men became “permanent” deacons and women deacons — even abbesses — were no longer ordained.

“Which brings us back to clericalism, the attitude that grace is dispensed to the people of God only by a cleric, preferably a priest. Thousands of priests are not like that. But thousands are.

By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

Dr. Zagano will be a featured speaker at Voice of the Faithful’s 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church, Oct. 3, 2020, Boston Marriott Newton Hotel.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


April 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

George Pell freed after Australian court overturns sex abuse conviction
“Australia’s highest court on Tuesday (Apr. 7) overturned the sexual abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell(link is external), the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis. Cardinal Pell, 78, who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison last March for molesting two 13-year-old boys after Sunday Mass in 1996.” By Livia Albeck-Ripka and Damien Cave, The New York Times

Francis creates new women deacons commission, naming entirely different membership
“Pope Francis has created a new commission to study the ordaining of women as deacons(link is external) in the Catholic Church, the Vatican announced April 8. The new group, composed of 12 members, appears to replace the earlier study commission on the issue, which the pontiff had instituted in 2016. None of the members of the earlier group have been appointed to the new commission.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The Church after coronavirus: how our communities are changing (Part 1 of a survey series)
“Catholic parishes across the world are closed. Millions of Catholics have been unable to physically take part in the celebration of the Mass for weeks, and they may not be able to again for months. Simply put, the coronavirus pandemic is fundamentally changing how we do and be church(link is external). What could these changes mean for us in the long-term?” By Heidi Schlumpf, Michael Sean Winters and Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The American Parish, Part 2
“In this second special episode on the American parish today, we talk with three writers about their concrete proposals for creating more vibrant, hope-filled parish communities(link is external). Their suggestions are simple: let more people, including women, preach; reach out to LGBTQ Catholics, and learn from their journeys; and finally, help young families, help parents with restless young children in tow make it through Mass by shortening homilies—no more than five minutes please. Plus, the Commonweal staff share thoughts about what our readers most want in parishes: robust social justice ministries, prayerful liturgies, and a sense of home.” By The Editors, Commonweal

ACCOUNTABILITY

Pell ruling prompts mixed reaction from church leaders, victims’ groups
“The Australian High Court’s decision to dismiss charges against Cardinal George Pell has been praised as a successful rendering of justice by some and emphatically denounced by others(link is external). While an immediate reaction from a number of clergy and others associated with the institutional church was largely positive, organizations that support survivors of clergy sexual abuse varied in their reactions, with some harshly criticizing the Australian judicial system and others holding firm that Pell’s case still represents progress.” By Jesse Remidios, National Catholic Reporter

Civil claims expected against Cardinal George Pell and Catholic Church despite acquittal
“The high court acquittal of George Pell is likely to be followed by a string of civil claims against the cardinal and the Catholic Church(link is external) from alleged abuse survivors and their families, lawyers say. Pell was freed from Victoria’s Barwon prison on Tuesday (Apr. 7) after the high court allowed his appeal and quashed a conviction for charges related to the alleged sexual assault of two choirboys in 1996. He strenuously denies all allegations. The father of one of the boys, who has since died, is suing the Catholic church and has said his case will continue despite the high court’s decision to overturn the jury verdict.” By Ben Smee, The Guardian

George Pell’s accuser issues rallying cry to sexual abuse survivors in wake of verdict
“The man at the heart of the failed case against Cardinal George Pell has issued a rallying cry to sexual abuse survivors(link is external). He said he would hate to think that anyone might not report to the police because of his outcome. Witness J said he was glad the tumultuous legal process was over and that while darkness was never far away, the legal saga would not define him. The man said he respected the decision and accepted the outcome. But he called on survivors not to be discouraged about going to the authorities.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

WOMEN DEACONS

If Francis really wants women deacons, this seems an odd way to go about it
“’Synodality’ is the shibboleth of the Pope Francis era, and so it should be no surprise that the pontiff acted Tuesday (Apr. 7) on one of the recommendations of the recent Synod of Bishops for the Amazon by creating – for the second time in four years – a commission to study whether women might be ordained as deacons(link is external). During last October’s synod, the idea of female deacons surfaced as part of a broader discussion about finding new ways to recognize and institutionalize the contributions of women, especially in isolated rural areas where they’re often the Church’s primary catechists, prayer organizers and even leaders of communities.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Vatican statistics show decline in number of consecrated men, women between 2013-2018
“The decrease in the number of religious brothers and of women in religious orders is ‘worrying(link is external),’ according to the Vatican statistics office. While the number of religious brothers in Africa and Asia continues to increase, the number of religious brothers worldwide experienced an 8 percent drop between 2013 and 2018, while the number of women religious fell 7.5 percent globally in the same period, the Vatican Central Office for Church Statistics reported.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

VOICES

Point counterpoint: the New York Child Victims Act
“As children, we were both abused by family members, people close to us, people we trusted. We both eventually spoke out as part of our own healing process and, more importantly, to protect other people, but it took us decades to disclose our abuse even to those closest to us. The science of trauma is clear: It takes time for survivors to come forward(link is external) and by the time we’re ready, many of us have lost the chance to pursue justice in the courts. That’s why the one year look-back window of the Child Victims Act is so important. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic just hit pause for thousands of survivors who thought they still had time to file a civil lawsuit.” By Teri Hatcher and Tom Andriola

For the love of God (literally), stay home, be safe and pray
“Over the last two weeks, I have read a lot of disturbing articles and social media comments(link is external) decrying the widespread decisions of bishops to suspend the public celebration of liturgies and, in many cases, to close church buildings. That choice, painful as it has been for both the ecclesial leaders who had to make it and those who have felt the consequences, arose from the universal consensus of the best medical and public health experts. And yet, some Catholic media commentators and even a cardinal have proposed that churches should remain open …” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Perhaps the craziest claim by anti-SOL zealots
“The momentum has shifted from the selfish wrongdoers to the selfless innocent, from the secret-keepers to the openness advocates, from those who ignore common sense and psychology to those who understand common sense and psychology and from those who want to protect institutions and companies to those who want to protect kids and vulnerable adults … And in response to this long-overdue trend toward justice, self-serving lobbyists who are pro-arbitrary deadline, pro-secrecy and anti-victim are becoming ever-more-creative in dreaming up outlandish ‘the sky will fall!’ claims(link is external).” By Horowitz Law

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

We help child sex abuse survivors break their silence when we show them support
“This month, communities across the country are gathering at local ‘Take Back the Night’ events in observance and support of those impacted by sexual violence(link is external). In the last year—as news broke about Baptist church leaders abusing children and the Pope acknowledged nuns were being abused by church leaders—sexual violence facing children proved to be an international crisis. Investigations of both found the majority of the crimes had been long standing and some even continued for decades, but little is said about support for the victims.” By Ashley Garling, Ms. Magazine

MASSACHUSETTS

Fr. Peter Gori cleared of abuse allegation, reinstated
“The Archdiocese of Boston announced March 30 that Augustinian Father Peter Gori has been cleared of an allegation of abuse(link is external) and that Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, has returned him to active ministry. Father Gori has also been reinstated as pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Andover and will return to the parish by Palm Sunday.” By The Pilot

MISSOURI

KC diocese adds priest who died in 1950 to list of those credibly accused of sex abuse
“A priest who served in the Diocese of St. Joseph in the 1940s is the latest addition to a list of clergy deemed to have credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) made against them. The Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese said the allegation against the Rev. Peter Clement Vatter was substantiated by the diocesan ombudsman, the diocese’s independent review board and Bishop James V. Johnston Jr.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

Missouri child abuse and neglect line sees 50% drop in calls
“The Department of Social Services (DSS) has seen a 50 percent drop in Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline calls(link is external) since March 11, 2020, roughly the same time schools began going on spring break and students have not returned due to COVID-19 shutdowns. This drop, representatives believe, is due to the lack of reports from teachers as students are out of school … Educators and child care providers make the largest number of hotline calls during the year.” By Elizabeth Orosco, Northeast News

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie Diocese suspends compensation payments due to COVID-19
“The COVID-19 pandemic has gone far beyond keeping parishioners out of church and absent from Mass in the Catholic Diocese of Erie. The diocese said the crisis has so affected its finances that the diocese has suspended payments from its special fund for victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The 13-county diocese, which on March 17 suspended public Masses due to the coronavirus, has halted operation of the compensation fund for at least 90 days because of the sharp decline in the stock market related the coronavirus outbreak, the fund’s administrators and the diocese said on Tuesday (Mar. 31).” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Priest steps down at Laflin parish amid abuse accusations
“The pastor of a Catholic church in Luzerne County has stepped down from his post amid sexual abuse allegations(link is external). A statement released by the Diocese of Scranton outlined multiple accusations against the Rev. James J. Walsh, pastor at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Laflin. Walsh, while denying the accusations leveled at him, resigned as pastor in lieu of being removed by Bishop Joseph Bambera.” By Kevin Carroll, Times Leader

Diocese Suspends Abuse Victims’ Compensation Program, Citing ‘Economic Turmoil’
“Among the people affected by the downturn on Wall Street are some alleged victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The Diocese of Erie in northwestern Pennsylvania, identified in 2018 by the state attorney general as one of the places where clergy abuse had been especially egregious, has announced that it is suspending the processing of victim claims(link is external) in response to what it calls the “economic turmoil” brought about by the coronavirus.” By Tom Gjelten, National Public Radio

AUSTRALIA

Two new accusers say George Pell abused them when they were boys in the 1970s
“For decades, 53-year-old Bernie kept the secrets of his childhood deeply buried. As a boy growing up in a Ballarat orphanage in the 1970s, Bernie told the ABC’s Revelation program that he was abused on multiple occasions by George Pell(link is external), then a priest in the diocese of Ballarat. For years Bernie was convinced that, if he reported the abuse, he would be believed.” By Sarah Ferguson, ABC News

Redress a ‘jail free’ card for churches
“A Christian minister has labelled the national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse as a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ for churches(link is external). Pastor Bob Cotton has called for churches to be stripped of their tax-free status if they are not willing to accommodate their abuse victims. The senior pastor at Maitland Christian Church in NSW says the redress scheme’s compensation cap of $150,000 is far too low and ‘everything is weighted far too heavily in the favor of the church.’” By Heather McNab, 7News.com.au

COLOMBIA

Catholic priests in suspended in Colombia over abuse claim
“The Catholic Church in Colombia has suspended 15 priests accused of sexual abuse(link is external), the archdiocese of the city of Villavicencio said on Friday. The suspension was ‘a precautionary measure … because there is an ongoing investigation,’ priest Carlos Villabon told AFP. On February 14 a man, whose name has been withheld, accused the priests of ‘actions against sexual morality,’ according to the statement by the Villavicencio archdiocese. The archdiocese said it had informed the public prosecutor and had made itself ‘available to collaborate with investigators.’” By Agence France-Press in OutlookIndia.com

GERMANY

Justice checks suspected abuse in Catholic children’s home
“The judiciary is investigating allegations of abuse against a former Catholic children’s and youth home(link is external) in the municipality of Baiern near Munich. The public prosecutor’s office in Munich II, according to its own statements, initiated preliminary investigations against a former educator of the youth village Piusheim as well as a priest at the time.” By Steffen Heinemann, Web24News.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest from the Fens steps down following historic child sex abuse claims
“A statement released by Bishop Alan Hopes and the Diocese of East Anglia on Friday (March 20) explains Father Michael Ryan had recently been accused of the non-recent sexual abuse of children(link is external). It says he voluntarily stepped down from his responsibilities while the investigation is ongoing and that the accusations have been reported to the relevant authorities, including police.” By Louise Hepburn, Cambridge Times

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Compensation scheme for abuse survivors ‘must be launched’ despite lockdown
“A compensation scheme for survivors of historical abuse must be launched as scheduled next week despite the coronavirus lockdown, a campaigner has said. Jon McCourt, of the group Survivors North West, said a virtual launch could deliver progress for victims without compromising safety with a public gathering. Victims have already endured long delays in their campaign for recognition and compensation.” By Rebecca Black, Belfast Telegraph

JAPAN

Catholic bishops’ forum finds 16 cases of child sexual abuse in Japan
“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan has found 16 cases of sexual abuse against minors(link is external) spanning from the 1950s to the 2010s in its internal probe of churches in the country, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday. The Tokyo-based organization has been investigating all its 16 dioceses and other convents in Japan since last May, calling for people to come forward with reports of sexual abuse regardless of when it occurred.” By Kyodo News

MALTA

St. Joseph Home sex abuse victims lose appeal for damages from church
“More disappointment for the victims of the St Joseph Home clerical sex abuse(link is external), as the Court of Appeal confirmed that their case was time-barred. Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi, Mr Justice Tonio Mallia and Madam Justice Miriam Hayman, in a decision handed down on Friday(Mar. 27), upheld a judgment of the First Hall Civil Court, ruling the claim to be time-barred.” By Malta Today

POLAND

Polish Catholic Church liable for sex abuse compensation claims
“Poland’s Catholic Church is facing a tidal wave of compensation bills(link is external) after the country’s highest court ruled it is liable for damages for people abused by its priests and religious. The supreme court dismissed a challenge by a religious order, the Society of Christ Fathers, to a lower court ruling that it carried ultimate responsibility for compensating a woman abused by one of its priests.” By Dereck Scally, The Irish Times

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Cardinal Pell’s acquittal was as opaque as his sexual abuse trial / The New York Times

“At every stage, critics argue, Australia’s courts exhibited a penchant for secrecy and insular decision-making that resembled the Catholic Church’s flawed and damaging response to sexual abuse within its ranks.” (The New York Times)

Cardinal George Pell walked out of prison on Tuesday after Australia’s highest court reversed his 2018 conviction for molesting two choirboys decades earlier — liberating the most senior Roman Catholic cleric to ever face trial over child sexual abuse.

The world may never be able to assess whether the court’s reasoning was sound.

The panel of seven judges ruled that the jury lacked sufficient doubt about the accusations against Cardinal Pell, the former archbishop of Melbourne and treasurer for the Vatican. Jurors, the court argued, ignored “compounding improbabilities” caused by conflicting accounts from the cardinal’s main accuser and other witnesses.

But no one outside the court case can test that comparison. The central evidence — the testimony of the main accuser, on which the case “was wholly dependent,” the judges wrote — has never been released, not in video, audio nor even redacted transcripts.

By Damien Cave and Livia Albeck-Ripka, The New York Times — Read more …

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Cardinal Pell abuse conviction overturned; where does justice lie?

BOSTON, Mass., Apr. 7, 2020 – An Australian court today overturned Cardinal George Pell’s sexual abuse conviction. He was the highest ranking Catholic Church leader to have been convicted in the Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal. The court’s ruling leaves clergy abuse survivors and supporters wondering where justice lies.

As with criminal trials in the United States, court systems in Australia may sometimes yield decisions relying less on presumed guilt or innocence and more on technicalities judges determine to carry more weight than a jury’s decision. In the case of Cardinal Pell, who was tried on a single count rather than facing all the accusers who charged him with sexual abuse, the judges overruled the unanimous judgment of the original jury, as well as a later decision by a lower appeals court, because, they said, the jury should have held doubts about the case.

Pell’s case illustrates, again, the difficulties sex-abuse victims face when they seek justice. No predator invites others to witness the abuse of a child, nor do they advertise their behavior or brag to the general public about their behavior. Clear-cut cases with a wealth of evidence seldom exist. That is why prosecutors typically seek to find more than one accuser. That is why the passage of time for this particular case creates such tremendous obstacles to overcome.

Yet in Australia, despite those hurdles, despite the death of one accuser and the focus on only a single one of the several who came forward, a jury in Australia found unanimously that Cardinal Pell was guilty. Seven justices decided to substitute their assessment for the decision of the 12 jurors, as well as to override the appeals court that first upheld the decision.

No wonder so many Catholics have lost faith in the Church and criminal justice systems here in the United States and in other countries when it comes to clergy sexual abuse of children.


Voice of the Faithful News Release, Apr. 7, 2020
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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