Posts Tagged catholic clergy sexual abuse

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


March 27, 2020

TOP STORIES

The American parish today
“A few years ago Commonweal published a special issue on parishes in the U.S. We sent out correspondents to report on what they encountered … These dispatches provided an interesting, eclectic account of what it meant to worship in different parishes in different parts of the U.s.. At the same time, such an approach was unable to take the full measure of the changes remaking the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external)—most of all the significant changes in demographics and geography, set against the backdrop of declining vocations and broader trends in religious disaffiliation—and what they meant for local communities of Catholics.” By The Editors, Commonweal

Reporting system to record abuse complaints against bishops begins
“A reporting system accepting sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. bishops and eparchs is in place(link is external). Called the Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service, or CBAR, the system became operational March 16. The mechanism incorporates a website and a toll-free telephone number through which individuals can file reports regarding a bishop. The website is ReportBishopAbuse.org. Calls can be placed at (800) 276-1562.” By Dennis Sadowsky, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Standard

Retrial of U.S. Catholic official delayed over virus concerns
“The retrial of the only church official who has ever gone to prison in the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal was delayed Monday (Mar. 16) because of the coronavirus outbreak(link is external). The retrial of Monsignor William Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese, had been to start Monday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court but was put on hold until January amid court shutdowns meant to slow the spread of the pandemic.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press

Theologian says clerical sexual abuse ‘always about abuse of power’
“Karlijn Demasure taught religion at a secondary school for girls in Belgium when she first came across child abuse. It turned out a girl was sexually abused at home and no one at the school knew exactly what to do(link is external). ‘The psychiatrist associated with the school was also unable to help us,’ said Demasure. ‘Should we address the father that we knew about it and that it shouldn’t be happening? Should we send the girl to therapy? Nobody knew. This episode made me decide to go back to university for further study, and to specialize as a theologian in this field. We must help these children.’” By Joke Heikens, Katholiek Nieuwsblad, on Cruxnow.com

Court-appointed official says Vatican failing on accountability in Nienstedt case
“A court-appointed official for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is alleging that the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops is failing to comply with new protocols for bishop accountability(link is external) created by Pope Francis with regard to a potential investigation into former Archbishop John Nienstedt. Nienstedt led the archdiocese from 2008 until resigning under fire in 2015 after charges of failing to protect children from sexual abuse. In addition to allegations that he actively covered up for abusive priests, Nienstedt has been the subject of investigations regarding his own misconduct.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Post-reformation theology of the priesthood influenced abuse crisis, author says
“My (Clare McGrath-Merkle, OCDS, DPhil,) work has been focused mainly on the theology of the priesthood and its possible role, if any, in the crisis of sexual abuse and cover-up(link is external). The causes of the crisis are, of course, varied, but I have wanted to try to understand how this theology might have somehow contributed to a clerical identity prone to the abuse of power.” By Charles C. Camosy, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Priest chaplain at Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse had abuse record
“In January, Lindsey Faust and her partner visited the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Kentucky, for a mini vacation. Faust was a former volunteer with Loretto Volunteers and shared a rapport with the sisters and community members. It was almost like home to her. During their stay, Faust’s partner, out of curiosity, inquired about the priest who lived there, celebrating daily Mass. It was then that a community member revealed details about Fr. J. Irvin Mouser that no volunteer knew. Mouser, a priest from the Archdiocese of Louisville, was removed from public ministry in 2002 on charges of child sex abuse(link is external).” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

Erie, other dioceses unveil system to report bishops
“The creation of the nationwide Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service grew out of the clergy abuse crisis. Roman Catholic dioceses nationwide have launched a system to report claims of abuse against bishops(link is external), the Catholic Diocese of Erie announced on Tuesday (Mar. 17). The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service, which started operating on Monday, grew out of a document called ‘Vox estis lux mundi,’ or ‘You Are the Light of the World,’ which Pope Francis issued in May 2019 after an international meeting of bishops in Rome in February 2019 to address clergy sexual abuse.” By Erie Times-News Staff

You’ll need a strong stomach to digest Revelation’s insights into child sexual abuse in the Catholic church
“Despite an extensive royal commission, scores of criminal trials and excellent books such as Louise Milligan’s Cardinal and David Marr’s The Prince, there are still some unanswered questions about child sexual abuse in the now-tattered narrative of the Catholic church in Australia(link is external). These include: why did these priests do such horrible things? How did they justify their crimes to themselves and to God? What kind of conversations may they have had with, say, their archbishop or monsignor, once they were rumbled by a parent or teacher or victim?” By Brigid Delaney, The Guardian

POPE FRANCIS

What lies ahead for Pope Francis as he enters the eighth year of his pontificate
Today (Mar. 13) is the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope Francis(link is external). It is a holiday in the Vatican, but it takes place under the most extraordinary circumstances dominated by the coronavirus pandemic that began in China and then spread worldwide, infecting some 138,000 people in at least 117 countries. So far it has caused the deaths of more than 5,000 people, including more than 1,200 in Italy.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal Pell’s lawyers move quickly to file documents
“Lawyers for Cardinal George Pell have already filed supplementary material with the High Court amid hopes of a quick decision in his appeal(link is external). The cardinal’s legal team was asked to file a short note on the evidentiary relationship between the two separate incidents of abuse of which he was convicted. The note was filed on Friday (Mar. 13) night following the second and final day of his appeal. Sources close to the case doubt the issue will impact the decision in any significant way.” By CathNews.com

PRIESTS

U.S. Hispanic Catholics are future, but priest numbers are dismal
“Maria Chavira, a senior administrator in the Diocese of Phoenix, says Spanish-speaking Catholic parishes in her area are ‘bursting at the seams(link is external)’ and celebrates the emergence of Hispanics as the largest ethnic component of the church nationwide. Throughout the Southwest, where the surge has been dramatic, Roman Catholic leaders are excited by the possibilities — and well aware of daunting challenges.” By David Crary, Associated Press, in The Island Packet

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Emerging communities: Religious life is changing, but changing to what?
“At almost every national gathering of sisters in the United States in recent years, the speakers say, ‘Religious life is changing.’ However, no one knows what it is changing to(link is external). There might be a way to get a snapshot of what is to come. In 2017, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University published the third edition of a directory, ‘Emerging U.S. Communities of Consecrated Life since Vatican II,’ that lists each operating religious community in the United States that was formed since 1965, the year the Second Vatican Council ended.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

Advocate says quest for female deacons not over, despite silence in pope’s Amazon document
“There’s arguably no one in the United States that has championed the cause of women deacons more the Phyllis Zagano(link is external) – a senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University – who was tapped by Pope Francis in 2016 to serve on the Vatican commission to study the historical evidence as to whether there were women deacons in the early Church. While many had expected that Pope Francis would green light the proposal to ordain women as deacons in the Amazon after last October’s Synod on the region, instead the pope has said that he would reconstitute a new commission to study the issue further.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Former Rapid City priest convicted on 65 counts in theft, wire fraud and money laundering scheme
“A formerly ordained priest of the Catholic Diocese in Rapid City, South Dakota, was found guilty by a federal jury of wire fraud, nine counts of money laundering, transportation of stolen money, and making and subscribing a false tax return(link is external). During the trial, evidence was shown that Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, 41, while employed as a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City, arranged a plan to steal money from that was collected from parishioners from various churches.” By NewsCenter1.tv

CHILD PROTECTION

Child protection pioneer McChesney to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal
“Kathleen McChesney, a leading trailblazer in the fight against clergy sexual abuse, will receive the highest honor in the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external). On Sunday (Mar. 22), the University of Notre Dame announced that McChesney, who worked for decades in law enforcement before being tapped to establish and lead the Office of Child Protection for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), will be awarded the 2020 Laetare Medal, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic award.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Top anti-abuse expert says ‘paternalistic’ is worse than clericalism
“German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, one of the Catholic Church’s leading experts in child protection, has said that more dangerous than clericalism in the clerical abuse crisis is a ‘paternalistic’ attitude within the Church(link is external) that both devalues laypeople and puts clergy on a pedestal. While clericalism has become a hot-button issue under Pope Francis and while it certainly contributes to the problem of abuse, ‘What I think is a deeper problem is the paternalistic attitude that exists, said German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner in an interview with Crux.” By Elise Ann Allen, Curxnow.com

VOICES

To heal the church from the sex abuse crisis, we need apologies, not just policies
“The day after New Year’s my husband and I packed up our six children and drove to the Encounter Conference, in Toledo, Ohio, where 3,000 Catholics gathered for three days of inspiring talks, Eucharistic adoration and Mass. I’ll admit it: I limped into the Encounter. Since the summer of 2018, the revelations of grave sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy in the highest echelons of the church hierarchy has left me devastated and grieving(link is external).” By Colleen Duggan, America: The Jesuit Review

Editorial: How do women convince a male clerical culture to change?
“Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias had to know when he declared that he had undergone a conversion and was now an advocate for women seeking leadership roles in the global church(link is external) that those words would not be the last on the subject. Gracias made his comments during a Feb. 21 interview with NCR’s Vatican correspondent, Joshua McElwee. Gracias is not just any cardinal. The archbishop of Mumbai, he is also president of the Indian bishops’ conference and a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill advances that aims to deliver justice for adults abused as children
“After a couple of failed attempts in recent years, Georgia lawmakers are again advancing legislation to allow adults who were victims of sexual abuse more time to sue organizations that employed their abuser(link is external). This latest version of the Hidden Predator Act passed the House late last week and its fate is now in the state Senate. Its author, Warner Robins Republican Heath Clark, said the bill raises the age a victim can bring a civil suit for child sexual abuse from 23 to 38 years and expands the amount of time a victim can bring suit from two years after becoming aware of the abuse to four years.” By Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder

Shaw: Abuse victims should be able to take civil action
“It is time for the North Dakota Legislature to open a new window, so victims of sexual abuse can seek civil action against their abusers(link is external). Many of the perpetrators were or are Catholic priests. Many of the victims were children. They were frightened, ashamed and traumatized. By the time they realized the seriousness of the offenses against them or had the courage to come forward, the statute of limitations had expired for them to take legal action.” By Jim Shaw, The Dickinson Press

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Priest on PBS special offers frank accounting of past, hope for future
“If you tune in to the PBS special ‘Inside the Vatican,’ slated to air 9-11 p.m. EDT April 28, you’ll have to wait more than an hour and a half to see him, and to hear what he has to say. But German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner’s words are a necessary tonic, even if it’s sonic castor oil to some(link is external). Father Zollner wears many hats.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Courier

The Catholic Church hires ‘fixers’ to cover up sexual abuse – now they’re speaking out
“As survivors of child sex abuse continue speak out against the priests that attacked them, the Catholic Church continues to hide credible accused priests(link is external), allowing them to live, shop, walk, and freely roam communities throughout the US. But the communities the Catholic Church have chosen to set up these places of respite, where hundreds of priests die peacefully, without ever facing criminal charges, are carefully chosen. One former monk says his main task while employed by the church was to cover up and displace child molesting priests.” By Mick S. Grewal, The Legal Examiner

CONNECTICUT

Danbury clergy sexual abuse case to resume later this month
“The case of a former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys(link is external) is scheduled to resume in two weeks. 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, The Register Citizen

FLORIDA

Diocese finds 1976 sexual abuse allegations against former St. Augustine priest ‘credible’
“A retired St. Augustine Catholic priest was accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) 44 years ago in a recent complaint, the Diocese of St. Augustine announced in a statement Monday (Mar. 23). Father John H. Dux, a former clergyman at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Augustine, was immediately suspended indefinitely in May 2019 after the alleged victim’s attorney sent the Diocese a copy of the complaint.” By Matt Bruce, The St. Augustine Record

IOWA

Diocese of Des Moines investigating priest accused of sexual misconduct
“A Catholic priest has been placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Des Moines after allegations of sexual misconduct in the 1990s(link is external) surfaced. The Rev. Robert ‘Bud’ Grant was placed on leave March 4, the diocese said Wednesday (Mar. 18) morning. A complaint about sexual misconduct was made to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office last fall, the diocese said. The complaint involves an incident that allegedly occurred in the early 1990s, according to the diocese.” By Philip Joens, Des Moines Register

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese paid settlements for priest accused of sex, would not answer questions about bankruptcy, report says
“A New Orleans Archdiocese attorney said Wednesday (Mar. 11) the church paid out four financial settlements in cases involving former priest Lawrence Hecker, who is accused of sexually molesting children(link is external). According to The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, attorney Dirk Wegmann also said in court the church found out about at least one abuse allegation against Hecker in 1988. That is 14 years before he was removed from public ministry.” By WVUE-TV8 News

MICHIGAN

Former priest returns to Michigan to face additional sex abuse charges
“A former Michigan priest who relocated to New Mexico has returned to the state to face additional charges for allegedly sexually abusing children(link is external) decades ago. Gary Allen Jacobs was formally arraigned late Tuesday in Ontonagon County on two additional criminal sexual conduct cases that he reportedly committed in the 1980s while serving as a priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula.” By WWJNewsRadio.radio.com

MINNESOTA

Bankruptcy judge approves New Ulm Diocese’s clergy sexual abuse settlement
“Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel’s final approval clears the way for the 93 clergy abuse survivors to begin receiving compensation under the settlement(link is external). It also marks the end of a three-year bankruptcy process for the diocese. The diocese also has committed to 17 child protection protocols. In a statement, Bishop John LeVoir of New Ulm apologized for the harm abuse survivors endured and said he knows the settlement can’t make amends for all that was taken from them.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

NEW MEXICO

Lawyer: Archdiocese moved assets before bankruptcy filing
“A creditors committee of clergy abuse survivors believes the Archdiocese of Santa Fe moved assets to hinder creditors before it filed for bankruptcy(link is external) protection, a lawyer said. Attorney James Stang told a federal judge Monday that the committee may seek standing in the case to challenge the movement of assets, the Albuquerque Journal reports.” By Associated Press

NEW YORK

High-ranking Buffalo Diocese priest accused of misconduct
“An allegation of sexual misconduct against one of the region’s most high-profile priests(link is external) led to another shakeup in the Diocese of Buffalo on Saturday (Mar. 21). The Rev. Peter J. Karalus, one of the closest aides to acting Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, was placed by the bishop on administrative leave while an independent investigator looks into the allegation made against Karalus, the Buffalo Diocese announced Saturday.” By Dan Herbeck, The Buffalo News

Abuse plaintiff calls committee’s work ‘awesome responsibility’ to uncover the truth
“Richard Brownell recalled watching a 1993 television newscast in which the Rev. Bernard ‘Corky’ Mach, a popular Catholic priest assigned to a Lockport parish at the time, tearfully denied molesting a 14-year-old boy. Brownell immediately turned to his wife during the newscast and said the priest was lying. He told her the Rev. John Aurelio had sexually assaulted him when he was 11 or 12 years old(link is external), and Aurelio was a close friend of Mach. It was the first time he had told anyone about the abuse.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Judge orders Buffalo Diocese to release secret files for two ‘notorious’ priests
“Two weeks before the Diocese of Buffalo declared bankruptcy, a state judge ruled that the diocese must turn over the ‘secret files’ of two of its most ‘notorious’ pedophile priests(link is external). But most Catholics — and by extension, dozens of the priests’ alleged victims — are still barred from seeing the files because of conditions the judge placed on their disclosure. State Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Chimes ruled Feb. 13 that after months of fighting their release, lawyers for the diocese must disclose the personnel files of Fr. Norbert F. Orsolits and Fr. William F.J. White.” By Charlie Sprecht, WKBW-TV7 News

Trustee in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy appoints seven abuse victims to creditors committee
“A trustee for the federal bankruptcy court has selected seven people suing the Buffalo Diocese over clergy sexual abuse to serve on a creditors committee(link is external) that will investigate the diocese’s finances and negotiate a bankruptcy settlement. U.S. Trustee William K. Harrington interviewed at least 20 people for seven spots on the committee, which will represent all unsecured creditors and play a major role in formulating a reorganization plan for the diocese.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota priest says he’s not sorry for sexually abusing two kids, but regrets the emotional trauma
“A disgraced former North Dakota priest said he’s not remorseful for sexual assaults he carried out on young children(link is external) decades ago. New documents released following an investigation into more than 50 Catholic Clergy from the Fargo and Bismarck Dioceses have named 53 priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, including one Martin Cullen.” By Akshay Pai, MEAWW.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Prosecutors file notice of appeal of ruling in abuse case
“Prosecutors have filed a notice of appeal of a western Pennsylvania judge’s ruling throwing out the conviction of a retired Roman Catholic priest accused of having assaulted a boy(link is external) almost two decades ago. A spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney’s office said Monday that the brief setting out reasons for the appeal to Superior Court in the case of the Rev. Hugh Lang will be filed at a later date.” By Associated Press

Msgr. Lynn on trial again for covering up clergy sexual abuse
“More than three years after his release from state prison, Monsignor William Lynn is scheduled to face a familiar, but unwelcome sight: a Philadelphia jury(link is external). Lynn, the first U.S. Catholic Church official to be convicted of covering up clergy sex abuse, will also face familiar allegations next week, when the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office begins retrying the 69-year-old on one felony count of child endangerment.” By Aaron Moselle, WHYY-FM National Public Radio

Victims expect more dioceses to declare bankruptcy
“Adult survivors of priest abuse across Pennsylvania expect that other dioceses will follow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and declare bankruptcy to force victims tons seek damages through bankruptcy court rather than civil court(link is external). Mary McHale, a Reading women involved with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said ‘I think it’s only a matter of time’ before other dioceses in Pennsylvania declare bankruptcy, a move announced by the Harrisburg diocese in mid-February.” By John Finnerty, The Tribune-Democrat

VIRGINIA

Former Purcellville Church Friar Indicted in 1985 Sexual Abuse Case”

“Attorney General Mark R. Herring today (Mar. 16) announced former clergyman Scott Asalone, 63, of Asbury Park, NJ, was indicted on one felony count of carnal knowledge of a minor between 13 and 15 years old(link is external). The indictment is related to alleged sexual contact by Asalone in 1985, while he was a friar assigned to St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville involving a former parishioner in 1985.” By LoudounNow.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Councilmember David Grosso was a childhood victim of indicted former Catholic priest
“At-Large Councilmember David Grosso revealed in an emailed statement today (Mar. 17) that he was sexually assaulted as a minor by a former Virginia priest(link is external) who was recently indicted for the alleged crime. Scott Asalone, 63, was arrested March 12 in New Jersey and is now charged with sexually assaulting a minor between the ages of 13 and 15, according to a news release from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Asalone will be tried in Loudoun County Circuit Court and is among the 50 priests the Virginia dioceses said had been credibly accused of sexual abuse between 1974 and 2007.” By Mitch Ryals, Washington City Paper

WEST VIRGINIA

Lay Catholic group presses West Virginia Diocese for action on Bransfield
“A group called Lay Catholic Voices for Change has sent a letter to Bishop Mark Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, asking that the diocese investigate charges of sex abuse of minors by former Bishop Michael Bransfield(link is external). The letter also asked that Bransfield be ordered not to use the title bishop emeritus to describe himself.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

WYOMING

Police’s sex abuse investigation into retired Cheyenne bishop finishes
“Cheyenne police’s follow-up investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by a retired Catholic leader in Wyoming concluded last week(link is external), right around the time that another alleged victim of the clergyman came forward in Missouri. The investigation into retired Bishop Joseph Hart will turn 2 years old in April. Cheyenne police have said they began investigating in spring 2018, after the Diocese of Cheyenne launched its own investigation into Hart and concluded he’d sexually abused at least two then-adolescents in the 1970s and 80s. Since then, four more victims have been identified in Wyoming alone.” By Seth Clayman, Casper Star Tribune

AUSTRALIA

Convicted pedophile Bernard McGrath abused dozens of children. The Catholic Church failed to report his offending
“Former brother of St John of God, Bernard McGrath, will be eligible for parole in December 2044. McGrath, who is serving two prison sentences in NSW for sex crimes against children, says his religious order and the Catholic Church covered up his offending at schools in Australia and New Zealand(link is external). In the early 1990s, after decades as a sex offender, new reports emerged about McGrath’s abuse of children at schools and a residential program he’d run for street kids in Christchurch, New Zealand.” By Sarah Ferguson, ABC News

Convicted pedophile Vincent Ryan confessed to a priest—then he continued abusing children
“Vincent Ryan is a Catholic priest and a aedophile, convicted of sexually abusing more than 30 children. In Australia’s first television interview with a convicted clerical sex abuser, Ryan said there was no reason why he should not remain a priest(link is external). ‘It’s a duty. I’ve committed myself to it,’ he said. ‘It’d have to be a very serious reason, unless I’m stopped by authority, for me to make that decision and at this moment I don’t see it.’” By Sarah Ferguson, ABC News

CANADA

Clergy sex abuse victim: ‘My name is Barbara Erlandson and I am sharing my story’
“An Ottawa woman who was sexually abused by Rev. Barry McGrory(link is external) in the mid-1970s says a senior church official made her feel that she was to blame for the crime. Barbara Erlandson says she met in 1977 with then Bishop John Beahan, one of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa, to relate her story of abuse.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

FRANCE

Defrocked French priest jailed for abusing scouts over 20-year period
“A defrocked French Catholic priest has been sentenced to five years in jail for sexually abusing scouts(link is external) in his care several decades ago, ending a case in which it was claimed his superiors shielded him from prosecution. After survivors testified about the abuse during his trial in Lyon, Bernard Preynat, 75, confessed in January to “caresses” he knew were forbidden.” By Agence France-Presse in Lyon

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 Cambridge Times

‘Those told of abuse must report it,’ says Workington MP
Any person in a position of responsibility who is told about the sexual abuse of a child should report it to the police(link is external), says Workington MP Mark Jenkinson. The politician spoke out after the News & Star reported on the cases of two Allerdale men whose abusers were clergymen – one with the Catholic Church and the other with the Church of England – and both were allowed to continue working after they confessed their paedophilia. Neither was reported to the police by their church bosses.” By Phil Coleman, News & Star

INDIA

Court dismisses discharge petition filed by Bishop Franco in rape case
“In a major setback to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former head of the Latin Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, the Additional District and Sessions Court I, Kottayam, on Monday (Mar. 16) dismissed the discharge petition filed by him in connection with the rape case registered against him(link is external) by the Kuravilangad police. The judge G Gopakumar directed bishop Mulakkal to face the trial in the case, which was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by a Catholic nun of the same diocese.” By The Indian Express

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


Mar. 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

Vatican sends top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico
“The Vatican is sending its top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico(link is external) on a fact-finding and assistance mission as the Catholic hierarchy in the world’s second-largest Catholic country begins to reckon with decades of clergy sex abuse and cover-up. Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu teamed up in 2018 to investigate the Chilean church and its wretched record of protecting pedophile priests — a bombshell expose that resulted in every active Chilean bishop offering to resign.” By Nicole Winfield and Maria Verza, Associated Press

Papal task force to help bishops, religious write, revise abuse guidelines
“Pope Francis has set up a task force of qualified experts and canon lawyers to help bishops’ conferences and congregations of men and women religious with drawing up or revising guidelines for the protection of minors(link is external). The Vatican will also be releasing — at an ‘imminent,’ but unspecified date — a handbook or vademecum, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to help bishops and religious superiors clearly understand their responsibilities and the procedures for handling allegations of abuse.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

L’Arche founder’s printed legacy damaged in sex-abuse report
“Revelations that Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, sexually abused at least six women(link is external) continues to reverberate throughout the Roman Catholic and wider church world. Vanier, who died in 2019 at age 90, wrote 30 books. Christian bookstores and publishers are among those dealing with the fallout of last month’s report on Vanier’s ‘manipulative sexual relationships.’ In Winnipeg, Stephanchew’s Church Goods took the only book by Vanier in the store off its shelves.” By John Longhurst, Winnipeg Free Press

West Virginia Catholics turn to ‘restorative justice’ I wake of bishop revelations
“More than one hundred West Virginians ranging from victim-survivors to key diocesan officials gathered at Wheeling University last week to learn how restorative justice practices might bring healing to their scandal-plagued Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston(link is external). Following Bishop Michael Bransfield’s resignation in September of 2018, West Virginians gradually learned about extensive allegations of sexual harassment and financial abuse during his thirteen-year tenure … Against that backdrop, participants at last week’s conference explored the theological and biblical foundations for the use of restorative justice.” By Nick Mayrand, Cruxnow.com

Dozens of Catholic priests credibly accused of abuse found work abroad, some with the Church’s blessing
“The Rev. Jose Antonio Pinal, a young priest from Mexico, arrived at his first parish in rural Northern California in 1980, fresh out of seminary … Thirty years later, in the spring of 2019, the Diocese of Sacramento put Pinal’s name on its list of credibly accused priests. The list had five allegations of sexual abuse against Pinal dating to the late 1980s. Pinal had ‘fled to Mexico,’ according to the list, and the diocese had prohibited him from performing priestly work in public in the 20 counties that make up the diocese. But an investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle shows the Catholic Church allowed or aided dozens of priests — including Pinal — to serve abroad as priests after being credibly accused of abuse in the United States(link is external).” By Katie Zavadski, Topher Sanders, ProPublica, and Nicole Hensley, Houston Chronicle

ACCOUNTABILITY

A year later, Catholic Church checks progress on abuse
“Since Pope Francis convened a historic summit at the Vatican one year ago to address clergy sex abuse and accountability, much has been done, but advocates say more is needed(link is external). Dozens of experts, abuse survivors and their advocates came to Rome the same week as the summit’s anniversary to emphatically reiterate the need to never let ignorance, complacency or denial ever take hold again and to make the Church safe for everyone.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in Arkansas Catholic

Pope lets French cardinal embroiled in abuse cover-up resign
“Pope Francis on Friday (Mar. 6) accepted the resignation of a French cardinal who was convicted and then acquitted of covering up for a pedophile priest(link is external) in a case that fueled a reckoning over clergy sexual abuse in France. Lyon Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, 69, had offered to resign when the Lyon court in March 2019 first convicted him and gave him a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report the predator priest to police.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on WSLS-TV10 News

Leading Catholic figure Francis Sullivan calling for changes after sex abuse crisis
“LEADING Catholic figure Francis Sullivan has criticized Church authorities for a ‘glaring lack of moral leadership’ over the child sex abuse crisis(link is external) and has called for the Church to change its ‘terms of engagement’ if it is to remain relevant and engaged in Australia. ‘Unless we break the shackles of entitlement and cronyism, become inclusive and more representative in our decision-making we risk losing any claim to renewal and reform,’ Mr Sullivan, former chief executive officer of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, told the biennial Catholic Social Services national conference in Melbourne on February 27.” By Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader

Turning the abuse crisis discussion to deeper themes
“Two Catholic leaders recently turned the discussion about the crisis in the church away from a focus on institutional change to the less measurable work of transformation(link is external), the significance of relationships and the need for members of the hierarchy to confront that culture’s past. Sr. Carol Zinn, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, widely considered one of the most significant forces in revealing the truth of the sex abuse crisis, advanced their ideas in separate interviews.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Vanier abuse revelations prompt Catholic soul-searching
“When news went public last week that Jean Vanier, the renowned Canadian theologian who transformed the way the world views the disabled, had sexually abused several women seeking his spiritual counsel, the revelations provoked not just shock, but also serious reflection(link is external). Given that the news was so unexpected from a figure such as Vanier, many Catholic experts and admirers pondered deep questions, such as just how widespread this form of manipulative abuse of adults is within the Catholic Church; the speed at which such towering figures as Vanier are popularly declared as saints; as well as the complex intersection of sin and virtue, as Vanier is someone who clearly exhibited both deviance and inspiration.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com, in Angelus

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis’ diplomatic triumph with U.S. bishops
“For some time, a narrative has developed among Catholic pundits and observers suggesting that Pope Francis and the bishops of the United States do not get along with each other(link is external). While much of that narrative has been a creation of media spin, relationships between the U.S. bishops and the Holy See did, in fact, decline in recent years amid the real tension occasioned by the McCarrick scandal.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Father James Alison on how Pope Francis is changing the church
“Imagine picking up the phone only to hear Pope Francis’ voice on the other line. It seems almost absurd, yet this is what happened to me a couple of years ago. After a senior member of the Brazilian church hierarchy sought to have me forcibly laicized (which I have written about in further detail elsewhere), Pope Francis called me to confirm my vocation to the priesthood(link is external).” By James Alison, U.S. Catholic

CARDINALS

Cupich on new Catholic Church abuse protection task force: ‘regaining trust has to begin with a profound sense of responsibility
“In their first interview since Pope Francis named them among the leaders of a new worldwide task force on sexual abuse protections(link is external), Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Rev. Hans Zollner this week sketched out how they plan to help Catholic leaders across the world comply with new protection guidelines. The task force was created by Francis to help bishops write new local guidelines to adhere to universal church rules issued last year.” By Javonte Anderson, Chicago Tribune

CARDINAL PELL

The word is George Pell will walk free … but first the high court must have its say
“The word around the bars is: George Pell will walk free. These barristers don’t have a heads up. They’re only talking among themselves. But those who have followed this prosecution as it has made its slow and dramatic way to the high court must face the possibility that the cardinal is about to be acquitted(link is external). Historic child sex assaults make difficult cases. The facts are frequently bizarre. So often there is no corroborating evidence and the word of the accuser is simply pitted against the denials of the accused. These trials test the criminal law.” By David Marr, The Guardian

BISHOPS

Philippine bishops say abuse of women is an ‘affront to God’
“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has highlighted the value of women, noting that abuse of women is ‘an affront to God(link is external).’ ‘God made man and woman according to his own image and likeness. Every offense against the dignity of women is a direct offense against God himself,’[ said Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan, chairman of the CBCP’s Commission on Women.” By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Study finds more than 50 accused priests active outside U.S.
“A new analysis of diocesan lists of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse in the United States finds that more than 50 such clerics have been able to continue in ministry in another country(link is external), including work with minors, suggesting global gaps in the Church’s response to the abuse crisis. The findings, published jointly last week by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle, is a follow-up to an investigative effort commenced last year and published in January that includes the launch of an independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse in America.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Whistle-blower priest seeks lifting of suspension imposed by disgraced bishop
“As Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, the temporary leader of the Diocese of Buffalo, considers whether to reinstate a whistleblower priest, further questions have emerged(link is external) about both whistleblower protections and potential conflicts of interest regarding the priest in question. Father Ryszard Biernat last year secretly recorded private conversations with Bishop Richard Malone in which the now disgraced bishop raised serious questions about his handling of abuse cases and diocesan personnel matters – including a matter involving Biernat himself.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN DEACONS

Women deacons possible after ‘Synodal Way,’ says German bishops’ chairman
“The new chairman of the German bishops’ conference has said that calling for the ordination of women could be a conclusion of the two-year ‘synodal way(link is external)’ being undertaken by the Church in Germany. Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg said in a radio interview Monday (Mar. 9) for International Women’s Day that such a conclusion would require Roman approval.” By Bishop Georg Bötzing of Limburg, Catholic San Francisco

What we can learn from the women deacons of the early Eastern Christian church
“The earliest period of Christianity flourished with great attention to the members of the community, with great care shown for women in the church(link is external). The New Testament demonstrates concern for the widows as well as the general well-being of women. The nascent Christian community worked assiduously to continue to spread the message of Jesus Christ and to develop ways of continuing to realize His mystery in their midst.” By Sean Salai, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Catholic women seek changes in policies, practices of church
“On International Women’s Day on Sunday (Mar. 8), women have demanded equality in the Catholic Church of India(link is external). In a memorandum submitted to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and advisor to Pope Francis, women have called for a prophetic church where their voices count, and demanded respect from the clergy in their communication.” By Jyoti Shelar, The Hindu

Germany: women demand more sway in Catholic Church
“Catholic women in Germany have intensified their demand for more sway in the church(link is external) as leaders met on Tuesday to elect a new leader of the Catholic Church in Germany. Women’s rights advocates on Monday (Mar. 2) had presented church leaders at the German Bishops Conference —the governing body of the Catholic Church in Germany — with a petition with over 130,000 signatures calling for more women in leadership roles. More than 50 women also gathered outside the cathedral in the western city of Mainz, where the conference is taking place, to show their support for the movement coined ‘Maria 2.0.’ By Deutsche-Welle

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Clergy and laity share ‘co-responsibility’ if Church, bishop says
“Caggiano recounted this story at a session of the ‘Called and Co-Responsible: Exploring Co-Responsibility for the Mission of the Church’ conference, hosted by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame on March 4-6. The three-day event is part of a series of programs hosted by Notre Dame as a response to the clergy sex abuse crisis in the Church(link is external). The talks at the event addressed different facets of “co-responsibility,” a phrase Pope Benedict XVI favored over “collaboration” to describe the relationship between laity and the clergy.” By Jack Lyons, Cruxnow.com

VATICAN

Who’s missing on the Vatican’s new abuse task force?
“Recently the Vatican announced Pope Francis has created a task force to help bishops’ conferences around the world address the clerical sex abuse crisis. The lineup is impressive, but much like a high-profile February 2019 summit on child protection, laypeople — women in particular — are the missing link(link is external). The eight-man lineup for the task force includes seven clerics, two of whom are regarded by all sides as part of the solution to the abuse crisis: Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, once the Vatican’s top prosecutor on priestly abuse of minors; and German Father Hans Zollner, SJ, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and director of the Center for Child Protection of Rome’s Gregorian University.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com, on AngelusNews.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Jury gets case of former Rapid City priest
“The trial of a former Rapid City Catholic priest accused of stealing from church collections is now in the hands of the jury(link is external). The jury got the case of 41-year old Marcin Garbacz after closing arguments Monday morning (Mar. 9). Garbacz is facing a total of 65 charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, transportation of stolen money and filing a false tax return. In his closing statement Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Patterson told the jury that they believe Garbacz stole nearly $260,000 from parishes in the Rapid City Diocese, depositing the money in his bank account, then taking that money across state lines when he moved to Missouri and didn’t declare the money on his tax return.” By Jack Caudill, KOTA-TV News

CHILD PROTECTION

No system ‘will ever by perfect’ but Church abuse prevention is improving
“According to one of the lay members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, it would be ‘naïve’ to think that every case of abuse can be prevented(link is external), though much can be done to greatly reduce the number of cases and stop repeat offenders. ‘If we would expect that with all the guidelines we have in place we can prevent abuse 100 percent, we would be naïve,’ said Dr. Myriam Wijlens of the Netherlands. ‘We cannot prevent it in the Church in as much as we cannot prevent it in the Scouts or sports. No system will ever be perfect.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

The Protection of Minors meeting a year on: an Irish perspective
“It’s been a year since Church leaders, abuse survivors and experts came to the Vatican for an unprecedented summit entitled the ‘Protection of Minors in the Church.(link is external)’ The meeting provided the opportunity to listen to victims, raise awareness, develop new norms and procedures, and share good practices. It also focused on three key themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency.” By Lydia O’Kane, Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Argentina’s Catholic numbers in sharp decline, following Latin American trend
“A recent national survey reports that the number of Catholics in Argentina is declining while the proportion of people without a religion is increasing(link is external), but analysts consider that the still-high percentage of people who believe in God—82 percent—is a sign that the church has an opportunity to prevent further losses in the South American country … Juan Cruz Esquivel is a professor at the University of Buenos Aires and a Conicet researcher. He was part of the team that conducted the study. ‘The 1960 census showed that Catholics represented 90 percent of the population in Argentina,’ he said, noting the figure dropped by almost 14 percentage points by 2008, “a period of 48 years,’ and experienced another 14 percentage-point drop by 2019, this time over a period of only 11 years.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Leadership Roundtable brings a dose of reality to the church
“No event planner could have orchestrated a scene that better explains the state of the church in the United States at this moment than the recent tableau that unfolded in a large ballroom in the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Leadership Roundtable, more than 260 people gathered in small groups at, appropriately enough, round tables for a by-invitation only discussion of some of the weightiest questions facing the U.S. church in the 21st century … Here in this kind of synodal space of the future, no one, not even the papal representative, voiced a public objection to the prevailing motivation for the gathering: the church is in crisis and needs help.(link is external)” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Healing the scars of scandal
“This Lent, perhaps more than ever, the critically wounded Catholic Church is being called to more deeply examine its dark side(link is external). The process of repentance and reform is both individual and communal, but time has taught us that the road to conversion also needs to be collaborative. All of us — including clergy, seminarians, sisters and brothers, and the laity — need to examine the church’s past and envision its future together and use our gifts to breathe life into a gasping institution.” By Pat McDonough, Newsday

Fully reckon with the harm caused to victims of childhood sexual abuse
“The Catholic prayer known as the ‘Act of Contrition’ is prayed when seeking forgiveness. The prayer says nothing about shielding oneself from the consequences of one’s sins. It’s a simple and penitential plea, an acceptance of responsibility and a resolution to do better. If only that had been the guiding principle of the Roman Catholic Church in its handling of priestly sexual abuse of children(link is external).” By The Sentinel-Journal Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Lawmakers hear testimony on ending the Statute of Limitations on sex assault
“Victims of childhood sexual abuse urged lawmakers Tuesday (Mar.3) to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual abuse(link is external). Children with that traumatic experience need time to heal before disclosing what happened and that is often longer than the current time limit for prosecution of 22 years, said Catherine Devine, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney. ‘Closing the courthouse door on an arbitrary time limit does not change prosecution,’ Devine told the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.” By Garry Rayno, InDepthNH.org

Outlier South Dakota Legislature again fails to protect children
“The South Dakota Legislature has again had the chance to vote to open the statute of limitation for survivors of child sexual abuse. The politicians again have voted it down(link is external), unlike 14 other states in the country. This is nothing new. They went so far in 2010 as to pass one of the most restrictive laws for survivors in the country. They do this despite examples of ongoing abuse such as at the St Paul’s Mission School. When will the South Dakota Legislature start protecting the children, not the predators?” By Mike Bryant, The Legal Examiner

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Walking with ‘suffering Christ’ means standing with victims, priest says
“Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, one of the world’s leading experts on safeguarding minors, said the church is suffering ‘institutional trauma’ from clerical sexual abuse(link is external), trauma that it must learn to integrate into its theology and understanding of salvation if it is to overcome it. He visited the Archdiocese of Chicago March 1-3 to speak with seminarians, clergy and members of religious congregations on ‘The Present Status of Safeguarding in the Church,’ which also was the topic of his March 2 DePaul University talk.” By Michelle Martin, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Survey of sex abuse victims hopes to dispel myths about survivors
“A survivor of sexual abuse is conducting what she believes is the first broad survey of victims of sexual abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external), with the hopes that the information will clarify and counteract common misperceptions about the survivor community. Among those myths: that all the victims are male and were abused by priests.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Notre Dame Forum examines Catholic laity’s role in responding to sex abuse crisis
“The 2019-20 Notre Dame Forum series, ‘Rebuild My Church: Crisis and Response,’ continues March 4-6 with a look at the relationship between clergy and laity in addressing the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis(link is external). Called & Co-responsible will be an academic and pastoral conference hosted by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame. Drawing upon Pope Benedict’s 2012 speech, the conference will address questions about the nature of leadership in the Church, and how lay people are not to be merely collaborators with the clergy, but are rather truly co-responsible for the Church’s being and activity.” By Anna Bradley, Notre Dame News

ILLINOIS

Accused priest in Rock Island sues Peoria Diocese: ‘I am innocent’
“Sometimes, John Onderko celebrates Mass alone in his home in Rock Island. Other times, he hears confessions from people who knew him from the old days, before he was barred from priestly duties by the Roman Catholic Church over sexual abuse allegations(link is external). A priest for 58 years, Onderko served from June 1981 through June 1993 at St. Mary’s in Moline, then was reassigned to LaSalle, Ill., and served at numerous other parishes in Illinois. Onderko, 83, no longer can publicly represent himself as a priest or engage in any priestly functions. Yet he maintains his innocence.” By Linda Cook, Quad City Times

LOUISIANA

Times-Picayune, three TV stations seek unsealing of records on accused predator priest
“The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate and the city’s three leading television news outlets filed a motion Monday (Mar. 9) asking a judge to publicly release court records detailing the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ handling of a retired priest who stands accused of being a serial child molester(link is external). Attorneys for an alleged victim suing both the priest, Lawrence Hecker, and the archdiocese already have the documents in question, but the archdiocese has claimed the records are confidential and subject to a protective order preventing their release.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

Retired New Orleans priest likened in court docs to notorious Boston clerical abuser
“A trove of still-hidden church documents show a retired New Orleans priest was ‘a serial pedophile’ who abused children for decades(link is external) and was never reported to all relevant law enforcement authorities by Archdiocese of New Orleans officials, according to allegations in a court filing Monday (Mar. 2) by attorneys representing a person claiming to be one of the priest’s victims.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

MICHIGAN

Former Michigan priest charged with additional child sexual abuse charges
“A former Catholic priest who allegedly abused his power to sexually abuse children while working in the Upper Peninsula was arraigned on more criminal sexual conduct charges(link is external) on Tuesday, March 10. Gary Allen Jacobs, 74, was arraigned on two additional criminal sexual conduct cases that he reportedly committed in the early 1980s while serving as a priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, the Michigan Department of Attorney General announced.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MINNESOTA

Court approves $34 million clergy abuse settlement with New Ulm Diocese
“After tearful testimony by several survivors of clergy sexual abuse and a heartfelt apology from Bishop John LeVoir, the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm and area churches won approval Tuesday (Mar. 10) of a $34 million settlement with nearly 100 claimants(link is external). Just as important to the victims: The diocese agreed to adopt 17 protocols designed to protect children from abuse and to turn over its files on credibly accused priests.” By Dan Browning, Star Tribune

MISSOURI

Witness testifies, third allegation presented against retired Catholic priest
“One witness took the stand and publicly testified to his allegations of being sexually assaulted by retired Catholic priest Fred Lutz(link is external) at a bond hearing Monday. The retired priest was arrested Feb. 19 at his home in Springfield, Missouri, and charged with the unclassified felony of forcible sodomy, two class C felony counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and one class C felony count of sexual abuse.” By Ben Matthews, Southeast Missourian

NEW JERSEY

Priest sexually abused me for years and N.J. diocese knew he was a danger, woman says in suit
“A New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Camden accusing a priest of sexually abused her(link is external) decades ago when she was a child while church officials allowed it to happen. Patricia Cahill, 67, of Bergen County, claims the Rev. Daniel Francis Marks Millard, sexually abused her from 1957 to 1965, according to the suit, filed Feb. 4 in Camden County Superior Court.” By Anthony G. Attrino, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Buffalo’s Bishop Edward Grosz
“Pope Francis Monday (Mar. 2) accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward Grosz, the auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, who has been accused of mishandling a sex abuse allegation(link is external). Grosz, who turned 75 on February 16, offered his resignation at the age required by canon law. The Vatican’s March 2 announcement accepting Grosz’s resignation did not indicate whether it will conduct any investigation into the allegation against the bishop.” By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

Buffalo Roman Catholic Diocese seeks bankruptcy protection
“The embattled Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday (Feb. 28), taking another major step in its effort to recover from a clergy misconduct scandal that’s been the basis for hundreds of lawsuits(link is external), Vatican intervention and the resignation of its bishop. With its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the western New York diocese became the second in the state to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, and one of more than 20 dioceses to seek bankruptcy protection nationwide. Most recently, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, filed Feb. 19.” By Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, in Citrus County Chronicle

New strategy includes suing parishes to get around Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy
“South Buffalo resident Dennis Archilla filed a childhood sex abuse lawsuit in September to expose the Buffalo Diocese for protecting a pedophile priest. ‘I wanted the public to know just how deep the deception is in the Catholic Church(link is external),’ Archilla said. Archilla believes that deception continued when the diocese on Friday (Feb. 28) filed for bankruptcy – effectively bringing his and more than 250 other Child Victims Act lawsuits to a grinding halt.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

NORTH CAROLINA

Charlotte Diocese adds two new names to list of clergy ‘credibly accuses’ of abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte has made additions to a list of clergy it considers credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). The diocese initally published a list in late December that included 14 former clergy members and 23 clergy members who were assigned here but were accused elsewhere. The update on the diocese’s website includes two new names.” By Sarah Delia, WFAE-FM Public Radio

NORTH DAKOTA

Ex-Fargo priest says he isn’t remorseful for sexually abusing kids
“A former Fargo priest says he is not remorseful for sexual assault incidents(link is external) that happened dozens of years ago. New documents revealed his name, Martin Cullen, as well as 52 other North Dakota Catholic priests who were moved to other churches after being accused of sexually abusing minors. Three lawyers held a press conference in Fargo on Thursday (Mar. 5) stating they are making it their business to change state laws for victims of sexual abuse.” By Joshua Peguero, Valley News Live

Lawyers demand North Dakota Catholic dioceses ‘end cover-up of clergy abuse,’ release files
“Lawyers representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clerics released a report detailing the assignments of priests the church has identified as having been accused of sexual abuse and demanded the public release of church files(link is external). The lawyers provided information about the church assignments of 53 priests, deacons and others who face substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in a news conference on Wednesday, March 4. The Catholic dioceses of Fargo and Bismarck had released the names of the priests and others in January, but did not share details about which parishes they had served.” By Patrick Springer, Inforum.com

OHIO

Why aren’t Ohio officials investigating Catholic sex abuse cases
“A year after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus released its list of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse, some survivors and advocates still are pressing Ohio officials to take action. The list, one of many released by dioceses across the country, was spurred in part by a state grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, released in August 2018. But when asked why Ohio doesn’t investigate the issue, state officials point to a home-rule law stating that county prosecutors must request such an investigation before the attorney general can initiate it.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

Strongsville priest awaiting indictment by federal grand jury
“Strongsville priest Robert McWilliams is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals as he waits indictment from a federal grand jury on child sex crime charges(link is external). McWilliams, 39, who was previously a seminarian at St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Newbury Township appeared in federal court Feb. 27 where court records show he waived a preliminary hearing on charges of child pornography, child exploitation and juvenile sex trafficking.” By Andrew Cass, The News-Herald

PENNSYLVANIA

Rev. Hugh Lang’s abuse conviction overturned by judge
“A judge on Monday (Mar. 9) morning tossed out the conviction and sentencing of the Rev. Hugh Lang, arguing that the Catholic priest received an unfair trial(link is external) last year when he was convicted on charges he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy in 2001. ‘I’m going to grant a new trial,’ said Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani, who took over the case from Judge Mark Tranquilli, who presided over the trial last year.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Monsignor Willian Lynn back in court prepping for retrial for allegedly covering up clergy sex abuse reports
“Monsignor William Lynn was back before a Philadelphia judge on Monday (Mar. 2). The former archdiocesan official is prepping for his retrial in two weeks. Lynn and lawyers won’t comment because of a gag order. Prosecutors are arguing pretrial motions to get certain evidence admitted, including grand jury testimony and testimony from his first trial. Lynn was the first highest ranking church official convicted of covering up reports of clergy sex abuse(link is external).” By Philadelphia CBS3 Staff

Allentown Diocese says earlier accusation against now jailed priest was ‘unfounded.’ Prosecutors disagree.
“In May 2016 a 15-year-old girl told someone that the Rev. Kevin Lonergan had touched her inappropriately(link is external). The allegation triggered investigations by the Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Division, Forks Township police, and the district attorney’s office. Lonergan was suspended during the investigation, and the Allentown Catholic Diocese said Monday that it reinstated him a few months later because Children and Youth determined the accusation was ‘unfounded.’” By Peter Hall, Daniel Patrick Sheehan and Sarah M. Wojcik, The Morning Call

Harrisburg Diocese files for reorganization under Chapter 11 of Bankruptcy Code
“Bishop Ronald W. Gainer said Feb. 19 the restructuring process provided for by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection will allow the Diocese of Harrisburg to lay a foundation to build upon and secure its future(link is external). ‘Our diocese has had to come to terms with the harsh reality that we no longer have the funds to meet our current obligations,’ the bishop said at a news conference to announce the diocese has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.” By Rachel Bryson, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

RHODE ISLAND

An explosive new clergy abuse lawsuit is filed as the Rhode Island Attorney General reviews the Providence Diocese’s records
“As an explosive allegation of clergy sexual abuse(link is external) in Rhode Island emerged in a lawsuit filed Thursday (Feb. 28), state prosecutors said they are conducting an exhaustive review of more than 100,000 documents related to the sexual abuse of children that have been turned over by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. The attorney general’s office is examining files going back 70 years to determine whether any of the cases warrant criminal charges — and whether there are any credibly accused clergy still in the ministry.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe

TENNESSEE

Catholic diocese releases list of 20 priests ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Memphis has released a list of priests accused of child sexual abuse during their time in Memphis and West Tennessee. The list of ‘credibly accused’ priests spans more than 50 years and was compiled at the request of Bishop David Talley shortly after he became leader of the Diocese that covers West Tennessee including Memphis.” By Bill Dries, Daily Memphian

WEST VIRGINIA

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston expanding safety, background program
“In a mission to increase safety and reduce risk in Catholic schools and parishes, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is expanding its Safe Environment Program(link is external). Bishop Mark Brennan and the diocese announced changes to the program on Thursday (Mar. 5). This comes 16 months after the diocese released the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors, and follows former Bishop Michael Bransfield stepping down amidst sexual harassment allegations.” By MetroNews Staff

WISCONSIN

Priest accused of sex abuse cleared by Madison Diocese
“The Catholic Diocese of Madison has deemed allegations of sexual misconduct against the Rev. William A. Nolan not credible(link is external). Nolan served in several southern Wisconsin parishes. ‘In the coming days, Fr. Nolan will be reinstated to his previous status as a retired priest of the Diocese of Madison in good standing,’ according to a news release from diocese communications director Brent M. King.” By Frank Schultz, GazetteXtra

AUSTRALIA

Broome bishop Christopher Saunders stands down over serious allegations
“One of Australia’s highest-ranking Catholics has voluntarily stood aside amid serious allegations(link is external). On Wednesday (Mar. 11) afternoon the Catholic Church issued a statement saying Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders, 70, had stepped aside from the administration of the diocese and Monsignor Paul Boyers had been appointed to take care of the day to day running of the parish.” By Marta Pascual Juanola, WAToday

ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson on making Revelation and coming face-to-face with two of the Catholic Church’s worst serial pedophiles
“Sarah Ferguson spends her working life wading through murky waters, tackling difficult, confronting and harrowing stories but none has tested her like the project that consumed her for the past year: Revelation — a three-part documentary investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church(link is external), in which she comes face to face with two of Australia’s most notorious serial paedophiles. ‘I’m used to intense projects but this one has been more intense and more challenging than anything I have ever done,’ says Ferguson. ‘Throughout the long-running scandal of clerical abuse in Australia, there was one voice we hadn’t heard and that was the perpetrators.’” By Natasha Johnson, ABC

BRAZIL

Sao Paulo Archdiocese creates commission to investigate abuse
“The Archdiocese of Sao Paulo announced the creation of a commission to investigate allegations of sexual abuse linked to the Catholic Church(link is external). Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo said the measure follows Pope Francis’ May 2019 document establishing new procedures for reporting abuse and violence within the Catholic Church. He said the commission will not only receive reports of sexual abuse committed by clergy and religious, but it will look at all areas of the church’s life in order to prevent abuse.” By Lise Alves, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

CANADA

Survivors irritated: IDs of most Canadian bishops protection committee members secret
“The Canadian bishops’ Standing Committee for the Responsible Ministry and Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons met for the first time in January, but the fact that the identities of the majority of its members is kept secret irritates victims(link is external), who see a lack of transparency. Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia, chairman of the Standing Committee, said it was clear ‘from our first meeting that they are eager to work and bring forward real change to prevent abuse from ever occurring, as well as to assume their critical role as advocates for the healing of victims-survivors.’” By Franois Gloutnay, Catholic News Service, Cruxnow.com

‘I keep asking why,’ victim tell scourt during Barry McGrory sentencing hearing
“The victim of a Catholic priest’s sexual abuse(link is external) says the incident caused him to lose his desire to be a priest, his faith in God, and his trust in the church. In a victim impact statement read at the sentencing hearing of defrocked priest Barry McGrory, the man, now an adult, said the betrayal has affected every aspect of his life. ‘The worst thing is I lost my faith for a long time: I felt so terrible without God in my life,’ he said in the written statement, read in court.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

GERMANY

German bishops approve guidelines for abuse case payments
“Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday (Mar. 5) approved new guidelines that likely will provide for payments ranging up to about 50,000 euros ($55,700) each for victims of sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). The church has been shaken in recent years by scandals in several countries, including Germany. A church-commissioned report in 2018 concluded that at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014 — more than half of them 13 or younger and nearly a third of them altar boys. A top bishop has apologized for the abuse.” By Associated Press

GUAM

‘A fugitive from justice’: concerned Catholics back move to laicize priest over abuse
“Concerned Catholics of Guam, which helped lead efforts to expose Guam’s clergy sex abuse of minors, backs the Archdiocese of Agana’s move to laicize Father Adrian Cristobal over alleged sexual abuse of multiple minors(link is external). ‘Father Adrian is a fugitive from justice, living outside of Guam, in an unknown location. Obviously, he is afraid to face his accusers for the alleged sexual abuse of children,’ Concerned Catholics of Guam President David Sablan said.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

INDIA

Vatican dismisses Indian priest jailed for rape
“A diocese in southern India has announced completion of the process of laicization of a priest who is serving a 20-year jail term for raping and impregnating a minor girl three years ago(link is external). The laicization of Father Robin Vadakkumcherry has been completed with his acceptance of the Vatican’s dismissal decree and by informing the Vatican of his acceptance on March 1.” By Kochi, UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


February 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis sets aside proposal on married priests
“Pope Francis has for now rejected a landmark proposal by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas(link is external), a potentially momentous change that conservatives had warned would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions. Francis’ decision, in a papal letter made public on Wednesday (Feb. 12), surprised many given the openness he had displayed on the subject and his frequently expressed desire for a more collegial and less top-down church.” By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Nonprofit created for Diocese of Fort Worth donations to avoid bishop intervention
“Those who spearheaded a petition asking for Bishop Michael Olson’s removal have formed a nonprofit organization to financially support Diocese of Fort Worth parishes, clergy and charities(link is external) without the intervention of the bishop. ‘We don’t trust where the bishop is spending money, but we still want the church to exist,’ said Stephen Knobbe, a founding member of the Laity in Unity Foundation.Pat Svacina, a spokesman for the diocese, said the bishop could not comment on the foundation because he had not been made aware of it.” By Nichole Manna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

We’ve gotten a lot of questions about our database of credibly accused priests. Here are a few answers
“We published a database in Januaryof Catholic clergy who have been deemed ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse or misconduct(link is external) by nearly 180 dioceses and religious orders around the country. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have searched the database.A number of those people have reached out with questions about the project. Many have shared personal stories as survivors of abuse. And although the officially released lists total more than 5,800 unique names, dozens of people have written in to suggest names of clergy who they believe have been left off. We’re glad to hear from readers, and we wanted to provide answers to several of the most common questions we’ve received.”By Ellis Simani, Pro Publica

Landmark priest abuse retrial now missing its key witness
“The first US church official ever imprisoned over priest abuse complaints(link is external) will soon be retried in court without a single victim. A landmark 2011 case first began the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, 69, who was eventually convicted of ‘felony child endangerment’ for his time working as a secretary for the clergy at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”By Allie Miller, Philly Voice

Suzanne Healy named chair of U.S. Bishops’ National Review Board
“Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has appointed Mrs. Suzanne Healy, the former Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as the next chair of the National Review Board(link is external). Mrs. Healy succeeds Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., who concludes his term as chair after the bishops’ June 2020 meeting.The National Review Board advises the bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and works closely with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection in accordance with the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.” By U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

States use Catholic clergy abuse lists to screen applicants
“In the wake of revelations that scores of Roman Catholic priests and religious workers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living unsupervised in communities across the country, state officials face a quandary: Should they screen former clergy members who seek licenses for jobs that put them in contact with children(link is external)? And, if so, how? An Associated Press investigation last fall found nearly 200 accused clergy members had been granted teaching, mental health or social work licenses, with roughly six dozen still holding valid licenses to work in those fields in 2019.” By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, The Associated Press

Abuse victim advocates, laity suffer from ‘vicarious trauma’
“The past two decades have been traumatic ones for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and for the Catholic Church as whole. Waves of scandals, financial crises and closures of parishes and schools have battered the faithful, leaving many discouraged and disgusted(link is external). In particular, the ongoing clerical sexual abuse crisis has profoundly wounded scores of victims within the archdiocese, while also scarring loved ones, counselors, advocates and rank-and-file Catholics.” By Gina Christian, CatholicPhilly.com

Martinsville priest refuces to sign order to silence from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond
“That truce reached last week in a dispute between a Martinsville priest and a Richmond bishop that preserved the priest’s job now appears to have been short-lived. About 24 hours after that meeting last Wednesday (Feb.5), Father Mark White, priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rocky Mount, was visited in Rocky Mount by officials of the Diocese of Richmond and again was threatened with the loss of his position(link is external).” By Bill Wyatt, Martinsville Bulletin

ACCOUNTABILITY

Why Catholics should welcome ProPublica’s clergy sex abuse database
“On Jan. 28, the nonprofit news organization ProPublica published a report headlined ‘Catholic Leaders Promised Transparency about Child Abuse. They Haven’t Delivered.” This report contains the names of the 5,800 priests and deacons who have been publicly identified by the bishops or superiors of 174 dioceses and religious orders as having had credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor made against them in recent decades(link is external). In other words, ProPublica has created the only ‘List of Lists’ of Catholic clergy abusers in the United States.” By Kathleen McChesney, America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic investigations remain shrouded in secrecy
“Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone resignedin December 2019 after intense public criticism for his handling of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y.His departure came three months after the Vatican announced what’s called an ‘apostolic visitation’ into Malone’s diocese, or region.In my research on clergy sexual abuse, I’ve learned that these investigations are still shrouded in secrecy(link is external).” By Brian J. Clites, Case Western Reserve University, in The Salt Lake Tribune

Should clergy in Utah be required to report confessed child abuse? Catholic Church opposes bill
“In the 2019 fiscal year, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services received 42,428 reports of child abuse or neglect, according to their annual report. Of that number, 21,401 were accepted for formal assessment by Child Protective Services and 10,828 confirmed child victims were found.All of those numbers were up from 2018, according to the same report … But what if there were a way to help even more children? One lawmaker hopes to do just that by making amendments to Utah’s child abuse reporting laws, eliminating exemptions for clergy including priests, rabbis and other religious leaders from reporting child abuse(link is external).” By Holie Reina, St. George News

CARDINALS

French cardinal to offer resignation again to Pope Francis despite acquittal over sex abuse cover-up
A cardinal in France says he will again offer his resignation to Pope Francis – despite being acquitted over a sex abuse cover-up(link is external). Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, was convicted last March and given a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report an abusive priest to police.Pope Francis refused Barbarin’s first offer to quit, saying he wanted to wait until the appeals process is complete.Barbarin was acquitted on appeal on Thursday (Jan. 30).”By Euronews with Agence France-Press and Associated Press

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

McCarrick report: questions needing answers
“The Vatican is getting ready to release a report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was found to have sexually abused minors and slept with seminarians(link is external). The report, mandated by Pope Francis, will need to be detailed and comprehensive if it is going to satisfy the public’s demand for more transparency in the church.Few scandals have rocked the Catholic Church like the story of McCarrick’s sexual abuse of minors and seminarians.”By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Parolin: on McCarrick report release, Pope Francis has ‘final word’
“Pope Francis will make the final decision on when to publish a highly-anticipated report on former cardinal Theodore McCarrick(link is external), the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Thursday. ‘I think that [the report] will come out soon, I cannot tell you exactly when,’ Parolin told a small group of journalists on February 6. Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on holiness, the cardinal said “we are trying to speed up the time to arrive” at the publication of the report on the Vatican’s internal investigation into the disgraced former cardinal. Parolin did confirm that he expects the document to be released ‘in the near future.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency in Catholic Herald

BISHOPS

Polish bishop investigated over sex abuse allegations
“The Catholic Church is investigating claims that a bishop in Poland sexually abused a young girl(link is external) decades ago, the clergyman confirmed on Monday (Feb. 10). Jan Szkodon, a bishop in the southern city of Krakow, said in a statement that the Vatican had told him of the inquiry, adding that the accusations were ‘false and harmful’ — though he gave no further detail. The Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper carries claims that he molested a 15-year-old girl in 1998.” By Agence France-Presse on VOANews.com

Catholic Church orders more inquiry into Minnesota bishpop
“Roman Catholic Church leaders in Rome authorized more investigation into claims that a northern Minnesota bishop interfered with past investigations into clerical sexual misconduct with children(link is external), the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Tuesday (Feb. 5).The investigation into Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner began in September and was the first known of its kind under a new Vatican protocol designed to hold the Catholic hierarchy accountable for failing to protect their flocks.” By The Associated Press on Minnesota Public Radio News

Catholic bishops’ lists of ‘credibly accused priests’ is not what it appears to be
“A fascinating story has just come out showing how deceitful and self-serving Catholic bishops are when it comes to their lists of ‘credibly accused’ child molesting clerics(link is external). In short, it shows that most bishops provide inadequate and inaccurate information about these predator priests. Why? Well, Mary Gautier, a Catholic researcher at a Catholic school, wants us to believe that one reason is that ‘smaller dioceses with limited budgets’ supposedly ‘lacking the money or staff to dig through their archives.’ That’s bunk.” By AdamHorowitzLaw.com

PRIESTS

Peace be with you
“Martinsville priest Father Mark White’s popular blog has drawn lots of readers and the scorn of leaders of the Richmond Diocese because of his criticism of the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. But his voice and his words have been silenced. This week he could be out of a job … That announcement, though, was only a byproduct of a much more troubling announcement that same month that has started a process that could threaten the appointment of a third priest in Martinsville, one whose only contribution to the sex scandal were his widely consumed comments about how badly he thought the church was handling(link is external) it.”By Bill Wyatt, Martinsville Bulletin

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Presence is vital to recruit younger women for consecrated life, congregations say
“An event in a Toronto pub eventually prompted a woman in her 30s to discern a call to religious life. A vocations director describes herself as ‘a ‘talent scout’ for God and my congregation. One community hired a 33-year-old married woman as a vocation coordinator because of her theology background and her familiarity with social media.These were among the more than 50 responses to Global Sisters Report’s invitation to share how congregations are reaching out to younger women(link is external)and about new members under age 40 who have joined their community in the past five years.” By Gail DeGeorge, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Professing faith: Impact of women in the Catholic Church is significant
“Today’s article takes another form. Yours truly was contacted by a young lady doing a research project on the role of women in the Catholic Church(link is external) and provided a series of questions. Herewith are my replies to some of them. I hasten to say that the following are my own opinions and not necessarily those of the Diocese of San Bernardino, of which I am a part.” By Gregory Elder, Redlands Daily Facts

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese releases audited financial statements
“In the continued practice of full transparency, the Diocese of Bridgeport has released its Consolidated Financial Statements for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2019… Hanlon (Michael Hanlon, CPA, chief financial officer of the diocese) said he was again pleased to learn that the diocese of Bridgeport ranked again near the top of a recently released Voice of the Faithful nationwide annual report on diocesan financial transparency(link is external) practices and policies. The VOTF study reviewed the financial transparency and accountability of 145 dioceses and 32 archdioceses by analyzing transparency practices and policies. On a scale of 0-100, the Diocese of Bridgeport received a score of 92 for its policies and disclosures toward financial transparency.” On BridgeportDiocese.org

Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo bankruptcy imminent
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo faces near certain bankruptcy after posting a $5 million loss in 2019(link is external), and with a barrage of lawsuits from the clergy misconduct scandal still pending, according to a financial report released Thursday (Jan. 30). ‘In response to the magnitude of the number of claims, lawsuits and alleged damages, the (Central Administrative Offices) has determined that a filing of a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code is imminent,’ the diocese’s 2019 financial report said.” By Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, in The Washington Times

Woman steals more than $250,000 from Del City Catholic church, police say
“An arrest warrant has been filed for a woman after police said she embezzled $253,000 from St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church(link is external) in Del City. According to police, personnel at the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City found discrepancies in the church’s payroll.The suspect, Darla Bralley, was an administrative assistant and bookkeeper at the church and, according to police, had been overpaying herself.”By Melissa Scavelli, FOX-TV25 News

CLERICALISM

Clericalism cited as root of sex abuse crisis
“In a Jan. 29 talk at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner said that clericalism is the root cause of the damage done to the church(link is external) and called out past systemic failure in reporting, punishing and stopping abuse. ‘There is general mistrust and suspicion on cardinals and bishops. This is not just happening in U.S. and Australia — the level of trust on bishops is below zero. And this has devastated an institution that is built on trust and faith,’ he said.” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Germany’s synodal assembly draws praise, criticism from participants
“The first synodal assembly on the future of the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external) drew both praise and some criticism, with many of the 230 participants lauding what they called a special atmosphere in the debates on key reforms.Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, said the spirit of the talks had been “positive and encouraging” and referred to the synodal path process as a “spiritual experiment,” reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

VOICES

‘Querida Amazonia’ shows how Francis is looking for deeper change
“Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia is a multifaceted document. I would like to look at what I found the most striking aspect of the text, its ecclesiological significance(link is external). Many NCR readers will be disappointed that the pope did not move forward on either ordaining viri probati to the priesthood, older deacons who could then preside at Eucharist and absolve sins in the sacrament of penance, or ordaining women deacons. Certainly, the final document of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon last October invited him to address both these issues. Why didn’t he? I think the pope is looking for a deeper change.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

For healing, Catholic Church must open sexual-abuse scandal records
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission model recently proposed for the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle offers a path of healing in the aftermath of the sexual-abuse scandal perpetrated by clergy and officials of the church(link is external). We are part of a much broader group of concerned Catholics, abuse survivors and current and former clergy who have been meeting the last year and a half in various parishes seeking accountability and healing.” By John McKay, Terrence Carroll and Colleen Kinerk, The Seattle Times

Time for the Buffalo Diocese to confess
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo faces many agonizing questions, two of which are how best to handle the tsunami of sexual abuse allegations against its priests and how to reclaim the support of parishioners who have stopped giving as a result of the revelations.Both factors are leading the church toward a decision to seek protectionin federal bankruptcy court. Both factors also share a solution: Don’t hide(link is external).” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

Catholic Church’s handling of abuse cases betrays core values
“I applaud California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for his decision to investigate the Catholic Church in California (State opens investigation into San Jose, Oakland Dioceses’ handling of sex abuse allegations). I am a clergy abuse survivor and still a practicing Catholic, but I have been fighting for this type of investigation for more than 20 years(link is external).As a child, I suffered abuse at the hands of Father Joseph Pritchard, formerly of Saint Martin of Tours Parish. My case was first reported to the San Jose diocese by Monsignor Michael McKiernan in 2000.” By John Salberg, The Mercury News

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Senate passes bill extending sex crimes statute of limitations
“A bill that would have done away with the statute of limitations for certain child sex abuse crimes is making headway in the 2020(link is external) Indiana General Assembly. But some advocates are disappointed in how the bill has panned out. Indiana Senate Bill 109, proposed by Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, initially aimed to extend the amount of time survivors have to bring criminal charges against their abusers. Under current state law, Hoosiers who were sexually abused as children have until age 31 to criminally prosecute those who harmed them.” By Katie Stancombe, The Indiana Lawyer

Lawmakers seek to close gap in statute of limitations for sex crimes against children
“Lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would close a gap in the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children(link is external).According to the current law, cases must be brought to a judge within six years if the victim is between the ages of 13 and 17. There is no time limit for a case to be prosecuted if the child is under the age of 13. ‘I feel really bad for the victims. I feel bad that we would set a time limit, a timer, on those crimes at all,’ said Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana).”By Ryan Laughlin, KOB-TV4 News

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The survival of David Clohessy
“On June 13, 2002, David Clohessy stepped into the light of history. A former altar boy in a rural Catholic church in Moberly, Missouri, he stood at a podium in a massive hotel ballroom in Dallas — and staring back at him from row up upon row of tables, packed into the room ten-deep, were some 280 Catholic bishops. Many in that audience were already familiar with Clohessy as the national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests(link is external), or SNAP, the country’s longest-active support group for victims of clergy abuse. Clohessy had spent years trying to grab the bishops’ attention.” By Danny Wicentowski, Riverfront Times

Victim-survivor says affirmation, sharing his story a pathway to healing
“Michael Callaghan’s healing from clergy sexual abuse(link is external) took a big step forward after he saw the movie ‘Spotlight’ in 2015. The Academy Award-winning fact-based drama detailing the clerical abuse scandal in Boston moved Callaghan deeply and continues to drive him to help the healing process in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.” By Catholic News Service in Catholic Sentinel

Church damaged by abuse, ‘but more damage done to people,’ says abuse expert
“Almost 200 people filled the Driscoll Hall Auditorium on Villanova University’s campus Jan. 29 looking to deepen their understanding about global perspectives on the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church(link is external). The evening event was the third conference in the four-part series of discussions … It featured Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a licensed German psychologist and psychotherapist with a doctorate in theology and one of the church’s leading experts in the area of safeguarding minors … ‘Much damage has been done to the church’ due to clergy sexual abuse, said Zollner, ‘but more damage has been done to human beings.’” By Gia Myers, Cruxnow.com

Lawmakers push for extension of Child Victims Act window
“More than 1,300 civil suits have been filed since the one-year look-back window for the Child Victim’s Act took effect last August. Now, there is a push in Albany to extend the window for another year(link is external).The current look-back window for victims to file civil claims on old cases expires on August 14. That means as of that date, past instances of sexual abuse against a minor cannot have any civil litigation, unless it is within the statute of limitations. New instances of abuse can have civil suits brought up to the age of 55.”By Mike Baggerman, WREN-AM

Most Utahns, LDS or otherwise, support a clergy confession bill
“No matter their faith affiliation, Utahns overwhelmingly support legislation that would require clergy to report child abuse — even if the information is divulged during a religious confession(link is external), a new poll shows.Most Catholics, Protestants and members of the state’s predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, back a full-reporting requirement, according to a Salt Lake Tribune survey conducted by Suffolk University.”By Kathy Stephenson, The Salt Lake Tribune

ALASKA

Sex abuse victims’ advocates call Anchorage Archdiocese’s report too little, too late
“None of the Catholic priests reported to have been involved in sexual misconduct in a 50-year review of records released last month by the Anchorage Archdiocese was ever convicted of a crime. There is also no indication the report has prompted any new criminal investigations(link is external) since its release. The report, made public Jan. 16, is based on an independent commission’s review of the church’s records. It lists 14 employees of the Anchorage Archdiocese, 13 of whom it says engaged in sexual misconduct with minors or vulnerable adults and one who was caught viewing child pornography.” By Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media

CALIFORNIA

After suspending priest, Fresno Catholic diocese is sued over his 2002 abuse case
“A now-suspended priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno is the subject of a new lawsuit centering on allegations of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl(link is external) in the early 2000s. Los Angeles attorney Paul Mones filed a lawsuit against the Diocese and two of its churches alleging they were negligent in supervising Father Miguel Flores and failing to warn about his potential actions, given prior knowledge.” By Alex Tavlian, The Sun

East Bay priest asked to leave school as police investigate sex-misconduct claims
“A priest already removed from an Alameda County parish and at the center of an investigation by Alameda police over possible sexual misconduct(link is external) will no longer be allowed to live at a Pleasant Hill rectory, according to police and officials with the Catholic Diocese of Oakland.Rev. George Alengadan had been staying at Christ the King Catholic School in Pleasant Hill since first leaving St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda in December. He was removed from that parish after Alameda police opened an investigation into him regarding possible sexual misconduct.”By Rick Hurd, East Bay Times

Man alleging molestation by a priest says Diocese of Orange officials tried to intimidate him
“A man who has alleged in a lawsuit against the Diocese of Orange that he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest when he was 6 years old(link is external) in 1994 said Monday (Feb. 3) that Diocese officials have attempted to ‘intimidate’ him.Last week, a judge cleared the way for the public identification of the priest, Father Edward Poettgen, who was most recently assigned to St. Boniface Catholic Church in Anaheim. The man suing him held a news conference Monday from the offices of his attorneys to say the Diocese has treated him ‘like an enemy of the church.’”By The Orange County Register

L.A. Archdiocese settles priest abuse case for $1.9 million
“The kids in the parish knew him only as Father Larry.That’s how he was known to one boy, referred to in court documents as John BR Doe, while he was an altar boy at San Gabriel Mission Church in 1982-84, years during which the priest sexually abused him(link is external), he said, from ages 9 to 11.As a teen, Doe told church officials what he’d suffered. Years later, he would learn that Father Larry — Lawrence Lovell — had been convicted of child molestation in 2003and sentenced to 14 years in prison. And he would find a redacted version of his own account on the internet, detailing the abuse he said Lovell enacted when he was a child.” By Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times

COLORADO

Colorado’s Catholic priest abuse reparations program received 78 claims, has already paid out more than $1 million
“Colorado’s reparations program for people abused by Catholic priests when they were children has already paid out more than $1 million to nine of the 78 people(link is external) who submitted claims by Friday’s (Jan. 31) filing deadline.Another $500,000 in payments are due to four other victims and more than 60 cases still are being reviewed, said Camille Biros, one of the independent administrators of the reparations program.”By Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun

In Colorado, some Catholic clergy sexual abuse victims are excluded from reparations
“Terry Schippers has been trying to come to terms with the years of sexual abuse he allegedly experienced by a Catholic friar(link is external). Colorado’s Catholic Church has a reparations fund for abuse victims but Schippers is ineligible for compensation.Andrew Kenney of Colorado Public Radio reports.”By Andrew Kenney, Colorado Public Radio

ILLINOIS

Sexual abuse reports from Illinois’ Catholic dioceses are still missing a log of data
“While researching a bit of context to introduce this week’s newsletter, I came across a column from May 2019 written by Chicago Sun-Times journalist Laura Washington. In it, she writes about the horror she felt as she sat in the pews of her church earlier that year while a representative of the Archdiocese of Chicagoinformed the congregation that its ‘beloved pastor’ had been accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1979(link is external), when he was at another parish.”By Logan Jaffe, Pro Publica Illinois

Former Texas priest charged with sexually assaulting child arrested at St. Louis-area Catholic Facility
“A former Dallas-area priest charged with sexually assaulting a child(link is external) was arrested Wednesday (Jan. 29) at a Catholic facility here housing disgraced clergy, including those accused of sexual abuse.Missouri and Dallas authorities confirmed the arrest Wednesday of Richard Thomas Brown, 78, on \ a warrant issued Tuesday by Dallas police on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child in North Texas in 1989.”By NassimBenchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MICHIGAN

Catholic priest from Burton, Flushing parishes heading to trial on sex charges
“A former Catholic priest is facing trial on sex charges dating back to his work at parishes in Burton and Flushing in the 1980s to 2000s. Vincent DeLorenzo is facing three counts of first-degree and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct(link is external) from 1995 to 2000 in one case and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct from 1987 in the second case.” By WJRT-Tv12 News

MINNESOTA

Crookston bishop faces further investigation, loses authority to handle sex abuse allegations
“The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has been cleared by Catholic Church leadership to continue its probe into the Crookston bishop’s alleged cover-ups of clerical sexual abuse(link is external). The Congregation for Bishops in Rome authorized Archbishop Bernard Hebda to proceed with further investigation into Bishop Michael Hoeppner, who has been under investigation since September, according to a Tuesday, Feb. 4, statement from the Catholic Diocese of Crookston.” By Alex Derosier, West Central Tribune

Victim-survivor says ‘ripple effects’ of clergy sex abuse ‘go on and on’
“For Frank Meuers, a victim-survivor of clergy sexual abuse, the impact is far-reaching and never-ending(link is external). ‘It’s like a stone in a pond,’ he said, ‘the hole disappears, but the ripple effects go on and on.’ The director of the southwest Minnesota chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, Meuers described the anger he lived with for years — and the help he received through therapy.”By Joe Ruff, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

NEW JERSEY

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’: major deadline looms for victims of clergy abuse in New Jersey
“A big deadline is looming for victims of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey. Acompensation fund for victims of sexual abuse is about to close down its registration(link is external), making it one less option for victims seeking justice. ‘This priest came into my life, he was stationed in our parish,” Mark Crawford said.For most of Crawford’s teenage years, he was manipulated and sexually abused by a Catholic priest.” By Cleve Bryan, CBS-TV3 News

NEW MEXICO

Ex-Catholic priest acquitted of abuse charges in New Mexico
“A jury has acquitted a former priest(link is external) of charges he sexually abused a first-grade student more than 30 years ago. Marvin Archuleta, 82, was cleared of both charges including criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 and attempting to commit kidnapping.” By Associated Press

NEW YORK

Ex-FBI director to probe sex abuse claims against Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio
“The New York Archdiocese has hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh to probe sex abuse allegations against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, according to a new report.

DiMarzio, 75, is accused of repeatedly molesting Mark Matzek when he was an altar boy and student at St. Nicholas Church and School in Jersey City in the 1970s, according to Matzek’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian.” By Sara Dorn, New York Post

Albany-area priest on administrative leave following allegations
“Albany Roman Catholic Diocese Bishop Edward Scharfenberger said Saturday (Feb. 8) he has placed a priest who retired from active ministry in 2008 on administrative leave following allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) in the 1960s and 70s.” By Rick Karlin, Albany Times Union

Syracuse Diocese reinstates priest accused of abuse after review
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has reinstated a priest who was accused of sexually abusing a boy in the early 1980s(link is external). Rev. Paul Angelicchio went on voluntary leave in November while a diocese review board investigated the person’s allegation of abuse.” By Patrick Lohmann on Syracuse.com

OHIO

Toledo Diocese quietly updates accused clergy list, includes new name
“The Diocese of Toledo quietly updated its list last year of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external) amid calls for transparency in a rekindled sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.The update included a new name: Paul Knapp, a religious order priest who served as the associate pastor of St. Gerard Parish in Lima, Ohio, between 1981 and 1983.” By Nicki Gorny, The Blade

OKLAHOMA

Catholic Church is in a tough position in confronting a use scandal
“…More than 33 years later, I told Nan the stunning news: The retired Leven had been suspended from the priesthood because an Archdiocesan investigation found two ‘substantiated’ allegations of abuse against minors(link is external).My mind raced …”By Joe Hight, The Journal Record

PENNSYLVANIA

Clergy sex abuse class action lawsuit against Pittsburgh diocese seeks to add Greensburg, others
“Lawyers in a class action suit trying to force the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to open its clergy abuse archives(link is external) expanded their campaign to include the Greensburg, Harrisburg and Altoona-Johnstown dioceses as well as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The move comes one month after Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Christine Ward ruled the lawsuit could move forward with regard to the Pittsburgh diocese.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Retired priest, 89, sentenced for sexual assault of boy
“Following an emotional hearing, a judge on Thursday (Feb. 6) sentenced a retired Catholic priest to a jail term of nine to nearly 24 months over his conviction last year for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy(link is external) in 2001. But the priest walked free for at least another month due to a last-minute legal plot twist, complicated by a sudden turnover in two of the key players in his November trial, his own defense lawyer and the judge.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In Philly, $39 million in clergy-abuse payouts so far – about $215,000 per damaged life
“At first, the number seems huge: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid out nearly $39 million to 181 sexual-abuse victims through the compensation fund it opened last year. Wow, you might think to yourself. Finally, the institution whose leaders allowed generations of children to be destroyed by the sexual depravity of countless priests while bishops and monsignors helped cover it up, is paying up from the treasury it so immorally had fought to protect. But don’t be fooled(link is external). This is a mammoth number only when you consider how difficult victims have found securing just compensation in one of the nation’s largest Catholic dioceses thanks to resistance by the church itself. Accountability has arrived, yes. But at discount rates.” By Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer

New report shows church response to abuse remains inconsistent, insufficient
“Many Roman Catholic dioceses are now releasing the names of priests who have had credible allegations of child sexual abuse brought against them.That’s the good news.The bad news is that those lists are often ‘inconsistent, incomplete and omit key details(link is external),’ according to a report out this week from ProPublica, a nonprofit watchdog news agency, and the Houston Chronicle.” By Chip Minemyer, The Tribune-Democrat

RHODE ISLAND

Attorney general to release report on clergy abuse claims
“Rhode Island’s attorney general said Feb.6 he expects to release a public report later this year with findings from his review of allegations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clerics(link is external) in the state. Democrat Peter Neronha continues to review the allegations to figure out what happened, what the response was and whether anyone can be held responsible in Rhode Island, one of the most heavily Catholic states. ” By Jennifer McDermott, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

SOUTH DAKOTA

House bill removes statute of limitations that could revive sex abuse claims
“South Dakota lawmakers will hear a bill that strips the statute of limitations for adults who bring lawsuits on sexual abuse they experienced as children(link is external). Similar bills have failed in the past. It’s been 10 years since state lawmakers placed a statute of limitations on child sex crimes. It says anyone over the age of forty can only recover damages from any person or entity that perpetrated the sexual abuse act. Since then, one group of Native women has been trying to overturn that statute of limitations. They are trying again this year.” By Lee Strubinger, South Dakota Public Radio

TEXAS

Lawsuit says Dallas diocese did not protect young girl from priest’s abuse
“Richard Thomas Brown, who in the 1980s was assigned as an assistant pastor at Holy Family of Nazareth in Irving, repeatedly sexually assaulted an 8-year-old girl from the parish(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed Thursday (JaSn. 30).One day, Brown took the girl out of Sunday school class and molested her in the rectory – the priest’s residence, where most of the assaults took place, according to the lawsuit.” By Cavid Tarrant, The Dallas Morning News

State of Texas: the accused one year later
“Texas’ 15 Catholic dioceses released names of 286 clergy — priests, deacons and brothers — credibly accused of child sex abuse(link is external) one year ago Friday (Feb. 1). Our extensive analysis of Catholic directories obtained through a source found that there are at least 332 Catholic clergy members, mostly priests, accused of child sex abuse in Texas.That’s almost 50 more names than what was publicly released in 2019. Moreover, the church’s list was incomplete, with some clergy members still being shuffled within the church.”By Anthony Cave, KXAN-TV News

People continue to ask Texas AG’s office to investigate clergy sexual abuse
“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office is being pressed by citizens to investigate clergy sexual abuse, although his office has said it cannot began an examination on its own,KXAN reported.The TV station’s open records request shows that a dozen people have asked the AG’s office to launch an investigation since Catholic dioceses across the state released lists on Jan. 31, 2019, of priests accused of abuse.”By The Texas Monitor Staff

WASHINGTON

Longtime Seattle police victim advocate was accused of child sex abuse while he was a priest
Before Garry Boulden was a victim advocate with the Seattle Police Department — guiding victims and their families through the aftermath of tragedies — he was a Catholic priest in Spokane, where he was accused of molesting a child(link is external) … Boulden is one of thousands of clergy members on dioceses’ lists across the country — that number includes 81 on Seattle’s, 30 on Spokane’s and 21 on Yakima’s — many of whom were never criminally prosecuted. An Associated Press investigation last year found that hundreds are working with vulnerable groups like children and sexual-assault survivors.” By Asia Fields, The Seattle Times

WISCONSIN

Diocese of La Crosse releases names of accused clergy
“Another Catholic Diocese in Wisconsin has released the names of clergy facing substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). The list includes 25 clergies, nine of which at one point, served at a parish in Stevens Point … The Diocese of La Crosse, which serves nearly 200,000 Catholics and includes Portage County, released the public list on Jan. 18. The Diocese of La Crosse states that an allegation is deemed to be substantiated “if it has been sufficiently confirmed so as to believe that abuse occurred,” meaning, allegations on the list are not derived through a legal process.” By Nathan Dorn, The Pointer, University of Wisconsin

AUSTRALIA

National Redress Scheme: Sex abuse survivors say victims are dying before receiving compensation
“It has been more than 18 months since the National Redress Scheme was introduced as a way of compensating survivors of clergy child abuse. But those who were supposed to benefit from it have labelled it ‘appalling(link is external)’ with some saying that many people are dying before receiving any compensation. Roy Janetzki, 74, said he spent his teenage years in four orphanages, where he endured physical, mental, and sexual abuse at the hands of four clergymen, including Catholic priests and brothers.” By Samantha Dawes, ABC Riverland

Catholic Church continues to silence alleged victims of child sexual abuse
“A Catholic priest from the Lismore diocese in Northern New South Wales is fighting the church over sexual abuse he allegedly suffered as a 12-year old altar boy.The case is believed to be the first involving a priest suing the church for historical child sexual abuse.The Catholic Church is seeking a permanent stay to stop proceedings being brought against it … But many see this as just another attempt by the Church to silence a complainant(link is external) so that details of the alleged incidents are never heard, at a time the institution claims to be working towards transparency andaccountability, and doing right by those it has wronged.”By SydneyCriminalLawyers.com

CANADA

#MenToo gains support in Ontario where male sexual
“There’s a growing trend in Ontario.Men are speaking out about the sexual abuse they have suffered and demanding resources, or setting up their own groups, to access support.”We call it the MenToo movement,” said Bob McCabe, a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest(link is external).The abuse started in 1963 when McCabe was 11. He didn’t tell anyone about it for 29 years, when he finally told his mother. It took another two decades for McCabe to speak out publicly and take legal action against his perpetrator.” By Kerry McKee, CBC News

CHILE

Pope Francis fills two episcopal vacancies in Chile left by sex abuse scandal
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Feb. 5) appointed bishops to the dioceses of Osorno and San Bartolomé de Chillán, both of which had been left vacant in 2018 amid the sex abuse scandal of the Church in Chile(link is external). On Feb. 5 Bishop Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo was named Bishop of Osorno, and Father Sergio Hernán Pérez de Arce Arriagada, was named Bishop of San Bartolomé de Chillán. Both had been serving as apostolic administrators of their new respective sees.” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Audit of Scottish dioceses says safeguarding vision ‘has yet to be fully realized’
“An audit of the safeguarding standards of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh found it had ‘clearer and more transparent structures and processes,’ but noted more work is needed in ‘rebuilding trust(link is external).’ The audit was commissioned from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)/Children in Scotland (CiS) by the Catholic Church in Scotland with the aim of supporting safeguarding improvements.”By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

POLAND

Broken icons: abuse in Poland’s Catholic Church
“The toppling of Jankowski (’sstatue) was a step towards forcing the government and clergy to reckon with the problem of child abuse in the Church(link is external). But what really forced everyone to take notice was the 2019 documentary Tell No One. The film shows victims who are now adults confronting elderly priests about the abuse they suffered decades earlier, and details how priests accused of paedophilia were transferred to other parishes where they could continue working with children.”By Madeline Roache, NewHumanist.org.uk

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


July 31, 2019

TOP STORIES

Brazilian bishop accused of cover-up as police investigate new abuse allegations
“Police in Brazil are investigating three Catholic priests accused of abusing several altar boys and seminarians. The former bishop of their diocese, who resigned in May, is also under investigation(link is external) for having allegedly extorted money from them in exchange for his silence. The lawyer of a group of victims said last week he intends to file lawsuits against the Catholic Church, seeking $530,000 in damages for each person.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, Cruxnow.com

After pressure from lay group, West Virginia diocese agrees to audit
“A lay group that urged West Virginia Catholics to withhold support for their diocese(link is external)claimed victory after Archbishop William Lori announced July 17 that the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will undergo an independent financial audit. ‘I clearly understand that the Church has a long way to go to regain your confidence and trust,’ Lori, archbishop of Baltimore who is also serving as administrator for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, wrote to West Virginia’s Catholics. Lori disclosed that the diocese would engage the services of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP for a full audit of its finances.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Bransfield disciplined by Pope Francis
Pope Francis has handed down discipline against former Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Church Bishop Michael Bransfield(link is external). In a brief communication released Friday (Jul 19), the Pope said Bransfield cannot live in the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese. He’s also prohibited from taking part in any Catholic Church services in West Virginia and must make personal amends for people he has harmed.” By Jeff Jenkins, Metro News

In 44 states, clergy don’t have to tell police when someone confesses to child sex abuse
“Under current Utah law, members of the clergy are not required to report confessions of child sex abuse. Utah State Rep. Angela Romero wants to change that. Romero is drafting a bill that would require any religious leader in a position of authority to become a mandatory reporter—an individual required by law to notify authorities of any admissions of abuse(link is external). Teachers, coaches, doctors and others who work with children are often mandatory reporters. Failure to report can be considered a criminal offense. In a statement on Facebook, Romero said the bill was not targeting any particular religious group, but was rather intended to protect children from harm.” By Jacob Wallace, Newsweek

Report claims church leaders long knew about Bransfield accusations
“A recent newspaper report details claims that senior church leaders in the United States knew as far back as 2012 about complaints against a West Virginia bishop whose spending habits and recent accusations of sexual misconduct(link is external) have dogged the body of U.S. bishops at a time when they’re seeking a path toward greater accountability for themselves. A July 3 story in The Washington Post said U.S. and Vatican officials had for years received correspondence from parishioners and others concerned with excessive spending by Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, the former head of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the country.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Catholic group’s response: not a dime to the diocese
“Following an open letter to Archbishop William Lori and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, a group of Catholics have declared their intent to withhold funds to the diocese after failing to receive a measured response(link is external). Last month (June), Lay Catholic Voices for Change, an organization comprised of Catholics from north-central West Virginia, sent an open letter to Lori addressing what they saw as numerous issues with the structure of the church, as well as their proposed solutions and a call for increased parishioner participation in clerical matters. The letter requested a response by June 28, which did not come.” By The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

Catholic Church offers cash to settle abuse claims
“Amid the latest wave of sexual-abuse investigations and allegations against the Catholic Church, victims whose criminal cases are too old to bring to court are considering suing the church. To stem the tide of potential settlement costs, some dioceses, like the one in Scranton, Pennsylvania, are creating compensation programs for victims. There’s one catch: Taking the settlement means shielding the church from having to make certain documents public and victims are then barred from further lawsuits(link is external).” By Greater Baton Rouge Daily Business Report Staff

ACCOUNTABILITY

Sex abuse survivors’ advocacy group wants two bishops blocked from ministry
“Advocates for survivors of clergy sexual abuse have urged the local bishop to bar from church functions two prelates with ties to Kansas City, Missouri(link is external), who’ve been central figures in the Catholic Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) sent a letter July 5 to Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop James Johnston requesting he use a new protocol created by U.S. bishops to block resigned Bishop Robert Finn and retired Bishop Joseph Hart from ministry and all church meetings and activities.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Putting Church above children
“One way Pope Francis could move ahead with his aim of curbing clergy sex abuse in the worldwide Catholic Church would be to insist that the Holy See comply with the international human-rights treaty(link is external) it signed to protect the rights of the child. Since nearly every country in the world (other than the United States) has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1989 treaty sets a clear international standard for Catholic bishops everywhere.” By Paul Moses, Commonweal

Morrisey calls Pope Francis’ punishment of Bransfield ‘only one step’ in effort for transparency
“West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey believes former Bishop Michael Bransfield punishment by the Catholic pope is one step toward full transparency(link is external). ‘The allegations against former Bishop Bransfield have caught the attention of nearly everyone in the Catholic faith, including the Pope himself, who has now given disciplinary measures for Bransfield,’ Morrisey said. ‘Pope Francis’ call for Bransfield to ‘make personal amends for some of the harm he caused,’ is a first step, but it is just that—only one step—since the public cannot know the full extent of harm caused by Bransfield’s actions until the Diocese fully complies with our subpoena and releases the full Bransfield report.’” By Kyla Asbury, West Virginia Record

Catholic group launches diocese donation boycott
“A message is being sent to the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Members of a group calling for accountability from the Diocese in the wake of an independent report detailing alleged financial and sexual misconduct on the part of former Bishop Michael Bransfield are now encouraging the withholding of contributions to the Diocese itself(link is external).” By MetroNews Staff

McCARRICK CASE

No answers from Washington archdiocese about McCarrick’s money
“More than one year after the announcement of allegations of sexual abuse against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Archdiocese of Washington has continued to refuse questions about McCarrick’s use of a personal charitable fund(link is external). McCarrick funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars through what was known as the Archbishop’s Fund, and reportedly made gifts to senior Vatican officials, even while the fund remained under the charitable auspices of the archdiocese.” By Ed Condon, Catholic New Agency

POPE FRANCIS

Pope: Church needs apostolate of prevention to protect minors from abuse
“Prevention is key in protecting minors from abuse, Pope Francis said. The protection of minors is a serious concern and what is needed is ‘an apostolate of prevention(link is external),’ he said in a video message to Catholic leaders taking part in a safeguarding course at the Pontifical University of Mexico. The month-long course, ending July 27, was sponsored by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Formation for the Protection of Minors, which collaborates with the Center for Child Protection of Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

With upcoming retirements, Francis could ‘reorient’ U.S. bishops’ conference
“Pope Francis will have a rare opportunity to revamp the leadership of a large segment of the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external) in the coming year, as a high number of bishops in dioceses across the country are reaching the traditional retirement age of 75. In fact, nine residential American bishops are already 75 or older. Five more will turn that age by the end of June 2020. Although prelates can serve past retirement age at the pope’s pleasure, it is expected that many of the 14 will be replaced.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

When picking new U.S. bishops, Francis shouldn’t hesitate to ruffle feathers
“My colleague Joshua McElwee has an article today listing the U.S. dioceses that are vacant, those with a bishop who is already past the mandatory retirement age of 75, and those soon to turn 75, 22 ordinaries in all. As he notes, these appointments could potentially shift the U.S. bishops’ conference in a new direction(link is external). Let’s look at which appointments are the most important and why, and discuss generally the kinds of choices the pope faces. First, a little background. For most of the history of the Catholic Church, bishops were nominated by the local civil authority, and it was left to Rome to confirm the nomination.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

The USCCB and the sex abuse crisis
“Perhaps some of you are getting tired of hearing about the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Church, but my sense is that most of you want to be kept informed about how the leadership of the Church is addressing this current scandalous situation. As a follow-up to my last column, I want to explain to you the actions taken by the United States bishops at our June meeting(link is external) … What the U.S. bishops did was take our Holy Father’s direction and apply it here in the United States. We essentially adapted the actions we were prepared to take at our last November meeting in light of the Pope’s letter, applying the new universal law of the Holy Father to the situation in our own country.” By Most Rev. Alexander Sample, Archbishop of Portland, Catholic Sentinel

The Vatican’s next Synod of Bishops should focus on women
“That so many are left guessing as to the interior life of one person (Pope Francis) — a man — should indicate that an additional approach is necessary. Namely, the next general assembly of the Synod of Bishops (which will likely occur in the early years of the coming decade) should be dedicated to the role of women in the life of the church(link is external). The importance of this issue — one the church really can’t afford to punt on any longer — tracks with the increased importance Francis has placed on the Synod of Bishops during his pontificate.” By Don Clemmer, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Catholic priests in India protest cardinals return
“India’s Catholic Church, already rocked by allegations that a bishop raped a nun, is facing an uprising by hundreds of priests against one of the country’s four cardinals following his reinstatement by Pope Francis(link is external). Francis last year effectively suspended Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the eastern rite Syro-Malabar church in the southern Indian state of Kerala, amid a controversy over disputed land sales. Francis named a temporary administrator to run Alencherry’s Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, resolve its financial problems and try to heal the divisions the dispute had caused among the priests.” By Emily Schmall and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on WRAL-TV News

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Pope Francis gets it right on Curia reform and women
“In appointing seven women to the Vatican congregation that oversees religious orders July 9, Pope Francis achieved a double win. In one stroke, he has advanced both the role of women in the church and the reform of the Vatican Curia(link is external). This is significant because his efforts so far in these areas have been mediocre. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL), colloquially known as the Congregation for Religious, is responsible for setting policy for Catholic nuns, brothers and consecrated lay people.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Nuns & Nones helps millennials find surprise soulmates in Catholic sisters
“The Dominican sisters sat in silence, eyes closed, palms upturned, couches and chairs pushed together into a circle in the room at the Dominican Center at Marywood in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their reading that evening came not from Scripture, but from poet Mary Oliver: ‘Though I play at the edges of knowing, / truly I know / our part is not knowing, / but looking, and touching, and loving.’ And the candle flickering in their midst didn’t invoke a saint, but author and activist James Baldwin. Joining the Catholic women religious in contemplation was a group of young women who aren’t sure they’d describe themselves as religious in any sense(link is external).” By Emily McFarlan Miller, Religion News Service

WOMEN DEACONS

As recruiting era slows, women religious reflect, then choose new course
“The questions for women in religious communities facing decline are ceaseless(link is external). How do we provide for our elderly members? How do we shut down a mission central to our identity as a congregation — or pass it on to laypeople? How do we grieve the deaths of friends, which often seem to come in waves, and keep hope alive? Remarkably, leaders and observers say, while there had been times of sadness as colleagues died and ministries were reconfigured or surrendered, women religious have not been overwhelmed. Instead they have brought skill, resilience and profound faith to the task of planning for their individual and corporate futures.” By Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Register

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

I’m a Catholic woman who was allowed to preach at Mass—until it was banned
“In our parish in Northern California, lay women began to preach the good news during the Sunday liturgy in 1996(link is external). The practice emerged from within the faith community. Several women had approached our pastor and spoke of the devastating lack of women’s spiritual wisdom and leadership in the church for 2,000 years. We asked: Couldn’t women, who feel called and are prepared, give a homily—a teaching that expands on the message of the Scripture readings and invites listeners to a change of mind and heart? By Jean Molesky-Poz, Amercia: The Jesuit Review

How can the church honor women? Elevate Mary Magdalene’s feast to a solemnity
“According to the Gospel, the first person to encounter the risen Christ is the female disciple Mary of Magdala, also known as Mary Magdalene.(link is external) John recounts the amazing story in the Gospel passage proclaimed at Easter Sunday Mass: ‘On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb’ (Jn 20:1). Nothing in the Gospel occurs by mere chance. It is highly significant that in a society where men wielded power in almost every aspect of life, Christ chose a woman to be the first to see him after his resurrection and to announce the news to his apostles.” By Alvan I. Amadi, America: The Jesuit Review

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Lay role matters in renewing church wounded by abuse, speaker says
“The laity can lead the way in renewing a church wounded by the decades-long sexual abuse scandal(link is external), according to Meghan Cokeley, director of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for the New Evangelization. Prayer, redemptive suffering, forgiveness and a deeper understanding of the laity’s calling can radically revive the church, said Cokeley, who has been touring Philadelphia-area parishes to deliver a talk titled ‘What Can We Do? The Role of Laity in a Time of Crisis.’” By Gina Christian, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

VATICAN

Curia reform: changing attitudes, not just structures
“Pope Francis’ plan for the reform of the Roman Curia will change the names of several offices and merge a few of them, but the biggest change it hopes to spark is one of attitude(link is external). The last major reorganization of the Curia came with St. John Paul II’s apostolic constitution, ‘Pastor Bonus’ (The Good Shepherd) in 1988, which — in its very first sentence — spoke of Jesus entrusting the apostles with ‘the mission of making disciples in all nations and of preaching the Gospel to every creature.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Pope Francis appoints new Vatican press office director
“ Pope Francis appointed Matteo Bruni to serve as director of the Vatican press office(link is external), replacing Alessandro Gisotti, who had been serving as interim director since Dec. 31. The Vatican announced the appointment July 18. Bruni, 42, previously served as assistant to the director since 2013, helping organize and coordinate media presence and pools on papal trips. Born in Winchester, Great Britain, Bruni began working at the Vatican press office in 2009, coordinating accreditation for journalists.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

The priesthood is being crucified on the cross of celibacy
“We cannot bring about real reform of the Roman Catholic priesthood unless we do away with mandatory celibacy(link is external) for diocesan priests in the Latin rite. Why would that improve the priesthood? It would make priests more honest about ourselves and sexuality. With real parents in the priesthood, it would make us more aware of the vulnerability of children and more outraged at their abuse. (Does anybody really think that if bishops were also real fathers that they would have covered up so much child abuse?)” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Lay Advisory Board’s second meeting highlights synod efforts at healing
“Dale Lieb stepped away July 17 from his second Lay Advisory Board meeting with Archbishop Bernard Hebda determined to help spread the word about prayer and listening events set to begin this fall in preparation for the 2021 archdiocesan synod(link is external). ‘We’re inviting everyone to attend these events,’ Lieb said. ‘This whole thing is being guided by the Holy Spirit.’ Archbishoip Hebda announced the synod last month and planning is well underway as the archbishop prepares over the next two years to hear suggestions from people about the pastoral needs of the local Church.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

VOICES

The structural violence of the Catholic Church
“I used to love hearing St. Peter’s church bells from my house. Now I have a visceral reaction to them. I’m reminded of hypocrisy, loss and destruction(link is external). From the beginning of the effort to save the chancery, we said this was about much more than saving buildings. The physical destruction of the chancery is itself a violent act; but I want to talk about another type of violence. ‘Structural violence refers to any scenario in which a social structure perpetuates inequity, thus causing preventable suffering.’ (Thoughtco.com) The role of structural violence in the Catholic Church is rarely discussed.” By Stacey Morrissey, JournalStandard.com

Reform or dismantle? Why we need to keep the institutions that keep us
“One of the effects of the sex-abuse crisis is the current moment of institutional iconoclasm—the temptation to get rid of the institutional element of the Catholic Church(link is external). The failures of the church’s institutions are now on full display, even more so than after the revelations of the Spotlight investigation. It is hypocritical, however, to interpret the abuse crisis as a clerical abuse crisis rather than a Catholic abuse crisis.” By Massimo Faggioli

CHURCH FINANCES

Priest with money bags hurt in crash, allegedly pilfered $95K from Santa Rosa church
“Bishop Robert F. Vasa knew something was amiss as the bags of cash started piling up(link is external). First, it was the six security bags — used for collecting parish donations — found in a Santa Rosa priest’s car after the pastor was injured in an accident. Then it was the dozen sacks — both sealed and unsealed — in the same priest’s office, as well as a $10,000 stack of cash found in his desk drawer.” By Gwendolyn Wu, San Francisco Chronicle

Financial records paint troubling picture of Catholic Charities of San Antonio
“Financial records leaked to the KSAT 12 Defenders paint a disturbing picture about how money is being handled by Catholic Charities of San Antonio(link is external), the charitable arm of the Archdiocese, which claims to serve hundreds of thousands of people a year across 19 South Texas counties. An audit done by an outside accounting firm looked at the charity’s records for its financial year ending June 30, 2018 … found a long list of accounting problems, some of them serious and referred to as ‘material weaknesses.’” By Dillon Collier, KSAT-TV12 News

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston hires independent auditor, will publish audit results
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, which has come under fire from the West Virginia attorney general for what he claims was an attempt to ‘sidestep transparency,’ has appointed a new independent auditor that will conduct an audit of all diocese accounts(link is external). Archbishop William Lori said in in a news release Wednesday that CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen) LLP – a national auditing firm that serves more than 30 dioceses across the country – has been hired to be the auditing firm for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.” By FOX-TV11 News

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Survivor asks Pope to back bill ending statute of limitations for abuse
“An abuse survivor in the pontiff’s native Argentina has called on Pope Francis to back a push in the country’s senate to eliminate a statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children(link is external) in Argentine law. The bill was introduced just days after Chile’s congress voted July 6 to remove the statute of limitations on child abuse from its own criminal code. An earlier effort in Argentina to lift the statute of limitations in 2011, known as the ‘Piazza law’ for fashion designer Roberto Piazza who was sexually abused by an older brother, was subject to diverse legal interpretations and, observers say, has not been widely implemented.” By Inès San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The hope of justice heals old, still raw wounds
“Last year, we used this page to call for passage of the Child Victims Act, and we were glad when this year — with two Democratic houses — the legislature finally passed the act. … But even we weren’t prepared for the emotions unleashed(link is external) when we published a front-page story last week on a priest who had served in our community — in Altamont and in the Hilltowns — being accused of raping boys in his care.” By The Altamont Enterprise Editorial Staff

‘The 50 Year Secret’ – Q&A and Reporter’s Notebook
“This Q&A time line begins February 13, 2019, when the Diocese of Arlington and Diocese of Richmond (Virginia) released their lists of priests credibly accused of child sex abuse … You’ll find the more questions asked the more revealing answers we got(link is external) … Question: Were there any priests moved around from one diocese to another …” By Jay Korff, WJLA-TV7 News

Tom Doyle – The Truth Seeker
“If you ask Tom Doyle to describe himself he would say a former priest and Catholic Church attorney who now helps priest sex abuse survivors by testifying in court cases as an expert on the policies and practices of the Church. Doyle also consults for states and nations investigation child sex abuse. In a sense, Doyle is a whistle blower for how the Catholic Church used to, and presently, operates(link is external). He says leadership within the Catholic Church is doing much better in terms of preventing pedophile priests from abusing and helping abuse survivors get help. But he says the lies continue and for that reason shared his thoughts with ABC7 News for The 50 Year Secret.” By Jay Korff, WJLA-TV7 News

Becky Ianni – The Survivor
“Becky Ianni, a spokesperson for SNAP in the D.C. region and a child sex abuse survivor, gave ABC7 News access to the recording she made of her Diocese of Arlington Review Board Hearing in 2007. This recording is equal parts revelatory and heartbreaking(link is external). The Diocese of Arlington eventually ruled that Ianni’s abuse allegations against Monsignor William Reinecke were credible. Ianni is permitting us to air parts of her testimony to help survivors find the strength to come forward and for institutions, like the Catholic Church, to understand more completely the horrors unleashed by abusive members of the clergy on generations of children.” By Jay Korff, WJLA-TV7 News

Kelley Arnold – The Witness
“Kelley Arnold grew up in Old Town Alexandria. Arnold says a significant part of his childhood revolved around the church he and his family attended: St. Mary Catholic Church, now the Basilica of St. Mary. Father William Reinecke began working at St. Mary when Arnold was a young teenager. Arnold says Father Reinecke was beloved and respected by parishioners. So, when Reinecke invited minor boys on overnight, out of town trips, Arnold insists no one, initially, suspected Reinecke was a serial pedophile(link is external). Arnold, in chilly detail, now tells the never heard before stories of Father Reinecke’s grooming and eventual sexual assault of boys. Arnold’s heartfelt story of regret reveals the method of a deranged yet trusted religious leader. He hopes by coming forward others will get the help they need.” By Jay Korff, WJLA-TV7 News

Why is priest sex abuse often unreported?
“Survivors and experts who work in the field of child sex abuse will tell you there are many reasons why it’s difficult for some to report priest sex abuse(link is external). Denial, fear and shame are just a few of the reasons. So, we asked survivors and experts on this subject why sex abuse is so often unreported or reported decades after occurring. ‘I always blamed myself,’ Becky Ianni says. ‘I was taught that he was sent by God so therefore God is punishing me. I must be a bad little girl … That somehow, even though I did not remember my abuse until I was 48, that feeling of inadequacy was with me my entire life.’” By Jay Korff, WJLA-TV7 News

Former altar boy comes forward with stunning revelations about former local priest
“Earlier this year, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington released its list of priests credibly accused of child sex abuse. Father William Reinecke, one of the highest-ranking members of the clergy in our region in the last half century, was among those listed. After speaking with one of Reinecke’s survivors, we realized that a much larger, never-before-told story of widespread, serial pedophilia involving Reinecke may exist(link is external). So, we decided to dig deeper.” By Jay Korff, WJLA-TV7 News

CALIFORNIA

Former Buffalo priest accused of abuse in California lawsuit
“An Episcopal priest in California who formerly served as a Catholic priest in the Buffalo Diocese was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a woman in the Town of Tonawanda decades ago(link is external). The abuse is alleged to have happened when the Rev. Paul J. Kowalewski was preparing to be a Catholic priest in Buffalo in the 1970s. Kowalewski, 71, currently is listed as part of the assisting clergy in the Church of St. Paul in the Desert, a parish in Palm Springs in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. He has been an Episcopal priest since 1990.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

COLORADO

Op-Ed: Validity of Catholic Church and Colorado sex abuse report doubtful
“For thirty years, the Catholic Church has been rocked by a steady roar of sexual abuse revelations. Some of its priests have been serially sexually abusing its children. Many of its bishops have been “covering up” these crimes. The massiveness of these crimes — they occurred in significant numbers in every corner of the Catholic world — has dulled our senses to the personal pain of each story. This is a universal story that continues in many forms. A few weeks ago, Colorado announced a new chapter(link is external).” By Terry Kelly, Westword.com

ILLINOIS

Catholic Diocese of Crookston settles clergy sex abuse lawsuit for $5 million
“The diocese of Crookston, Minnesota has settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of child sex abuse survivors(link is external). The agreement is for $5-million. A Twin Cities law firm says the agreement will result in payments to 15 abuse victims and keep the diocese from filing for bankruptcy. The names of priests will also be disclosed.” By KFGO-FM

Chicago Archdiocese removes priest from duties after allegations of sexual abuse that took place two decades ago
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has removed a priest from pastoral duties in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) that took place two decades ago. In a Saturday (Jul. 13) letter to members of two South Side parishes, Cardinal Blase Cupich says the Rev. William McFarlane was asked to step aside from ministry after the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office revealed the allegation.” By Associated Press in Chicago Tribune

KANSAS

Kansas Bureau of Investigation receives 119 reports of a use in Catholic clergy investigation
“The Kansas Bureau of Investigation releases new details on their task force investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by Catholic clergy members in Kansa(link is external)s. You’ll remember, the KBI launched that investigation back in February, at the request of Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Kansans were asked to report any victimization by members of the clergy, church employees, volunteers or others in positions of authority within the church. Since that time, the KBI has received 119 reports from victims who’ve contacted them related to past sexual abuse. Those reports prompted 74 investigations in 33 Kansas counties.” By KWCH-TV12 News

Kansas City Kansas Archdiocese priest charged with possessing child pornography
“A priest who served at several locations under the Kansas City, Kansas, Archdiocese has been charged in federal court with possessing child pornography(link is external). Christopher Rossman allegedly possessed visual depictions of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct in September 2016, according to charging documents.” By Katie Moore, The Kansas City Star

KENTUCKY

St. Xavier High School releases list of brothers the school says were ‘credibly accused’ of abusing children
“St. X has released a list of brothers the school says were ‘credibly accused’ of abusing kids(link is external). The list was created with the help of a retired FBI agent, who reviewed records going back decades. Fourteen brothers once assigned to St. X were named, dating from the 1930s until the 80s. Of those, only the allegations against three happened during their time at the school.” By WDRB-TV News

LOUISIANA

Lake Charles Diocese knew of abusers years before listed dates; helped priests continue careers
“The Diocese of Lake Charles joined its six Louisiana counterparts three months ago in releasing a list of clergymen from its jurisdiction who have been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors. The lists were intended to answer nationwide public demands for accountability and transparency. But although the Lake Charles list named predatory priests, it did so in a way that was less than transparent(link is external).” By Ben Myers, The Acadiana Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Retired judge will investigate sexual abuse allegations against late bishop
“A retired judge will review a Chicopee man’s allegation that former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon subjected him to sexual abuse in the 1960s(link is external). The man and his allies are taking a wait-and-see approach to the news. The Springfield diocese announced Monday (Jul. 22) that Peter A. Velis, a retired Superior Court judge, will begin work immediately to investigate reports from a former altar boy that Weldon not only assaulted him, but facilitated his abuse and that of other children by local clergy.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Xaverian Brothers release names of members of credibly accused of abuse
“The Xaverian Brothers, a Roman Catholic religious order that operates five high schools in Massachusetts, has identified 34 men found to be credibly accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external) dating back to the early 20th century. At least a dozen of those named were associated with St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers and at least five men worked at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood. Others taught at Malden Catholic High School and St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, according to the list.” By Danny McDonald and Alison Kuznitz, The Boston Globe

MICHIGAN

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw adds eight religious order clergy to list of those accused of sex abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has added the names of eight religious-order clergy to its website naming those who, according to the church, have at least one credible allegation of child sexual abuse against them(link is external). Church officials could not be reached immediately for comment. But the Saginaw Diocese website now includes the names of several members of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and one member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. Six of the eight people named are deceased.” By Zahra Ahmad, MLive.com

Priest roundup shows Michigan attorney general isn’t letting justice evade victims
“Bringing cases against priests based on decades-old incidents shows how determined Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is to use her resources in the now years-long Catholic Church abuse scandal(link is external). It must have been a shock to the six men arrested around the world May 24; most had been living quietly in other states for decades. But Nessel knew what they most likely didn’t: The clock on Michigan’s statute of limitations law stops running when the accused perpetrator leaves Michigan. The arrests sent a clear signal to church leaders and to victims: she’s leaving no stone unturned.” By Michael Betzold, DeadlineDetroit.com

NEW MEXICO

Face to face with Brad Hall: fighting for victims of clergy sex abuse
“Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall has represented more than 200 victims of priest sex abuse(link is external) in New Mexico. As his years-long legal battle nears its conclusion in federal bankruptcy proceedings, Hall talked about the legal and emotional journey that began with an unlikely visit.” By Kent Walz, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK

Bronx sisters reach settlement with New York Archdiocese over sexual assaults in their home b parish priest
“Two Bronx sisters sexually abused by a trusted parish priest(link is external) inside their home during the 1970s reached a settlement with the Archdiocese of New York over the childhood assaults. ‘In bringing this into the light, the evil cannot hide and we can begin the healing process,’ said Imelda Maldonado Davis, 54, at a Tuesday (Jul. 23) news conference outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. ‘And we can protect all of our children.’ By Mikey Light and Larry McShane

Bishop Malone says Olean listening session was ‘most powerful’ yet
“Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone called his listening session last month in Olean ‘the most powerful’ one yet, according to meeting notes from a group of lay people working with the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo(link is external). The embattled Malone spoke to and listened to local parishioners for two hours June 29 at Archbishop Walsh Academy as part of his listening sessions about the diocese’s clergy sexual abuse crisis. While media was not permitted in the session, the Movement to Restore Trust, an initiative of lay people that is hosting the listening sessions, posted its own notes from the session on its website.” By Tom Dinki, Olean Times Herald

Holy Trinity forged to fight sexual abuse crisis in Catholic Diocese
The Child Victims Act fully becomes New York law on Aug. 14. It is expected to bring a new wave of sexual abuse cases into the light(link is external), as the law allows more survivors their day in court. It also adds more urgency to the work currently underway to transform the Buffalo Catholic Diocese into a place of healing for those who have lost faith in the church. Canisius College President John Hurley and other lay Catholic leaders organized the Movement to Restore Trust in the fall of last year to ensure the sexual abuse crisis in the church never happens again … One of the nine points was to bring in an independent collaboration of prominent laity, religious and clergy called Leadership Roundtable to facilitate the work. ” By Marian Hetherly, WBFO-FM, Buffalo’s National Public Radio Station

NORTH CAROLINA

Observer, other media seek to unseal records from lawsuits against Catholic diocese
“News outlets including The Charlotte Observer have filed joint court motions that seek to unseal documents in two lawsuits that claimed sexual abuse(link is external) by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. Both lawsuits were resolved in favor of the 46-county diocese. The media group argues that documents the diocese had asked to be sealed, as part of motions for summary judgment in the cases, are of significant public interest. Television stations WBTV, WCNC and WSOC are also part of the group.” By Bruce Henderson, The Charlotte Observer

Abuse survivor calls for transparency within Charlotte Catholic Diocese
“The Catholic church abuse scandal erupted years ago, but there are still demands for accountability. Names of church leaders accused of abuse have been released city by city, but not in Charlotte(link is external). A survivor told Channel 9 his calls for action have been ignored. ‘I want them to know that I have not disappeared,’ he said.” By WSOC-TV9 News

NORTH DAKOTA

Belcourt woman publicly accuses priest of sexual assault during confession, sues Fargo Diocese
“Kateri Marion said she felt abandoned by Catholic leaders when she reported that a priest at her church in Belcourt, N.D., sexually abused her(link is external) three years ago. ‘I can’t tell you how scared I was when I came forward,’ she said Thursday, July 11, during a news conference held at the law offices of O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss in Fargo. ‘When I came forward, they left me in despair to pick up the pieces myself.’” By April Baumgarten, InForum.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Alleged victim of clergy sex abuse sues Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Bishop
“A man who claims he was sexually abused by two priests in the Diocese of Harrisburg(link is external) in the 1960s is now filing a lawsuit against the Diocese, a former Bishop, and the current Bishop. This is after he turned down a victim compensation fund offer. From 1960-1965, Donald Asbee says two priests repeatedly raped and sexually abused him while he served as an altar boy. He’s now suing the Diocese, one former Bishop, and the current Bishop, for punitive damages. Asbee claims he was sexually assaulted first by Father Raymond Daugherty when he became an altar boy at age 9.” By ErieNewsNow.com

Catholic clergy sex abuse lawsuit loophole announcement
“The first of its kind lawsuit is being announced at the PA State Capitol Tuesday (Jul. 23) morning on behalf of a Catholic Clergy child sexual abuse survivor. At 10:30 Tuesday morning a man who said he’s a survivor of child sex abuse from two priests(link is external) is speaking out. The plaintiff lives in Missouri, but as a child he lived in Milton, Penn., an hour north of Harrisburg. While serving as an altar boy he says he was repeatedly raped by two Harrisburg Diocese priests at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church. Up to this point, the statute of limitations prohibited many child sex abuse survivors from filing. But according to a new ruling, there’s a lawsuit loophole.” By Christine McLarty, ABC-TV27 News

RHODE ISLAND

AG’s review goes beyond church’s list of ‘credible’ accusations
“Rhode Island’s attorney general said Friday (Jul. 12) that it will be several more months before he is finished reviewing allegations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy(link is external) in the state. Democrat Peter Neronha said he continues to review allegations of clergy sexual abuse to figure out what happened, what the response was and whether anyone can be held responsible.” By Jennifer McDermott, Associated Press in The Sun

TENNESSEE

Former altar boy was abused by a Knoxville priest and ex-bishop, lawsuit alleges
“An East Tennessee man says he was repeatedly sexually abused by a longtime priest and the first bishop of the Knoxville diocese(link is external), and was offered up to visiting priests for ‘inappropriate sexual conduct’ in a church sacristy. Attorneys for Blount County resident Michael Boyd are suing the Diocese of Knoxville in a Knox County Circuit Court lawsuit filed July 18. Boyd’s lawyer said he is OK with his name being used in news reports.” By Amy McRary, Knoxville News Sentinel

TEXAS

Jury finds former El Paso priest guilty in sexual assault trial
“A jury has found former El Paso priest Miguel Luna guilty on all 12 counts of sexual assault of a minor(link is external). Closing arguments took place and a third victim testified on Monday (Jul. 14), saying Luna raped her. In closing arguments, the state told jurors Luna used his position to sexually assault and that religion had nothing to do with the incident and told them that God was used to groom and rape the victim.” By Justin Kree and Marisa Saenz, CBS-TV4 News

VIRGINIA

Priest list includes affiliation and status
“The Diocese of Richmond added six priests to its list of clergy with credible and substantiated claims of child sexual abuse(link is external), Thursday, June 27. In a statement released simultaneously with the six names, Bishop Barry C. Knestout said, ‘As we continue to engage with survivors of abuse and learn more about the history of our diocese, we continue our commitment to transparency. It is my sincere hope that the additions of these individual will help provide healing for anyone who suffered at their hands.” By The Catholic Virginian

Norfolk Catholic priest suspended after new complaint over conduct
“The Richmond Diocese suspended a Norfolk priest Friday (Jul. 12) after a complaint about a violation of the church’s code of conduct with minors(link is external), according to a news release from the church. Bishop Barry C. Knestout suspended the priestly faculties of Father Joseph H. Metzger III, former pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church on Newport Avenue near Colonial Avenue and the Talbot Park neighborhood.” By Saleen Martin, The Virginia Pilot

Faith leaders now mandatory reporters of abuse under new law
“Faith leaders in Virginia are now required to report suspected child abuse(link is external). Legislation that went into effect July 1 adds ministers, priests, rabbis, and imams to the list of mandated reporters. But victim advocates say they want the law to go further. Becky Ianni with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said she hopes the law will increase reporting of child abuse, but is concerned about what she identifies as a loophole.” By WCEV-FM National Public Radio

WASHINGTON

These priests are accused of sexual abuse in the Tri-Cities area, shows Catholic Church list
“A list of Catholic Church priests and deacons with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) in Benton County has been made public on a new website. The list posted by the Yakima Diocese Lay Advisory Board at bit.ly/YakimaAbuseList names 21 men who served the church in areas of central and eastern Washington under the Yakima Diocese. Franklin County is in the Spokane Diocese and not covered by the list.” By Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald

WISCONSIN

St. Norbert Abbey releases list of 22 Norbertine priests known to have abused minors
“St. Norbert Abbey has identified 22 Norbertine priests who sexually assaulted minors over six decades(link is external). The abbey on Friday (Jul. 19) released the list of names after an investigation into abuse allegations conducted by an outside organization. Rt. Rev. Dane Radecki, abbot of St. Norbert, said in a letter that he chose to publish the findings ‘in the spirit of accountability.’” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

New guidelines inform Church’s response to abuse
“The Catholic Church is developing new national policy guidelines to strengthen and standardize Church authorities’ responses to historical and contemporary concerns and allegations of abuse of children and vulnerable adults(link is external). Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said the development of the guidelines is a critical step forward in the Church’s ongoing response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.” By Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference

CHILE

Chile ends statute of limitations for sex crimes with underage victims
“Chile has removed the statute of limitation on sex crimes against children and adolescents(link is external), though the new law is not retroactive. The move comes in the wake of major controversies about abusive Catholic clergy and attempts at reform in the Catholic Church in Chile.” By Catholic News Agency

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Priest ‘systematically’ abused boys at St. Joseph’s College, court told
“A Catholic priest sexually abused two boys ‘regularly, systematically and horrifically(link is external),’ a jury was told. Michael Higginbottom, 76, is accused of targeting pupils while he was a teacher in the 1970s and 1980s at St Joseph’s College in Upholland, Lancashire. Two complainants said they were abused in his living quarters at the boarding school, Burnley Crown Court heard.” By BBC News

GUAM

Preist sexally abused Dededo boy at Talofofo Falls camping
“A lawsuit filed on Wednesday (Jul. 24) alleges that Father Louis Brouillard sexually abused a Dededo boy(link is external) during a weekend camping trip at Talofofo Falls around the late 1960s. The plaintiff, identified in federal court documents only by the initials B.A. to protect his privacy, was a member of the Boy Scouts of America from around 1969 to 1971.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

Catholic priest, Father Andrew Manetta, accused in new molestation case
“A man who took confirmation classes at the Chalan Pago church in the mid-1980s, when he was a teenager, has accused Father Andrew Manetta, who was parish priest at the time, of sexually assaulting him during a sleepover(link is external). The man, identified in Superior Court of Guam documents by the initials L.L.L., has asked for at least $5 million in damages from the Capuchin Franciscans, Manetta’s religious order.” By Steve Limtiaco, Pacific Daily News

Father Adrian Cristobal, accused of sex abuse in Guam, is missing after leaving Phoenix
“Father Adrian Cristobal, who was on sabbatical in Phoenix until recently and is accused of sexually abusing two boys(link is external) more than 20 years ago in Guam, has not returned to the island as ordered by the church. Two men filed separate civil suits in federal court in Guam in April and May accusing Cristobal of sexual abuse. Cristobal had arrived in Phoenix in December 2017 for sabbatical with a letter of good standing, the Phoenix Diocese said in a written statement to The Arizona Republic.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Republic

INDIA

India toughens law to protect children from sexual abuse
“The Indian government has toughened a law against child sexual abuse and child pornography(link is external). The law amended this week has increased the maximum penalty for child sex abuse to capital punishment from 20 years in prison. The government also defined child pornography for the first time and made the penalties more stringent, with a maximum punishment up to three years in prison.” By Associated Press

MEXICO

Mexico conference aims to help Latin America fight abuse in the church
“Pope Francis wants an ‘apostleship of prevention’ when it comes to abuse, he said in a new video. ‘Any person, a lay man or woman, a religious man or woman, a priest, a bishop, who prevents children from reaching Jesus must be stopped while we’re still in time, or punished if they’ve committed a crime,’ Francis said in a video he sent last week to the 170 participants of a five-week program on abuse prevention at the Pontifical University of Mexico(link is external).” By Inès San Martin, Cruxnow.com, on AngelusNews.com

POLAND

Polish abuse scandal: victims take on the Catholic Church
“Marek Mielewczyk was a 13-year-old altar boy when a priest asked him to come to his presbytery. ‘This is where I was abused for the first time(link is external),’ he says. He is one of several victims, now adults, featured in a documentary about Polish priests who sexually abused children. Tomasz and Marek Sekielski’s film, Don’t Tell Anyone, was watched 20 million times in the first week of its digital release – and prompted an unprecedented challenge to Poland’s Roman Catholic Church.” By Adam Easton, BBC News, Warsaw

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Pope Francis’ exhortation for prayer and fasting are appropriate, but more wll be needed following Pennsylvania grand jury report / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 20, 2018 – Pope Francis issued a letter today addressed to all the People of God in response to last week’s grand jury report of long-term Catholic clergy sexual abuse and its coverup in six Pennsylvania dioceses. The Pope abjectly apologized for the abuse, pointed out the spiritual failings, Church structures and culture of clericalism that led to it, and he exhorted Catholics to prayer and fasting for conversion.

With these words, Pope Francis seems at last to understand how corrupting clericalism has been and how terrible the evil perpetrated by abusers and the bishops who covered up. But prayer, fasting and penance, while essential, will not fix the problems. A good deal of prayer, penance and fasting has occurred but has not stopped the abuse, or the coverups, or fix clericalism. Although we applaud the Pope’s expressions of regret and sorrow, as always, we find ourselves anxiously anticipating action to back up his words.

This time, all the people of God must be involved in a systemic solution, as several bishops have pointed out over the past few days since the grand jury report was released. It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church, which Pope Francis is calling for, that does not include the active participation of all God’s people. VOTF has long called for greater lay input into the governance and guidance of the Church and for accountability now so clearly essential to addressing this systemic evil.

The Pope also correctly and emphatically points out the evils of clericalism. He says it is an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people. Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.”

We agree. Clericalism, as VOTF has said since our 2011 response to the John Jay College report on clergy sexual abuse, is at the root of the problem within the church today. The priests, the hierarchy and the laity all play a role in creating the culture of clericalism, and we must all play a role in tearing it down. The first step must be to hold accountable those bishops that covered up the abuse. This is not just to point out that some bishops are guilty. It also is meant to be a call to action for the lay people.

The Church is the People of God, and we all must right these wrongs:

  • We must stand for nothing less than a full account of those who allowed this abuse of children in the Church to continue and who covered it up, and the Pope must remove from ministry those found guilty of committing or covering up these crimes.
  • We must call for a change in statutes of limitations so that victims can seek justice in our courts, and the church must support those changes—not stand in the way.
  • We must work together to root out clericalism and make the Church as an organization answerable to all the People of God.

Click here to read Pope Francis’ letter in response to Pennsylvania grand jury report.(link is external)


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 20, 2018
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity, and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Retired Washington cardinal out of ministry after credible abuse accusation
“In a shocking announcement, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who served as the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., before retiring in 2006, has announced that he is stepping down from active ministry after allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) were found ‘credible and substantiated.’ The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Pope removes Chile bishop accused of abuse cover up
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a controversial Chilean bishop(link is external)accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse, making it the first such accepted resignation since all the country’s bishops offered to step down in May … The Vatican announced Francis’s decision on Monday (Jun. 11), and said Bishop Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo, an auxiliary bishop from the capital Santiago, would serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese. Two other bishops also had their resignations accepted: Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt and Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Bishops’ prosecutions may point to new phase in church’s sex abuse crisis
“Pope Francis has been dealing over recent months with what has seemed like an unending saga of the Catholic clergy sexual abuse(link is external) crisis in Chile. After being criticized for saying abuse victims had committed ‘calumny’ during his January visit to the country, the pope has since admitted making ‘serious mistakes,’ met with Chilean victims in Rome, and received offers of resignation from most of the country’s bishops … But if Francis’ response to clergy abuse in Chile has appeared unending, recent developments across the world indicate that an examination into how the global Catholic Church has handled, or mishandled, sexual abuse is just beginning to ramp up.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Expanded background checks among changes to child protection charter
“Incremental changes to the U.S. bishops’ guiding document(link is external) on addressing sexual abuse of minors by clergy were approved Thursday (Jun. 13) during the prelates’ annual spring assembly, marking the first modifications since 2011. In the first of six votes set for day two of the gathering, the bishops voted 185-5, with one abstention, to approve a series of revisions to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Australian prelate: laity could have prevented ‘catastrophic’ abuse crisis
“Arguably, few people in Australia can say they are more on the front lines in picking up the pieces after the recently concluded Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse that was highly critical of the Catholic Church than Archbishop Mark Coleridge, elected as president of the country’s bishops’ conference last month. Despite the challenges, which also include trials of two of Australia’s most renowned clerics … Coleridge is convinced that when it comes to fighting clerical sexual abuse, a ‘change in culture’ is needed and is already in motion(link is external).” By Inés San Martin, John L. Allen, and Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

CLERGY ABUSE CRISIS IN CHILE

The clergy abuse crisis in Chile is sending shockwaves through the Catholic community there and reverberating throughout the world as potential changes to how the Church handles such abuse are discussed. Here are some of the news stories that have appeared in addition to those we cite elsewhere in this issue of Focus:

ACCOUNTABILITY

#MeToo, earlier scandals mean pending sex abuse report can’t be ‘a small problem’
“In the mid-2000s, when then-Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham launched an investigation into clergy sex abuse and cover-up in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, she was assailed for waging a campaign against the Roman Catholic Church. It was a virtual repeat of what had played out just a few years prior in 2002 in Boston … At times, both in Philadelphia and Boston, Catholics rallied behind the church and defended their faith as legions came to terms with revelations of the assaults. Nearly a decade later, a pending grand jury investigation report into clergy sex abuse allegations and cover-up across six dioceses in Pennsylvania stands against a markedly changed landscape(link is external).” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

Report on Pennsylvania roman Catholic priest sexual abuse to be most extensive ever
“The results of a lengthy probe into the handling of sexual abuse claims by Roman Catholic dioceses(link is external) throughout Pennsylvania, which victim advocates say will be the biggest and most exhaustive ever by a U.S. state, could be made public within weeks. A statewide grand jury spent nearly two years looking into the abuse scandal, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has said he plans to address the panel’s findings by the end of June. The grand jury investigated six of the state’s eight dioceses, which collectively minister to more than 1.7 million Catholics. The report is expected to reveal details of widespread abuse and efforts to conceal and protect abusive priests.” By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press

Chile prosecutors raid Catholic Church offices amid sex abuse probe
“Chilean police and prosecutors on Wednesday (Jun. 12) launched separate and unexpected raids on Roman Catholic Church offices(link is external) to seize documents relating to mounting claims of sexual abuse and cover-up. The raids came just hours before Vatican abuse investigators sent by Pope Francis met the country’s top prosecutor to discuss collaborating on civil and canonical probes.” By Aislinn Laing and Dave Sherwood, Reuters

Church praised for proactive response on abuse but warned of complacency
“Despite groundbreaking steps the U.S. Catholic Church has taken to prevent the sexual abuse of minors in the past 16 years, a potential ‘complacency’ in following safety protocols could pose a challenge(link is external) to those hard-won advances. Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, shared that view with diocesan safe environment and victims’ assistance coordinators attending the Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference in New Orleans.” By Peter Finney, Jr., Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Abuse survivors launch global bishop accountability effort
“Some of the most prominent figures in the fight against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are joining forces in a new international effort to end abuse(link is external) and the impunity of bishops and religious superiors who enable it. The multinational initiative, End Clergy Abuse, was announced Thursday at a press conference in Geneva. One after another, more than a dozen members held up their national flags and denounced an individual bishop who had mishandled a case, from the Americas to Africa and Europe in between.” By Associated Press in Tampa Bay Times

Priests who don’t report sex abuse confessions could be fined
“Some Catholic priests across the Tasman will soon be facing a $10,000 fine if someone confesses child sex abuse to them and they don’t report it to the police. Both South Australia and ACT have law changes coming to crack open the confessional(link is external). It is expected that the confession-breaking laws could spread nationwide, as part of the federal government’s recently released response to the Royal Commission into child sex abuse’s recommendations.” By Phil Pennington, Radio New Zealand

Guam’s archbishop, Anthony Apuron, appeals Vatican verdict on sex-abuse charges
“Guam’s controversial archbishop, removed from office in March and barred from living in the U.S. territory, has appealed a Vatican tribunal’s ruling that found him guilty(link is external) of ‘certain accusations’ involving the sexual abuse of minors, the Archdiocese of Agaña said Thursday (Jun. 14). During the last week of April, Rome notified new Archbishop Michael Byrnes, tapped to replace Anthony S. Apuron on March 16, about Apuron’s appeal, according to Tony Diaz, director of communications for the archdiocese.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News, on 13NewsNow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis is finally starting to get it
“The world has heard it again and again — heartfelt, ringing pledges by Pope Francis and his predecessors that the Vatican, at long last, has gotten the message on the global epidemic of clerical sex abuse. These often have been followed by half-measures, equivocations, inertia and even outright contempt for accusers, who in most cases were victimized as children. Now, five years into his papacy, there are signs, at last, that Pope Francis is starting to get it(link is external).” By The Washington Post Editorial Board

Pope Francis to be briefed on institutional abuse ahead of Ireland visit
“Pope Francis ‘will be briefed’ before he arrives in Dublin about the abuse of women and children in Catholic-run institutions(link is external) in Ireland, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said. ‘It’s a challenge for all of us in the Irish church to recognize the way people have been damaged, the way the church has been damaged,’ Dr Martin said in Maynooth on Monday (Jun. 11) as he announced details of the pope’s visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

In letter to Chileans, Francis decries church’s ‘culture of abuse and cover-up’
“Pope Francis has become the first leader of the Catholic Church to publicly decry a ‘culture of abuse and cover-up’ in the global institution(link is external), admitting in a strikingly blunt letter to the people of Chile that clergy sexual abuse has continued because church leaders have not taken victims seriously. In an eight-page May 31 message addressed to ‘the Pilgrim people of God in Chile,’ the pope also says Catholic leaders must work to better respect the voices and opinions of non-clerics ‘to promote communities capable of fighting against abusive situations, communities where exchange, discussion, confrontation are welcome.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Council of Cardinals finalizes draft of new document on Roman Curia
“Pope Francis will review a finalized draft of the apostolic constitution that would govern the Roman Curia(link is external), the Vatican spokesman said. The document, provisionally titled ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (“Preach the Gospel”), was reviewed by the international Council of Cardinals, and the draft will be ‘given to the Holy Father for the considerations he deems opportune, useful and necessary,’ said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, June 13.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

BISHOPS

Vatican replaces archbishop convicted of concealing child sex abuse
“The Vatican on Sunday (Jun.3) announced a temporary replacement for an Australian archbishop who was convicted of concealing child sex abuse(link is external) by a fellow priest in the 1970s. Pope Francis said in a statement that Greg O’Kelly, the current Bishop of Port Pirie, in the state of South Australia, would temporarily replace Philip Wilson, the Archbishop of Adelaide, who stepped aside after being convicted of covering up abuses last month.” By Delia Gallagher and Sheena McKenzie, CNN

What to expect when the U.S. bishops meet in Florida this week
“While the June meeting of the U.S. bishops(link is external) is often considered to be the more lackluster of their two annual gatherings, at least in terms of news content, as they meet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this week (Jun. 12), major topics are on the agenda including healthcare, immigration, and religious liberty – all of which correspond to pressing issues on the national scene.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON YOUTH

Vatican’s synod document takes inclusive tone towards youth who disagree with church
“The Vatican document outlining the initial working positions for October’s global meeting of Catholic bishops on the needs of young people focuses on considering how church leaders can better help the rising generation deal with unique 21st century challenges(link is external) such as the part-time economy, digital dependency, and even so-called ‘fake news.’ The document, which will guide the opening discussions of the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops in Rome, also takes a notably inclusive tone towards both young Catholics who express disagreement with church teachings and young gay people.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Vatican reports ‘crisis of vocations’ as seminarian numbers fall worldwide
“The number of seminarians has fallen(link is external) amid what a Vatican document calls a ‘crisis of vocations.’ Between 2012 and 2016, the number of men in seminary training for the priesthood fell by nearly 4,000, to 116,160. The decline has been especially concentrated in the Americas and Europe. In Africa seminary numbers have steadily increased, with Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania and Madagascar (an outlier with a 66 per cent rise) providing an especially large number of future priests.” By Dan Hitchens, Catholic Herald

The Vatican is facing a priest shortage
“The Vatican called Friday (Jun. 8) for courageous proposals to cope with a shortage of priests in the Amazon(link is external), and said it wouldn’t rule out debate on whether married men could step in to fill the ‘precariously-thin presence’ of the Catholic Church in the vast region. In a preparatory document seeking input from South American bishops for the Vatican’s 2019 meeting on the Amazon, organizers also said the church must identify new ‘official ministries’ for women to play in the region.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in Bloomberg News

VATICAN

Vatican’s top sex abuse investigators promise action in Chile
“The Vatican’s top sex abuse investigators arrived in Chile on Tuesday (Jun. 12) saying they had orders from Pope Francis to ensure the Roman Catholic Church responds to “every case of sexual abuse of minors(link is external) committed by clergymen” in the South American nation. New abuse accusations have emerged in recent weeks against the Church in Chile, including allegations against the pope’s own Jesuit order. They follow the resignation of three bishops after an abuse and cover-up scandal that has damaged the Church’s reputation in the country.” By Aislinn Laing, Reuters

Vatican open to official role for women and married men in Amazon
“The Vatican says it is open to discussing the ordination of married men and an official role for women,(link is external) to address a shortage of priests in the Amazon region. A document prepared for a meeting at the Vatican on the issue, due to be held in October 2019, suggests examining what “type of official ministry can be conferred on women.” The meeting is also expected to discuss a previously-mooted suggestion that older married men could serve as priests in the region.” By Delia Gallagher and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Vatican denies protecting Peruvian accused of sex crimes
“The Vatican is denying it is protecting the founder of a Peru-based conservative Catholic community who is accused of sexual and psychological abuse against minors(link is external) and is being sought by Peruvian prosecutors. A letter from the Vatican’s office of religious orders acknowledged it had instructed Luis Figari to stay away from the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae community and required him to seek permission before leaving Rome, but said it never impeded his return to face charges.” By Associated Press in Tampa Bay Times

CHILD PROTECTION

As archdiocese builds new system to address clergy sex abuse, trust grows
“Tim O’Malley moved into a tiny, windowless office in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2014 facing a daunting task: To overhaul the often secretive way it addressed child sex abuse(link is external) by priests. O’Malley, former head of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, assembled a team of law enforcement leaders that scoured hundreds of abuse files from the past 60 years. They chased paper trails, interviewed witnesses, and laid the foundation for what is now seen as one of the nation’s most comprehensive archdiocesan child-protection systems.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Minneapolis Star Tribune

‘Dark Secret’ documentary now on Amazon
“Dark Secret, a documentary about the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s clergy sex abuse coverup(link is external), is now available on Amazon. It’s released just in time for the newest Grand Jury Report that will detail more coverups in several other Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses. It previously aired on PBS and I’m honored to have been interviewed for it. Documentarian Anne MacGregor worked tirelessly to bring the facts forward. It serves as yet another call to action for Catholics, the PA legislature and voters. Please watch and share with anyone who has or cares about children.” By Susan Matthews & Kathy Kane, Catholics4Change.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Jesus founded a movement led by both men and women
“Sometimes it is really difficult to be both female and Catholic. On the one hand, I couldn’t be prouder of the creative leadership taken by the University of Notre Dame and Pope Francis in working with oil executives to address climate change … On the other hand, I am dismayed by yet another statement from the Vatican prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the non-ordination of women to the priesthood. I have been tracking Vatican statements on women priests since the 1970s. They are invariably ahistorical and biblically naive(link is external). It is embarrassing. Worse, they bear false witness to the Jesus of history and are ultimately destructive to the body of Christ, especially the distaff side.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Vatican asks for ‘new ways’ for access to Communion in Amazon region
“A Vatican document meant to help prepare for a special meeting of Catholic bishops from the Amazon rainforest focuses on how the church’s ministry in the nine-nation region is overextended and calls for consideration of ‘new ways’ to allow laypeople(link is external) ‘better and more frequent access to the Eucharist.’ The 14-page preparatory paper for the 2019 special assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Amazon, released June 8, references the issue of overextension several times. At one instance, it states frankly that the church’s pastoral care in the region ‘has been spread precariously thin.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Polish bishops avoid Communion row in Amoris Laetitia guidelines
“Poland’s bishops have released their long-awaited guidelines on Amoris Laetitia(link is external), sidestepping questions on Communion for the divorced and remarried. The bishops said last year that Amoris had not changed Church doctrine on Holy Communion, and that those in ‘irregular unions’ should be led to ‘true repentance and sacramental reconciliation’ with their spouse.” By Nick Hallet, Catholic Herald

CHURCH FINANCES

Several thousand dollars in collection money stolen from Catholic Church
Thousands of dollars were stolen(link is external) over the weekend from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. Father Tony Vilano of St. Francis of Assisi said it happened overnight between Sunday (Jun. 17) night and Monday morning. ‘After we finished our last Mass, sometime in the evening, someone came in and broke into St. Francis of Assisi,’ said Vilano. ‘(They) broke into this parish and went straight for the collections.’” By Stephanie Serna, KSAT-TV News

Priest stood aside amidst parish funds probe
“The Catholic Archbishop of Perth has stood aside a priest and called in police to investigate long-running financial concerns(link is external) at one of Western Australia’s oldest churches he Perth Archdiocese released a statement to The West Australian yesterday (Jun. 12) in which it revealed it had stood aside Father Joe Walsh and referred an internal financial investigation to WA Police.” By CathNews.com

Catholic church administrator accused of embezzling thousands of dollars
“A former employee of a Catholic church in Tuscola County is heading to trial, accused of embezzling money(link is external). Investigators believe Alma Moreno-Babcock, who was the church’s liturgy coordinator, may have been stealing money for at least a couple of years, if not longer.” By Terry Camp, ABC12 News

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Time is running out to help abuse victims
“With only days left in this legislative session, the Republican majority in the state Senate seems determined to acknowledge the plight of young victims of sexual abuse only if it can protect those who are responsible(link is external). That’s quite a trick, but it is at the heart of the GOP alternative to the Child Victims Act which has repeatedly passed the Assembly, which has Democratic support but lacks the vote of even one Republican including those retiring at the end of this term who could go out with this humane accomplishment as part of their legacy.” By Times Herald-Record Editorial Staff

Push for legislation to follow report on Church sex abuse
“A renewed push for legislation to abolish Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations(link is external) in sex abuse cases will follow the publication of a sweeping grand jury report on allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-ups within six Roman Catholic dioceses around the state, a lawmaker said Tuesday (Jun. 12). Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, said he will be prepared to seek a vote in the state House of Representatives on legislation that carries provisions sought by victims.” By Mark Levy, Associated Press, in U.S. News & World Report

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Hans Zollner: two keys for priests to avoid sexual abuse
“This expert from the Vatican commission for the Protection of Minors explains that to prevent priests from sexual abuse(link is external), two aspects must be stressed. The seminary must closely review candidates before accepting; and once these men have been ordained, they must never lose their spiritual guidance.” By RomeReports.com

Former senior Catholic diplomat charged with sharing ‘large quantity’ of child pornography
“A Catholic priest who once was one of the church’s top diplomats in Washington was indicted by the Vatican on accusations of possessing and sharing ‘a large quantity’ of child pornography(link is external). In a statement obtained by Reuters, the Vatican said Monsignor Carlo Capella would face a trial starting on 22 June. He is being held in a cell in the Vatican’s police barracks.” By Cleve Wootson, Julie Zauzmer, Independent

FLORIDA

Priest shielded from testifying in sexual abuse case
“Pointing to a state religious-freedom law, an appeals court has shielded a priest from testifying(link is external) about his discussion with a teenage girl during the Catholic sacrament of confession about the girl being sexual abused. The ruling Friday by a panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal in an Orange County case sided with priest Vincenzo Ronchi, who argued that the Catholic Church bars priests from disclosing any aspects of communications during confession — more formally known as the sacrament of reconciliation — and that disclosure could even lead to excommunication from the church.” By Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida, on News4Jax.com

LOUISIANA

Lafayette Diocese priest accused of abuse of a minor
“The Diocese of Lafayette was informed this week of an allegation of abuse of a minor(link is external), the Diocese said in a statement released Saturday (Jun. 2) at 4 p.m. According to the statement, the alleged incident occurred several years ago, and the alleged victim is now an adult. The Diocese and the alleged victim have reported the allegation to law enforcement authorities and the Diocese is assisting and cooperating fully with the civil investigation.” By The Daily Advertiser

Lafayette bishop won’t say whether he’ll release names of accused priests; dozens of U.S. dioceses already do
“Dozens of Roman Catholic dioceses around the U.S. have released the names of priests who sexually abused minors(link is external), but the Diocese of Lafayette has so far opted against the practice — and the bishop has declined to say whether he plans to do so in the future. The recent announcement of a sexual-abuse investigation into St. Landry Parish priest Michael Guidry has reignited calls to the Diocese of Lafayette — including from survivors of such sexual abuse — to release the names of abusive priests from the area.” By Lanie Lee Cook, KATC-TV News

MARYLAND

Second allegation of child sexual abuse made against Highlandtown priest
“A few weeks ago, we shared some difficult news with you about Father Luigi Esposito and an allegation of child sexual abuse(link is external) against him from the 1970s. Since then, we have received another allegation from an individual who also claims to have been sexually abused by Father Esposito in the 1970s. This second individual was approximately 15 years old when the abuse occurred. Both alleged victims are females and were members of Our Lady of Pompei at the time the abuse occurred. The second allegation, which was prompted by public reports about the initial allegation, has been reported to civil authorities. The Archdiocese has extended an offer of counseling assistance to both alleged victims.” By Jerri Burkhardt, Archdiocese of Baltimore

MINNESOTA

Archdiocese needs $40M for sex abuse settlement. Here’s where it’s looking.
“The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is crafting a plan that leans on budget cuts, property sales and the generosity of Catholics to help the church emerge from bankruptcy and move beyond a clergy sex abuse scandal(link is external) that has plagued it for years. The archdiocese has committed to pay $40 million of the historic $210 million settlement with clergy abuse survivors that isn’t covered by insurance. Officials on Friday (Jun. 8) shared the basics of their proposed payment plan with MPR News.” By Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio

NEW JERSEY

Former Delbarton teacher admits he had sex with 50 boys; school settles five sex abuse suits
“The Catholic order that runs the Delbarton School in Morris Township has settled lawsuits brought by five men who alleged they were sexually abused by five monks(link is external) — including a former headmaster of the school. Six additional lawsuits are pending against the Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey and St. Mary’s Abbey, which runs the school — three filed on Tuesday (May 29). Details of the settlements, made over the past couple of months, were not disclosed.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK

Editorial: Malone’s words matter
“Call it what you want – spin control, crisis management or welcome candor – but Bishop Richard J. Malone deserves credit for addressing the clergy sex-abuse scandal head-on(link is external). In last week’s interview with The Buffalo News, Malone addressed many of the questions surrounding the Diocese of Buffalo’s handling of the scandal that has been troubling the Catholic community. At least 58 priests who worked in the Buffalo area have been linked to sex allegations.” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

Lawyer calls on Catholic church to release ‘secret’ records in Rochester priest scandal
“Saying it is time for ‘the church to stop these evil acts’ a Boston attorney who has spent decades representing victims of sexual abuse called on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester and its bishop to release records it may hold concerning allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) of children by clergy. Mitchell Garabedian stood on the steps of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester on Wednesday (Jun. 13) and named eight priests from the Rochester diocese who are accused of sexually abusing minor children.” By Sean Lahman and Meaghan M. McDermont, Democrat & Chronicle

Parish wonders what happened to pastor removed three years ago
“Nearly three years ago, the Buffalo Diocese abruptly removed the Rev. Dennis A. Fronczak as pastor(link is external) of Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Lancaster. Nobody at the parish was told why. A diocese representative announced Fronczak’s departure at Masses at the church in October 2015, recalled Dick Wagner, 80, a long-time parishioner.” By Dan Herbeck and Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Here’s what churchgoers are saying about sexual abuse claims against priest
“Members of St. Patrick’s Parish in Owego are reacting to the sexual abuse allegations against a local priest(link is external). Thomas Valenti is one of eight priests accused of sexually abusing children in the Rochester Catholic Diocese. He now serves as a parochial administrator at Blessed Trinity, which includes St. Patrick’s. Valenti is accused of abusing a 15-year-old from 1975 to 1977. During that time, he was a deacon at St. Mary’s in Ontario, New York.” By Nicholas Phillips, Spectrum News

Diocese of Rochester has paid $1.6M to 20 sex abuse victims
“At least 20 children, and probably more, have been sexually abused by 24 priests(link is external)in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester since 1950. Over the years, the diocese has paid $1,616,000 in compensation to those victims. The number of victims is likely higher because not all victims accept financial compensation. Some of the payouts date back decades, although most were settled since the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in 2002.” By David Andreatta, Democrat and Chronicle

OHIO

Alleged victim speaks out after sexual abuse case against priest
“It’s been over a week since the Diocese of Steubenville removed retired priest, Monsignor Mark Froehlich after allegations of sexual abuse were deemed ‘credible(link is external).’ But Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, officials and alleged victims are now claiming the Diocese knew about the complaint since January. There is an active investigation ongoing with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office regarding the issue, but according to SNAP, they want to see more being done.” By Falicia Woody, WTRF-TV News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania abuse survivor calls on Pope Francis to intervene
“Mark Rozzi can remember the feeling of the tall grass brushing against his bare legs on the day he and a close friend desperately ran out of the rectory in Hyde Park, Pennsylvania. Rozzi, who was 13 at the time, had just been raped by his priest(link is external), the Rev Edward Graff, and remembers thinking in that moment, as he ran through a field, that he would take his terrible new secret to his grave.” By Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian

TEXAS

Former Texas Catholic priest arrested in El Paso on sexual assault of a child charge
“El Paso police arrested a former Texas priest who, during an El Paso Catholic Diocese investigation last year, allegedly admitted to sexually abusing a child(link is external). Miguel Luna, 68, was arrested Monday (Jun. 11) afternoon in front of his home in the 3500 block of Keltner Avenue in Northeast El Paso, police said. He was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, according to jail records.” By Daniel Borunda, El Pas Times

AUSTRALIA

Priest who confessed to abuse 1500 times ‘proves need for change’
“A paedophile priest who admitted to child abuse on more than 1500(link is external) occasions but was just told to “pray more” should be a ‘prime example’ for the Catholic Church to allow breaking the seal of confession, advocates have told The New Daily. Father Michael McArdle made an affidavit in 2004 stating he had confessed 1500 times to molesting children to 30 different priests over a 25-year period.” By Lucie Morris-Marr, The New Daily

Mother of abuse survivor to sue the Catholic Church
“The mother of clergy abuse survivor, Paul Levey, may be the first parent and secondary victim to sue the Catholic Church(link is external). Anne Levey, who is haunted daily by knowledge of Paul’s horrific abuse by laicized and jailed priest Gerald Ridsdale, said she will be pursuing a case against the Catholic Church as a secondary victim because of the damage and pain suffered.” By Leanne Younes, the Courier

Parish priest stood down over child safety concerns
“A Catholic priest who presides over two parishes in Melbourne’s south has been ordered to take leave while he is investigated for allegedly breaching child safety laws(link is external). Archbishop Denis Hart has asked Father Paul Newton, the parish priest for St Kevin’s Ormond and St Patrick’s Murrumbeena, to take a period of administrative leave while parishioners’ concerns are probed.” By Henrietta Cook, The Age

Australia state makes it easier for abuse victims to sue churches
Survivors of clerical abuse(link is external) in the Australian state of New South Wales will be able to directly sue churches under proposed legal changes announced on Sunday (Jun. 10). Mark Speakman, the attorney general, said the new legislation was in response to Australia’s royal commission into institutional abuse. New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state, and the home of the country’s largest city, Sydney.” By Cruxnow.com Staff

The Catholic Church should not stand in the way of this vital reform
“It is hard to know where to begin with Archbishop Christopher Prowse’s plea on behalf of the Catholic Church for the ACT government to preserve the seal of religious confession, even in instances where a child is being sexually abused(link is external). Thankfully, the ACT Assembly wasn’t swayed as it voted last week to introduce Australia’s toughest new mandatory reporting laws, making it a leader in child safety.” By Michelle James, The Canberra Times

BANGLADESH

Police say prominent Bangladeshi priest had string of relationships
“The mysterious disappearance of a Bangladeshi priest just days before Pope Francis visited the country has taken a new turn. Police suspected that Fr. Walter William Rozario had been kidnapped by radical Muslims when they found his abandoned motorbike and discovered that his mobile phone was switched off. But ucanews.com reported their investigation revealed that the 41-year-old priest allegedly had been involved in a string of relationships with women and at least one girl under 18(link is external), the age of consent in Bangladesh.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Former Bangladesh nun: anti-sex abuse crusader
“Bangladeshi human rights activist Rosaline Costa says reports of clergymen abusing women and children(link is external) have been around Christendom for years. ‘In recent years the media has been very open in this respect and so many victims are coming out and even risking their lives with their claims,’ Costa said. After ucanews.com reported the case of Bangladeshi priest Father William Walter Rozario, the former Maria Bambina nun answered the following questions about the situation in Bangladesh …” By Rock Ronald Rozario, UCANews.com

CHILE

Pope’s abuse investigators headed back to Chile June 12-18
“In what amounts to Pope Francis’s latest attempt to resolve a massive clerical sexual abuse crisis(link is external), the Chilean bishops’ conference announced Wednesday (Jun. 6) that his top two investigators will return to Chile June 14-17, visiting a diocese where a controversial bishop has been accused of covering up acts of abuse. The bishops’ statement said that Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, a former official of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, a current official of the congregation, will be in the diocese over those three days.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Urgent call for interim report on Catholic Church by national sex abuse inquiry
“We say that the Catholic Church, including Ealing Abbey, is not a safe place for children and it is not something we should wait to act upon. Lawyers have called on Professor Alexis Jay, chair of the national inquiry into child sexual abuse(link is external), urgently to produce an interim report on the Catholic church, saying it is ‘structurally, culturally and doctrinally incapable of implementing and enforcing the minimum standards of safeguarding.’” By The Tablet

GRENADA

Bishop Harvey – Child sexual abuse is unacceptable
“Grenada’s Roman Catholic Bishop, Trinidad-born Clyde Harvey has expressed grave concerns over the rampant occurrence of Child Sexual Abuse(link is external) in the country. Making an appearance on a local radio station, Bishop Harvey said he is hopeful that Catholics are not involved but are exuding better morals than what is being displayed very often in the country with sexual abuse of children. However, he said that while he holds out hope, he will not be fooled into thinking that members of the Catholic church are not involved in this depraved act.” By The New Today

GUAM

184 claims of Guam clergy abuse moving toward mediation
“One hundred eighty-four people said they were sexually abused by members of Guam’s Catholic clergy(link is external) or others associated with the church, but 10 of them decided not to sue, attorneys said at Tuesday’s (Jun. 12) court hearing on the status of efforts to settle the cases through mediation. Mediation is set for Sept. 17 to 21, which is two days longer than initially anticipated.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Pope Francis ‘to meet church abuse victims during summer visit to Ireland’
“Pope Francis will meet victims abused by the Church(link is external) in hellhole institutions during his summer visit to Ireland, top clergymen have predicted. Details of the Pontiff’s €20 million, two-day trip were unveiled today, but he will not be venturing across the border into Northern Ireland. Instead, hundreds of thousands of faithful will turn out to greet him at Knock in Co Mayo and in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.” By Cate McCurry, Irish Mirror

Big spike in Church child abuse cases
“A significant rise in the number of allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external) relating to the Catholic Church was recorded in the last year, a report by a safeguarding body reveals. However, the allegations received related to historic cases with the most recent alleged incident dating to 2002. The National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) said the figures did not suggest the Church was becoming less safe for children.” By Joe Leogue, Irish Examiner

MEXICO

In Mexico, SNAP and the Church join forces to fight abuse
“When it comes to fighting clerical sexual abuse(link is external), unity creates strength. At least, that’s what the Archdiocese of Mexico City and the local chapter of the Survivors Networks of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) believe, as the two recently announced they will join forces to protect children and young adults.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

PERU

Vatican denies protecting founder of Peruvian movement accused of abuse
“Vatican officials have denied protecting the founder of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Peru-based religious movement, who is accused of sexual, physical and psychological abuse(link is external) of minor and young adult members of the group. In a communique dated May 25 and released by the Peruvian bishops’ conference at a news conference June 1, the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life said it was responding to claims that it had ‘hidden’ Luis Fernando Figari in Rome and was ‘protecting him.’” By Barbara J. Fraser, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

SWITZERLAND

New group campaigns to end Catholic Church child abuse
“Child abuse victims and human rights activists from 15 countries, including Switzerland, have launched a new pressure group to campaign against abuse by Catholic clerics(link is external). ‘The church has got away with crime for too long,’ said Peter Saunders, a British survivor of abuse, announcing the creation of the Ending Clerical Abuse (ECA) group at a media conference in Geneva on Thursday (Jun. 7). ‘ECA stands to compel the Roman Catholic church to end clerical abuse, especially child abuse, in order to protect children and to seek justice for victims,’ added Saunders, a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.” By Agence France-Press on TheLocal.com

Swiss arrest Catholic priest on sex abuse allegations
“Swiss authorities say they have arrested a Catholic priest under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct(link is external) that was brought to their attention by church leaders. Maurus Eckert, a spokesman for canton (state) prosecutors in Graubuenden, said Thursday (May 24) that the priest was taken into custody amid an ongoing investigation of alleged sexual abuse of an adult victim. He declined to provide any further details.” By Associated Press on LeaderPost.com

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Child Victims Act sunsets within week of bishops’ abuse report / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., May 25, 2016 – Recent heightened public scrutiny of Catholic clergy sexual abuse has reinforced the urgency for the Church to address the scandal adequately, according to abuse victims’ advocate and Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful.

Within only a week, the “window” in the Minnesota Child Victims act expired, even as the U.S. Catholic bishops made their annual abuse report.

On May 24, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the three-year window created by the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act for reporting old claims of child sex abuse would expire May 25. During the three-year period, more than 500 claims were made against Minnesota Catholic clergy, according to the Star Tribune, which said, “In the three years since the law’s passage, the local church has witnessed an archbishop’s resignation, two bankruptcies and the public naming of more than 100 priests credibly accused of child sex abuse.”

The same day, the Associated Press reported that lawyers for abuse victims were accusing the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese of hiding more than $1 billion in assets “to avoid big payouts to abuse survivors as part of the church’s bankruptcy case.”

On May 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its 2015 annual audit report on the implementation of its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report was not entirely complimentary of the Church’s efforts. The report showed a sharp increase in the number of new claims primarily from adults reporting past abuse. Francesco Cesareo, chairman of USCCB’s National Review Board, said the audit showed progress in creating safe environments for children but that very progress threatens complacency in implementing the charter’s guidelines.

As VOTF has pointed out before, the audit relies on self-reporting to assess compliance with those guidelines with little or no verification of the reported data.

Voice of the Faithful believes this focus on the scandal reinforces calls to action VOTF has made many times, including:

  1. everyone in the Church, lay and clergy alike, must be constantly vigilant in order to prevent abuse and its coverup and to report suspected cases promptly to civil authorities;
  2. the Church must stop blocking state statutes of limitation reforms that allow sufficient time for abused children to report the crimes;
  3. the Church must hold accountable not only the abusers, but also those who fail to report the crimes;
  4. the Church must provide abuse survivors and all those harmed by the scandal with resources necessary for healing.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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