Posts Tagged catholic clergy sexual abuse

Vatican court hears unprecedented sexual abuse trial / National Public Radio

“An unprecedented trial is underway this month at the Vatican, the result of a whistleblower going public.

“A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy over a five-year period inside Vatican City walls. An older priest is charged with covering up the abuse.

“It’s the first criminal trial for sexual abuse to take place in the Vatican court.

“The first hearing of the trial, held earlier this month, lasted just eight minutes — enough for the Vatican court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The alleged victim, identified by his initials, LG, was forced “to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City,” according to charges read out by the court clerk.

“The alleged abuse took place from 2007, when the victim was 13, until 2012.”

By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio — Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ruling allows victims to sue archdiocese over millions transferred to parishes

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

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

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

By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal — Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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

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

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

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

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


September 28, 2020

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

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

BISHOPS

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

PRIESTS

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

LAITY & THE CHURCH

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

VATICAN

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

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

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

VOICES

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

ARIZONA

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

LOUISIANA

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

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

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

NEW JERSEY

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

NEW YORK.

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

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

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

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

SOUTH CAROLINA

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

SOUTH DAKOTA

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

WEST VIRGINIA

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

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

CANADA

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

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

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

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

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

INDONESIA

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

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

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

ITALY

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

NEW ZEALAND

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

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Restitution to be set aside for clergy abuse survivors a fraction of misused funds

BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 24, 2020 – Disgraced former bishop Rev. Michael Bransfield will pay only half the restitution his successor Bishop Mark Brennan approved last November, according to Brennan’s Aug. 20 letter, issued just days after Bransfield’s apology to Catholics of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, which sounded more like a confession that sins had been committed, just not by him.

“We cannot adequately describe the anguish we feel at the lack of accountability reflected in the Vatican’s recent order for restitution from Bransfield or the lack of remorse from the former bishop,” said Mary Pat Fox, Voice of the Faithful president. “Once more, the Church has failed to hold a bishop adequately accountable for his actions. Complete restitution, removal from the clerical state, and a life of prayer and penance should be the punishment for all bishops who have so grossly abused their authority.”

Restitution paid by Bransfield is to be used to support clergy abuse survivors, which makes the fact that the Vatican decreased the amount even more reprehensible.

Pope Francis accepted Bransfield’s resignation as bishop in September 2018. He had been accused of misusing millions of dollars of church money and of sexually abusing teenagers and covering up abuse by other priests dating back to when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and of sexually harassing seminarians as bishop.

His successor, Bishop Mark Brennan, had worked out a plan for Bransfield to pay about $800,000 in restitution to the diocese and for Bransfield’s stipend in retirement to be $736, but the Vatican Congregation of Bishops ordered him to pay only $441,000 in restitution and set his stipend at $2,250.

Forgiveness may be at the heart of faith, Fox said, but so is justice. “These offending bishops should assume a vow of poverty and be sent to a monastery to pray.”


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 24, 2020
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


Aug. 24, 2020

TOP STORIES

Explainer: What the church has done to fight clergy sex abuse since 2018’s ‘summer of shame’
“It has been two years since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was published on Aug. 14, 2018, documenting in at times disturbing detail at least 1,000 cases of abuse by 300 predator priests (link is external) spanning seven decades. Within two months, 13 more states and the District of Columbia had launched similar investigations, and Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then-archbishop of Washington, who was named in the report as failing to deal adequately with abuse when he was bishop of Pittsburgh.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Francis names six women to group that oversees Vatican’s finances
“Pope Francis named six women to the high-level group that oversees the Vatican’s finances (link is external) Aug. 6, in what may represent the most senior appointments yet of women among the Catholic Church’s exclusively male leadership structure. The six women, all Europeans with backgrounds in finance, will join eight cardinals and one layman as members of the Council for the Economy, which Francis created in 2014 to supervise the financial activities of both the Vatican city-state and the offices of the Holy See.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: It’s past time for Vatican report on McCarrick’s shameful rise
“As we publish this, it has been one year, 10 months, and six days since Pope Francis ordered a report on the Vatican’s documentation about how Theodore McCarrick was promoted through the ranks of the Catholic hierarchy for decades, despite multiple, then-secret reports of his sexual misconduct (link is external) with seminarians. And it has been six months and six days since a Vatican official last gave a public update on the status of the report, when Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told the Reuters news agency that work on the text was done, awaiting only a final ‘go’ order for publication from Francis.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Polish Cleric Retires in Face of Cover-Up Accusations. It’s Not Enough, Critics Say.
“Pope Francis this week accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Gdansk, Poland, who has been accused of protecting priests facing allegations of child abuse (link is external), a step seen as a subtle rebuke but also criticized as inadequate. The archbishop, Slawoj Leszek Glodz, had offered his resignation upon reaching the retirement age of 75, as protocol demands, but bishops are typically allowed to keep their positions past that time. The pope’s decision to accept Archbishop Glodz’s resignation on his birthday was interpreted by many as an admonishment of the church hierarchy in Poland, which has long been accused of putting the institution’s image above the rights of abuse victims.” By Elisabetta Povoledo and Anatol Magdziarz, The New York Times

Report show emergence of child safe culture
“Audits of Catholic dioceses and religious institutes have revealed a ‘consistent commitment of leaders and an emerging and strengthening child-safe culture (link is external),’ according to Catholic Professional Standards Ltd. Since its establishment in 2016, CPSL has developed and rolled out the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, provided safeguarding capacity-building to Church entities through training, support, advice and guidance, and developed an audit framework to measure compliance with the Standards.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Slew of church abuse lawsuits hinges on state court decision
“Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses have been hit with about 150 lawsuits from people who say they were sexually abused as children by priests (link is external) and hope a state court decision last year has shown a way around time limits for legal claims. Lawyers involved in the litigation say they were still getting notified about new cases on Aug. 13 and expect dozens more. The rush to the courthouse is tied to a landmark grand jury report issued exactly two years ago in 2018 that documented seven decades of child molestation within the Catholic church in Pennsylvania.” By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Questions of abuse cover-up directed at incoming St. Louis archbishop, but details unclear
“Archbishop-designate Mitchell Rozanski is set to take over the Archdiocese of St. Louis, after heading the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts since 2014. Though Rozanski himself backed major changes in the Springfield diocese’s handling of abuse, one unnamed abuse victim has asked for a Church investigation into whether the archbishop-designate was involved in covering up abuse (link is external). By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Ex-altar boy says he was abused by Cardinal McCarrick — and witnessed more at beach house
“Geoffrey Downs said he was a teenage altar boy in the 1980s when former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abruptly pinned him to a wall and sexually abused him (link is external) as they prepared for services in Metuchen. McCarrick, who would go on to become one of the most prominent clerics in the U.S. Catholic Church, allegedly said he could arrange for the two to go to a Jersey Shore beach house where they could have ‘alone time.’ Downs, who sued McCarrick and the Metuchen diocese last week, said he knew about that house because he’d been there a few years earlier on a retreat with a group of altar boys. He said he had been awakened by a sound just before dawn, and witnessed a priest sexually abusing a young boy.” By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

BISHOPS

Questions of abuse cover-up directed at incoming St. Louis archbishop, but details unclear
“Archbishop-designate Mitchell Rozanski is set to take over the Archdiocese of St. Louis, after heading the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts since 2014. Though Rozanski himself backed major changes in the Springfield diocese’s handling of abuse, one unnamed abuse victim has asked for a Church investigation into whether the archbishop-designate was involved in covering up abuse (link is external).” By Catholic News Agency in The Pilot

Fifth lawsuit accuses retired Bishop Hubbard of Albany of alleged abuse
“A fifth lawsuit has accused retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany of alleged sexual abuse (link is external). The lawsuit — filed the week of Aug. 10 in the state Supreme Court in Albany on behalf of a 55-year-old man currently living in South Carolina — alleges that Bishop Hubbard sexually abused the man when he was 10 on a church bus trip from St. James Parish, which is now St. Francis of Assisi Parish, to West Point in 1975. The lawsuit also alleges abuse by Bishop Hubbard from 1974-76 when the boy was an altar boy at St. James.” By Mike Matvey, Catholic News Service

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Both warnings and witness: LCWR’s previous assemblies have been remarkably prescient
“At last week’s virtual Leadership Conference of Women Religious annual assembly, congregational leaders shared the feelings of loss, grief and vulnerability they have experienced since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March. Yet they also spoke of summoning creativity and spiritual strength to deal with myriad challenges (link is external) in the pandemic and the raw protests against racial injustice that rippled through our nation and the world in the wake of the death of George Floyd in May.” By Gail DeGeorge, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

After the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis, female theologians are calling for changes to leadership
“Sixty per cent of churchgoers in Australia are women, yet in the decision-making ranks of the Catholic Church, female voices are largely absent (link is external). The lack of women in leadership roles is a point of contention for many theologians — not just for equity reasons. According to Robyn Horner, from the Australian Catholic University’s school of theology, the church’s sexual abuse crisis demonstrated the failings of a male-only leadership structure.” By Siobhan Hegarty, ABC Radio National

New appointees to Francis’s financial powerhouse signal progress of women
“Pope Francis has long advocated for a more ‘incisive’ presence of women in positions of authority and leadership in the Vatican, and while some have complained about the pace at which changes are being made, the recent appointment of six women to the Vatican’s chief financial office has jolted things into warp drive (link is external). On Thursday (Aug. 6), the Vatican announced that Francis had named two women each from Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom to his 15-member Council for the Economy.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Let’s use the title ‘co-worker’ for laypeople in parish leadership
“I am frustrated by the Vatican’s recent instruction on ‘The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the church,’ issued on July 20. At first, the document evokes an expansive vision of parish transformation … Then the instruction tantalizes reform-minded Catholics by saying, ‘Parish communities will find herein a call to go out of themselves, offering instruments of reform, even structural, in a spirit of communion and collaboration … for the proclamation of the Gospel.’ But I find no structural instruments of reform here (link is external) … The Congregation for the Clergy’s instruction restates (somewhat defensively) long-standing church rules that mandate a male-celibate-priest-centric and priest-controlled vision of parish community.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

Lay group urges Pittsburgh Diocese to do more to restore broken trust
“The Pittsburgh Diocese is reeling from declining attendance and a massive restructuring program two years after a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report uncovered widespread clerical sexual abuse in six dioceses in the state (link is external). A lay advocacy group now says diocesan leadership has made few concrete steps to restore trust with parishioners. ‘I don’t think they’ve made progress since the grand jury,’ said Jan Hayes, a leader of the advocacy group known as Catholics for Change in Our Church.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German-speaking bishops criticise Vatican parish instruction
“The Vatican instruction, The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church, of 20 July continues to be hotly debated in the German-speaking countries. In Switzerland, it has been sharply criticized by the Bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür: ‘That the Vatican sees the parish solely concentrated on the parish priest does not reflect our reality (link is external). It is, moreover, a theologically deficient and too constricted a view,’ Gmür wrote in a letter to church employees in his diocese. The Vatican Instruction left the ‘stale impression’ that in the final instance the Vatican was only interested in the ‘predominance of the clergy.’” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

VOICES

Column: Times have changed. Or have they?
“We are in the midst of a global pandemic which has changed everybody’s lives, perhaps forever. And yet here we have a Vatican pronouncement that things have not changed (link is external), that the priest is still the parish boss, that we should all get back to playing our traditional passive PPO (‘pray, pay, obey’) roles. Between 2004 and 2016, dozens of parishes and hundreds of parishioners in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB) protested Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s (SOM) attempts to close and sell off their parish churches in order to pay off a huge pile of debt incurred from paying out financial settlements to victims of clergy abuse.” By Arthur McCaffrey, MetroWest Daily News

Catholic Church continues to harbor sexual predators
“‘There are rapists in many occupations.’ That was the response I got when I forwarded an article from the New York Times to a friend concerning an alleged serial predator in the Twin Cities. She then reminded me of a time when she felt a doctor squeezed her knee inappropriately. OK. Sure. There are ‘bad guys’ everywhere. But that is not the same as having a systemic problem with men who assault for decades (link is external) and do so in a hierarchy of power that enables, covers up and makes excuses for their behavior.” By Karen Cyson, Times Writers Group, on SCTimes.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Review of Statute of Limitations Lookback Window Legislation
“In a recent 2019 summary of changes in statutes of limitation for child sex abuse, written by CHILDUSA, 41 states had either changed their statutes of limitations or had bills pending to do so. In the past two years 15 states have extended or suspended statute of limitations (link is external) to allow child sex abuse claims stretching back decades, unleashing potentially thousands of new lawsuits against the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. More importantly ‘lookback windows’ have been established by eight states and the District of Columbia. These ‘windows’ allow victims of sexual abuse to sue no matter how long ago the alleged abuse took place.” By Joseph H. Saunders, Legal Examiner

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

FBI says Ohio priest preyed on vulnerable, drug-addicted teens
“An affidavit filed in federal court alleges that a Toledo diocesan priest preyed on vulnerable men while he was a pastor in Mansfield and Van Wert (link is external). The Rev. Michael Zacharias, 53, who served in Fremont until 2017, was arrested Tuesday (Aug. 18) in Findlay and charged with sex trafficking minors, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also faces charges of coercion and enticement and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion, the FBI said.” By Craig Shoup, Fremont News-Messenger

Deceased Massachusetts bishop accused of sexual abuse had roots in New York Archdiocese
“Archbishop-designate Mitchell Rozanski, who will take over the Archdiocese of St. Louis this month, oversaw an investigation into the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of Springfield, Mass, a bishop credibly accused of sexually abusing an altar boy (link is external) in the 1960s. Rozanski has faced criticism for some aspects of his handling of the case, which the bishop said had been mishandled for years.” By Catholic News Agency

INDIANA

Diocese, bishop sued over abuse allegations
“Lawsuits have been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg by a Pittsburgh attorney on behalf of alleged victims of two priests, one deceased, the other defrocked by the diocese (link is external) but perhaps still living in Indiana County. Alan H. Perer of the law firm of Swensen & Perer filed those actions this week in Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas against the diocese and Bishop Edward C. Malesic on behalf of a former Blairsville resident now living in White Oak, Allegheny County; and a former Mount Pleasant Township, Westmoreland County, resident now living in Pittsburgh.” By Patrick Cloonan, The Indiana Gazette

KANSAS

KBI received 205 reports of priest abuse; opened 120 cases
“The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has received 205 reports of clergy sexual abuse and opened 120 cases (link is external) since it began investigating the state’s Catholic dioceses nearly two years ago, the agency said Friday (Aug. 14). Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the KBI in November 2018 to investigate Catholic clergy abuse in Kansas. A task force of six agents has been investigating reports of abuse from the public and is reviewing church documents.” By Associated Press

KENTUCKY

Catholic Diocese of Lexington names 20 priests accused of sexually abusing minors
“The Catholic Diocese of Lexington on Friday (Aug. 14) released a list of priests who served in Kentucky who have been accused of sexually abusing minors (link is external). The list names 10 priests against whom allegations of abuse were substantiated; four priests who had ‘credible’ allegations against them, indicating that the allegations were more than likely true; six priests who served in the Lexington diocese but were credibly accused of abuse in another diocese; and one priest against whom allegations were found to be unsubstantiated.” By Karla Ward, Lexington Herald Leader

Diocese of Covington in Kentucky Releases FBI Clergy Abuse Report
“The Diocese of Covington has released a report on sexual abuse that found 59 Catholic priests and 31 others associated with the church have sexually abused children (link is external) since the 1950s. The report was released Friday (Aug. 7) on the diocese website along with a list naming the accused, The Kentucky Enquirer reported. ‘There are no words to adequately express the sorrow and shame I feel,’ Foys wrote in an apology released with the report. ‘I can never apologize enough to those who have been harmed by any representative of the church. I beg your forgiveness in the name of the church.’” By Insurance Journal

LOUISIANA

New Orleans’ archdiocese adds priest to credibly accused list after almost 2 decades of allegations
“When the Archdiocese of New Orleans issued a list two years ago that included dozens of clergymen credibly accused of sexual abuse (link is external), Mike Brandner Sr.’s heart sank. Brandner’s late brother, Scot, had a trove of love letters sent to him by a former New Orleans priest, Brian Highfill, in his desk drawer when he died. The letters started arriving in the early 1980s, when Scot was 17 and in high school, and because Scot had known Highfill since he was 10, Mike Brandner feared for what could have happened when Scot was a minor.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

MINNESOTA

Hearing to Dismiss Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against Waite Park Catholic School Later This Month
“A hearing to dismiss a lawsuit against a private Catholic school in Waite Park is scheduled for later this month. The lawsuit, filed in 2018, alleges sexual abuse at the hands of a priest and a family at Holy Innocents School (link is external). The case calls the school a ‘public nuisance’ and says they are guilty of negligence and negligent supervision. The plaintiff, known as Doe 596 is asking for $50,000 in damages for the school to be closed.” By Jennifer Lewerenz, KNSI Radio, on NorthJersey.com

MISSOURI

Local priest involved in Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph lawsuit
“A priest who served at Holy Cross Catholic Church on St. John Avenue is involved in one of two new sexual abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph (link is external). The lawsuit, filed July 20, 2020 in Jackson County Circuit Court, alleges that Rev. Darvin Salazar sexually assaulted the unnamed plaintiff, age 25, in July 2018. The lawsuit alleges that the diocese had received previous reports regarding Salazar from at least five other individuals but chose not to remove him as a priest until the July 2018 allegations.” By Daisy Garcia Montoya, Northeast News

NEW JERSEY

Jersey City Priest Arrested, Faces Sex Crime Charges
“A Jersey City priest has been arrested and charged in connection with alleged sexual crimes (link is external) that occurred in the rectory at St. Paul of the Cross Church earlier this year, according to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez. In a statement Suarez announced that Donato Cabardo was arrested without incident on Saturday after surrendering himself at the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. Cabardo has been charged with two counts of fourth-degree Criminal Sexual Contact and one count of Harassment.” By Steve Lenox, Tap Into Jersey City

NEW MEXICO

Lawsuit claims Catholic priests, nuns abused boys at Albuquerque orphanage
“A new lawsuit claims Catholic priests and nuns in Albuquerque abused orphans (link is external). ‘I think St. Anthony’s orphanage has been around forever or was around forever. And then in the 1950s, 1960s, and we’re actually learning even prior to that had a problem with physical and sexual abuse of children who were placed there,’ said Levi Monagle, an attorney representing a man who claims he was abused at the orphanage.” By KOB-TV4 News

NEW YORK.

Bronx priest ‘trafficked’ boy to child molester, lawsuit alleges
“A beloved Bronx priest intentionally steered a boy to a known molester (link is external) in the 1980s, leading to months of sexual abuse, according to a new lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court. It claims Bishop John Jenik was allegedly abusing children himself when he “trafficked” a then-14-year-old Shawn Ganley to ex-con counselor Paul Gruber, whom Jenik knew was abusing other minor students at Our Lady of Refuge School, Ganley claims in court papers.” By Kathianne Boniello, New York Post

Child Victims’ Act lawsuit outlines new sex abuse accusations against former Avon priest
“Another person victim has come forward with accusations that former Catholic priest Joseph E. Larrabee sexually abused him when he was a child (link is external). The victim, whose name the County News is withholding to protect his privacy, is now in his 50s. In a civil complaint filed late last this month in Livingston County Supreme Court, he accused of Larrabee of sexually abusing him ‘on at least four occasions’ in 1982 and 1983 when he was between the ages of 12 and 14. According to the filing, the abuse occurred in the St. Agnes rectory.” By Matt Leader, Livingston County News

Diocese faces several new lawsuits
“Attorneys filed more than two dozen lawsuits against the Diocese of Scranton this week (link is external), just days before the second anniversary of the 2018 state grand jury report that revealed widespread sexual abuse and cover ups among Roman Catholic clergy. Of the 30 lawsuits, nearly all of which were filed between Monday (Aug. 20) and Thursday (Aug. 13), Times-Shamrock Newspapers confirmed at least 24 pertain to sexual abuse. Although the remaining six suits appear to relate to sexual abuse, attempts to reach the attorneys to confirm were unsuccessful.” By Frank Wilkes Lesnefsky and Terri Morgan-Besecker, The Citizens Voice

Buffalo Diocese priest abused boy in 2009, lawsuit states
“From the beginning of the scandal, the Diocese of Buffalo has tried to describe child sex abuse by priests as a problem of the past (link is external). ‘There have been only three diocesan priests against whom there have been substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse since the year 2000,’ the diocese writes on its website. ‘There have been no substantiated claims of child sexual abuse against any diocesan priest ordained in the past 30 years.’ But a lawsuit recently filed in State Supreme Court now threatens to render that statement false.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Another lawsuit filed against former Albany bishop Howard Hubbard
“A 55-year-old South Carolina man has accused former Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of raping him while he served as a young altar boy in an Albany Catholic church (link is external) in the mid-1970s, the latest in a string of lawsuits accusing the former longtime bishop of child sexual abuse. The latest claims come in a Child Victims Act lawsuit filed in Albany County court Monday (Aug. 10) by Charles Carr which alleged Hubbard repeatedly abused him when he was an altar boy at St. James Church in Albany between 9- and 11-years-old, abuse that allegedly included instances of sodomy.” By Zachary Matson, The Daily Gazette

Five Priests from Rochester Diocese alleged to have abused 105 victims
“Serial predators inside the Catholic Church: At least 245 lawsuits filed under the Crime Victims Act name the Rochester Catholic Diocese (link is external). Taken together, they allege a stunning abuse of power – some of it involving only a handful of priests. Five of them have been accused by a combined 105 victims. ‘These people hurt you. You don’t forget that,’ said a man who asked to be identified only by his initials: J.O.” By Jane Flasch, WHAM-TV13 News

OHIO

Findlay priest charged with multiple child sex crimes
“The pastor of a Catholic church in Findlay was arrested and is being federally charged with numerous crimes related to sexual conduct with minors (link is external). Michael Zacharias, 53, is charged with coercion and enticement, sex trafficking of a minor, and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion. Zacharias is the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay. Investigators are aware Zacharias has engaged in sexual conduct with minors since the late 1990s.” By WTVG-TV13 Action News

Judge denies motion to dismiss Hancock County lawsuit over priest abuse allegations
“A request by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to dismiss a lawsuit alleging sexual assault by the Rev. Victor Frobas (link is external) has been denied in Hancock County Circuit Court. The order issued July 31 by Circuit Judge David Sims pertains to a complaint filed May 15 in Hancock County Circuit Court by Michael Pirraglia of Fairfax, Va. The complaint alleges Pirraglia was sexually assaulted over a three-year period by Frobas as a child while attending St. Paul Catholic Church in Weirton.” By Joselyn King, Herald-Star

PENNSYLVANIA

Two years on, grand jury’s impact on diocese lingers
“Two years after a landmark grand jury report told a sordid history of sexual abuse by priests and its cover-up by their superiors (link is external), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is still coming to terms with its impact. Just this week, 28 people filed lawsuits or notices of intent to sue in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, while a local lay group issued a report sharply critical of the diocese’s response, which it said is marked by “clericalism” and a bunker mentality.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on ReadingEagle.com

Erie diocese flooded with lawsuits two years after report
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie is facing the potential of massive legal fallout two years after the release of the state grand jury report on clergy sex abuse statewide (link is external). Prompted by the 884-page report’s allegations, 21 lawsuits had been filed in Erie County Court against the diocese, churches and related entities throughout the 13-county diocese as of the end of the day on Friday (Aug. 14), according to an Erie Times-News’ review of the docket. Statewide, Pennsylvania’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses had been hit with about 150 suits, according to the Associated Press.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

The Catholic Diocese Of Pittsburgh Expects It Will Pay Tens Of Millions To Sexual Abuse Victims, Hopes To Avoid Bankruptcy
“Out of shock and shame that was the grand jury report, Bishop Zubik says the diocese emerged with one clear obligation — to compensate and care for victims of clergy sexual abuse — no matter the cost (link is external). ‘First and foremost to people who are the victim/survivors to help them in every way we can possibly help them,’ he said. To that end, the diocese established the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program — a fund to compensate all victims of clergy sexual abuse. Some 369 people have made claims and to date, most have received compensation including Paul Dorsch.” By Andy Sheehan, KDKA-TV2 News

Rodgers files suit against Erie Diocese, bishops over abuse
“For 30 years, Bradford’s Ed Rodgers has been waiting to see justice for the sexual abuse he says he suffered while attending school (link is external) at Bradford Central Christian. Thanks to a recent change in Pennsylvania law, on Tuesday (Aug. 11), Rodgers was able to file suit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Erie Diocese and Bishops Donald Trautman and Lawrence Persico. A spokesperson for the diocese on Wednesday said only, ‘The Diocese of Erie does not comment on litigation.’” By Marcie Schellhammer, The Bradford Era

Lawsuit against Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh accuses priest of rape
“A man who immigrated to the United States at age 13 from Italy is suing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, alleging that he was sexually assaulted by a priest at Immaculate Conception Parish (link is external) in Bloomfield twice in 1967. The lawsuit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, also names as defendants the church, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and current Bishop David Zubik.” By Paula Reed Ward, TribLive.com

With Little Fanfare, Exton’s Dan Monahan Has Found a Measure of Closure for Survivors of Clergy Abuse
“Now, after more than a decade of disclosure after disclosure involving sexual abuse among the clergy (link is external), Monahan reflects on the cunning, programmatic behavior among those in purple garb. “It was like there was a playbook,” he says. “They picked on kids whose fathers were alcoholics, or whose mothers were overly devoted. They gave boys chores—ways we could help. It was like they were all given a manual on how to groom.” By J.F. Piro, Main Line Today

WEST VIRGINIA

Judge: Lawsuit over alleged clergy abuse can go ahead in Hancock County
“A request by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to dismiss a lawsuit alleging sexual assault by the Rev. Victor Frobas has been denied in Hancock County Circuit Court. The order issued July 31 by Circuit Judge David Sims pertains to a complaint filed May 15 in Hancock County Circuit Court by Michael Pirraglia of Fairfax, Va. The complaint alleges Pirraglia was sexually assaulted over a three-year period by Frobas as a child (link is external) while attending St. Paul Catholic Church in Weirton.” By Joselyn King, The Weirton Daily Times

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

London Catholic diocese taking priest-abuse survivor to Supreme Court over lawsuit
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of London is taking sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes to the Supreme Court of Canada (link is external). The diocese is appealing a May decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal that would allow Deschenes to reopen a civil settlement she reached with the church for the abuses she suffered at the hands Father Charles Sylvestre between 1971 and 1973 at St. Ursula School in Chatham. Deschenes was 10 when the abuse started. ‘I’m very disappointed that, once again, the Diocese of London continues to bully victims into submission,’ Deschenes said in a statement.” By London Free Press Staff

GUAM

Church, abuse survivors report ‘considerable progress’
“Nearly 90 properties of the Archdiocese of Agana, excluding any Catholic parish or school, have been discussed between the church and survivors of clergy sex abuse as assets to fund a potential settlement (link is external). A federal judge vacated Friday’s (Aug. 7) scheduling conference on the archdiocese’s bankruptcy, after the parties reported ‘considerable progress’ in their ongoing mediation. Some 300 Guam clergy sex abuse cases could go to trial if there is no settlement outside the court.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

INDONESIA

‘The Church betrays us’: More Catholic school abuse victims speak up
“Two more victims of childhood sexual abuse at a Catholic school have spoken up following collaborative reports (link is external) between The Jakarta Post and Tirto.id on abuse in the Catholic Church, as the Church continues to remain passive in dealing with sexual assault allegations. Now grown women, the victims, Anna and Vivian, who chose pseudonyms to protect their privacy, said they read the reports of Sisca and Ellen, also pseudonyms, and found similarities between their experiences.” By Ivany Atina Arbi, The Jakarta Post

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


August 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

Former Vatican ambassador to stand trial in Paris on charges of ‘sexual aggression’ against four men
“The former Vatican nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 75, will stand trial in Paris on Nov. 10 on charges of alleged ‘sexual aggression’ against four men(link is external), Agence France-Press and other French media, including Le Monde, reported today, based on information from judicial sources. It is the first time in the modern history of papal diplomacy that a nuncio of the Holy See will stand trial in a civil court.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Church in Argentina is making a ‘change in mentality’ on clerical sexual abuse
“Two major archdioceses in Argentina are facing allegations of wanting to ‘replace the state’ by creating a commission to receive allegations of clerical sexual abuse(link is external), but one expert says civil law and canon law aren’t competitors for justice. ‘Always, every case, the law of the State wherever the abuse happens, must be followed and respected,’ said Maria Ines Franck, the executive secretary of the Pastoral Council for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Argentine bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

A Church That Is Poor? Money, Sectarianism, & Catholic Tradition
“What to make of the fact that the Catholic Church received $1.4 billion from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program? The remarks from Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley seem to suffice. As he put it, the ‘Catholic Church’ in this case encompasses the hundreds of individual Catholic dioceses, parishes … Yet at the same time, we should remain mindful about the constitutional and political issues concerning the relationship between Church and state, and the continued need for financial accountability and transparency in light of the links between the sexual-abuse crisis and financial mismanagement in Catholic institutions(link is external).” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Latin Americans press fight against clerical sexual abuse
“Public Mass might have stopped across much of the world during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several aspects of the life of the Church have continued, including efforts to prevent clerical sexual abuse in Latin America … ‘Nowhere have I encountered the level of destruction I found within the Church,’ said Chilean laywoman Maria Josefina Martinez Bernal, a member of the National Council on Abuse Prevention and Victims Accompaniment of the Chilean bishops conference since 2011, and a member of the Fundacion para la Confianza, an NGO founded by three survivors of former Chilean priest Fernando Karadima.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Is child abuse now just more hidden from view?
“Authorities have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of child abuse cases being reported, but they aren’t viewing it as good news(link is external). Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic and Jamie Rossow, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan, say they suspect that child abuse is actually up and is just not being reported. They said this is occurring not just locally but all across the country.” By Julie Swidwa, Herald Palladium

Papal envoy to meet women who ‘applied’ to be priests, bishops
“‘We’re working for equality of all baptized Catholics, and we understand that in a very broad way,’ she (Alix Bayle, a representative of the coalition) said, but insisted that it’s not just about the priesthood. ‘What should be clear is that we don’t just want ordination for women, and actually some of us don’t want that … but we do want a reformed Church, we want the Church to be reformed so that also laypeople have more responsibilities and actions, and that true synodality is lived(link is external).’ Bayle said there is a common feeling inside the coalition that the Catholic Church ‘is in urgent need to respond on many fronts,’ one of which is ‘asking for equality for all baptized women.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Magazine report is aimed at silencing nuns on sex abuse, says Vatican critic
“An article in a Jesuit magazine describing alleged exploitation of nuns in Catholic convents has been criticized as an attempt to silence members of women’s religious orders who have begun to speak out against sexual abuse by priests(link is external). ‘I think there is a possibility of a revolt of religious sisters,’ said Lucetta Scaraffia, the former head of the Vatican magazine Donne, Chiesa, Mondo (Women, Church, World), adding that many nuns she has heard from ‘are furious.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston rolls out third-party system for reporting of alleged abuse, harassment
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston announced two third-party reporting systems for people to use about concerns and allegations of abuse and harassment in the diocese. DWC officials announced on Monday (Aug. 3) the partnership with Navex Global to roll out a new version of its EthicsPoint platform, intended to report suspected financial, professional, and personal misconduct of a priest, deacon, religious, or lay employee of the diocese, parish, or Catholic school in West Virginia(link is external). This comes more than a year after the Catholic Church investigation concluded disgraced former Bishop Michael Bransfield sexually harassed younger priests and misused millions of dollars in church money.” By West Virginia MetroNews

French Sex Assault Trial Ordered For Pope’s Ex-envoy
“Pope Francis’s former ambassador to France, Luigi Ventura, will stand trial for sex assault in Paris in November following complaints by four men(link is external), one of whom accused the cleric of inappropriate touching, lawyers said Thursday (Jul. 30). Ventura, an Italian-born archbishop, was stripped of his diplomatic immunity by the Vatican last July after he was questioned by French police, and resigned in December when he reached the 75-year age limit for his post.” By Agence France Press

Diocese Still Awaiting Guidance From Vatican on Bransfield’s Amends
“More than eight months after the amends for disgraced bishop Michael Bransfield were announced, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston officials still have heard nothing from The Vatican about how to proceed(link is external). In a letter sent to Roman Catholics across West Virginia on Tuesday Jul. 28), the Most Rev. Mark Brennan said he is still waiting for guidance from Pope Francis on whether the amends set forth against the former bishop are appropriate or whether there should be changes.” By Mike Jones, The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

New Abuse Lawsuit Filed Concerning Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
“Today, I filed a civil sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Metuchen concerning a courageous survivor who was abused by McCarrick(link is external) in the early 1980’s when McCarrick was the bishop of Metuchen. Apart from all the recent news stories about McCarrick, I learned about McCarrick and his secret life about 15 years ago from Richard Sipe, a good friend and colleague. When our discussions turned to the Catholic Church and sexual abuse, Richard never hesitated to share his frustration with the hierarchy, including popes and bishops, whom he said knew about McCarrick’s sexual abuse of children and seminarians.” By Joseph H. Saunders, Los Angeles Injury Loss News, The Legal Examiner Affiliate

Catholic Church hesitant to publish McCarrick report as survivors continue to sue
“Insiders say the Vatican sponsored investigation of disgraced and former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been completed for months and sits gathering dust on Pope Francis’ desk(link is external). In the meantime, survivors come forward and file abuse lawsuits against Catholic dioceses in New Jersey, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Archdiocese of Washington revealing more embarrassing details of McCarrick’s history of predation.” By Legal Examiner

Eradicating the McCarrick Virus
“It has now been two years since Pope Francis accepted Theodore McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals(link is external), shortly after allegations of his sexual abuse of a minor and evidence of other sexual exploitations first detonated into public view. Yet after all this time, Catholics in the United States are still waiting for answers about which Church leaders, here and in Rome, knew about McCarrick’s scandalous situation but failed to take meaningful disciplinary and preventive actions — and possibly even facilitated and abetted his meteoric rise to prominence.” By The Editors, National Catholic Register

PRIESTS

Priest shortage forcing Jesuits to leave New Mexico
“A shortage of Jesuit priests is forcing the storied Society of Jesus Catholic order to abandon New Mexico(link is external) after more than 160 years. The St. Louis, Missouri-based Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province is pulling out the last remaining four Jesuit priests next year, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Rev. Warren Broussard, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church and Parish in Albuquerque will be the last to depart next June 30.” By The Associated Press

Should priests still lead parishes? German bishops debate new Vatican document
“The Vatican instruction on the reform of Catholic parishes continues to stir debate in Germany, where some bishops say the current parish model with a priest in charge is no longer sustainable because of a lack of vocations(link is external). The instruction bars laypeople from leading parishes and emphasizes the role of priests. It directly opposes efforts to hand over the management of parishes to teams made up of priests and dedicated church members as well as other staff.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

A virtual LCWR assembly aims to discern modern role of women religious
“Meeting fellow sister leaders over coffee or lunch, perusing and networking with exhibition booths, sharing deep exchanges between speakers: The subtle yet substantial interactions that infused past annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will be absent this year. But rather than canceling the gathering that was to be in Dallas, Texas, LCWR decided to take the Aug. 12-14 assembly online(link is external), as the coronavirus pandemic discourages large, in-person gatherings.” By Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter

Franciscan Sisters give NCR $1.5 million to help ‘wake up the world’
“The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration announced on July 31 a gift of $1.5 million to NCR’s endowment(link is external) earmarked to support and amplify ‘integral ecological education and journalism reflecting the spirit of Laudato Si’.’ The gift marks the establishment of the Laudato Si’ Fund, which NCR will seek to grow with gifts from other donors. It is one of the largest donations ever received by NCR. The donation represents roughly half of the amount needed to permanently endow NCR’s environmental coverage.” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

Vatican official laments system of ‘dominance, submission’ for women religious
“Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, the Vatican’s point man on consecrated life, has criticized what he said is a state of ‘dominance’ that men often hold over women in the Catholic Church, and stressed the need for a deeper renewal of religious life across the board(link is external). ‘In many cases, the relationship between consecrated men and women represents a sick system of relations of submission and dominance that takes away the sense of freedom and joy, a misunderstood obedience,” said Braz de Aviz in a recent interview.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Catholic bishops urged to appoint a woman as co-chair of Plenary Council
“Australia’s Catholic bishops must appoint a woman as co-chairperson of the church Plenary Council (PC) if they wish the summit meeting to be taken seriously(link is external), the Australian Catholic Coalition on Church Reform has declared. After a Zoom meeting attended by over 100 church reform advocates representing thousands of Catholics from around Australia and New Zealand on 16 July, co-chairs Andrea Dean and John Warhurst said there was overwhelming support for recognition of women’s leadership in the church. This is fundamental to the reform of church governance.” By Catholic Outlook

VATICAN

Vatican instructions give parishioners more hope in face of closings
“Arthur McCaffrey fought for about a decade to keep his parish in suburban Boston open. But in 2015, St. James the Great Parish in Wellesley was demolished. The site is now home to the Boston Sports Performance Center … Now, four years later, the Vatican’s new document on pastoral care raises the question of whether parishioners have more legal recourse(link is external) within the church to keep their parishes open. The answer appears to be yes. The 22-page document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, released July 20, is titled ‘The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the church.’” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

Former Vatican ambassador to stand trial in Paris on charges of ‘sexual aggression’ against four men
“The former Vatican nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 75, will stand trial in Paris on Nov. 10 on charges of alleged ‘sexual aggression’ against four men(link is external), Agence France-Press and other French media, including Le Monde, reported today, based on information from judicial sources. It is the first time in the modern history of papal diplomacy that a nuncio of the Holy See will stand trial in a civil court. This was made possible when Pope Francis last year authorized the Holy See to lift the archbishop’s diplomatic immunity.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Progressive millennials offer the church much hope and promise
“I wasn’t surprised when, in late July, the Vatican put out new instructions limiting the extent to which the laity can preside over a parish. But I was sad to see an institution so intent preserving clerical power that it is willing to deny the gifts that the laity offer to the life of the church every day(link is external). Laypeople, the document says, should not be ‘directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish.’ Only a priest can exercise ‘the full care of souls,’ the Vatican tells us — which means, of course, women never can.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Congress Should Expunge Statutes of Limitations on Child Sexual Assault
“July 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of Florida’s repeal of all civil and criminal statutes of limitation for prosecution of cases involving child sexual battery(link is external). The repeal has opened courthouse doors so survivors can enter when they are sufficiently recovered mentally and emotionally to confront their abusers. A delayed report of child sex abuse to law enforcement no longer means officers have to wait for the reporting of a predator’s next victim and abusers can now be brought to justice and exposed in our communities.” By Michael Dolce, Newsweek

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

The Heavy Toll of Priest Sex Abuse
“Readers share their stories of growing up in the Catholic church and of the culture that allowed the abuse to happen(link is external).” Letters to the Editor, The New York Times

Case against diocese draws attention
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the past week has received several friend-of-the-court briefs both supporting and challenging a landmark decision made by the court last year in which it allowed an Altoona woman to proceed with a sexual abuse case against a priest, even though the alleged offenses occurred in the mid-1970s(link is external). Pennsylvania’s highest court agreed in March to review the Superior Court decision, which has drawn interest from church organizations as well victims’ rights groups nationwide.” By Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror

CALIFORNIA

Warrant issued for California priest who failed to show
“A San Francisco Bay Area priest accused of sexual battery failed to appear in court(link is external) Monday (Jul. 27) and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. Varghese Alengadan, 67, known as ‘Father George,’ was charged last week with one count of misdemeanor sexual battery for allegedly inappropriately touching a woman in July 2019.” By Associated Press

KENTUCKY

Diocese of Covington: 59 priests sexually abused children since 1950
“A nearly year-long review of records at the Diocese of Covington found that 59 Catholic priests and 31 others associated with the church have sexually abused children(link is external) since the 1950s. A report summarizing the findings of the review was released Friday (Jul. 31) on the diocese’s website, along with a list naming the accused and a letter of apology from Covington Bishop Roger Foys.” By Erin Glynn and Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

LOUISIANA

Abuse victims say Archdiocese of New Orleans must reveal ‘secret’
“Local victims of Catholic clergy abuse(link is external) want to see investigation records the Archdiocese of New Orleans has shared with the Vatican. Members of the Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests (SNAP) held a news conference Friday (Jul. 31) at Notre Dame Seminary, where area Catholic priests are trained. They called upon Archbishop Gregory Aymond to share all documents related to abuse probes.” By WDSU-TV6 News

New Orleans priest continued serving 13 years after abuse claim landed him in treatment
“Sixteen years ago, Ricky Monsour spoke up for the first time about how he was groomed and molested in his boyhood by a priest the Catholic Church(link is external) eventually acknowledged was almost certainly a child predator. But it was only recently that he decided to speak out about the details of the $106,000 payment that the church later gave him to quietly settle his claims of abuse at the hands of Carl Davidson.” By David Hammer, Eyewitness News, and Ramon Antonio Vargas, The New Orleans Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Vicar general of Springfield diocese won’t accept reappointment, says he was ‘unfairly’ portrayed in Weldon report
“Fallout continues in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield as the diocesan vicar general, the Rev. Monsignor Christopher Connelly, will not seek reappointment, saying he was ‘unfairly and unfavorably portrayed’ in the recent report into allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon. Connelly’s announcement coincides with letters having circulated in the religious community in which retired priest James Scahill, an outspoken advocate on behalf of victims of sex abuse within the Catholic church, called for the removal of the vicar based on the results of the report by retired Judge Peter A. Velis. The vicar is second only to the bishop in the diocesan hierarchy.” By Anne-Girard Flynn, MassLive.com

MISSOURI

Two new lawsuits filed against Kansas City diocese over local priests’ alleged sexual abuse
“Two new lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, claiming the diocese covered up abuse by two local Catholic priests(link is external). ‘My church was completely aware,’ a victim’s statement reads. An interpreter read the statement Tuesday (Jul. 28) in front of the Kansas City Catholic Diocese headquarters. ‘I was taken to him for help,’ the victim said. ‘Unfortunately, help was the furthest thing from his mind.’” By Regan Porter, FOX4-TV News

MONTANA

Jesuits: Child sex abuse claim ‘credible’ against former Missoula pastor
“A former Jesuit pastor at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Missoula has been permanently removed from ministry after officials in the church’s province found claims that he sexually abused a minor girl 40 years ago to be credible(link is external), according to a statement from the province. The Rev. Rich Perry will remain at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in California and live under a safety plan, according to the statement provided to the Missoulian … Perry’s name and a timeline of his assignments have been added to a publicly available online list of Jesuits with credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult.” By Seaborn Larson, Missoulian

NEW JERSEY

Camden’s Roman Catholic diocese suspends payments to clergy abuse victims, citing COVID-19 financial stress
“Citing financial losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden in New Jersey said Friday (Jul. 31) that it would halt payments from a clergy sex-abuse victim fund that has paid out nearly $7.6 million(link is external). In a statement, the diocese said it had suffered a “precipitous decline in revenue” and was rapidly approaching a point where it would not be able to continue to borrow money to pay authorized awards.” By Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer, on Bakersfield.com

Metuchen Diocese looks to settle mentally disabled man’s clergy sexual abuse case
“The Diocese of Metuchen has offered to settle a lawsuit brought by a mentally disabled man who claims he was sexually abused by priest(link is external) in the basement of St. James Catholic Church in Woodbridge nearly three decades ago. The priest, the Rev. Kevin P. Duggan, took the man to a private area of the basement of St. James on Amboy Avenue on two separate occasions and pulled the man’s pants and underwear down to his ankles and touched his penis, according to the lawsuit.” By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News, on MyCentralJersey.com

Former Cardinal McCarrick accused of participating in beach house ‘sex ring,’ lawyers allege
“He is known only as ‘Doe 14.”’ Raised in a devout Catholic family, he attended St. Francis Xavier in Newark and Essex Catholic in East Orange in the Archdiocese of Newark, participating in church and youth activities. And by the time he was a teenager, his lawyers say he was being groomed for a role in what they called a ‘sex ring’ involving then-Bishop Theodore McCarrick(link is external), the 90-year-old now defrocked and disgraced former cardinal who was cast out of the ministry last year over decades-old sexual abuse allegations.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW MEXICO

Two more Catholic priests accused of child sexual abuse in southern New Mexico
Two Catholic priests were accused Tuesday (Aug. 4) of child sexual abuse(link is external) in southern New Mexico. Civil complaints were filed against the two priests, as well as the Las Cruces and El Paso dioceses and the parishes where the alleged sexual abuse occurred. Fr. Roderick Nichols and Fr. Damian Gamboa were named in the alleged abuse of John Doe and Jane Doe.” By Leah Romero and Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News

NEW YORK.

Dunkirk church named in new Child Victims Act suit
“The former pastor of a Dunkirk church is being accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1960s in a new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Monday (Aug. 3). The complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County, names the former St. Mary’s Church as a defendant. The victim claims to have been abused by the Rev. Maurus Schenck between 1962 and 1968 when the victim was about 12 to 17 years old.” By Eric Tichy, Post-Journal

Two weeks remain for civil lawsuits against Diocese of Rochester
“All legal claims against the Diocese of Rochester must be filed within the next two weeks, according to a federal bankruptcy judge(link is external). U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul Warren issued the ruling Wednesday (Jul. 29), stating August 13, 2020 will be the deadline for filing claims in the Diocese’s Chapter 11 case. An official committee representing plaintiffs in abuse cases and other unsecured creditors had filed a motion to extend the deadline, but were denied.” By WHAM-TV13 News

Child Victims Act plaintiff confronts Bishop Scharfenberger: ‘I lost my son’
“Kevin Brun, a member of the committee representing childhood survivors of sex abuse in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy proceedings, told Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger on Wednesday (Jul. 29) that his son killed himself within 24 hours of reading Brun’s letter of being abused by a priest(link is external) more than 40 years ago. Brun gave Scharfenberger a heart-wrenching account of losing his son Patrick, 21, on Easter Sunday in 2019, saying he wanted the bishop and the diocese’s lawyers to understand his level of commitment to making sure victims of abuse get a measure of justice in the bankruptcy.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

FBI: Queens Priest Shared Sexually Explicit Texts, Photos With 15-Year-Old Boy
“A priest in Queens was arrested Wednesday (Jul. 29) by the FBI for allegedly sending sexually explicit text messages and photos to a 15-year-old boy(link is external). Francis Hughes, 65, a pastor at a religious institution in Glendale, is charged with receiving images of child pornography via text from a 15-year-old minor in Westchester. ‘The allegations against Francis Hughes are chilling and frightening to any parent. A person who, by the nature of his profession, is presumed to be trustworthy allegedly victimized a child,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.” By Erica Brosnan, WCBS News Radio

Four new sex-abuse suits filed against Monsignor Paddack; 1 from time as Farrell principal
“A new lawsuit claims that Monsignor John Paddack sexually abused a boy at Monsignor Farrell High School in the early 2000s(link is external). The former principal of the all-boys school in Oakwood was named in four new lawsuits filed Wednesday in Manhattan state Supreme Court by Jeff Anderson & Associates under the New York Child Victim’s Act. ‘These lawsuits demonstrate Paddack’s pattern of predation: In each instance, exploiting his clerical power to abuse children,’ said attorney Jeff Anderson. His firm has filed numerous lawsuits alleging sex-abuse by clergy.” By Maura Grunlund, SILive.com

Legislation would make clergy mandatory reporters
“Legislation introduced by Assembly member Monica Wallace titled the CARE Act has passed the Assembly this week. The Child Abuse Reporting Expansion Act would add clergy members to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse and maltreatment(link is external), ‘closing a loophole that allowed for the proliferation and cover-up of child abuse,’ according to Wallace. The act was introduced last year, weeks after passage of the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations for survivors of child abuse to file civil claims and provided a temporary period during which survivors could file a claim regardless of how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.” By Cheektowaga Bee

A flurry of lawsuits alleging child sex abuse are filed as deadline for claims nears
“In one lawsuit filed on Thursday (Jul. 23), eight men alleged that a longtime Orange County priest sexually abused them when they were children(link is external), adding their claims to those of at least three other accusers of the late Rev. George Boxelaar who have sued. In another case brought one day earlier, a former Middletown School District student alleges he was molested in second or third grade by Dr. Stefan Irving, a former school pediatrician now serving almost 22 years in prison for a 2003 conviction on charges he traveled abroad to have sex with minors.” By Chris McKenna, Times Herald-Record

Suit alleges sexual abuse at St. Agnes Rectory in 1980s
“One word comes to mind when Mark Rowe recalls Joseph Larrabee, a former priest who’s now the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children(link is external). ‘I guess the word is charismatic,’ said Rowe, the latest to file suit against Larrabee. ‘Funny guy. There wasn’t anybody that didn’t like him – adults, kids. He was very likable.’So when Larrabee, an associate pastor at the St. Agnes parish, invited Rowe and some of his classmates over for a sleepover at the rectory one summer in the early 1980s when Rowe was in his early teenage years, Rowe didn’t think much of it.” By Matt Leader, Livingston County News

OHIO

Catholic order’s list of accused shows past of mishandling abuse allegations
“A Dayton Daily News investigation into the Society of Mary’s handling of alleged abuse of children by its members found the religious order concealed allegations against some from parents, students and school officials(link is external). The order released a list this summer of 46 priests and brothers its leaders say sexually abused children since 1950, but critics say the disclosure falls short.” By Josh Sweigert, Dayton Daily News

Clinical counselor taking clergy abuse reports at Coumbus Diocese
“Laura Lewis believes that mental health counseling is beyond essential when working with survivors of priests’ sexual abuse of minors(link is external). That’s part of the reason she said she was happy to accept the position of interim victims assistance coordinator when it was offered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. Lewis began the part-time position on July 15, replacing Monsignor Stephan Moloney in the role that includes taking all reports of sexual abuse by a clergy member in the diocese; leading the Diocesan Board of Review for the Protection of Children, a group of 10 that determines whether claims are credible; and facilitating healing and help for survivors.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

Archdiocese of Philadelphia grants over $50 million in financial reparations to survivors of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid out or approved over $50 million so far to 222 clergy sex abuse survivors(link is external), according to a new report from the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program. IRRP was launched in November 2018 as a means of providing settlements to claimants alleging abuse by archdiocesan clergy. The program’s administrators, acting independently of the archdiocese, assess claims and offer compensation with no monetary cap, either individually or in total. Claims are considered regardless of how long ago the events in question occurred, or whether the statute of limitations has expired.” By Gina Christian, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Erie Diocese sued over claims of abuse cover-ups
“A woman is using a new ruling in Pennsylvania law to sue the Catholic Diocese of Erie over claims it covered up child sex abuse allegations against one of its priests(link is external), the Rev. Michael G. Barletta, named as one of 301 ‘predator priests’ in the statewide grand jury report issued two years ago. The woman’s lawsuit, filed in Erie County Court this week, appears to be part of a growing trend. Other plaintiffs have filed at least three other legal actions against the diocese in Erie County Court since July 15, with claims related to sex abuse allegations or cover-ups.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Man sues Allentown diocese, Northampton church and school, claiming priest molested him when he was 11
“A 57-year-old Pennsylvania man who claims that he was molested by a Catholic priest from a Northampton church starting when he was 11 years old(link is external), has filed a lawsuit, one of numerous claims recently made under a potential loophole in the statute of limitations for civil cases involving sexual abuse. The plaintiff, identified as Joe Doe in the suit filed Wednesday (Jul. 22) in Lehigh County Court, claims that he was sexually abused in the 1970s and early 1980s by the Rev. Thomas Kerestus.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call

TENNESSEE

Harriman priest named in sexual abuse lawsuit
A lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Knox County accuses a Harriman Catholic priest of sexually abusing a female parishioner(link is external). Plaintiff Celeste Arnone alleges that she sustained injuries and damages as a result of a sexual relationship with Father Michael Sweeney, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Harriman. The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville is also listed as a defendant.” By Hugh Willett, Roan County News

Nashville Diocese Paid $65K Settlement to Priest’s Alleged Abuse Victim
“The Catholic Diocese of Nashville paid $65,000 in May to settle the case of an adult woman who says she was sexually abused by a priest who was working as a chaplain at Aquinas College and the Dominican Campus. The settlement was revealed by the London-based Catholic Herald, which published an investigation over the weekend raising questions about how the diocese handled the abuse allegations.” By Steven Hale, Nashville Scene

WASHINGTON

Former Gonzaga Prep Jesuit priest added to list of credibly accused abusers
“A Jesuit priest assigned to Gonzaga Preparatory School for two periods in the 1960s and ’70s has been added to a list of Catholic clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). Richard Perry has been assigned to the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in California since October, as provincial authorities investigated an allegation of sexual abuse by an adult female at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Missoula. During that investigation, a second credible allegation was made regarding abuse against a female student at Seattle Preparatory School in the late 1970s and early ’80s, according to a statement from Jesuits West.” By

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Lawsuit claims McCarrick ‘groomed’ abuse victims
“A man has filed a lawsuit claiming that he and others were sexually abused as boys(link is external) in the 1980s in New Jersey by Catholic priests and bishops, and were groomed for and by Theodore McCarrick, who went on to become Archbishop of Washington. The New Jersey lawsuit also claims that McCarrick began sexually abusing boys in 1969, 50 years before he was laicized by Pope Francis in 2019.” By Rick Massimo, WTOP News

WISCONSIN

Pewaukee priest once accused of sexual assault of a minor free to return to church
“A Pewaukee priest whose sexual assault of a minor case ended with a mistrial and then dropped charges is being allowed to return to work(link is external) at his church, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced Saturday. The announcement comes after the archdiocese says it completed its own investigation into the allegations against the Rev. Charles Hanel, 63, and determined they were unsubstantiated and false.” By Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

CHILE

Survivors’ group in Chile condemns abuse ‘secretism’ of Catholic Church
“A little over two years after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a controversial Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse by his mentor, a local network of clerical abuse survivors are alleging that neither civil nor Church authorities are making allegations public(link is external). In an online map that is updated periodically, mostly recently on Wednesday (Jul. 29), the Chilean Network of Clerical Sexual Abuse Survivors counts 41 new allegations against priests, religious brothers, and religious sisters in the past 6 months.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

96-year-old man ‘ruined many lives’ and used his position in society to cover up his secret … and he got away with it for decades
“A 96-year-old former Catholic priest was jailed today (Jul. 29) for sexually abusing six boys(link is external) more than 30 years ago. All but one of Father John Kevin Murphy’s victims came forward to police after seeing media reports about him being imprisoned in 2017 for molesting other boys. Liverpool Crown Court heard he had been ordained as a priest in 1962 and served in a number of parishes in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire until he retired.” By Lynda Roughley and Helen Johnson, Manchester Evening News

INDONESIA

Justice delayed, denied for victims of sexual abuse in Catholic Church
“Victims of sexual abuse and harassment in the Indonesian Catholic Church face ‘thick walls’ of silence, secrecy and denial, having to bear trauma while the priests who they have accused remain on a moral pedestal. Sisca, who has chosen to use an alias to protect her privacy, said she was molested by a Catholic priest in Jakarta when she was 11 years old(link is external). The 38-year-old watches the same priest greet school children in the same Catholic school every morning, and in December of last year, she heard His Eminence Ignatius Cardinal Suharyo, the highest-ranking member of the Indonesian Catholic Church, deny that he had ever received any reports of sexual abuse in the Church.” By Ivany Atina Arbi, Evi Mariani and Dwi Atmanta, The Jakarta Post

PHILIPPINES

Ex-judge to clergy: Focus on fixing Church scandals, not politics
“Former Sandiganbayan justice and Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Harriet Demetriou on Tuesday (Jul. 28) called out religious leaders for engaging in politics and urged them to focus instead on reforming the Catholic Church which has been plagued by scandals(link is external). ‘Instead of your non-stop politicizing, criticizing and demeaning the System which includes the judicial power of the Philippines, you wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on some issues you rally behind together with some politicians and ‘prostitute’ the dignity of your being ministers of God for self-seeking objectives,’ Demetriou said in a Facebook post particularly directed to Manila Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.” By Benjamin Pulta, Philippine News Agency

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 27, 2020

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

CARDINAL PELL

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

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

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

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

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

BISHOPS

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

PRIESTS

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

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

WOMEN DEACONS

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

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

CONNECTICUT

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

HAWAII

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

ILLINOIS

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

MISSOURI

Notice of credible allegation of abuse
“Bishop Johnston and diocesan leaders recognize how difficult it can be for a survivor of clergy sexual abuse to come forward and appreciate the great courage it takes in making a report to the Church. The diocese has received and deemed credible an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by deceased Father Peter Clement Vatter(link is external). This allegation was deemed credible following the diocesan Policy for Response to Allegations, by the Ombudsman, Independent Review Board and Bishop Johnston. The abuse occurred in the late 1940’s when Vatter was assigned as Pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish, Moberly, Missouri. In 1955, the parish was renamed St. Pius X Parish.” By BishopAccountability.org

NEW YORK

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

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

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

NORTH CAROLINA

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

VIRGINIA

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

CANADA

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

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

JAPAN

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

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