Posts Tagged catholic clergy sexual abuse

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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Pope’s sex abuse panel makes progress / Associated Press

Pope Francis’ sex abuse commission has made new progress after languishing for much of the past year. It approved its legal statutes, proposed new members and divided up work to focus on reaching out to survivors, holding bishops accountable and keeping pedophiles out of the priesthood, The Associated Press has learned. The commission met over the past weekend (Oct. 4-5) for the third time since it was announced last December.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press on abcnews.go.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

Marie Collins, a clergy sexual abuse survivor from Ireland who quoted in this story as a member of Pope Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, will be the featured speaker at the Voice of the Faithful® 2015 National Assembly in Hartford, Connecticut, April 18, 2015. Click here to register for the VOTF 2015 National Assembly.

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Movement of Catholics Motivated by Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal Gathers for 2014 Assembly in Hartford, April 5

2014 Assembly Logo DRAFT Purple 102513Voice of the Faithful®, a movement of Catholics started in 2002 at the height of the Boston, Mass., clergy sexual abuse scandal, will hold its “2014 Assembly: Turning Talk into Action” on Saturday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford. Registration is $80 per person, and lunch is included.

Guest speakers will be John L. Allen, Jr., and Fr. Thomas Reese. Allen, associate editor for Catholic news and analysis at The Boston Globe and founder of the Vatican beat for National Catholic Reporter, will offer “Perspectives on Pope Francis and a Climate of Change.” Fr. Reese, National Catholic Reporter’s senior analyst, former associate editor of America magazine and author of The Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church, will discuss “Jesuit Spirituality.”

Six afternoon workshops, each presented twice, will help participants “turn talk into action”:

  • Parish Level Financial Accountability: Tools for Securing Collections – What simple steps can be taken to secure Sunday collections from basket to bank and all points in between?
  • Diocesan Level Financial Accountability: The Montana Hustle Case Study – How one Parish Finance Council doggedly pursued their bishop after their pastor misused funds and how new tools VOTF is developing will help monitor a diocese’s finances.
  • Clericalism – What is clericalism and how are the signs recognized? Participants will learn how this primary obstruction to collegial lay participation in the Church could be removed.
  • Priestless Parishes: There IS An Answer – How can the doors to optional celibacy be opened for a priesthood embracing the celibate and the married, so availability of the Eucharist is ensured?
  • Female Voices – How can women change the equation in a Church that too often positions them only in a mother or helper role? Today’s realities and future potential will be discussed with four women who serve as pastoral associates and in ministry positions.
  • Survivor Support: Spirituality & Trauma – Despite sexual trauma and clergy betrayal that leave scars that may involve rejecting church hierarchy and structure, the need for non-clerical spirituality continues, and Fr. Thomas Doyle will explore ways of healing and fulfillment.

An expert panel also will discuss Pathways to Healing and Reform, ways in which participants might help restore the Church. Panel members will include Fr. James Connell, canon lawyer and retired pastor who helped found Catholic Whistleblowers; Prof. Thomas Porter, trial lawyer, mediator, Methodist minister and teacher of restorative justice in Boston University’s School of Theology; and William Casey, coordinator of a restorative justice program at the Northern Virginia Mediation Service and former VOTF board chair.

Interested individuals may register online for the VOTF 2014 Assembly, download a printable registration form, make hotel reservations or get more information at www.votf.org.

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

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