Posts Tagged catholic hierarchy

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 2, 2021

TOP STORIES

USCCB: Church must build culture of transparency on abuse
“Members of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People have agreed with the National Review Board’s call that the Catholic Church must continue to build a culture of accountability and transparency regarding clergy sexual abuse(link is external). Bishop James V. Johnson Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, committee chairman, said in a statement that the members also agree with the all-lay review board ‘on the need to identify, address and correct systemic failures which hinder the best response to allegations.’’ By Catholic News Service in Florida Catholic Media

Cologne Catholic Church Failed in Handling Sex Abuse Claims, Report Finds
“A Roman Catholic archbishop in Germany offered his resignation and two other high-ranking officials were suspended in the wake of a report that found decades of ‘systematic cover-up’ in the church’s handling of accusations of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members(link is external). The 800-page report, examining the years 1975 to 2018 at the Archdiocese of Cologne, was released on Thursday after five months of intense investigation. It was critical of the actions of Stefan Hesse, who had worked at the Archdiocese of Cologne and is now the archbishop of Hamburg.” By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times

Pope names prominent Chilean clerical abuse survivor to Vatican panel
“Pope Francis has appointed a prominent Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse to a Vatican commission(link is external) which focuses on education to prevent abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Juan Carlos Cruz, an international advocate for abuse victims, was abused as a teenager in his native Chile by a notorious paedophile, Father Fernando Karadima.” By KFGO-AM News

Former Albany bishop will be investigated under ‘Vos estis’ norms
“An anonymous plaintiff last week filed a lawsuit against former Albany bishop Howard Hubbard, alleging that Hubbard molested him in 1977, soon after his installation as bishop(link is external). The diocese of Albany confirmed to CNA on Wednesday (Mar. 24) that Hubbard will be investigated according to Vos estis lux mundi, the procedure for investigating abuse accusations against bishops that Pope Francis promulgated in May 2019. Also named in the suit are the diocese of Albany and St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Clifton Park, New York, north of the city.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

Is Synodal Path in Germany a road to schism?
“In 2019, the German Catholic Church envisioned a ‘Synodal Path’ to try to address the institutional clerical sexual abuse scandal(link is external). Bishops, laity, priests, religious and experts were all summoned to find solutions and set forth a reform path that has expanded its scope to question Catholic Church teaching on areas of sexuality. (This is part two of a two part series looking into Germany’s Synodal Path, a process launched by the bishops’ conference in 2019 in an attempt to respond to the clerical sexual abuse crisis. Part one can be found here(link is external).) By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Vatican sanctions two Polish bishops after ‘Vos estis’ investigations
“The apostolic nunciature in Poland announced Monday (Mar. 29) that the Vatican has sanctioned two Polish bishops at the conclusion of canonical inquiries into accusations they were negligent in their handling of sexual abuse of minors by clergy(link is external). According to March 29 statements on the website of the Polish Catholic bishops’ conference, Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź and Bishop Edward Janiak have been ordered by the Holy See to live outside their former dioceses, and told they cannot participate in public liturgies or non-religious gatherings within the territory of the dioceses.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

ACCOUNTABILITY

Sanctions against Polish bishops cautiously welcomed by abuse survivors
“After the Vatican sanctioned two retired bishops in Poland, abuse victims say it’s a good start, but may be too little, too late(link is external). On Tuesday (Mar. 30), the Vatican imposed sanctions on emeritus Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdańsk. The two had been featured in the ground-breaking documentaries ‘Hide and Seek’ (2020) and ‘Tell No One’ (2019) by the Sekielski Brothers. The filmmakers documented how, for years the bishops ignored sexual abuse by the clergy in their dioceses, refusing to help victims or even properly investigate accusations.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Effort to eliminate clergy-penitent privilege dies amid anti-Catholic fears
“An effort to eliminate clergy privilege and force religious leaders to report child abuse to legal authorities was unable to get enough votes(link is external) to make it out of committee Tuesday (Mar. 23) after days of backroom drama. Currently, only Guam, New Hampshire and West Virginia consider clergy mandated reporters and clergy-penitent privilege is waived in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect in those states. In Arizona (and everywhere else), clergy are not mandated reporters and suspected child abuse or neglect isn’t exempted from that, even if it is ongoing. And religious leaders cannot be forced to testify in court about abuse a parishoner confessed to committing.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror

German Catholic Church ‘covered up’ cases of sexual abuse by clergy
“A system of ‘silence, secrecy and lack of oversight’ led to a lack of compassion for the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy(link is external), a German cardinal has announced. Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki said he bore some responsibility for the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the German Catholic Church and that there was an effort in the Cologne diocese to cover up cases of sexual abuse. He did not, however, offer to resign, saying such a move would be a short-lived symbolic step. He instead vowed to do ‘everything humanly possible’ to prevent sexual abuse in the Church.” By Deutsche Welle

German cardinal sees own mistakes over past abuse cases
“The Roman Catholic archbishop of the German city of Cologne said Tuesday (Mar. 23) that he made mistakes in past cases involving sexual abuse allegations against priests(link is external), although a report has cleared him of wrongdoing, but made clear he has no intention of resigning. Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki was speaking after the release last week of a report he commissioned on church officials’ response to past abuse allegations. The findings have prompted the current archbishop of Hamburg to offer his resignation to Pope Francis, while three Cologne church officials, including two auxiliary bishops, were suspended.” By Associated Press

POPE FRANCIS

Francis says the Church is ‘never wrong’ when it listens to the faithful
“An estimated 100,000 Argentines sent messages to Pope Francis March 13, sharing their opinions regarding the first eight years of his pontificate, and he responded with a video made public Thursday (Apr. 1), arguing that the Church is ‘never wrong’ when listening to the ‘holy faithful people of God(link is external).’ ‘In theological terms, they call it synodality,’ Francis said. ‘It might have many names, but it’s the holy faithful people of God that carries the faith forward and in its own dialect.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Leading cardinals feel push toward schism
“The Vatican is now in crisis management mode with German bishops. In January, two Vatican cardinals wanted to summon the president of the German bishops’ conference to Rome and correct him about a media interview in which he expressed his dissent from Church teaching in a number of areas. Such a meeting, which some believe should have been used to give the Vatican’s formal opposition to the Synodal Path, never happened and now the German bishops are blazing ahead unfettered, drawing grave concerns of possible schism(link is external).” By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register

Brazilian cardinal accused of downplaying priest’s alleged abuse of teen
“When he was 17-year-old, Elissandro Nazare de Siqueira was trying to make a living for himself in São Paulo when he met Father Bartolomeu da Silva Paz, a priest known for his lively Masses and his charitable enterprises … At first, he saw Paz as a savior, since the priest found him a small room in the house of one of his parishioners, and he became the handyman of the parish of Nossa Senhora de Monte Serrat. Yet soon Siqueira claims an abusive relationship began: He said that in a secluded house owned by the parish, the priest got him drunk and raped him(link is external).” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Pope grants German archbishop faulted over abuse ‘time out’
“Pope Francis has granted a ‘time out’ to a German archbishop who offered his resignation after being faulted for his handling of allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) in his previous diocese, church authorities said Monday (Mar. 29). Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hesse’s offer on March 18 followed the release of a report commissioned by his counterpart in Cologne which found 75 cases in which high-ranking officials neglected their duties in such cases. They were criticized, for example, for failing to follow up on or report cases of abuse, not sanctioning perpetrators or not caring for victims.” By Associated Press

Italian bishops plan synodal path to overcome ‘stale’ structures
“This week the Italian bishops set to work on the initial preparations of their upcoming ‘synodal journey,’ which was explicitly asked for by Pope Francis. At the close of their spring plenary assembly, the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) said the coronavirus pandemic is an ideal time to hold their own national synod, assessing not only the challenges the country faces in the current crisis, but the state of the Church. ‘For the bishops, it is time to abandon those superstructures known to be stale and repetitive(link is external) … sometimes breaking with, or, in any case, not in line with the ‘it’s always been done like this’ mentality,’ read a March 25 communique issued by the bishops at the close of their assembly.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

‘Synodality’ and women’s empowerment go together, leading sisters say
“Over the eight-plus years of the Francis papacy, perhaps no single term has captured the essence of this maverick pope’s vision better than ‘synodality.’ The only thing about the word more striking than the frequency of its use, perhaps, is the near-impossibility of specifying exactly what it means. A Vatican official, and a woman much-cited recently as proof of Pope Francis’s commitment to hearing the voices of women, now says whatever the precise definition of ‘synodality,’ in practice it implies an almost Copernican shift in perspective and operating style(link is external).” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow

Priests and lay women work together every day. The church is finally starting to train them together, too.
“Integrated formation models—which most often take the form of men preparing for the priesthood sharing classrooms and even degree programs with men and women pursuing vocations in lay ministry—are one way to foster such encounters. Part of the larger trend of greater lay involvement and leadership in the church following the Second Vatican Council(link is external), such programming is not new in the United States.” By America: The Jesuit Review

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Some church things shouldn’t return to ‘normal’ after the pandemic
“When it comes to our communal ecclesial life, I think a major lesson of the pandemic has been that more involvement and leadership on the part of the laity and non-ordained ministers is an absolute necessity(link is external). I have participated in several dozen Zoom liturgies — some Eucharistic celebrations streamed live, others centered on the celebration of the Word that allowed for greater inclusion in who presided or preached — and each of them was spiritually nourishing in its own right. I know many others who have likewise “shopped” around online, sampling the liturgical life of communities physically distanced but spiritually united, and it was life giving.” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH REFORM

Former Priest Calls to Reform the Catholic Church
“The battle to reform the Catholic Church has been plagued by a long-running sexual abuse crisis. Author, historian and journalist James Carroll argues that male dominance is the root cause of the church’s issues(link is external). His new memoir, “The Truth at the Heart of the Lie,” links his own crisis of faith as a priest to the history of the church itself. He joins Michel Martin to discuss his call for reform.” James Carroll on Amanpour & Co., PBSLocal.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Further measures needed to combat financial crime at Vatican, pope says
“Signaling further reforms of the Vatican City State penal code, particularly when it comes to financial crimes(link is external), Pope Francis said the laws must reflect ‘the equality of all members of the church’ by doing away with ‘privileges that go back in time and are no longer in keeping with the responsibility of each for building up of the church.’ Meeting March 27 with the judges, prosecutors, investigators and other members of the Vatican’s state tribunal, the pope also encouraged efforts to facilitate international cooperation in investigations to ensure an accurate exchange of information in a timely manner.” By Catholic News Service in The Catholic Sun

British judge: Vatican made ‘appalling’ claims in UK probe
“A British judge has blasted Vatican prosecutors for making ‘appalling’ misrepresentations to the court about their investigation into the Holy See’s investment in a London real estate deal(link is external), determining they don’t have much of a case against their key suspect. In a remarkable ruling made public this week, Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court reversed another judge’s decision to seize the British-based bank accounts of broker Gianluigi Torzi and awarded Torzi legal fees.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The Church’s demagogues: Can synodality rebalance the charismatic celebrities?
“Pope Francis’ push for synodality inside the Church coincides chronologically with the rise of populist leaders and the crisis of democracy on the outside(link is external). Synodality, therefore, has an ad extra dimension. It is an ecclesial response to populist leaders who ‘hijack’ religion by sowing division and exploiting the anger of those who feel excluded, as Vatican Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle noted recently. Of course, synodality has specific ad intra dimensions, too. In an interesting article published a few months ago in Vida Nueva, Spanish Jesuit Alejandro Labajos pointed out that, according to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, four percent of these religious communities had undergone an apostolic visitation (basically a Vatican investigation).” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church facing biggest mass walkout since child sex abuse scandal, priest claims
“James Martin, a priest who advocates for LGBT+ inclusion within the Catholic Church, made his comments after the Vatican released an explanatory note insisting that clergy must not bless same-sex unions because God ‘cannot bless sin.’ ‘Not since the anger over sex abuse in 2002 and 2018 have I seen so many people so demoralized, and ready to leave the church(link is external), as I have this week,’ Martin wrote. He added: ‘And not simply LGBT+ people, but their families and friends, a large part of the church.’” By Patrick Kelleher, YahooNews.com

VOICES

Critics charge German ‘synodal path’ exploits suffering of abuse victims
“Many of those taking part in the process believe it will bring reform and help restore credibility in the Catholic Church, particularly seeing that according to a poll by German Catholic news agency KNA, the over 200,000 people who left the Church between 2018 and 2019 did so motivated primarily by the abuse scandals. In addition, a recent survey showed almost 30 percent of the German Catholics are now considering leaving the Church. However, some believe that the Synodal Path is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In reality, they charge, the purpose of the Synodal Path is not to bring the sexual abuse crisis to a close, but to use the actual crisis to justify profound changes in the Church(link is external), concerning Catholic teaching, identity, and tradition.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill would eliminate statute of limitations for civil claims of childhood physical abuse
“Proposed legislation would eliminate the statute of limitations in Vermont for a victim of childhood physical abuse(link is external) to bring a civil action against those responsible. The bill, S.99, which was presented Friday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, follows legislation enacted two years ago that repealed the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to bring civil lawsuits. Both pieces of legislation also come in light of claims of physical and sexual abuse decades ago at the Vermont Catholic Diocese’s former St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington.” By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger.org

Church, insurers oppose new effort to extend deadline for sex-abuse lawsuits
“The Rhode Island Catholic church and the state’s insurance lobby are once again leading the charge against legislative efforts to extend the deadline for lawsuits by victims of childhood sex abuse(link is external). This year, the effort focuses on removing a barrier to the filing of lawsuits against people and institutions who enabled and protected abusers by looking the other way or concealing their crimes. On Wednesday (Mar. 24) night, one speaker after another recounted for the House Judiciary Committee the number of churches their abusers worked before and after, they said, their childhoods were taken away from them.” By Katherine Gregg, The Providence Journal

Child sex abuse lawsuit ‘window’ amendment clears Pa. House
“Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday (Mar. 24) finished a new first round of approvals for a constitutional amendment giving victims of child sexual abuse the power to file what would otherwise be outdated claims(link is external), but it will be 2023 at the earliest before it takes effect. The House voted 188 to 13 to approve the proposed constitutional amendment, which must pass both chambers in two consecutive two-year legislative sessions before going before voters as a referendum.” By Mark Scolforo, Cruxnow.com

Stop the bickering: Pennsylvania lawmakers must help victims of clergy sex abuse
“Lawmakers are scrambling to resurrect a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would open a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse(link is external) to retroactively sue their attackers, along with organizations that covered up the abuse, such as the Catholic church. The effort was driven by a scathing 2018 grand jury report. It disclosed accusations of more than 1,000 Pennsylvania children being sexually abused by hundreds of priests over seven decades.” By Paul Muschick, The Morning Call

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Journalists accuse Cologne archdiocese of violating freedom of the press
“The German Journalists’ Association (DJV) and the Association of German Catholic Publicists (GKP) have sharply criticized the Cologne archdiocese’s stipulations for journalists who want to read the first abuse report(link is external). On 25 March, under strict stipulations, the archdiocese allowed a first select group of ten journalists to inspect the Munich law firm’s report, which Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki commissioned but refused to publish.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

Legionaries of Christ publish latest abuse report for the congregation
“On Monday (Mar. 22), the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ religious order published its latest report detailing what they have done and what they still need to do to repair the damage done and guarantee safe spaces for minors(link is external), from third-party investigations to mandatory formation seminars and revealing the names of priests found guilty of abuse. The religious congregation continues to claim it is cleaning house, after a report released last year showed that the late Father Marcial Maciel Degolaldo, founder of the Legionaries, was far from being the only abusive priest in the movement.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

ARIZONA

Lawsuit accuses Tucson priests of sexually abusing minors decades ago in southern Arizona
“A third victim has come forward in a federal lawsuit accusing Catholic priests of sexual abuse of minors across southern Arizona(link is external) in the 1970s and 1980s. Initially filed in December, the lawsuit claims that the Tucson Diocese and Los Angeles Archdiocese covered up abuse and moved priests around instead of reporting them to law enforcement.” By Audrey Jensen, Arizona Republic

ILLINOIS

Amid ongoing investigation, Chicago priest says he will ‘seek other ways and opportunities’ to work in the community
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger intends to find other ways to work in the Auburn Gresham community as the Chicago Archdiocese continues to investigate allegations that he molested two brothers(link is external) in the 1970s, Pfleger wrote in a recent letter to the community. ‘I know that I cannot emotionally or spiritually continue to remain isolated in an apartment waiting for this board to do its job,’ Pfleger, the pastor at St. Sabina Church, wrote. ‘While I hope and pray that the Review Board will work a little harder and more promptly to conclude their investigation, I will no longer wait in silence.’” By Sarah Freishtat and Christy Gutowski, Chicago Tribune

LOUISIANA

Slidell priest charged with molesting a juvenile
“Patrick Wattigny, a former priest at a Slidell church, has been formally charged with molestation of juvenile(link is external), District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced on Thursday, March 18. Wattigny, 63, the former pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church and chaplain at Pope John Paul II High School, both in Slidell, is accused of molesting a teenager, then 15, between June 1, 2013, and August 31, 2014. Wattigny was arrested in October of 2020.” By Mykal Vincent, Fox-TV News

MICHIGAN

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw removes priest from list of clergy accused of sexual misconduct
“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw is no longer featuring the name of a local priest on its website’s list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). Bishop Robert D. Gruss on Friday, March 26, announced he had removed the Rev. Dennis H. Kucharczyk’s name from subsection of the diocesan website titled ‘Names of Clergy Accused of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.’ The page lists 26 other names.” By Cole Waterman, MLive.com

Brighton-Area Priest Under Investigation By Michigan AG
“A priest at a Brighton-area church has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation(link is external) by the Michigan Office of the Attorney General. In an email to parishioners Friday (Mar. 19), it was announced that Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing had placed the Reverend Shaun Lowery, Pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Church in Brighton Township, on ministerial leave. The Diocese of Lansing says they are fully cooperating with the Attorney General’s investigation.” By Jon King, WHMI-FM Radio News

MISSISSIPPI

Catholic sex abuse claim: State Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Hattiesburg case
“A Forrest County judge erred when he dismissed a case of alleged sexual abuse by a Catholic priest(link is external), one attorney argued Tuesday (Mar. 30) before a three-judge panel of the Mississippi Supreme Court. Attorney John Hawkins said state law provides for a case to proceed if it was brought within three years of the discovery of an injury even if the statute of limitations for when the crime occurred had already expired. Hawkins is representing Robert McGowen, who claims he was sexually abused by former Sacred Heart Catholic Church priest Father John Scanlon in 1984 and 1985, when McGowen was 12 and 13 years old.” By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American

MISSOURI

Vatican defrocked former KC priest over sexual abuse claims four days before he died
“Four days before Michael Tierney died, the Vatican confirmed a decision to defrock the former Kansas City-area priest after finding him guilty of sexually abusing minors(link is external). Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. has been notified that an appeal by Tierney to reverse the penalty of dismissal from the priesthood was resolved on Dec. 11, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph announced on its website this month. Tierney died on Dec. 15 at age 76.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW MEXICO

Clergy abuse bankruptcy moves toward resolution
“Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester is living out of two rooms at an Albuquerque parish these days, his formal diocesan home sold to help pay for the sins of his predecessors and the damage done by priests and other clergy members who molested children(link is external). The archdiocese reported selling the four-bedroom, tri-level house near its Catholic Center on Albuquerque’s West Side for about $425,000 as part of a stepped up liquidation of assets in its ongoing Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization, which appears closer than ever to settlement.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

Long Island’s Catholic Diocese sells headquarters for $5.2M amid bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre has sold its headquarters for $5.2 million in a move that was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court, church officials said Friday (Mar. 26) … The diocese, home to 1.4 million Catholics in the Long Island region, declared bankruptcy in October as it faced more than 200 lawsuits under New York State’s Child Victims Act(link is external). It became the largest diocese in the United States to declare bankruptcy.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

Newly filed lawsuit alleges abuse by former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard
“Howard Hubbard, the former Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Albany, was accused of sexual abuse in a Child Victims Act lawsuit filed last week — the seventh such action containing allegations against him(link is external). The lawsuit was filed anonymously on a male plaintiff’s behalf by Herman Law, a large firm that specializes in abuse cases. The defendants are the Diocese of Albany and St. Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church in Clifton Park. The complaint alleges that in 1977 — the year Hubbard was appointed bishop — he approached an 11-year-old boy at a carnival put on by St. Edward the Confessor, told the boy to accompany him to the rectory and molested him there.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times-Union

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic priest who groped girl, sent her nude photos deserves to do penance in prison, Pa. court says
“A Roman Catholic priest who groped a teenage girl and sent her nude photos and a video of himself(link is external) wasn’t punished too harshly with a 1- to 2-year prison sentence, a state Superior Court panel has decided. That ruling, outlined in an opinion by Judge Megan King, comes little more than a year after Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos told Father Kevin Lonergan, ‘You have made families feel that church is no longer a safe place.’” By Matt Miller, PennLive.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy almost 50 years ago told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’, court hears
“A former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy at a remote parish(link is external) almost 50 years ago told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’, a court has heard. Neville Joseph Creen, 80, denies indecently abusing the teenager in Mount Isa, northwest Queensland, where he served as a priest in the 1970s. Asked about the allegations in 2018, Creen told officers he had ‘never, ever touched the boy’, calling it a ‘gross injustice’ that he had been accused.” By Australian Associated Press in Daily Mail

CANADA

St. John’s, N.L., diocese to sell property to settle Mount Cashel abuse claims
“Roman Catholic parishes in the St. John’s area will be undergoing significant restructuring in the months ahead as the archdiocese works to resolve the harm caused to victims of abuse(link is external) at Mount Cashel orphanage, parishioners learned on the weekend. ‘Over the coming weeks you may expect to see some properties listed on the real estate market,’ read an email update from St. John’s Archbishop Peter Hundt.” By Staff, The Canadian Press

EAST TIMOR

Trial of ex-priest accused of child abuse in Timor postponed to May
“The trial of a former US priest accused of child abuse in Timor-Leste(link is external) due to resume tomorrow at the Oecusse Court has been postponed until May 24, according to judicial sources. The president of the Court of Appeal, Deolindo dos Santos, confirmed the postponement to Lusa news agency, explaining that he was asked by the lawyers for the defendant, Richard Daschbach. He was concerned with the current conditions due to the covid-19 sanitary lockdown in the Timorese capital.” By Asia Pacific Report

FRANCE

French Catholic Church to propose ‘financial contribution’ to child sex victims
“The French Catholic Church will offer a ‘financial contribution’ to the thousands of victims of child sex abuse by priests(link is external) since the 1950s, bishops have agreed. The Church wants to “recognise its responsibility to society by asking forgiveness for these crimes and shortcomings,” the bishops announced after a gathering in the southern city of Lourdes. The Bishops’ Conference of France agreed in November 2018 to set up an investigative commission after huge and repeated child abuse scandals shook the Catholic Church at home and abroad.” By Michael Fitzpsatrick, RFI.fr

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady’s ‘pain’ over role in pervert priest inquiry
“Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady has expressed his ‘sadness’ and ‘pain’ over his role in an internal Church inquiry into pedophile priest Brendan Smyth, which involved swearing a 14-year-old victim to secrecy(link is external). Cardinal Brady said he was ‘too focused’ on getting a statement from the boy and acknowledged it was a ‘horrendous’ situation for the child. In a new book about Catholicism in Ireland Cardinal Brady told author Derek Scally: ‘Hauled into a room with three fellows there, his father wasn’t there, it was horrendous, really. That is only dawning on me now, really… his double victimization.’” By Maeve Sheehan, Belfast Telegaph

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic priest sexually abuses school boy, tells God would punish him if he told anyone about abuse
“A priest from a prestigious Auckland school in New Zealand is accused of sexually assaulting a boy inside the school’s Chapel(link is external). The Priest later instilled fear in the mind of the boy by saying that God would punish him if he told anyone else about the abuse. Father John Goodwin, who is now at the King’s School, has been ‘sent on leave’ by the school authorities after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced and now faces a police enquiry into the matter.” By Vinod D’Souza, International Business Times

New Zealand’s Catholic Church apologizes to survivors of abuse
“New Zealand’s Catholic Church formally apologized on Friday (Mar. 26) to the survivors of abuse within the church and said its systems and culture must change(link is external). Cardinal John Dew, who is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan of New Zealand, made the apology at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders in New Zealand. ‘Today, recognising the importance of this moment, I apologize to you, on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand,’ said Cardinal Dew, who is also the president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.” By Reuters

Catholic Church structure to blame for abuse in care, priest tells inquiry
A theologian has pointed the blame directly at the hierarchy and structure of the Catholic Church for abuse by priests(link is external). Dr. Tom Doyle, who is a priest, canon lawyer and addictions therapist, has given evidence to the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care in Auckland. He said the so-called mystic aura of a priest had given him super human status. Dr. Doyle, who beamed in via an audio visual link from the United States, told the inquiry priests suffered from what he called clerical narcissism.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

Catholic Church on abuse: ‘We are ashamed and saddened’
“The Catholic Church says it’s shamed and saddened by abuse in the church(link is external). The church opened its evidence on its handling of complaints at the Inquiry into abuse in care on Monday (Mar. 22). It said its response to redress has at times been ahead of Vatican guidelines. The number of cases of abuse within the Catholic Church in New Zealand is in excess of 1100, but the Royal Commission said that is just a preliminary figure. Counsel for the Commission Katherine Anderson said failure in record keeping from the 1950s impacts on the accuracy of the figures. Cardinal John Dew told the Commission the church was saddened and ashamed by what has happened.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand, on Stuff.co.nz

POLAND

Poland: 4 churchmen allegedly didn’t report sex abuse claims
“Polish prosecutors say they have received allegations that four senior churchmen broke the law by failing to report a complaint that a priest allegedly sexually abused a minor(link is external). National Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Ewa Bialik confirmed to The Associated Press Wednesday (Mar. 17) that the formal notification was received this month from a new state commission that reviews whether reports of pedophilia should be reported to prosecutors.” By Associated Press

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 8, 2021

TOP STORIES

Survivors of sex abuse by nuns suffer decades of delayed healing
“Anne Gleeson was 12 years old when she says Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Judith Fisher — her charismatic history teacher at Immacolata School in Richmond Heights, Missouri — began singling her out for special attention. ‘She’d wander around the classroom, and she’d lean on my chair and press her fingers into my back. Or she’d send me a little note or leave a present in my desk,’ Gleeson, now 63, said. The secret, forbidden touches gave Gleeson shivers(link is external). She says the rape began in 1971 when she was 13, although it [took] three decades and some therapy for her to recognize it.” By Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

The curse of clericalism: The Catholic Church must act now to address the sins of the past
“In just one week in January, it seemed as if all the grief and shame was unleashed again. Every media outlet was covering one story after another about the Catholic Church and the cumulative effect was dispiriting and demoralizing(link is external). There was the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which declined to hear a final appeal from the Archdiocese of St. John’s concerning its liability over the abuse of children at Mount Cashel Orphanage … So when does it end? When will the toxin that is clericalism – the corrosive pattern of entitlement and abuse of power by clergy – be purged?” By Michael W. Higgins, The Globe and Mail

‘Spotlight’ editor on retirement: Clergy abuse coverage has permanently changed church
“When Martin Baron, one of the most consequential newspaper editors in America, announced his upcoming retirement, he cited his work overseeing the Boston Globe’s coverage of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up as a highlight of his journalistic career(link is external). ‘I think the impact has been really quite profound on several levels,’ he told NCR ahead of his retirement. ‘One on investigative journalism, the other on the Catholic Church and then more broadly on institutions that are facing allegations of abuse of various types, but particularly sexual abuse.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Will the Vatican investigate a cardinal implicated in its own abuse trial?
“An unusual sex abuse trial currently underway in the Vatican took a potentially explosive turn Wednesday(link is external) (Feb. 24), and the response may have a great deal to say about how serious the reforms launched by Pope Francis actually are. Three witnesses testified that Italian Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who was relieved of his position as Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica last Saturday by Pope Francis, or his aides, had been aware of sexual abuse allegations at a pre-seminary on Vatican grounds and took no action … At the very least it creates the basis for an investigation of the 77-year-old Comastri, which, depending on the outcome, could lead to a charge of criminal negligence.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Head of French church child abuse probe says there may be 10,000 victims
“The head of an independent enquiry investigating church child abuse in France said Tuesday (Mar. 2) that there might have been up to 10,000 victims since 1950(link is external). Jean-Marc Sauve, head of a commission set up by the Catholic church, said that a previous estimate in June last year of 3,000 victims ‘is certainly an underestimate.’ ‘It’s possible that the figure is at least 10,000,’ he added at a press conference where he delivered an update on the commission’s work. A hotline set up in June 2019 for victims and witnesses to report abuse received 6,500 calls in the first 17 months of operation.” By France24.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Delayed Legion of Christ extortion trial goes ahead in Italy
“A judge in Milan has ruled that trial can go ahead in a case in which priests and lawyers of the Legion of Christ Catholic religious order are accused of offering to pay the family of a sexual abuse victim to lie to prosecutors(link is external). During a preliminary hearing Tuesday(Feb. 16), which was delayed by nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Judge Patrizia Nobile confirmed the charges of attempted extortion and obstruction of justice and set a May 13 trial date for the five suspects, said Daniela Cultrera, the lawyer for the victim’s family.” By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Seeing Pope Francis in the Argentine priest made a cardinal 20 years ago
“I recently gave a close friend a bit of dating advice, ‘When someone reveals who they are to you, believe them.’ Something similar, it turns out, is true of how we should think about cardinals who become popes. I was reminded of this recently when the Vatican released a lovely tribute to Pope Francis on the 20th anniversary of his becoming the Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, on February 21, 2001. As with his predecessors, one can clearly see the pope he would become in the Argentine priest many years before his election(link is external).” By Charles Camosy, Religion News Service

Anonymous bishops take potshots at pope
“This week (Feb. 26), we got a big peek behind the hierarchic curtain and an example of anonymity used to assassinate from Fran Maier, the longtime amanuensis and senior advisor to former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. A gifted writer, Maier is now a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a research associate in Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Maier penned a column on First Things, strangely, even creepily, entitled “Somebody Needs to be Dad” that presents the results of confidential interviews he conducted with 28 U.S. bishops in recent months(link is external).” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Conservative African Cardinal
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea as head of the Vatican’s liturgy department, removing a conservative who was seen as an opponent of the pontiff’s vision for the church(link is external). In a statement released on Saturday, the Holy See Press Office announced that Sarah had stepped down from his leadership position. The Vatican did not provide any reason for his resignation or name a successor.” By National Public Radio

CARDINALS

Cardinal convicted, acquitted of sexual abuse charges to speak at Ave Maria University graduation
“Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was accused, convicted and then acquitted of sexual abuse charges(link is external), will speak at Ave Maria University’s commencement where he will also receive an honorary degree from the school. Pell will be one of the highest-ranking Catholic Church officials to have addressed the university’s graduates, according to the school. Pell, who once served as the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, spent more than a year in prison following his conviction in 2018. The High Court of Australia overturned his conviction in April 2020.” By Rachel Fradette, Naples Daily News

BISHOPS

Top German bishop laments ‘scandalous’ image of the church
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference said Feb. 25 that the country’s Roman Catholic church is suffering from a ‘scandalous image’(link is external) amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy, but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue. The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm. He has commissioned a new report, which is supposed to be published March 18.” By Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Psychologist rallies efforts to better screening of would-be priests
“For the past eight years, Chatham University psychology professor Anthony Isacco has been part of a growing cohort of mental-health professionals nationwide who have been conducting psychological screenings of men interested in becoming Catholic priests(link is external). So when a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a devastating report in 2018 on the history of sexual abuse in Pittsburgh’s and five other Catholic dioceses, he saw a need to respond.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WOMEN’S VOICES

What the first woman to run BC High thinks is key to creating and educating good men
“In 2017, Grace Cotter Regan became the first woman president of Boston College High School, a Jesuit, all-boys college preparatory school in Boston, Mass. Ms. Regan is not only the first woman to serve in the role in the school’s more than 150-year history, she is also just the second lay person(link is external). Ms. Regan earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston College, then served as a post-collegiate volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Belize. She has worked in advancement and communications at high schools, universities, the Boston Public Library Foundation and the former New England Province of the Society of Jesus. This interview has been edited for clarity and length …” By Molly Cahill, America: The Jesuit Review

German Catholics appoint first female secretary
“Germany’s Catholic bishops elected a woman as their general secretary for the first time(link is external) on Tuesday (Feb. 23), in a decision hailed as a “strong sign” of modernisation in the crisis-hit Church. Theologian Beate Gilles, 50, will succeed Hans Langendoerfer on July 1 as a high-ranking official charged with implementing decisions taken by the bishops. ‘This is a strong sign that the bishops are acting on their agreement to promote women into leadership positions,’ said Georg Baetzing, president of the bishops’ conference.” By Agence France Presse on YahooNews.com

A day in the life of a lay Catholic woman who runs a parish
“The day begins with a beautiful sunrise: pinks, purples and blues that help dispel the heaviness of our continued slogging through a Covid-19 world. As we begin to assemble for Mass, everyone comments on what they had seen. Father F says he had reoriented his chair for morning prayer so he could watch the day unfolding. God will not be outdone in generosity. I serve this community, the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, as a parish life director(link is external), a position also known as parish life coordinator, which is a lay leader of a parish under the norms of Canon 517.2: ‘The diocesan bishop [may decide] that participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish [may be] entrusted to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest or to a community of persons.’” By Elizabeth Simcoe, America: The Jesuit Review

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Lay member sees promise following first meeting of DWC’s Diocesan Pastoral Council
“Gina Boggess, a parishioner at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Princeton says her deep faith and respect for Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Mark Brennan drew her to the Diocesan Pastoral Council of lay members(link is external). Boggess is a member of Beckley Vicariate on the council which met for the first time Feb. 19 and 20 at the Saint John XXIII Pastoral Center in Charleston. The council was reestablished by Brennan earlier in the month with hopes of increasing laity and communication in the diocese following the fallout from the scandals of former Bishop Michael Bransfield.” By Jake Flatley, Metro News

VATICAN

The Remains of Vatican II
“Pope Francis has said some interesting things about Vatican II in the last several weeks. On January 11, in a letter to the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith accompanying his motu proprio allowing women to become lectors and acolytes, the pope described his decision in terms of the ‘horizon of renewal traced by the Second Vatican Council’ and ‘in line with the Second Vatican Council(link is external).’ Then came these remarks in his January 29 speech to the national catechetical office of the Italian bishops’ conference …” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Vatican sex abuse trial exposes ‘unhealthy’ environment within youth seminary
“Witnesses at a Vatican criminal trial on Wednesday (Feb. 24) described ‘an unhealthy environment’ at St. Pius X preparatory seminary for Vatican altar boys(link is external), where a priest is accused of sexually abusing a student. The trial is the first to address alleged sexual abuse within the Vatican walls. St. Pius X, whose students are ages 12-18, is run by the Diocese of Como but is located in the Catholic nation-state, a stone’s throw away from Pope Francis’ residence.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican expects multi-million dollar budget deficit for 2021
“In the wake of the economic fallout due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said it expects a multimillion-dollar deficit in its budget for 2021(link is external). In a statement released Feb. 19, the Vatican said Pope Francis signed off on the Holy See’s 2021 budget, which was proposed by the secretariat and approved by the Council for the Economy, the Vatican board charged with overseeing the financial operations of all offices and entities.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in America: the Jesuit Review

CHILD PROTECTION

Donors’ group asks funders to sign pledge supporting child protection policies
“An umbrella group for Catholic philanthropy, calling it an effort to ‘change cultural norms’ by increasing donor engagement, has developed a pledge for funders to use to connect their giving to guarantees there will be procedures to protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse(link is external). Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, or FADICA, which was founded in 1976, calls it the ‘Funder Safeguarding Pledge’ and said it is the key component of a multiyear initiative, ‘Commitment to Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection.’” By Kurt Jensen, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Jefferson City bishop taps into parishes to develop diocesan plan
“Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, described development of a pastoral plan for the diocese as having grown from the bottom up(link is external). It focuses on the stewardship of parishes — the wise use of the gifts each person brings to a parish. Oftentimes, parishes spend their time reflecting on what the bishop’s vision is, then they try to figure out what they need to do in their own parish, McKnight said. What’s different for the new diocesan pastoral plan, he said, is the diocese went to parishes and shared what the pope has asked Catholics to consider about what it means to be a church.” By Joe Gamm, Jefferson City News Tribune

Catholics in Quebec are leaving the church in droves. Can reinventing parish life save it?
“In a pastoral message released in December, Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of the Archdiocese of Quebec announced a dramatic transformation in how the Catholic Church in the province should understand itself(link is external). Faced with declining resources and a faithful but increasingly small cohort of weekly Mass attendees—between 2 and 11 percent of the province, according to The Economist in 2016—Cardinal Lacroix called on the church in Quebec not to struggle to hold on to what it has left but to see itself as a mission church moving outward. ‘We must reorient our pastoral teams toward a more intensely missionary activity, turned toward the people and groups that we join too little,’ the cardinal said.” By Dean Dettloff, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Investigation of Rev. Pfleger demands fairness and thoroughness, not a timetable
“Michael Pfleger is one of the most remarkable Catholic priests in Chicago history. He leads one of the most vibrant congregations in the city, having first helped breathe new life into St. Sabina’s Church 40 years ago. He has been a crusader for social justice. We admire Pfleger for this. Always have and always will. At the same time, Pfleger now stands accused of sexual abuse(link is external). Two brothers allege they were victimized by Pfleger when they were minors more than 40 years ago.” By Chicago Sun Times Editorial Board

Our Opinion: Diocese suit shows need for transparency
“It’s a story both illuminating and disturbing: A Chicopee man credibly accuses the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of repeated sexual abuse, and alleges that top Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield officials engaged in a cover-up(link is external) to protect the legendary figure’s reputation. That illumination would not have been possible without the tireless Berkshire Eagle news reporting led by investigations editor Larry Parnass. Indeed, the Chicopee man’s lawsuit against the diocese, filed last month in Hampden Superior Court, cites The Eagle’s coverage and Mr. Parnass’ interviews with diocese officials throughout.” By The Berkshire Eagle Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

After infighting, Colorado lawmakers revive effort to give child sex assault survivors unlimited time to sue abusers
“Colorado lawmakers are once again debating whether to give recent and future victims of child sexual assault unlimited time to sue their abusers(link is external) after a similar effort failed last year because of infighting among proponents of the policy change. Senate Bill 73 cleared its first hurdle on Wednesday, unanimously passing the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Victims of child sexual assault have just six years after they turn 18 to sue their abusers. The bipartisan legislation would eliminate that restriction. The measure would apply to people abused after Jan. 1, 2022, as well as for those still within the window of the statute of limitations by that date.” By Jess Paul, Colorado Sun

R.I. lawmakers want to change deadline to sue over sexual abuse
“In 2019, Rhode Island gave victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits against their perpetrators, even if the abuse occurred decades ago. But victims’ advocates say the state courts have too narrowly defined what a ‘perpetrator’ is. So now some lawmakers are going back to the drawing board: They want people to be able to sue not just the person who actually committed the abuse, but the institutions that aided and abetted them(link is external), even if the deadline to do so had already run out under the old law.” By Brian Amaral, The Boston Globe

Hidden Predator’ bill for child sex-abuse victims to sue in Georgia advances
“Legislation to extend the statute of limitations for Georgians who were sexually abused as children to sue their abusers years later as adults advanced in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday(link is external) (Feb. 23). Sponsored by Georgia Rep. Heath Clark, R-Warner Robins, the bill would extend the deadline for victims to bring suits against their childhood abusers to age 52, a steep increase from age 23 under current state law. The bill would let victims sue their alleged abusers up to a year after realizing that past abuse has led to present-day trauma.” By Beau Evans, Capitol Beat News Service, Rome News-Tribune

Are you a former New Yorker? Times almost up for childhood ses-abuse survivors to seek justice
“Most former New Yorkers have no idea that our legal rights were dramatically expanded recently. In 2019, New York State enacted landmark legislation that makes it possible to seek justice for decades-old child sex-abuse crimes — the Child Victims Act (CVA). For a short time, this new law suspends the statute of limitations for child sex-abuse claims and provides a unique opportunity for survivors of such abuse, which happened in New York, to seek accountability and finality. But the time to take action is almost up(link is external). … Survivors have until early August 2021 to seek justice against institutions

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

CALIFORNIA

Fresno-area priest resigns Catholic church amid lawsuit over misconduct investigation
“A Diocese of Fresno priest accused of sexual misconduct but never criminally charged resigned from the church this week. According to a statement from his attorney, Monsignor Craig Harrison handed his resignation for his pastor position at St. Francis Parish in Bakersfield. ‘This decision has come after nearly two years of seeking due process and fair play from the Bishop,’ the statement reads.” By Yesenia Amaro, The Fresno Bee

600 Sex Abuse Lawsuits Expected to Hit Northern CA Dioceses in New Window for Accusers
Hundreds of people accusing Northern California priests and clergy of sexually abusing them as children are coming forward for the first time(link is external), enabled by a recent law allowing new lawsuits to be filed based on older allegations that were previously barred by the statute of limitations. Assembly Bill 218, signed by Governor Newsom back in 2019, opened a three-year window beginning in January 2020 for the new lawsuits to be filed. A similar one-year window was opened by state lawmakers back in 2003.” By Candice Nguyen and Michael Bott, NBC-TV Bay Area

ILLINOIS

Church officials OK’d moving another priest accused of abuse to Hyde Park friary, records show
“Intended to be a place of contemplation, Hyde Park’s St. John Stone Friary instead became a source of consternation in 2018 when it came to light that the Rev. Richard McGrath was living there. A former president of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, McGrath was accused of having child pornography on his cell phone and of sexually abusing a student(link is external) and moved into the building as the allegations began to emerge. The monastery is next to a day care center and around the corner from a Catholic elementary school. Yet no one informed the people running those institutions McGrath was living there.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

California bishop banned priest, but that didn’t keep him from ministry around Chicago
“While ministering in San Bernardino, California, in 2014, a Chicago-area priest named Joseph Jablonski told a boy something that prompted the bishop’s office there, when it found out, to notify the authorities and bar him from ever again ministering in that diocese. The bishop’s office decided that Jablonski’s words — deemed to be an attempt at ‘grooming’ for a possible sexual encounter — amounted to ‘sexual abuse(link is external),’ according to records and interviews. But that didn’t prevent Jablonski from continuing over the next several years to serve as a priest in other places — including Chicago, Aurora and Joliet.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

LOUISIANA

New clergy sex abuse claims against archdiocese pour in as filing deadline arrives
“As a 5 p.m. deadline to file sex abuse claims against the local Catholic Church loomed, roughly 50 claimants filed forms saying they were preyed upon by members of the clergy. Another 370 claimants filed proof of claim forms saying the Archdiocese of New Orleans owed them millions(link is external) of dollars for other reasons, from outstanding utility company bills to accidental falls on church property. The New York-based firm processing the compensation demands received at least 56 claims in which the claimant’s name and address was intentionally omitted, a likely signal those were filed by anonymous clergy abuse victims.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

Clergy sex abuse survivors and whistleblower priests join together for healing and worship
Survivors and whistleblower priests are joining together in an unconventional way. They’ve found common ground in their personal experiences speaking out about clergy sexual abuse while continuing their fight for transparency from the church(link is external). On Sunday mornings, you will find a sanctuary for survivors. It’s a private mass that doesn’t take place within church walls. ‘Yes, it is a strange experience after so many years presiding and celebrating Eucharist, not to be able to be with the people in the church and behind the altar,’ said whistleblower priest, Father Ryszard Biernat.” By Kimberly Curth, FOX8 News

New Orleans archdiocese overhauls support for sex abuse survivors
“An ongoing series of discussions between New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond and Kevin Bourgeois, the leader of the New Orleans chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, has led to a significant broadening and restructuring of Archdiocese of New Orleans’ response to abuse survivors(link is external). Aymond announced Feb. 11 that Joey Pistorius, director of the archdiocesan Catholic Counseling Service, will become the archdiocese’s new Victims’ Assistance coordinator April 1.” By Paul Finney Jr., Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

NEW MEXICO

Clergy sex abuse jury trial moved to July 2022 due to scheduling error
“The case alleging complicity in the rape of a child(link is external) against several Catholic entities scheduled to begin in December 2021 was moved to July 2022. The case was originally scheduled to go to jury trial on December 13, 2021, but that trial date was canceled due to a scheduling error, court records show. The case was filed by a John Doe against several parishes, dioceses and the Servants of the Paraclete alleging each were complicit in allowing Fr. David Holley, who moved to Alamogordo in the 1970s, to sexually abuse the complainant.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

NEW YORK.

Lawsuit accuses Brooklyn bishop of sex abuse in Jersey City decades ago
“One of two men who have accused Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of sexually abusing them as children(link is external) in Jersey City decades ago has filed a lawsuit based on allegations that he made public last year. The suit, filed last week in New Jersey Superior Court, alleges that DiMarzio sexually abused the man repeatedly when he was a 6-year-old boy at Holy Rosary parish in 1979 and 1980. The accuser, Samier Tadros, who lives in Florida, went public with the allegation in 2020, months after another man publicly alleged that he had been abused by DiMarzio at another Jersey City parish in the 1970s.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Child sex abuse lawsuit names Diocese of Ogdensburg as defendant
“The Diocese of Ogdensburg has been named as a defendant in a child sex abuse lawsuit(link is external) filed in state Supreme Court late last week. The plaintiff, identified in court documents as LG 83 DOE, filed suit Feb. 17 in state Supreme Court in St. Lawrence County against the diocese and St. John the Baptist Church in Keeseville, which is a hamlet that straddles the border of Clinton and Essex counties. The plaintiff is a resident of New York state and was born in 1963.” By Sydney Schaefer, NNY360.com

NORTH DAKOTA

State report on child sex abuse by priests paints sobering picture
“In the late 1960s or early ’70s, the Rev. Armour Roberts drove three boys from Bismarck to New Leipzig to visit another priest, the Rev. John Owens. The men mixed cocktails for the boys, and the boys — high school freshmen — drank until they were drunk. One passed out and later awoke with Owens standing over him, partially naked and inappropriately touching him. Owens had already molested another boy. Roberts was in an upstairs room with the third boy(link is external). … That incident is one of several detailed in a recent report by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation that resulted from a 1 ½-year investigation of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in North Dakota.” By Travis Svihovec, Bismark Tribune

SOUTH DAKOTA

Sioux City diocese settles sexual abuse lawsuit
“A man who had alleged that he was sexually abused by a priest(link is external) in the late 1960s has settled a lawsuit against the Diocese of Sioux City. Samuel Heinrichs had sued the diocese in October 2019, saying he was sexually and physically abused by the Rev. Dale Koster at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mount Carmel, Iowa. Terms of the settlement agreement are confidential, said Heinrichs’ attorney, Patrick Hopkins, of West Des Moines.” By Nick Hytrek, Sioux City Journal

AUSTRALIA

Christian Brother Rex Elmer jailed for sexually abusing boys
“Christian Brother Rex Francis Elmer will be classified as a serious sexual offender for the rest of his life after being sentenced for ‘abhorrent’ and ‘depraved’ historic abuse of children at a Melbourne orphanage(link is external). Elmer, now 76, fronted the County Court of Victoria on Friday dressed in a white forensic suit and blue gloves where he was jailed for two years, with a non-parole period of nine months, for abuse against two further boys.” By Erin Pearson, The Age

CANADA

Former Catholic priest and paedophile Patrick Holmes jailed a second time for sexually abusing children
“An elderly ‘defrocked’ Catholic priest has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ jail for sexually abusing five children in Perth(link is external) in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It is not the first time 86-year-old Patrick Holmes has been sent to prison — in 2014 he was jailed for three years for abusing two young girls, also in the 1960s and the 1980s. All the offences happened when he was the parish priest, firstly at the Holy Name Church in Carlisle and later at the Saint Aloysius Church in Shenton Park.” By Joanna Menagh, ABC News Australia

FRANCE

French Catholic clergy may have abused at least 10,000 people since 1950, say investigators
French Catholic clergy could have abused at least 10,000 minors and other vulnerable people since 1950(link is external), according to an independent investigation set up by the Church in France. The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) ‘estimates that the number of victims could reach ‘at least ten thousand,’’ it said in a statement released on Monday (Mar.1). The commission said it had so far received 6,500 testimonies, which concern at least 3,000 different victims. Jean-Marc Sauvé, the president of the CIASE, said it is not known at this stage what percentage of all victims have testified to the commission.” By Pierre Bairin, CNN

GERMANY

New report on abuse in Cologne will incriminate church officials
“The second expert report commissioned to investigate abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne also incriminates church officials who are still alive and accuses them of mistakes in dealing with cases of sexualized violence(link is external), according to its author, Björn Gercke. The criminal lawyer who was asked by Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki to conduct an investigation told the newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger March 2 that the report had already met with opposition from some officials and their lawyers even before its publication, scheduled March 18.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

INDIA

Vatican probes sex allegations against Indian bishop
“The Vatican is to investigate allegations against an Indian bishop two years after some priests and laypeople accused of him fathering two children and embezzling church funds(link is external). A team of church people has been appointed to probe the claims against Bishop K.A. William of Mysore (now Mysuru) Diocese in southern India’s Karnataka state, said a church official who asked not to be named. ‘Right now it is a preliminary investigation to find out if there is any truth in the allegations … because there are several cases where false charges are leveled against leaders to tarnish their image,’ the official told UCA News on Feb. 27.” By UCANews.com

INDONESIA

Ex-priest in sex case: Long battle for justice in Timor-Leste
“After a turbulent struggle for justice, the trial against a former priest charged with sexual abuse of children in his shelter finally starts(link is external) on February 22 in Timor-Leste. It is the biggest case in the history of the SVD congregation. … Ana was just 8 years old, when she went to live in Topu Honis Shelter Home. Life was perfect and she never imagined the betrayal and harm that would be inflicted upon her. ” By Tjitske Lingsma, The Rappler

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Priest ‘sexually and physically’ abused boys at Belvedere College in 1970s
“A Jesuit priest abused boys at Belvedere College in Dublin’s city centre when he taught there in the 1970s, the congregation has confirmed, two years after being confronted by a former victim about the secrecy surrounding the case. Fr. Joseph Marmion ‘abused boys sexually, emotionally and physically(link is external), while he was on the teaching staff at Belvedere College in the 1970s,’ the Jesuits said in a statement.” By Patsy McGarry and Conor Lally, The Irish Times

NEW ZEALAND

Child sexual abuse victims retraumatized in their fight for justice
Thousands of New Zealanders were sexually abused as children in state care and faith-based institutions(link is external), but will never get the justice they need to move forward … He was 12 years old when the abuse started. The principal at his elite Christchurch Catholic school would call the boys to his office to check their lunch boxes. When J arrived, the principal would take him into his office and tell him his parents had sent him to the school ‘to help him become a man.’” By Mariné Lourens, Stuff.co.nz

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

February 8, 2021

TOP STORIES

Francis: ‘No concession’ to those who deny Vatican II teachings
“Pope Francis on Jan. 30 urged those charged with passing on the principles of the Catholic faith to consider the teachings of the Second Vatican Council as sacrosanct(link is external), saying that to be Catholic one must adhere to the reforms brought about by the landmark event. ‘You can be with the church and therefore follow the council, or you can not follow the council or interpret it in your own way, as you want, and you are not with the church,’ the pontiff said in a meeting with a group of catechists connected to the Italian bishops’ conference.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

In came Latin, incense and burned books, out went half the parishioners
“Religion scholar Maria Lichtmann felt a strangeness overcome St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Parish in Boone, North Carolina, four years ago. Fr. Matthew Codd, the then-pastor at St. Elizabeth’s, was joined by a group of seminarians who went through the church’s theology library and removed books deemed heretical, including those of spiritual writers Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton. The books were later burned, she was told by a parish staff member(link is external). Lichtmann, a retired religious studies professor at Appalachian State University, left the region in part, she told NCR, because of the changes in the parish. She now lives in Georgia.” By Perter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Joy, frustration and humor: reactions to Vatican law change on lectors, altar servers
“”Am I the only one who is like: wait, women aren’t explicitly allowed to be lectors and altar servers before this?” Flora Tang wrote on Twitter Jan. 11. She was not, in fact, the only one. (For starters, more than 30 people liked her tweet). In the wake of Pope Francis’ announcement Jan. 11 that officially opened altar serving, lectoring and eucharistic ministries to all ‘lay persons(link is external),’ rather than just men, Catholic organizations and individuals expressed a mix of emotions, including joy, disappointment and a bit of wry humor — or just plain surprise. Some saw the move as a positive step that more fully recognizes women’s roles in the church.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Lots of Politics, Little Legitimacy: The USCCB needs an ecclesial and theological vision
“The second Catholic president of the United States is the first to hold office in the midst of an American intra-Church crisis. John Kennedy never had to deal with the kind of conflict currently roiling the USCCB or the opposition of so many bishops to the papacy(link is external). But Joe Biden takes office just as the situation inside the U.S. Catholic Church becomes reminiscent of the Americanist controversy of the late nineteenth century. What divided the bishops then were the warnings put forth by Leo XIII in Longinqua oceani (1895) and Testem benevolentiae (1899)—namely, admonitions against embracing the ‘American’ models of religious liberty and separation of church and state. New York Archbishop John Corrigan sided with the pope, against St. Paul Archbishop John Ireland and his allies, whom Leo ultimately disavowed for their ‘Americanist’ views. The split had long-term effects on the Church.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Women’s Work: The pope makes it harder to keep women out of liturgy
“It must be difficult for a mainstream journalist covering the Vatican beat on days like January 11, when Pope Francis’s motu proprio, Spiritus Domini, was announced. How to convey the significance of a tweak to canon law that clarifies women’s eligibility to be lectors and acolytes at Mass(link is external)? Aren’t they…already doing those things? Pity the reporter who must quickly explain the existence of ‘stable ministries’ in the Church, and the now-obscure practice of formally instituting lay men into those roles … It’s no wonder so many outlets framed the news in terms of what hadn’t happened: ‘Pope says women can read at Mass, but still can’t be priests’ ran a typical headline.” By Mollie Wilson O’Reilly, Commonweal

ACCOUNTABILITY

Australian police find no crime in Vatican money transfers
“Australian police said Wednesday (Feb. 2) they found no evidence of criminal misconduct in money transfers from the Vatican that a financial agency mistakenly inflated(link is external) by almost $1.8 billion and fueled corruption speculation. Australian Federal Police investigated the transfers to Australia that the country’s financial intelligence agency, Austrac, reported to the Senate in December amounted to $1.8 billion over six years.” By Associated Press in Star Tribune

Catholic Church: German bishops’ summit considers women and lay roles as answer to abuse crisis
“Germany’s Catholic bishops will resume discussions this week to plan the Synodal Path, a set of conferences slated to address controversial questions such as women’s roles and LGBTQ acceptance, even as the country faces yet another scandal of sexual abuse by clergy. Many churchmen believe that the social questions and the abuse crisis are related(link is external). ‘The abuse crisis hurts the church very deeply,’ Rev Martin Maier, a Jesuit priest and former editor at the German Catholic magazine Voices of the Time (Stimmen der Zeit), told Religion News Service. ‘One of the goals of the Synodal Path is to restore trust, which is crucial and vital.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, in Sight Magazine

A Vanishing Priest, a Wall of Secrecy and a 25-Year-Old Abuse Case
“Thirty-odd years ago, 8-year-old Timothy Schlenz spent every Saturday being tutored on the sacraments at a Manhattan church. It was there, he said, that he was regularly abused. Only years later did Mr. Schlenz come to understand that Father Jones had abused him. He wanted to press charges, though by then the statute of limitations had passed. But the New York State Child Victims Act, which allows for victims to file civil lawsuits against their abusers regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred, has given Mr. Schlenz a chance to make his case(link is external).” By Jenn Morson, The New York Times

Michael McDowell: Church, State and society all owe redress over homes
“A somewhat fractious debate has emerged on whether responsibility, legal or moral, for the awful neglect and ill-treatment of Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children lies with the State, the churches, or with society at large. It is a combination of all three. A duty of acknowledgment of responsibility and of redress lies with all three.(link is external) The state is an emanation of society; the churches were integral parts of that society. Our church-dominated society perpetrated this terrible mistreatment of its weakest and most vulnerable.” By Michael McDowell, The Irish Times

Pope Francis

Clergy must remain united with faithful, not become elitist, pope says
“Members of the clergy should always remember they are part of the people of God and not an elite group that stands above the faithful(link is external), Pope Francis said. In a video message sent Jan. 24 to Peruvian Bishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, president of the Latin American bishops’ council, also known as CELAM, the pope said the council’s upcoming meeting with the laity highlights the importance of remaining ‘together with the people of God.’ By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in Catholic San Francisco

BISHOPS

Sunday Mass in every church to become a thing of the past, Dublin Archbishop says
“Dublin’s new Catholic Archbishop has said celebration of Sunday Mass in every church will become a thing of the past and a declining priesthood will require a greater role for lay leadership(link is external). In a interview on the day of his formal installation, Archbishop Dermot Farrell set out the current state of his diocese in numbers , 197 parishes served by 350 active priests with an average age of 70. He said there was now a need to reorganize parishes both in terms of how they are divided out and the possibility of lay leadership.” By Patsy McGarry and Mark Hilliard, The Irish Times

Bishops throw cold water on the most Catholic inauguration in history
“Apparently, the leadership of the U.S. bishops conference, before it had even heard the speech, chose to range itself among those unwilling to ‘come together to carry all of us forward(link is external).’ Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the conference, issued a churlish statement … The statement contained two big fat lies at its heart … The worse lie came when Gomez said, “Catholic bishops are not partisan players in our nation’s politics.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Leading nun says decision-making shouldn’t be a matter of ordination
“One of the Catholic Church’s most prominent nuns has said the push for women’s priestly ordination in the Catholic Church points to a deeper question that needs to be asked and stressed the need to separate ordained ministry from decision-making(link is external). ‘I think there’s a bigger question, which is really the discernment of the ministries that are needed in the Church and in the world today,’ said Sister Patricia Murray, a member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and secretary general of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

The larger dimension of the pope’s new document on women and ministry
““Spiritus Domini” is the latest moment in a long-term process to de-clericalise the Catholic Church. Pope Francis’s little document Spiritus Domini on allowing women to be officially invested with the lay ministries of lector and acolyte is a most welcome development(link is external). It is a very interesting small brick in his larger pastoral edifice dedicated to implementing the reforms mandated over half a century ago by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).” By Thomas O’Loughlin, Catholic Outlook

WOMEN DEACONS

Women Religious, Women Deacons Q&A: Who could be the general superior?
It is a documented fact that women, including members of abbeys and monasteries, were ordained as deacons(link is external). The misconception that the ordination of women deacons was ‘only’ the ceremonial appointment of an abbess ignores both the fact of their sacramental diaconal ordinations and the fact of their abbatial consecrations, which gave jurisdictional powers and authority. In some liturgies, the two nominations are collapsed, but without question some abbesses were ordained as deacons and, in fact, had territorial jurisdictional authority equivalent to that of bishops within their abbey and monastery territories.” By Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Vatican says allegations against Wyoming bishop can’t be proven
“A Vatican investigation has exonerated retired Bishop Joseph Hart of Cheyenne, Wyoming, on seven accusations of sexual abuse towards minors, while five other accusations ‘could not be proven with moral certitude(link is external),’ the diocese announced in a statement Monday (Jan. 25). The decree came from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) – the Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints. However, the CDF issued a canonical rebuke to Hart for ‘his flagrant lack of prudence as a priest and bishop for being alone with minors in his private residence and on various trips, which could have been potential occasions endangering the ‘obligation to observe continence’ and that would ‘give rise to scandal among the faithful,’’ according to the diocese statement.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Despite question marks, Vatican bank verdict is still a watershed
“We’ve been down this road before, of course, but nevertheless we witnessed what’s being hailed as a landmark moment this week for financial reform in the Vatican(link is external) when a longtime former president of the Vatican Bank, along with the bank’s lawyer, were sentenced to eight years and 11 months in jail for their roles in a $70 million fraud.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Former Vatican bank president guilty of embezzlement
“A former president of the Vatican bank and his lawyer have been found guilty of money laundering and embezzling millions of euros from property sales(link is external). According to a statement released by the Vatican yesterday (Jan. 21), Angelo Caloia, who served as president of the Institute for the Works of Religion from 1999 to 2009, and his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, were sentenced to eight years and 11 months for skimming profits from the sale of Vatican properties. Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican tribunal, handed down the sentence and ordered Caloia and Liuzzo to pay a fine of 12,500 euros ($19,600) each.” By CathNews.com

VOICES

Opinion: It’s time for Colorado’s Catholic Church to take a moral inventory
“The dialogue about the need for accountability following reports of priestly abuse should also be the catalyst for examining other areas where the church presumes moral authority(link is external), including health care. Growing up in the Catholic faith, several guiding principles were instilled in me, including the sanctity of human life and dignity, that our humanity is measured by the compassion we show the poor and our most vulnerable, and that regardless of our differences, we are all God’s children. And of course, and perhaps most fundamentally, to trust in God, his plans, and in his holy church.” By Bri Buentello, The Colorado Sun

Catholic Church Sex Abuse: What Is Suitable Compensation for a Life of Trauma?
“If you had a choice between losing a limb or being psychologically traumatized your whole life, which would you choose? By ‘psychologically traumatized,’ I mean suffering debilitating lifetime depression and anxiety, having difficulty holding onto a job, not being able to enter into satisfying personal and intimate relationships, unshakeable (and unwarranted) self-blame and even being rejected by family who don’t understand consequent behavior. Many sex abuse victims struggle with substance abuse throughout their lives(link is external), undergo repeated hospitalization, attempt or commit suicide, and many without anyone knowing why they were so troubled. Many of them live in poverty or near poverty their whole lives.” By Janet E. Smith, Commentary in National Catholic Register

Port: We cannot let children be hurt so that priests can keep their vows
“If your religious or political beliefs require you to stay silent when a child is in harm’s way, it’s time to change those beliefs … Though I am not religious myself, I have a well-established history of supporting religious liberty. It saddens me to see the religious liberty argument invoked to protect people who are harming children(link is external). Americans are already losing faith in their cultural institutions, from the government to the news media to organized religion. Arguing that religious leaders shouldn’t be required to report child abuse because of “religious liberty” isn’t going to help with that trend.” By Rob Port, Inforum

Joe Biden, the pope and the looming schism in America’s Catholic Church
“The new president of the United States of America is a Catholic — only the second Catholic to be elected to America’s highest office after John F. Kennedy in 1960. But in recent times, a significant change in the US has seen the Catholic Church(link is external) becoming the country’s single largest community of faith … The country has no problem with [Biden] being Catholic, but a not insignificant segment of the Catholic Church in the US — from among its bishops, its clergy, and its faithful — has a problem with his brand of Catholicism.” By Deutsche Welle

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

A Pa. Dept. of State error means some sex-abuse victims will again have to wait for justice
“Pennsylvania’s top election official will resign after her agency made a mistake that will delay a statewide vote on whether survivors of decades-old sexual abuse should be able to sue the perpetrators and institutions that covered up the crimes(link is external). Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who oversaw a tense and difficult presidential election in the battleground state, will resign Feb. 5, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday (Feb. 1).” By Angela Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer

AB218: California Catholic bishops fighting 2019 clergy sex abuse law
“Most California Roman Catholic bishops are asking a judge to throw out a 2019 law that allowed accusers of clergy sexual abuse to sue even if they were molested decades ago(link is external). Motions filed this month in southern and northern superior courts ask judges to rule Assembly Bill 218 unconstitutional. Among the arguments was the assertion that the amount of time that had passed could make it harder for the defense to gather evidence.” By Robert Jablon, Associated Press, in The Mercury News

Pa. House passes measure to allow voters to create a window for child sex abuse victims to go to court
“Pennsylvania on Wednesday (Jan. 27) stepped closer to paving the way for adults who were sexually abused as children to seek recourse in court against their predators. By a vote of 187-15, the state House of Representatives passed a measure that could lead to a temporary lifting of expired statute of limitations for some abuse victims, allowing them to file civil suits.” Ivey DeJesus, By PennLive.com

Abuse amendment gets second go
“A Senate committee moved quickly Monday (Jan. 25) to start the second round needed to pass a state constitutional amendment to open a two-year retroactive window for lawsuits by child abuse survivors(link is external). The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 8, which addresses fallout from a 2018 statewide grand jury report that examined decades of child sexual abuse and cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.” By Roger Swift, Altoona Mirror

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Dilemma at heart of sex abuse claims
“We can’t guess at the truth, and shouldn’t try. All the public can do is wait for the case to resolve itself, which might never happen(link is external). Until then, we can look at the context in which this is occurring.

What do we know? Such accusations have exploded. In 2019, accusations of sexual abuse against Catholic clergy quadrupled, from what had been a steady 1,000 or so a year, to 4,434. The church paid out more than a quarter billion dollars in settlements that year.” By Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times

ARIZONA

Former Tempe pastor accused of child sex abuse
“A man known in his community as being devoted to God is now facing child abuse allegations(link is external). A six-month investigation led Tempe police to the arrest of 48-year-old Mario Rodriguez-Ramirez, a man who was once a pastor. Police say the abuse began in 2015, when the little girl was 9 years old. Rodriguez-Ramirez took the victim and two other children to Kiwanis Park in Tempe, police say. There, he allegedly hugged and kissed the girl when she reached the ground after going down the slide, police say.” By Andriana Loya, 12News Phoenix

Tucson Diocese being sued for racketeering over alleged sex abuse
“A federal lawsuit accuses the Tucson Diocese and Los Angeles Diocese of violating Arizona’s racketeering laws by burying allegations that some priests sexually abused children and moving those priests from parish to parish(link is external) instead of turning them over to law enforcement. This is the second major case of its kind after a recent change to state law gave sexual abuse victims more time to take their abusers and the organizations that protected them to court. Two lawsuits have been making their way through Arizona court aimed at the Corpus Christi Diocese alleging abuse by a priest who was moved to Arizona by the Diocese there.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror

CALIFORNIA

New Sexual Abuse Claims Against Two Oakland Diocese Priests
New sexual abuse allegations within the Oakland Diocese are publicly coming to light(link is external) for the first time after being included in a lawsuit against the Diocese that settled late last year for $3.5 million, without any admission of liability. The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago.” By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott and Mark Villarreal, NBCBayArea.com

CONNECTICUT

Lawsuit: Priest raped boy on day of his sister’s wedding
“A Catholic priest raped a 9-year-old altar boy on the day of his sister’s wedding(link is external) that the priest officiated, according to a new lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport. The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, charges that the diocese knew or should have known that Father Kiernan Ahearn was unfit to be around children but continued to assign him duties that involved children.” By Associated Press

ILLINOIS

St. Sabina’s Rev. Michael Pflegerfaces 2nd allegation of child sex abuse; priest’s lawyers assail ‘false attacks’
“A second person has come forward with allegations of sex abuse as a minor by Rev. Michael Pfleger(link is external), which attorneys of the longtime St. Sabina Church pastor have called ‘false attacks … motivated by greed.’ Pfleger, one of the most prominent figures in the Catholic community in Chicago, stepped away from the Auburn Gresham parish earlier this month at the archdiocese’s request as it investigates decades-old sexual abuse allegations made by another person. The Archdiocese of Chicago’s general counsel ‘just received’ the additional allegation, a spokesperson said Sunday evening.” By Madeline Kenney, Chicago Sun-Times

KANSAS

Lawsuit accusing Kansas priest of sexual abuse in 1980s can go forward, court says
“A lawsuit alleging a Topeka priest sexually abused a boy(link is external) in the 1980s can proceed after an appeal by church officials was struck down this week. The lawsuit, which says the boy was 9 years old when a priest at St. Matthew’s Church began abusing him, was filed in Wyandotte County District Court in August 2017. The lawsuit names as defendants a priest identified in court records only as M.J. and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, which has authority over St. Matthew’s.” By Katie Moore and Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese suspends pastor of St. Peter Claver after he is accused of child rape in lawsuit
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans on Wednesday (Jan. 27) suspended the pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Treme after he was accused in a lawsuit of raping a 10-year-old boy while hearing his confession(link is external) during an out-of-state retreat in 2008. The Rev. John Asare-Dankwah’s suspension will remain in effect until church authorities can complete an investigation into the allegations, archdiocesan officials said in a statement.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

Attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims asking court to unseal deposition of accused pedophile priest
“Attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims are fighting to get the deposition of an accused pedophile priest unsealed(link is external). Those lawyers claim the Archdiocese of New Orleans concealed almost all of Lawrence Hecker’s crimes from law enforcement. In a new court filing, lawyers for the alleged church sex abuse survivors say ‘there is more than ample evidence and support’ that both Hecker and the Archdiocese concealed multiple felonies perpetrated by Hecker against children.” By Kimberly Kurth, WVUE-TV8 News

MASSACHUSETTS

The Boston Archdiocese’s list of priests accused of abuse does not include cases settled with alleged victims
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has paid millions of dollars in recent years to resolve accusations of sexual abuse against priests working in local parishes. Yet, the names of many of those priests are missing from the archdiocese’s public roster of clergy accused of sexually abusing children(link is external), an accounting that began a decade ago under pressure from victims. Their exclusion has angered survivors of abuse, particularly in light of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s longstanding pledge to be transparent about clergy sexual abuse after decades of secrecy.” By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Seven decades after a priest assaulted her, a Plainfield woman is still grappling with the trauma
“When trauma resurfaced in Patty Rondeau’s life 50 years ago, it came in a sleek black car rolling up to her sister’s Hartford home. The day had been beautiful; sunny and bright, just before a christening party one of her sisters was throwing. Rondeau, then in her 30s, was sitting among the lilacs and grass outside, turning the sandy dirt into small castles with her children. The arrival of the Rev. Daniel Roberts dashed the idyllic moment(link is external).” By Anna Merriman, The Valley News

NEW YORK.

Buffalo Diocese: Audit shows compliance with Catholic Church child safety charter
“The Buffalo Diocese says that an independent audit shows they were in full compliance with the Catholic Church’s child safety charter for 2019-2020(link is external). Rochester firm StoneBridge Business Partners conducted the audit, which the diocese says required extensive data collection from schools, parishes and diocesan departments, including the documentation of procedures, training conducted, and hiring practice.” By Emyle Watkins, WGRZ-TV2 News

Church deacon busted for trying to have sex with teen he met on Grindr: officials
“A church deacon was busted this week for trying to have sex with a 14-year-old boy(link is external) he met on the gay hook-up site Grindr, officials said. It turns out that Rogelio Vega, 50, of Maspeth, Queens, was actually chatting up an undercover detective posing as a youngster, according to prosecutors. ‘This defendant by all outward appearances is a church-going family man,’ said Queens DA Melinda Katz.” By Rebecca Rosenberg, New York Post

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota bill to close child abuse reporting loophole nixed after Catholic opposition
“A bill that would have required North Dakota clergy to report cases of child abuse and neglect learned during confession(link is external) or other private religious conversations has been withdrawn from consideration this session. Current state law presents a loophole that does not mandate that pastors, priests and other clergy report abuse to a law enforcement agency if it’s information received when acting as a spiritual advisor. The withdrawal of Senate Bill 2180 on Friday, Jan. 29, came after the Catholic Church publicly condemned the legislation as ‘draconian.’” By Inforum.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Allentown Diocese sells 171 acres to pay priest sex abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has sold some of its property in Lower Macungie and Upper Saucon townships to help compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The diocese sold 118 acres on Flint Hill Road in Upper Saucon for $3.55 million and 53 acres on North Krocks Road across from Hamilton Crossings in Lower Macungie for $7.5 million, the diocese said in a Jan. 8 news release. With the land sales, the diocese finished paying off a loan taken out to fund a compensation program for victims of clergy sexual abuse.” By Michelle Merlin, The Morning Call

VIRGINIA

Catholic Diocese of Richmond says allegations one priest found not credible
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Thursday (Jan. 28) that child sexual abuse allegations against Thomas Long, a former priest of the diocese, were not credible(link is external) and that his name will not be added to its list of clergy for which credible and substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse have been made. The allegations were part of an investigation launched in June 2020 after the diocese received an allegation of child sexual abuse against Long, who was accused of the abuse while serving at Christ the King School in Norfolk in 1986.” By Holly Prestidge, Richmond.com

AUSTRALIA

New Church protocol published for responding to sexual abuse
“A new protocol to be introduced next week provides a framework for Catholic entities across Australia to respond consistently to people raising concerns or allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). Source: ACBC Media Blog. The National Response Protocol, which was adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at its November 2020 plenary meeting, is the product of two years of work and widespread consultation within and beyond the Church. That consultation included engagement with victims and survivors and their advocates.” By CathNews.com

Sex abuse victim speaks out after Perth Catholic church consents to pay $2.45m compensation
“A victim who will be awarded $2.45 million in compensation for sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest has spoken out about the ‘severe’ impact the abuse continues to have on his life(link is external). Perth’s Catholic archbishop consented to pay the compensation after the victim, who is now aged in his 50s, described being raped by Father Bertram Adderley in the 1970s. The landmark judgement was approved by a District Court judge last week and is believed to be one of the highest known sums paid by any Catholic church in Australia to a survivor of historic sex abuse.” By Keane Bourke and Amelia Searson, ABC News

Case highlights horror of abuse: Archbishop Costelloe
“Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB says the case of the former altar boy who was abused by a priest in Perth in the 1970s highlighted the horror of sexual abuse and the dreadful effects it had on victims(link is external). The Church will make a record payment of $2.45 million to the survivor, agreed to after one day of trial in Western Australia’s Supreme Court. Fr Bertram Adderley, who died in the 1980s without ever being charged, abused many boys in regional WA and Perth, the survivor’s Victorian law firm Rightside Legal said yesterday (Jan. 21).” By CathNews.com

GERMANY

Priests urge Cologne cardinal to resign in sexual abuse report crisis
“Priests in Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese are demanding their archbishop resign for suppressing a critical report into clerical sexual abuse(link is external) in the western German diocese. The growing crisis in the powerful western diocese has taken on fresh urgency after claims that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki ignored church guidelines rather than report a friend’s sexual abuse record to Rome. The case involves a priest friend who had convictions for sexually abusing young boys in the 1970s.” By Derek Scally, The Irish Times

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Diocese asking for voices of church sex abuse survivors to be heard
“An independent review of all past safeguarding cases related to Church of England churches in the region wants to ensure that survivors’ voices are heard(link is external). All dioceses nationally are taking part in the Church of England’s Past Cases Review 2 including the Diocese of Lichfield, which is home to more than 500 churches in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Shropshire and the Black Country. Lichfield Diocese was also one of seven dioceses identified as needing to carry out further work to provide an updated and comprehensive version of the first Past Cases Review published in 2010.” By James Vukmirovic, Express & Star

GUAM

Judge OKs latest legal fees of $476K in church bankruptcy case; 1-month stay ordered
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Tuesday (Jan. 26) approved $476,000 in revised legal fees and costs in the Archdiocese of Agana’s two-year-old bankruptcy case(link is external). Two days later, the judge issued an order approving stipulation for stay of proceedings and suspension of work at least until Feb. 28, 2021, except for certain matters. The judge, in her Jan. 28 order, said all parties shall make their best efforts to reduce legal fees by limiting work in the main case and the adversary proceeding case for at least a month.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

MALTA

‘The First Time Was A Sunday’: Bursting Into Tears, Gozo Rape Victim Recalls Being Pushed Into A Confessional And Touched By Priest
“‘He used to threaten me and use force when I refused. I often tried to run away but he would hold me down. He would force me in, telling me I’m going to hell or that he was going to speak to my parents.’ These were the harrowing words of a former altar boy who was allegedly raped by priest Joseph Sultana(link is external).” By David Grech Urpani, LovinMalta.com

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church abuse victims: Only a fraction of them coming forward, group says
“A survivor group for people abused while in the care of the Catholic Church says only a fraction of them are coming forward. A number have spoken with the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care, but it is being seen as only the tip of the iceberg(link is external). Dr Christopher Longhurst from SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said many people are reluctant to come forward for fear of ridicule. ‘There is so much shame around the abuse that society sees the victim as wounded and defective and there is victim blaming.’” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

PERU

She Exposed Sexual Abuse in a Catholic Kids Camp. Now She’s Facing a Prison Sentence
“When reporters at the Boston Globe exposed child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, their investigative work was so celebrated that Hollywood made a film, Spotlight, about it. Now, after carrying out a similar crusading probe into pedophilia in a Catholic lay organization in South America, Peruvian journalist Pao Ugaz is facing jail time(link is external) and a hefty damages bill.” By Simeon Tegel, VICE World News

POLAND

Fresh cover-up claims against former Papal secretary
“A group of Polish politicians has pledged to press new accusations against Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary of St John Paul II, after prosecutors refused to investigate TV documentary claims that he ignored and covered up abuse by priests in his Krakow archdiocese(link is external). ‘The gravity of crimes that Cardinal Dziwisz may have committed is so enormous that failure to investigate them is obviously detrimental to the public good and the private interests of victims,’ said Lukasz Kohut, a European Parliament member from Poland’s liberal Wiosna (Spring) party.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, The Tablet

SPAIN

Jesuit order in Spain apologizes for decades of sexual abuse by members
“The Jesuit order in Spain has admitted that 81 children and 21 adults have been sexually abused by 96 of its members since 1927(link is external), and has apologized for the ‘painful, shameful and sorrowful’ crimes. In a report released on Thursday (Jan. 21), the Society of Jesus, whose members often work as teachers, said most of the abuse had taken place in schools ‘or was related to schools.’ According to the document, 48 of the 65 Jesuits who abused children are dead. Four of the surviving abusers are no longer Jesuits and 13 have been prevented from working with children pending the outcome of civil or canonical cases, or have already been ordered to cease their ministry and sent to isolated Jesuit communities.” By Sam Jones, The Guardian

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

January 25, 2021

TOP STORIES

Francis changes Catholic Church law: women explicitly allowed as lectors, altar servers
“Pope Francis has changed Catholic Church law to make explicit that laywomen can act as readers and altar servers in liturgical celebrations(link is external), effectively removing a previous option for individual bishops to restrict those ministries only to men. In an unexpected apostolic letter published Jan. 11, the pontiff says he is making the change to recognize a ‘doctrinal development’ that has occurred in recent years. That change, the pope says, ‘shines a light on how some ministries instituted by the church have as their foundation that common condition of baptism and the royal priesthood received in the Sacrament of Baptism.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Indictment of fundraising priest exposes lack of diocesan oversight
“Fr. Lenin Vargas’ request for money seemed more fitting for a spam email than from a Catholic priest. From 2014 until 2018, Vargas allegedly solicited funds from parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Starkville, Mississippi, where he was the pastor(link is external), for what he claimed were expenses for his cancer treatment and for charities in his native country of Mexico. … Furthermore, the Diocese of Jackson failed to divulge the fraud, allowing Vargas to pilfer money for years, according to a report from the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, which cites an affidavit filed in federal court by Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative arm of the U.S Department of Homeland Security.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

North Dakota bill would force priests to violate confession seal in abuse cases
“Three North Dakota state legislators introduced a bill this week that would oblige Catholic priests to violate the seal of confession in cases of confirmed or suspected child abuse, on penalty of imprisonment or heavy fines(link is external). The current mandatory reporting law in North Dakota states that clergy are considered mandatory reporters of known or suspected child abuse, except in cases when “the knowledge or suspicion is derived from information received in the capacity of spiritual adviser”, such as in the confessional.” By Mary Farrow, Catholic News Agency

Journalists reject Cologne’s confidentiality agreement
“Signing the agreement ‘would have meant that one could not report anything one had obtained from other sources(link is external) as one would have had to prove that one had not obtained it from the background discussion,’ Joachim Frank, chairman of the German Catholic Publicists and chief correspondent of the DuMont media group, who was one of the eight journalists, told Deutschlandfunk.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

ACCOUNTABILITY

Record payment ordered in Church abuse case
The Church will make a $2.45 million payout to a clergy sexual abuse survivor in Western Australia, in what is believed to be a record payout(link is external). The survivor will receive $2.45 million-plus legal costs to compensate him for abuse by teacher and priest Bertram Adderley, who groomed and raped him between 1977 and 1980 when he was aged 10 to 12. Lawyers involved in seeking restitution for victims of sexual abuse say they believe the settlement is up to $1 million higher than any payout previously awarded to someone suing the Catholic Church.” By CathNews.com

Buffalo’s new Catholic bishop says he will remove abusers and their enablers
“Having lived most of his life in the Baltimore-Washington area, we asked Buffalo’s new Catholic bishop, Michael Fisher, if he knew anyone in Western New York. Bishop Mike, as he prefers to be called, thought for a moment and answered, ‘No.’ To his knowledge, there are no familiar names or faces for him in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese. That may prove to be an asset because after Fisher is installed on Friday (Jan. 15) afternoon, he faces a number of tough decisions. He says he’s willing to toss out clergy and others involved in the sex abuse scandal that rocked the diocese(link is external).” By Steve Brown and Joseph O’Rourke, WGRZ-TV2 News

Probe highlights Vatican legal system’s limited protections
“A criminal investigation into a Vatican real estate investment is exposing weaknesses in the city state’s judicial system and a lack of some basic protections for those accused — highlighting the incompatibility of the Holy See’s procedures with European norms. The Vatican has never been a democracy, but the incongruity of a government that is a moral authority on the global stage and yet an absolute monarchy is becoming increasingly evident(link is external). The pope is supreme judge, legislator and executive, who holds the ultimate power to hire and fire officials, judges and prosecutors and make and waive laws and regulations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Factbox: Reports into abuses in the Irish Catholic Church
“Thousands of infants died in Irish homes for unmarried mothers and their offspring run by the Catholic Church from the 1920s to the 1990s, an inquiry found on Tuesday (Jan. 12), an ‘appalling’ mortality rate that reflected brutal living conditions. There have been a series of reports into allegations of abuse and mistreatment by priests and members of religious orders(link is external). Here are some details of their findings …” By Reuters

BISHOPS

New Buffalo bishop seeks to ‘listen’ as he takes over troubled diocese
“When Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fisher of Washington is installed as the 15th bishop of Buffalo on Friday, he’ll be entering a diocese in the throes of controversy(link is external). In November, New York State attorney general Letitia James sued the diocese, former Bishop Richard Malone and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Edward Grosz for failing to protect minors and inadequately investigating and reporting claims against diocesan priests that went back decades.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Pope accepts resignation of French archbishop amid financial challenges
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz of Avignon, a month after the archbishop celebrated his 75th birthday, amid ongoing questions about his management style and handling of archdiocesan finances(link is external) … As early as 2019, about 200 faithful belonging to a group called Christians in Vaucluse had requested the archbishop’s early retirement because of what they saw as a style of governance that created ‘real suffering’ for local Catholics. Among the contentious issues were that of personnel management, concern for the poor, people feeling unwelcomed, the lack of ecumenical and interreligious initiatives and diocesan finances.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

Diaconal ministries link women religious to restoration of women deacons
“In May 2016, Pope Francis responded to a question posed at the triennial assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG): If women religious are already performing the many ministries of deacons, why not form a commission to study the restoration of women to the diaconate?(link is external) The pope responded immediately, naming 12 scholars the following August to the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women who met in Rome four times and returned a report by June 2018. The pope gave a portion of the report to the UISG leadership at their May 2019 assembly. It has not been published.” First in a Series of Five by Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Parish leaders: Review of Catholic cathedral funds finds $117,000 in unauthorized transactions
“An internal review by the Diocese of Nashville found about $117,000 in unauthorized transactions from the Cathedral of the Incarnation’s financial accounts(link is external). The transactions in question were discovered during a scheduled review of the cathedral’s funds, according to a letter church leaders sent Tuesday (Jan. 12) to parishioners. An accountant in the diocese’s finance office helped with the investigation, which determined the misappropriated parish funds had been used for personal benefit since 2015 … The review of parish funds followed Fowlkes’ recent appointment as pastor.” By Holly Meyer, Nashville Tennessean

Vatican, AUSTRAC seek data clarification
“Australia’s financial watchdog is reviewing its calculation that transfers worth $US1.8 billion ($A2.3 billion) had been sent to the country from the Vatican since 2014, after Vatican and Australian Church calls for clarification. A senior Vatican official and an Australian bishop told Reuters last week they had no knowledge of the transfers and would be seeking clarification(link is external). The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) cited the amount in response to a parliamentary question by Australian Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in Canberra Times

VOICES

The pope’s latest decree is a victory for Catholic women
“A lot of American Catholics might not see the importance of Pope Francis’ declaration that women can take part in the formal ministries of acolyte and lector. After all, there have been ‘altar girls’ in many American parishes for years. But ‘many’ is not ‘all.’(link is external) Some parishes and dioceses allow only boys to assist the priest at the Mass and other ceremonies. The pope’s decree doesn’t focus on children and adolescents or require that girls be allowed to serve Mass. It says that church law will be changed to say that “lay persons” of either sex may be formally installed in the ministries of acolyte (a priest’s assistant) and lector (a reader of Scripture during the liturgy).” By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

Victims of child sexual abuse need more time to confront their abusers
Sexual abuse of children is extremely difficult to prosecute. It often takes years(link is external) — and even decades — before a person who was abused as a child is prepared to confront the abuser in a court of law. That seldom happens, because of the difficulty of presenting evidence and because of the sense of shame that all too often keeps this horrible crime hidden in secrecy, allowing the abusers to remain untouched by the law.” By The Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Should alleged victims of child sex abuse have more time to sue? Soon voters may decide
“Voters may soon decide if alleged victims of child sexual abuse will have more time to file civil lawsuits(link is external) against the people or organizations they are accusing. However, critics voiced concern the proposal could tip the scales of justice towards the accuser while taking away rights of the accused. House Bill 14 is a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would establish a 2-year-long window in which civil claims arising from child sexual abuse could then be asserted even if they had previously been barred by a statute of limitations.” By Jamie Bittner, FOX43-TV News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Priest accused of abetting alleged sex abuse ring is hired by diocesan charity
“On a scorching day in August 2015, the mother of a teenage girl walked into the confessional of a small church near the Sicilian city of Catania, in southern Italy. She believed that the leader of her lay Catholic group, a man known as the Archangel, had repeatedly raped her underage daughter and possibly others(link is external). She trusted the priest, the Rev. Orazio Caputo, who had worked closely with the Archangel’s Catholic Culture and Environment Association or ACCA, to listen to her fears.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Malta archdiocese condemns charismatic group accused of abuse
“Following a 5-month investigation into the charismatic Community of Jesus the Savior, the Archdiocese of Malta has issued a decree forbidding participation in the group after finding what it described as abusive tendencies causing harm to members(link is external). In a Jan. 8 communique, the bishops’ conference of Malta, consisting of the Malta and Gozo dioceses, said they ‘reaffirm the decision to disassociate themselves from Komunità Ġesù Salvatur,’ referring to the group by its Maltese name.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CONNECTICUT

Norwich Diocese Likely To Shell Out More Apart From $9.5 Million, After Facing 35 New Sexual Assault Lawsuits
“More trouble’s in store for the Diocese of Norwich and former Bishop Daniel Reilly, as he now faces 35 lawsuits pertaining to accusations made by men who alleged that they were sexually abused as children and teens by Christian Brother K. Paul McGlade, who ran the former Academy at Mount Saint John in Deep River in the 1990s … Recent reports also suggest that McGlade has had a history of inflicting abuse on assaulting young boys in Australia before he came to Norwich.” By Pooja Prabbhan, Latin Times

LOUISIANA

Alleged church sex abuse victim says George Brignac raped him in 1977
Brian Manix held on to a secret for 43 years and says it took its toll. ‘These people don’t realize what they’ve done to all of us. I’ve gone to drugs, I’ve gone to alcohol, I’ve tried to commit suicide three times,’ said Manix. Manix was an altar boy at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in New Orleans when George Brignac was a deacon. He says he was just 10-years-old in 1977, when Brignac raped him in City Park(link is external).” By Kimberly Kurth, FOX8News Live

MASSACHUSETTS

Catholic priest pleads not guilty to rape, assault charges on minor
“The Catholic priest charged with multiple counts of rape pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday during his arraignment in Barnstable Superior Court. Mark Hession was arraigned on charges including two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery on a child less than 14(link is external) and one count of intimidation of a witness. He was released after posting $2,500 cash bail.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times

Catholic diocese releases names of credibly accused priests
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River in Massachusetts has released a list of 75 clergy credibly or publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). The diocese in a statement Thursday Jan. 7) said more than three-quarters of the names released by the diocese have already been made public through previous announcements from the church, media reports, or other means. There are currently no priests in ministry who have been credibly accused. Bishop Edgar da Cunha said he was profoundly sorry for any abuse perpetrated by priests within this diocese and is working to make sure it never happens again.” By Associated Press, on WBNG-TV12 News

‘The list has triggered emotions’: Victims’ attorney digs deeper into priests accused of abuse
“The sheer number of names on the Diocese of Fall River’s list of clergy credibly or publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor is shocking on its own, but the list provided little information about when and where the abuse occurred, how many victims there were, and who knew about it(link is external). Additionally although the lists contain 75 names, an attorney for victims of sexual abuse believes it is incomplete.” By Kiernan Dunlog, Fall River Standard-Times

MINNESOTA

Carlton County priest listed as ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Duluth has added a former Carlton County priest to its list of clergy deemed ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse(link is external). The Rev. David Tushar had served as a priest in Northeastern Minnesota for nearly 35 years when he was placed on leave in July 2019 pending an investigation into allegations of abuse. The allegations were related to his earlier service as a Holy Cross Father and Catholic school teacher in Niles, Illinois, from 1978-79.” By Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune

NEW JERSEY

Rumson Priest Named In Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Trenton Diocese
“A priest who served for seven years at Holy Cross Church in Rumson was recently named in a sexual abuse complaint filed Tuesday (Jan. 19) against the Diocese of Trenton. Fr. Thomas A. Rittenhouse was ordained in 1976 in the Diocese of Trenton and is accused of sexually abusing a minor while assigned to the Rumson church from 1981 to 1982(link is external). He served at Holy Cross from 1981 to 1988.” By Nicole Rosenthal, Rumson Patch

Suit Alleges Sexual Abuse at Point Retreat
“For over 50 years, the Marianist Family Retreat Center, on the corner of Yale and Cape avenues, in Cape May Point, has been the site of contemplation, celebration and prayer for the faithful. One woman alleges that in summer 1974, it was a site of horror and violation that still hurts decades later … Identified in the court documents as Jane Doe RP, she filed a suit against the center and the Marianist Province of the United States, alleging that she faced repeated sexual abuse from two clergy members(link is external).” By Bill Barlow, Cape May County Herald

N.J. Catholic diocese has a plan to compensate victims of abuse. Advocates aren’t happy.
Advocates for people sexually abused by clergy are opposing a plan from a New Jersey Catholic diocese to compensate victims(link is external). The Diocese of Camden announced a proposal on Dec. 31 to speed up the process of setting aside millions of dollars for abuse claims, after the church filed for bankruptcy in October. ‘The Diocese wants to continue to pay survivors rather than lawyers and other professional advisers,’ the church said in a statement.” By Blake Nelson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Law firm files 5 more suits alleging past child sex abuse by dead Catholic priests
“A law firm specializing in representing abuse victims has filed five additional lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Newark alleging priests sexuallly molested children going back decades(link is external). Three of the priests have been credibly accused of abuse in the past, their names and allegations made public by Catholic dioceses in New Jersey. All five are deceased. The suits were filed by Jeff Anderson & Associates, along with New Jersey attorney Greg Gianforcaro. They have filed numerous similar lawsuits in the Garden State since late 2019, when a new state law relaxed statute of limitations on such cases, opening a two-year lookback window for victims to file suit.” By Kevin Shea, NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Clergy sex abuse advocates criticize method of picking new Buffalo bishop
“While wishing new Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Michael Fisher success in his new role, a former priest turned advocate for clergy sex abuse victims says Fisher’s selection is clouded by the involvement of a former superior, who stepped down from a powerful position within the US Catholic Church amid his own accusations of covering up abuse cases(link is external). Fisher, before coming to Buffalo, served as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC under Cardinal Donald Wuerl.” By Michael Mroziak, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

EXCLUSIVE: Leaked transcript shows NY church’s attempt to block Child Victims Act
“When Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the longtime leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, introduced the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program(link is external) to the public in Oct. 2016, he expressed his hope that offering financial settlements to the victims of sexual abuse by clergy would both “promote healing” and “bring closure” after more than a decade of constant scandal.” By Pete Madden, ABC-TV News

Father Bill Lombardy accused of sexual abuse by former altar boys: suit
“One-time priest and chess grandmaster Father Bill Lombardy — who was portrayed by actor Peter Sarsgaard in a movie about famed chess player Bobby Fischer — has been accused of sexually abusing two altar boys in a new lawsuit(link is external). The now-deceased Lombardy — whose training of Fischer was depicted in the 2014 movie called “Pawn Sacrifice” — is accused in a Bronx Supreme Court lawsuit from last week of sexually assaulting two students in the 1960s, when he taught at St. Mary’s School in the Bronx.” By Priscilla DeGregory, New York Post

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota clergy sex abuse survivors say Catholic reforms too little, too late
“For decades, Ted Becker frequently woke up in the dead of night, gagging. Sometimes a pungent, familiar smell would force him from bed to search the house for a repressed memory that took him years to find. Not until he saw a psychiatrist in the late 1980s did he understand why the recurring sensations affected him so deeply. Memories of sexual abuse involving a Catholic priest(link is external) from the early 1950s, beginning when he was 9 years old, flooded back.” By C.S. Hagen and April Baumgarten, Mitchell Republic

OHIO

Police not investigating Catholic priest placed on leave after allegation surfaces
“Three area police departments said they have not been asked to investigate allegations against a local priest who was put on leave by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati(link is external). Father Anthony Cutcher of St. Peter Catholic Church in Huber Heights was placed on leave Monday after an allegation surfaced against him, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati said Thursday (Jan. 14). Police in Huber Heights, Montgomery and Miami counties told the Dayton Daily News they have not been asked to investigate the allegation involving Cutcher.” By Eileen McClory, Dayton Daily News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Diocese of Charleston faces second lawsuit in a week
“A lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Charleston alleges abuse dating back decades. The new suit is the second filed against the diocese in a week’s time. The lawsuit was filed by a man who claims a priest sexually abused him over span of two years(link is external) in the mid-1970s while the defendant was a student at St. John’s Catholic Church and Cathedral School. The victim says in the suit he was 13 when he he started to be abused on a weekly basis. He said Frederick Hopwood, a priest, would put his hands down the victim’s pants and molest him.” By WCSC-TV5 News

WASHINGTON

Catholic church pays $2 million to settle local abuse cases
“The Archdiocese of Seattle has reached over $2 million in settlements in the past six months due to credible allegations of sexual abuse against four Catholic priests(link is external) in Western Washington, including two former leaders of a parish in Snohomish and one in Everett. The Rev. Michael C. OBrien led St. Michael Parish from 1974 to 1979. He was succeeded by the Rev. Dennis Champagne from 1979 to 1999, who then became the priest of St. John Bosco Church in Lakewood. Church leaders put Champagne on leave in 2002, after someone accused him of sexual misconduct.” By Caleb Hutton, HeraldNet.com

CANADA

Three decades after Mount Cashel orphanage abuse scandal, victims are still fighting for justice
“For most people, it’s just another shopping plaza … But John Doe No. 26 will never forget what used to be here. The 80-year-old grandfather can still vividly see the notorious Mount Cashel orphanage that stood at this St. John’s site until it was demolished in 1992. He was a resident there for seven years, until he was 15 years old, and suffered unspeakable violence and abuse at the hands of men who were supposed to care for him(link is external).” By Greg Mercer, The Globe & Mail

GERMANY

Confidentiality dispute piles pressure on cardinal accused of mishandling abuse cases
“German media have criticized the Archdiocese of Cologne for offering to provide a ‘background briefing’ to journalists about an unpublished report into clerical sex abuse on condition that they signed a confidentiality form(link is external). Journalists from several media organizations reported that they had refused to sign the form and walked out of the meeting on Jan. 5, which was called to explain issues regarding the report’s methodology.” By Catholic News Agency

Bishop: Making up the Duty of Abuse for Years
Processing the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Germany will remain a task for years(link is external), according to Bishop Stephan Ackermann. ‘That will be a painful process,’ said the representative of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) for questions about sexual abuse in Trier from the German news agency. Over the next five years, all 27 dioceses nationwide would face an independent review by specially formed committees dealing with ‘responsibilities’ – how people dealt with perpetrators and victims in the past.” By The Courier

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Priest, 63, who sexually abused boys as young as 10 on church youth club trips in the 1970s and 80s and tricked them into sex acts using a card game is jailed for five years
“Last November Hardwicke was found guilty on five counts of historic indecent assault(link is external), following a nine day trial. In one incident a victim was made to take part in sexual activity as part of a card game, prosecutors said. Hardwicke carried out the abuse by taking ‘special interest’ in his victims and made them feel as if they had nowhere else to turn, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).” By Luke May, Daily Mail

GUAM

Firms cut legal fees by $2K in church bankruptcy ahead of hearing
Two law firms in the Archdiocese of Agana’s two-year-old bankruptcy case reduced their legal fees by $2,162.50, ahead of a court hearing(link is external) on the latest interim fee applications. The fourth interim fee applications from law firms now amount to about $478,400. The archdiocese’s bankruptcy marks its second year this month. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is aimed at reorganizing the church’s finances, and compensating nearly 300 Guam clergy sex abuse survivors while also keeping all Catholic schools and parishes open.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

INDONESIA

Indonesian church worker jailed for molesting altar boys
“A church worker in Indonesia has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting altar boys(link is external) following the first-ever sexual abuse trial in a civil court involving the Indonesian Catholic Church. Depok District Court in West Java convicted Syahril Marbun on Jan. 6 for abusing two altar boys at St. Herkulanus Parish in Depok in Bogor Diocese, where he served as liturgical coordinator.” By Ryan Dagur, Jakarta, UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes
“The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters was established by the Irish Government in February 2015 to provide a full account of what happened to vulnerable women and children in Mother and Baby Homes during the period 1922 to 1998(link is external). It submitted its final report to the Minister on 30 October 2020. Each element of the Report can be accessed through the links below …” From Ireland’s Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

MALTA

Pope Francis Defrocks Maltese Priest Who Sexually Abused 13-Year-Old
“Pope Francis has accepted the Conventual Franciscans Order’s request to dismiss Donald Bellizzi, the Maltese priest convicted of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy(link is external), iNews Malta reported. Last November, Bellizzi, a former Burmarrad Franciscan, was sentenced to three years in prison. Bellizzi’s offences first began in 2010, when he would invite youths interested in becoming priests on retreats to the Franciscan convent in Burmarrad. Investigations into the case were kicked off after the Curia received reports of the abuse.” By Benjamin Abela, LovinMalta.com

NEW ZEALAND

Abuse inquiry: we all know the outcome
“We must already know what the New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care will reveal about the Catholic Church in New Zealand. That’s because it has been said before, time and time again, across the globe, by many other inquiries into the exact same issue. Independent inquiries worldwide have already looked into what happened to children(link is external), young people and adults at risk in the care of the Catholic Church over past decades.” By Matthew Epsom, The Gisborne Herald

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 17, 2020

TOP STORIES

The People Should Choose Their Bishops Again
“There are a number of conclusions one could draw from reading the Vatican report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. For example: that the clerical sex-abuse crisis in the Church is worse than we thought and extends to vulnerable adults. Also, that position and influence in our Church are easily bought, and that bishops lie, even to the pope, to protect other bishops. But the conclusion that encompasses all of the above is that the way we choose our bishops is deeply flawed, producing bishops who are, in turn, deeply flawed(link is external). How did things get this way, and what can be done about it?” By Nicholas P. Cafardi, Commonweal

Action plan missing from McCarrick Report can be found Down Under
“The entire Church should take seriously the proposals for ecclesial reform coming from Catholics in Australia(link is external). The solution to the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church hangs in the balance between these two questions: What happened? and What needs to happen? The so-called ‘McCarrick Report,’ which was compiled by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and published on November 10, is an example of unprecedented transparency under pressure. It represents a fundamental step towards a better comprehension of what happened … But other parts of the global Catholic Church are addressing this problem with concrete proposals. The Church in Australia is one of the best examples.” By Massimo Faggioli, Catholic Outlook

Annual Report: Some U.S. dioceses improve financial transparency, others remain secretive
More U.S. dioceses published audited financial documents in 2020 than before(link is external), but more than a quarter still did not publish any audited financial reports, according to an annual financial transparency report by the lay organization Voice of the Faithful(link is external). About 70% of dioceses posted audited financial reports on their websites in 2020, up from 65% in 2019 and from 56% in 2017, according to the review. Margaret Roylance, chair of the organization’s finance working group, said she was heartened to see that many dioceses published these reports on time despite delays due to COVID-19.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Inter-American Human Rights Commission to look into clerical sexual abuse
“For the first time in its history, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission promised to defend victims of clerical sexual abuse(link is external), with cases being reported in at least 19 countries in Latin America … The Washington, D.C.-based commission is an autonomous part of the Organization of American States and is the main human rights body in the Americas. Thursday’s (Dec. 3) hearing was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission said it was committed to using its power to demand information on cases that are not being resolved by member states.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

DOJ probe of Catholic church abuse goes quiet 2 years later
“Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints. The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports(link is external) that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims. U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, in The Charlotte Observer

ACCOUNTABILITY

Keeping Quiet: The downside to ‘voluntary laicization’
“Pope Francis quietly laicized a priest accused of grave immorality and serious canonical crimes in 2017, rather than have him stay in the priesthood long enough to face trial. The former cleric, Peter Mitchell, was a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, when he was accused. Before joining the Green Bay diocese, he had been a priest of the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese. The case of this former cleric is closed, but the way Church authorities dealt with this man bears significant resemblance to the way in which Churchmen attempted to manage priests accused of abusing minors in the days before the crisis of leadership and governance(link is external) in the Church became a worldwide scandal.” By Christopher Altieri, Catholic Herald

POPE FRANCIS

Big business gets its wings as leaders from major U.S. companies partner with Pope Francis
“The Pope means business. Capitalism met Catholicism on Tuesday (Dec. 8), as some of the world’s biggest business leaders announced a new partnership with Pope Francis(link is external). The alliance, known as the Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican, aims to create a more inclusive, fair and sustainable economic landscape by taking pledges toward sustainable development goals focused on areas such as climate action, peace and justice, quality education and gender equality.” By Haley Messenger, NBC News

Radical truths
“A friend of mine told me that after reading Fratelli tutti he wondered how a document that is so full of obvious truisms could also be so radical. Pope Francis’s latest encyclical breaks little new ground, but the ground upon which we all stand has shifted to such an extent that talk of ‘fraternal love’ sounds both outdated and revolutionary(link is external). Part of the reason it sounds outdated is the use of gender-specific language. Would it have killed the Vatican to be more inclusive? But the encyclical also sounds utopian—in a shocking and, I think, necessary way—when set against the divisiveness and hopelessness we are currently experiencing.” By William T. Cavanaugh, Commonweal

CARDINALS

German cardinal accused of abuse cover-up turns to pope
“The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, has been accused of not informing the Vatican about sex abuse allegations against a priest(link is external). He’s now asked Pope Francis to review his conduct. Facing accusations of covering up an alleged sexual abuse case, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki asked Pope Francis on Friday (Dec. 11) to investigate. ‘In order to clarify the canonical accusations against me, I am asking the Holy Father [Pope Francis] to examine this matter,’ Woelki said in a statement issued by the archdiocese of Cologne.” By Deutsche Welle

McCARRICK REPORT

After McCarrick Report, Here’s How to Extend Safe Environment to Adults
“Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was finally brought down by credible allegations that he had sexually abused children — but as the McCarrick report reveals Church leaders could have stopped the powerful cleric’s career, and saved the lives of children, seminarians, and young priests, had they acted on allegations McCarrick had abused his power to sexually exploit young men under his pastoral care or authority(link is external). But stopping the present and future McCarricks in the Church’s midst means the People of God need to take proactive steps to educate and inform themselves about adult sexual abuse in the Church, recognizing that every adult can be vulnerable to the abuse of power for sex by clergy and lay leaders, and that protecting adults from abuse in the Church strengthens also the protection of children.” By Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register

McCarrick report shows former cardinal’s character: ambitious, brazen, untouchable
“Seventeen! That’s the most shocking number in the Vatican’s 449-page report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick appears to have molested 17 ‘postpubescent boys or young men’ over the course of his career(link is external) (Page 440). Some victims were as young as 12 years old. Some he molested repeatedly. Many were children in families that he knew well and visited frequently. He was trusted as a ‘member of the family.’ The Vatican report does not reveal names or discuss the individual cases. However, it does lay out his typical pattern of grooming and molesting his victims.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Bishops respond to governance review report
“A review of governance will help shape the way the Church in Australia understands co-responsibility in its life and mission and puts it into practice, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has said. The Australia bishops reviewed and discussed the final version of the governance review report The Light from the Southern Cross: Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia(link is external) during their recent plenary meeting. The bishops finalized their initial response to the report, which they have published today (Dec. 17). ‘A report that contains dozens of recommendations and was prepared over more than a year takes time to consider and absorb,’ Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.” By CathNews.com

Archbishop accused of failing to act on abuse appeals to Vatican
“Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg has asked the Congregation for Bishops in Rome to judge whether he is guilty of having hushed up abuse. Hesse has been accused of covering up abuse and violating canon law(link is external) by failing to report abuse to the Vatican authorities during his time as head of personnel in the Cologne archdiocese from 2006-2011. Last week the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, accused his two predecessors, cardinals Joseph Höffner and Joachim Meisner, both deceased, of failing to notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the abuse committed by a priest referred to as ‘Fr. A.’” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

South Carolina bishop says Vatican has cleared him of sexual abuse allegation
“South Carolina’s top Roman Catholic priest says the Vatican has cleared him of wrongdoing after he was accused of sexually abusing a boy(link is external) as the pastor of a New York church in the late 1970s. In a message to fellow S.C. priests ahead of Sunday’s mass, Charleston Bishop Robert Guglielmone wrote that he received a letter ‘stating that the Vatican has determined that the sexual abuse allegation against me has no semblance of truth and is thus unfounded.’” By Avery G. Wilks, The Post and Courier

American Viganò: Archbishop Chaput divides episcopacy even in retirement
“His Excellency, the Most Reverend Charles Chaput, emeritus archbishop of Philadelphia, has come out of retirement to explain to the rest of his benighted brothers in the episcopacy — and to the rest of us — that an impending scandal looms for the Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Faith: President-elect Joe Biden might be given Communion(link is external). The horror! Chaput set forth his reasonings, such as they are, in an article at First Things, the magazine of record for culture warrior conservative Catholicism.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Polish priest apologizes for defense of disgraced priest
“A popular Polish priest apologized Tuesday (Dec. 8) for a sermon in which he defended a bishop accused of covering up for pedophile priests(link is external). His sermon, delivered to a congregation including the justice minister and other top politicians, was later condemned by government officials. Father Tadeusz Rydzyk insisted that he had not intended to hurt victims or downplay the church’s role in the ‘sin and crime of pedophilia.’” By Associated Press

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

UISG, LCWR leaders discuss connections in pandemic, women in diaconate, vocations in Africa
Global Sisters Report recently held a discussion(link is external) with Sr. Jolanta Kafka, president of the International Union of Superiors General and general superior of the Claretian Missionary Sisters; Sr. Pat Murray, executive secretary of UISG and member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Sr. Elise  García, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and who serves on the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters; and Sr. Carol Zinn, executive director of LCWR and a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia. This is an edited transcript of that discussion.” By Global Sisters Report Staff, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese gets A+ in financial transparency for 2020
“Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) — a national grassroots movement of Catholics responding since 2002 to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church — has given the Diocese of Erie a 100 percent financial transparency score for 2020, the second year in a row(link is external). Erie was one of only five dioceses in the country with a perfect score …The Massachusetts-based organization conducts a survey annually of all U.S. dioceses. Financial transparency, according to the VOTF, is one key element of an open response by the Catholic Church to survivors of clerical sexual abuse and guards against fraudulent diversion of donated funds by clergy or laity.” By Mary Solberg and Anne-Marie Welsh

Pope updates Vatican financial authority following scandals
“Pope Francis has revamped the Holy See’s financial intelligence and anti-money-laundering unit(link is external) following financial scandals, including an ongoing in-house corruption probe, Vatican officials said Saturday (Dec. 5). The changes involve the governance and organization of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency, which has been renamed the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority, or ASIF, the Vatican said. Until Saturday, the agency was known as AIF, or Financial Information Authority.” By Associated Press

CLERICALISM

Post-McCarrick report dialogue zeroes in on ‘hyperclerical culture’
“One month to the day that the Vatican released its report on since-laicized cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a panel of academics took a close look at what one called a ‘hyperclerical culture’ that allowed McCarrick’s sexual misconduct to go unchecked(link is external). ‘Silence is dangerous,’ said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, a co-sponsor of the Dec 10 dialogue, ‘The McCarrick Report: Findings, Lessons and Directions,’ and who himself had been subject to sexual abuse when he was a seminarian. ‘Hyperclerical culture can be horrific — and their decisions reflect that.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on CatholicSF.org

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Detroit Archdiocese announces major reorganization of 216 Catholic parishes
“In one of its biggest restructurings in years, the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit announced Wednesday (Dec. 9) it is grouping its 216 parishes in southeastern Michigan into 51 families — each made up of three to eight parishes sharing priests. The changes have been approved by Archbishop Allen Vigneron, according to a statement released Wednesday morning … A noted Catholic expert, Rocco Palmo, said the new Detroit plan to create 51 families ‘is drastic, quite possibly the most drastic I’ve seen(link is external)’ among dioceses in the U.S. who are doing similar reorganizations.” By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

What does a consolidation of sisters’ communities look like?
“When seven congregations of Sisters of St. Joseph completed their consolidation into one new community in 2007, the sisters thought the work of the merger was largely finished(link is external). After all, it had taken nearly a decade to get to that point. ‘I remember when we did this, thinking, ‘We’re done! We did it!’ But we were not done,’ said Sr. Kathleen Brazda, part of the current leadership team for the Congregation of St. Joseph. ‘We’re still evolving, still looking at structures.’” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

The McCarrick case and some disturbing conclusions
“In a couple of sleepless nights, I read the 449 pages and 1,410 notes (the devil, as they say, is in the detail) of the Vatican report on former US cardinal Theodore McCarrick. I had anticipated that it would be depressing reading, yet we must read the worst circumstances of the time in which we live and fully carry the weight and feel the responsibility. I write under an interior impulse. I feel that the Catholic Church, starting with its leaders, can no longer wait. Either structural changes are promoted (beyond those at the level of conscience, as is obvious) or this crisis will not be overcome(link is external). Already too many have distanced themselves from ecclesial life and the practice of faith.” By Gianni Criveller, UCA.com

Opinion: Archdiocese must be held accountable for priest abuse
“After a two-year investigation, the Vatican recently released a 450-plus-page report about now-defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and how the Catholic Church hierarchy failed to stop his predatory sexual behavior. Now, local Catholics are owed a similar in-depth investigation into the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and its complicity in failing to protect children from predatory sexual behaviors of local priests, such as Geoffrey Drew. Although the Drew story is a microcosm of McCarrick’s, the system that allowed both men to go unpunished for decades, in spite of countless complaints, exists in every Catholic diocese(link is external), including our own. Drew, former pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, was arraigned on nine counts of rape in July 2019, finally halting his access to children.” By Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrman, Jan Seidel, Dan Frondorf and Kathy Weyer, Cincinnati.com

Time for a reckoning: Church must confront, change old boys’ network exposed in Vatican’s McCarrick report
“The report refers to her simply as ‘Mother 1.’ A Manhattan woman with a large brood of mostly boys and an Irish husband, she had become suspicious of then-New York Monsignor Theodore McCarrick(link is external), who snaked his way into her family and had her children call him ‘Uncle Ted.’

Her husband thought it an honor to have a clergyman take an interest in his children. Mother 1, not so. Her antennae went up when she learned he gave her sons alcohol when he took them on trips.” By Rev. Alexander Santora for the Jersey Journal, on NJ.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Local View: Add racism to church’s sex-abuse scandals
‘Too often the Catholic Church uses Native American communities to hide pedophile priests,’ Phoenix attorney Robert Pastor said. Environmental racism was a term coined to describe historical tendencies in the U.S. to store toxic waste on Native American reservations or build pollution-spewing incinerators in Latino or African-American neighborhoods. An analogous term may now be required for the Catholic Church’s systematic dumping of sexually abusive priests into minority communities: Racist diocesan exile(link is external)? Clergy abuse racism? That’s because, as more information has been extracted through recent lawsuits against dioceses and investigations of abusive priests, it has become clear that the church often banished sex offenders to minority parishes as a way of burying them.” By David McGrath, Duluth News Tribune

McCarrick report shows need to focus on survivors, panel says
“In the aftermath of the Holy See’s report on laicized ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a clergy sex abuse survivor from Chile wants matters of clergy abuse to focus more on the survivors and less so on the episcopacy itself(link is external). ‘For me, we’re discussing here how the bishops behave, how we elect them, how we make them better, how they serve us better. Where are the survivors? The men and women survivors have to be the center of our topics,’ said Juan Carlos Cruz. ‘There are so many questions and we feel that yes, we have a McCarrick report, which is a great step for sure. But the suffering and the horror that is still going for so many people in our church is real and it’s now and we need to address it immediately.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

CALIFORNIA

Oakland diocese settles sex-misconduct suit for $3.5 million
“A civil lawsuit anonymously filed last year against the Diocese of Oakland by a former seminarian over alleged sexual misconduct by an East Bay pastor(link is external) reached a settlement late last month, authorities said. In a statement last week, the diocese said the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office did not file charges despite a Livermore police investigation. Church officials added that Father Van Dinh, the former pastor of Livermore’s St. Michael’s Catholic Parish, was not a defendant in last month’s settlement of the suit ‘which had no finding or admission of liability by Dinh or by the diocese.’” By George Kelly, East Bay Times, Bay Area News Group

COLORADO

Colorado’s review of Catholic Church sex abuse named priests, but not those who covered up their crimes
“A pair of explosive reports on decades of child sex abuse in Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses named 52 priests but kept confidential the identities of numerous church officials — from administrators to bishops — who covered up or ignored allegations of misconduct and transferred known child abusers to work in other parishes(link is external). The Colorado Sun counted 37 priests in the two investigative documents—one released last year and another earlier this month—whose abuse was hidden by the church, either because officials ignored victims’ stories, chose not to investigate or did not report suspected abuse to law enforcement. In many cases, the church allowed an abusive priest to continue working as clergy despite warnings about their behavior.” By Jesse Paul and Jennifer Brown, The Colorado Sun

Colorado report names nine more priests accused of abusing minors decades ago
“New findings in an investigation into clergy sex abuse in Colorado’s Catholic dioceses show substantiated claims that an additional nine Catholic priests abused minors decades ago(link is external). Released Dec. 1, the findings are in a supplemental report from the lead investigator, former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, who continued to look into cases as more survivors came forward after the release of his initial report in October 2019.” By Julie Asher, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Denver Archbishop Aquila appears to downplay new Catholic Church abuse cases
“Following the release of a report this week on the history of child sexual abuse at the hands of Colorado Catholic priests that identified dozens of new survivors and nine new perpetrators, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila seemed to once again downplay the severity of the abuse(link is external). The supplemental report released Tuesday (Dec. 1) by the Colorado Attorney General’s office was a follow up to a report on clergy sexual abuse released last year. Tuesday’s report, which concludes a 22-month investigation into how Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses sheltered abusers over seven decades, identified an additional 46 abuse survivors and nine priests that came to light since the release of the first report.” By Madeleine Schmidt, Colorado Times Recorder

Investigator says Pueblo Diocese has system in place that could improve handling of child sex abuse cases
“An investigator of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests says the Pueblo Diocese has set up systems that would significantly improve its handling of reports of misconduct(link is external). Investigator Bob Troyer, a former federal prosecutor, also says the systems—which are new—are yet untested. Troyer worked this year and last for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to delve into hundreds of cases of sexual assaults by priests in the state’s three dioceses: Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver.” By Robert Boczkiewicz, The Pueblo Citizen

Catholic priest names as a child abuser in new report was a counselor at church camp
“A Catholic priest who was named as a child sex abuser in a new report was a counselor at a church camp(link is external) in 1958 when a 10-year-old deaf boy disappeared before his skeletal remains were discovered a year later. Jerry Repola worked at the Catholic Camp St. Malo in Colorado in August 1958, when Bobby Bizup vanished in mysterious circumstances after a day of fishing in the mountains.” By Rachel Sharp, Daily Mail

CONNECTICUT

Victim advocate charged with distributing child pornography
“A victim advocate for the Connecticut court system was charged Friday (Dec. 11) with distributing child pornography over a cellphone app(link is external). Federal prosecutors and the FBI said Robert Eccleston, 56, of Canton, used the app Kik in August and September to distribute numerous pictures and videos of child porn, including images depicting the sexual abuse of toddlers and prepubescent children.” By Associated Press

DELAWARE

Priest indicted, faces federal child pornography charges
“A Catholic priest from Wilmington, Delaware, who served as an advisor to Monoco’s royal family now faces federal child pornography charges. Reverend William McCandless is accused of collecting thousands of child pornography images(link is external) while serving overseas, then returning home with them. The 56-year-old was placed on home confinement and ordered to surrender his passport. McCandless also once served as principal of the Salesianum School in Wilmington and held a post at DeSales University.” By ABC-TV6 News

ILLINOIS

Chicago archdiocese to pay $1.5 million in sexual abuse suit
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who says he was sexually abused as a child by a defrocked priest who was convicted of sexually abusing several boys(link is external), the man’s attorney said Thursday (Dec. 3). The settlement agreement announced in a news release by attorney Lyndsay Markley is the latest dark chapter in the story of Daniel McCormack, one of the most notorious pedophiles in the history of the archdiocese.” By Don Babwin, Associated Press

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese Adds Deceased Fr. Robert Cooper to Clergy Abuse Report
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans has concluded an investigation into newly received information regarding allegations of abuse of minors lodged against the late Fr. Robert K. Cooper. With moral certitude, today, December 2, 2020, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has added Cooper’s name to the Archdiocese of New Orleans Report Regarding Clergy Abuse(link is external) found online at nolacatholic.org. This deceased Fr. Cooper should not be confused with the Fr. Cooper who is an active pastor in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.” By Archdiocese of New Orleans

MASSACHUSETTS

Priest who gave Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral homily charged in sex assault case
“A Catholic priest who delivered the funeral homily for Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 2009 has been indicted on charges alleging rape and indecent assault of a minor(link is external). A Barnstable Superior Court grand jury on Friday (Dec. 11) indicted the Rev. Mark R. Hession, 62, on two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery of a person under 14, and one count of witness intimidation, court records show. An arraignment date will be set in January, a spokesperson for the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office said.” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe

In shift, Springfield Diocese will name all credibly accused priests
“The Springfield Diocese will expand its list of credibly accused priests to include those who died before survivors brought accusations of sexual abuse.(link is external) The exclusion of such priests long has prevented some victims from seeing their abusers face a public accounting. The change is a new bishop’s first step in reckoning with a history of clergy abuse in the Catholic diocese that includes Berkshire County. It comes as an independent task force led by a retired Pittsfield judge continues to shape recommendations on how the diocese can improve policies to protect children.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Five takeaways from Bishop-elect William Byrne’s interview with the Republican
“Bishop-designate William Byrne, who will be ordained Dec. 14 as the 10th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, is the author of the recently published ‘5 Things with Father Bill,’ that tackles diverse topics and offers brief insights on each. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston will be the principal celebrant and consecrator for the invitation-only Episcopal Ordination and Installation Mass at 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Cathedral … Here are five takeaways from his recent interview with The Republican.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Three men accuse prominent Michigan priest, Polish seminary leader of sexual abuse
“The call came one warm night in June 2019. A young Polish priest referred to as ‘John Doe 1’ in a federal lawsuit filed Monday (Dec. 14) knew it was his boss, Rev. Miroslaw Krol, and he knew that Krol was drunk. But he didn’t know the night would end with him driving an intoxicated Krol and another visiting priest to a motel to meet a male sex worker, and then, according to the suit, withdrawing cash from an ATM so Krol could pay him(link is external). Krol is the chancellor and CEO of Orchard Lake Schools, an Oakland County campus that includes a private prep school, St. Mary’s; a seminary, and a Polish cultural center.” By Kate Wells, Michigan Public Radio

Judge denies accused priest’s request to throw out confession in sex crimes case
“A Michigan judge recently denied a request to throw out a confession from a priest accused of sex crimes(link is external). Gary Jacobs, a former Catholic priest in the Upper Peninsula’s Ontonagon and Dickinson counties, is charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct in five cases. His confession will stand in court. Jacobs, 75, was in court on Friday, Dec. 4, for a Walker Hearing during which the Ontonagon County Circuit Court judge denied Jacobs’ request to throw out his confession.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MINNESOTA

St. Cloud Diocese bankruptcy plan approved to settle abuse claims
“A bankruptcy court has approved a reorganization plan for the Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud to settle legal claims of clergy abuse survivors(link is external). Two years ago, the St. Cloud diocese announced that it planned to file for bankruptcy after receiving 74 claims of sexual abuse of minors. Those claims were filed during a three-year window that lifted the statute of limitations on allegations of clergy abuse in Minnesota.” By Minnesota Public Radio

NEW MEXICO

Lawyer: Victims seek to eliminate archdiocese
“An attorney for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe said Monday (Dec. 7) that his clients are dedicated to a ‘compassionate and generous’ settlement for victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external), but he accused victims’ attorneys of seeking to eliminate the ‘physical presence’ of the archdiocese in New Mexico by inquiring into church holdings. The assertion by Albuquerque lawyer Tom Walker was disputed by victims’ attorney James Stang during a hearing Monday in the archdiocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

Judge asked to halt abuse victims’ church properties lawsuit
“The lawsuits allege that more than an estimated $245 million in property owned by the archdiocese was fraudulently transferred to its parishes or their trusts and should be available to help pay claims filed by nearly 380 victims of clergy sexual ab(link is external)use. Lawyers for the archdiocese and its 94 parishes deny any fraud and argue in one court filing that the litigation is intended to strip parishes of assets that have ‘always been beneficially or legally owned by the Parishes.’” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

Former priest again accused of abuse in lawsuit
“A former priest previously accused of sexual assault has again been identified in a Child Victims Act lawsuit(link is external). The suit was filed last week in New York State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County. It alleges abuse by the Rev. John D. Lewandowski, who had previously been accused of abuse according to a list released by the Diocese of Buffalo. The plantiff is identified in the suit as ‘M.L.’ The male victim was about 14 years old in 1960 when the alleged sexual assault took place during after-school activities at the Boys and Girls Club in Jamestown.” By Eric Tichy, The Post-Journal

‘I’m tired of being quiet’: Child Victims Act suit retraumatizes and empowers Schenectady woman
“Colleen Garbarini has to make a plan before entering a grocery store: the mask can’t stay on too long. She knows the mask is there to protect her and others, but the feeling of it covering her face stirs deep emotions four decades in the making. The mask takes her back to when she was a little girl and her abuser tried to quiet her(link is external) when other people were nearby.” By Zachary Matson, Schenectady Daily Gazette

Buffalo Diocese has new bishop, but controversial attorneys, aides remain
“Terrence M. Connors has had so much influence at the Diocese of Buffalo chancery for the past 25 years that some employees privately called him ‘Bishop Terry.’ But the smooth-talking criminal defense attorney was the subject of criticism in a blistering report by State Attorney General Letitia James that accused the diocese of a ‘systemic’ cover-up of sex abuse allegations. Diocese lawyers were cited 46 times in the highly critical lawsuit filed by New York’s top prosecutor.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Prominent New York priest is investigated over sexual assault accusation
“A nationally prominent Catholic priest is under criminal investigation(link is external) after a security guard assigned to his church accused him of sexually assaulting her on Election Day, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said on Friday (Dec. 4). The priest, the Rev. George William Rutler, 75, is accused of watching pornography and masturbating in front of the guard, Ashley Gonzalez, 22, without her consent in his office at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. He then attacked her physically and sexually when she tried to flee from the room, Ms. Gonzalez told the police.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Catholic Church shielded priest who sexually abused NY man as a kid
“A New York man says the Catholic Church shielded a priest who sexually abused him for years(link is external) beginning when he was 13 and homeless in Queens in the 1970s, new court papers show. Evan Manderson, 63, says the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn failed to report the Rev. Coleman Costello to law enforcement — and even allowed him to retire with a clean slate despite the church’s knowledge of his alleged sexual abuse of children, a new Queens Supreme Court lawsuit alleges.” By Priscilla DeGregory, New York Post

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic church abuse probe goes quiet
“Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints. The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports(link is external) that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims. U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.” By Associated Press in Altoona Mirror

Ex-DeSales University priest’s child porn included torture of young children, feds say
“A former DeSales University priest and advisor to the royal family of Monaco is accused of possessing thousands of images of child pornography, including some described as the torture of very young children(link is external), according to federal authorities. William McCandless, 56, of Wilmington, Delaware, was charged by indictment Thursday with three counts of child pornography offenses, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced.” By Sarah Cassi, LeighValleyLive.com

Pittsburgh Catholic diocese pays $19.2 million to abuse survivors
“The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh paid out $19,237,000 to victims of sexual abuse by its clergy members(link is external) through a compensation fund launched after the release of a grand jury report in 2018. That report found widespread child sexual abuse in Catholic churches across Pennsylvania. The settlements were paid out by the Kenneth Feinberg Group, an independent mediator hired by the diocese in 2019, to 244 claims, according to a statement from the diocese Thursday (Dec. 3).” By Kiley Koscinski, WESA-FM90.5 News, National Public Radio

TEXAS

Former Conroe priest Manuel La Rosa-Lopez heading to prison for child indecency
“A Catholic priest is heading to Texas state prison after his formal sentencing on Wednesday (Dec. 16) for committing indecency with two underage parishioners(link is external) 20 years ago. Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez will serve 10 years in prison on two charges of second-degree felony indecency with a child. The maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years in prison.” By Shelly Childers, WTRK-TV13 News

Ex-Catholic church worker in The Woodlands accused of sexual assault of child faces more felony charges
“A former IT employee at the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and School in The Woodlands accused of sexually assaulting a child is now facing additional felony charges(link is external). According to court documents Ronald M. See, 53, was originally charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14. Now, the charges include a second count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual performance by a child, both first-degree felonies, and online solicitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, according to court records.” By Click2Houston.com

VERMONT

Orphanage report: Investigators say authorities failed to pursue abuse claims
“No evidence of murder but an acknowledgment of abuse: Those are the main findings of a more than two-year investigation into claims at a former orphanage in Burlington. Our Dom Amato explains how the state came up with the findings. The old building on North Ave. is now part of a new housing complex, but it was once the St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Attorney General T.J. Donovan says the state investigation uncovered evidence of abuse over several decades(link is external), and blames police and prosecutors for failing to investigate the allegations when they were first made.” By Dom Amato, WCAX-TV3 News

VIRGINIA

Individual retracts child sexual abuse claim against priest, Richmond Catholic Diocese says
“An individual who said they had been sexually abused as a child by a priest in Norfolk, Va., has retracted their claim(link is external), the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Tuesday (Dec. 15). The allegations were made earlier this year against retired diocesan priest William Dinga Jr. Dinga has been accused of abuse while serving at Christ the King Catholic Church in 1986. He retired in 1990 and was not permitted to exercise public priestly duties before these allegations, which Dinga denies, were made.” By Keyris Manzanares, WRIC-TV8 News

WASHINGTON

Lawsuit claiming abuse by Catholic priests dismissed
“A lawsuit claiming sexual abuse committed by four Catholic priests formerly of an Ellensburg church was dismissed(link is external) Thursday (Dec. 10). The suit was filed in April 2019 by a man identified only as John Doe against the Catholic Diocese of Yakima and four priests, including Father Seamus Kerr, a senior priest at Holy Apostles Parish in East Wenatchee. John Doe claimed he was abused in the late 1970s and early 1980s at St. Andrew Catholic Church, when he was between the ages of 10 and 18.” By Pete O’Cain, The Wenatchee World

WISCONSIN

First came sex abuse allegations at the abbey. Then secret payments. Then a suicide.
“According to interviews and documents, the Norbertines quietly sent Lindstrom monthly checks totaling more than $400,000 over 10 years after his parents complained to the Catholic order’s leaders about the harm their son suffered from being sexually abused by at least one priest(link is external) in the late 1980s. Lindstrom spent years in therapy and taking medication, and he eventually settled in suburban Minneapolis with his wife and three children. But in 2018, his life changed when the order’s abbot told him the monthly payments would end.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Post-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Church defends ‘modest’ payout to abused altar boy in landmark case appeal
“A $32,500 settlement paid by the Catholic Church to a former altar boy after he was repeatedly sexually abused by a priest was adequate and reflected the legal landscape at the time, a court has heard. The Catholic Church is seeking to overturn a landmark court ruling that paved the way for sex abuse victims to seek more compensation(link is external) even if they had already signed away their rights to sue. In October, the Supreme Court overturned a deed of release signed by a former altar boy known as ‘WCB’ in 1996 after he was repeatedly sexually abused by Warragul priest Daniel Hourigan.” By Tom Cowie, The Age

New national Catholic safeguarding agency established
“The Catholic Church has established a new company to oversee all safeguarding, child protection and professional standards in Australia(link is external), creating a more focused and streamlined model. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and the Association of Ministerial PJPs yesterday launched Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited. ‘We have discerned what was working well and what needed to change, and we are convinced this new national agency will make the Church’s work more coordinated, accountable and best prepared to ensure the safety of people in Catholic settings,’ CRA president Br Peter Carroll FMS said.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Humboldt RCMP arrest Catholic priest on sexual assault charges
“The Humboldt RCMP arrested a 45-year-old Saskatchewan priest after receiving multiple reports of incidents of a sexual nature(link is external). RCMP charged Fr. Anthony Atter of Lake Lenore with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation. RCMP say the incidents allegedly occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 4, 2020. Fr. Atter is responsible for the parishes of St Gregory, St Ann and St Anthony.” By YahooNews.com

Chilliwack Catholic church pastor fired for alleged ‘sexual misconduct’
“Parishioners of St. Mary’s Church in Chilliwack are left with questions after the departure of a long-serving pastor accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). In a letter sent to parishioners of St. Mary’s and Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta on Dec. 4, Archbishop J. Michael Miller said an internal investigation ‘confirmed that a number of accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult by Father [Nelson] Santos were with an adult were well-founded, along with related inappropriate behavior and comments.” By Paul Henderson, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

Catholic church names more sexually abusive priests, more victims come forward
More victims of sexual assault by members of the Roman Catholic clergy have come forward in B.C.(link is external) after the release of a report in 2019 on cases of abuse going back decades. And the Archdiocese of Vancouver has named three more priests. ‘We again want to acknowledge the deep suffering of the victims and their loved ones and I apologize to each of them for the trauma caused by the abuse by a priest,’ Archbishop J. Michael Miller said in a new archdiocese publication. ‘They are in my prayers.’” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier

B.C. priest accused of sexual misconduct: Vancouver Archdiocese
“An investigation into a B.C. priest has concluded accusations of sexual misconduct were ‘well-founded(link is external),’ according to the Vancouver Archdiocese. In a letter from Archbishop Michael Miller, he addressed the recent departure of Father Nelson Santos, who had been serving as an assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta. Miller writes that a number of accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult by Santos were ‘well-founded’ as were ‘related inappropriate behaviour and comments.’” By Kathryn Tindale and Tim James, CityNews1130.com

FRANCE

Ex-Vatican envoy to France gets 8-month suspended sentence for sexual harassment
“A French court has found former Vatican ambassador to France Luigi Ventura guilty of sexual harassment against five men(link is external) in 2018 and 2019 and given him an eight-month suspended sentence, AFP reported on its Twitter feed on Wednesday (Dec. 16). Prosecutors had opened an investigation after a junior official at Paris City Hall accused the papal nuncio, then 74, of molestation in January 2019, and city authorities filed a complaint. Other men later came forward with similar allegations.” By Reuters Staff

GERMANY

German nuns accused of enabling child sex abuse by priests
“Nuns in the city of Speyer ‘dragged’ children to be sexually abused by priests and politicians, a survivor told a German court(link is external). His explosive testimony is the latest abuse scandal to rock the German Catholic Church. Catholic nuns who ran a former children’s home in the German city of Speyer allegedly aided in the sexual abuse of the children who were under their care, according to a newly-surfaced court decision. The latest scandal came to light after a victim filed a case to claim compensation from the Catholic church, prompting the Darmstadt Social Welfare Court to investigate.” By Deutsche Welle

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

‘Horror’ that abusive priest allowed back into schools
“Devastated head teachers, teachers and other education experts have spoken of their anger regarding the Catholic Church’s handling of the case of Fr Joseph Quigley, an authority and adviser to bishops on Catholic education, who has been convicted of child sex abuse(link is external). Quigley, 56, was found guilty on December 3 at Warwick Crown Court of physical and sexual abuse – but 12 years after Birmingham archdiocese, when it was led by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, first learned of his abuse and did not immediately report Quigley to the police.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Scots abuse survivor handed 100K in damages after horror childhood in care
“An abuse survivor has secured £100,000 in damages after being molested and beaten while in care. The man – known as Victim N – was locked in cupboards, beaten with a stick and sexually abused when he was being looked after as a child by the Sisters of Nazareth Catholic order(link is external). He was then moved to council-run Auldhouse Care Home in Glasgow, only to be subjected to worse violence. Victim N, now 58 and living in England, raised a legal action after spending decades coming to terms with what happened.” By Jenny Morrison, Daily Record

‘Sexual sadist’ priest abused boy and locked him in church crypt
“A ‘sexual sadist’ priest who worked as a private tutor sexually and physically abused a boy and locked him in a church crypt(link is external). Father Joseph Quigly – who held various ‘presitigious’ roles including as national education advisor for Roman Catholic schools – sexually and physically abused a boy while he was a parish priest in Warwickshire. The priest – described as a ‘sexual sadist’ – rubbed the teenager’s inner thigh after making him wear gym kit, take showers with the door open, and inflicted ‘sado-masochistic’ punishments on him such as locking him in the church’s crypt.” By Birmingham Mail

The U.K. is reckoning with a clerical sex abuse crisis. Again.
“Ms. (Sue) Cox is one of the abuse survivors who provided evidence to a government inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. The inquiry has identified significant and ongoing failings in the church’s safeguarding of children and in decision-making among its highest leaders(link is external). Published on Nov. 10, the same day the Vatican released its internal report into decades-long sexual abuse by Theodore McCarrick, a former U.S. cardinal, the U.K. inquiry reports that the church’s ‘moral purpose was betrayed over decades by those in the Church who perpetrated this abuse and those who turned a blind eye to it.’” By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

When a Catholic lawyer fights sexual abuse in Indonesian Church
“Almost every Monday since September, Catholic lawyer Azas Tigor Nainggolan accompanies the altar boys who were sexually abused and their families appearing at the Depok District Court in West Java(link is external). He accompanies them against the defendant, Syahril Marbun, former altar boys’ trainer at St Herkulanus parish, Bogor diocese, the first recorded case of sexual abuse in a church brought before a civil court.” By Ryan Dagur, Jakarta, USANews.com

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand child abuse inquiry finds quarter of a million harmed in state and faith-based care
“Up to a quarter of a million children, young people and vulnerable adults were physically and sexually abused in New Zealand’s faith-based and state care institutions from the 1960s to early 2000s(link is external), a public inquiry revealed on Wednesday (Dec. 16). An interim report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry found children, some from as young as nine months old, suffered years of abuse, which included rape and electric shock treatment, by staff at psychiatric and state care facilities, clergy and foster guardians. The report estimated that up to 256,000 people were abused, accounting for almost 40% of the 655,000 people in care during the period, with most abuse occurring in the 1970s and 1980s.” By Praveen Menon, Reuters

SPAIN

A parish priest has been jailed for 20 years for sexually abusing young girls
“A parish priest has been jailed for 20 years for sexually abusing young girls in his care(link is external) during a six month period back in 2014, according to newly released court documents. The priest, practicing in the city of Cordoba, was accused of sexually groping six individuals between the ages of eight and 12 who were visiting during religious camps during the school summer holidays. An investigation began when one of the victims, who has not been named for her protection, spoke of the abuse in front of a Policia Local officer five years after the events.” By James Warren, The Olive Press

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McCarrick report shows former cardinal’s character: ambitious, brazen, untouchable / National Catholic Reporter

The content of the Vatican report on McCarrick will burn the varnish off your desk … The most shocking parts (dealing with minors) come in its final 12 pages, but the whole document is nothing short of remarkable. At times, it reads like a novel or a screen play.

National Catholic Reporter

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Seventeen!

“That’s the most shocking number in the Vatican’s 449-page report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick appears to have molested 17 ‘postpubescent boys or young men’ over the course of his career (Page 440). Some victims were as young as 12 years old. Some he molested repeatedly. Many were children in families that he knew well and visited frequently. He was trusted as a ‘member of the family.’

“The Vatican report does not reveal names or discuss the individual cases. However, it does lay out his typical pattern of grooming and molesting his victims. He used his power to gain access to their families. He forged strong relationships with their parents. He insisted that the boys call him “Uncle Ted” and he referred to them as his “nephews,” an easily exposed lie since McCarrick was an only child. He plied his victims with gifts, favors, trips and liquor. Then he took them to bed in isolated places where they had no hope of help or recourse, typically his beach house on the Jersey Shore or an apartment at a hospital in New York.

“New lawsuits are still being filed, including one in November in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleging repeated “rape” by McCarrick of a boy beginning at the age of 12. The plaintiff is now 47 years old.”

By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 7, 2020

TOP STORIES

Vatican sued over alleged sex abuse in wake of its report on disgraced ex-cardinal McCarrick
“A week after an explosive report by the Vatican detailing decades-long allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick involving the sexual abuse of young boys, seminarians and fellow priests, the first federal lawsuit stemming from that report has been filed against the Roman Catholic Church(link is external). A stunning 85-page complaint filed in New Jersey on behalf of four unidentified men against the highest echelons of the church charges the Vatican knew McCarrick ‘was a suspected abuser and child molester’ and a danger to its members, but did nothing to stop him.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

McCarrick report is one small step to dismantling clerical culture
“The steps not yet taken involve much deeper, interior work on the part of those still greatly invested in and rewarded by the culture than they’ve yet been willing or able to face. They must be willing to ask themselves fundamental questions about the meaning of ordination, the role of the ordained in the larger community, the consequences of prohibiting women from the realm of the ordained, the role of privilege and secrecy in church governance. They have to decide whether the model for bishops is prince or servant, and what that decision portends for their credibility and leadership in the future(link is external).” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

This archbishop has become the first African American cardinal in Catholic history
“For the past week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, was holed up in a Vatican guesthouse, receiving meals at his door. On Saturday (Nov. 28), Gregory stepped out of his quarters and into history, becoming the Catholic Church’s first African American cardinal(link is external) during an installation ceremony in Rome. Gregory was one of 13 men — and the only American — elevated to the College of Cardinals during Saturday’s ceremony … Gregory, 72, already the highest-ranking African-American Catholic in US history, told CNN this week that he has been praying, writing homilies and letters to well-wishers, and reflecting on his new role.” By Delia Gallagher, CNN, on WKTV-TV2 News

Pope named as defendant in Australian legal claim
“Pope Francis has been named as a defendant in a Victorian Supreme Court damages claim by three Aboriginal men who say they were sexually assaulted as young boys by pedophile priest(link is external) Michael Glennon, according to The Age. It is the first known case in Australia in which survivors of clerical sexual abuse have sought to hold the Pope personally responsible for the Church’s failure to take decisive action against predators in its ranks. The three plaintiffs, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, all claim to have experienced significant, ongoing impacts from their childhood abuse, including drug addiction, homelessness and unemployment.” By CathNews.com

Lawsuit says Buffalo Diocese, bishops covered up failures on abuse
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Nov. 23 against the Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop Richard J. Malone, who headed the diocese from 2012 to 2019, and newly retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz. The suit alleges a two-decades-long cover-up of how the diocese failed to deal with numerous priests accused of alleged sexual abuse(link is external).” By Mike Matvey, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

POPE FRANCIS

The modern vision of Pope Francis in a medieval church
“Pope Francis issued his third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, indicating his deep spiritual affinity with the founder of the Franciscan movement. The encyclical deepens the pope’s vision of integral ecology laid out in his 2015 work, ‘Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home’ now extended to the social order on the level of fraternity and social friendship. The pope’s writings are comprehensive in his depth of analysis of ecological, social and technocratic structures that have created systems of separation, manipulation and disregard for the poor(link is external). He begins Fratelli Tutti by taking his cue from the ‘Admonitions’ of Francis of Assisi, who writes in his 25th admonition: ‘Blessed is the servant who would love and respect his brother as much when he is far from him as he would when he is with him; and who would not say anything behind his back which in charity he could not say to his face.’’’ By Ilia Delio, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis challenges the Catholic left
“It is one of the saddest facts about a certain kind of liberal Catholic that, as the pope said, with nothing but goodwill, they take a wrong path with an agenda that may be defensible or even laudable on other grounds, but is no longer a Catholic path(link is external). They consider the doctrines that have defined our church for centuries as so much silly putty in their hands, to be stretched any which way to achieve an objective that may not be reconcilable with the Catholic faith. I have said it before and will say it again: Just because a Catholic has a thought does not mean it is a Catholic thought that has been had.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Pope creates 13 new cardinals, including Washington archbishop
“One by one 11 senior churchmen, including two U.S. citizens — Cardinals Wilton D. Gregory of Washington and Silvano M. Tomasi, a former Vatican diplomat — knelt before Pope Francis to receive their red hats, a cardinal’s ring and a scroll formally declaring their new status and assigning them a ‘titular’ church in Rome. But with the consistory Nov. 28 occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis actually created 13 new cardinals(link is external).” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal Pell says he feels ‘vindicated’ by Vatican finance corruption being investigated
“The pope’s former treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, said Monday (Nov. 30) he feels a dismayed sense of vindication as the financial mismanagement he tried to uncover in the Holy See is now being exposed in a spiraling Vatican corruption investigation(link is external). Pell made the comments to The Associated Press in his first interview since returning to Rome after his conviction-turned-acquittal on sexual abuse charges. Pell told the AP that he knew in 2014 when he took the treasury job that the Holy See’s finances were ‘a bit of a mess.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

McCARRICK REPORT

What the McCarrick report means for the church
“The report is unprecedented, reading like no other Vatican document I can recall. It is not clothed in dense church-speak or vague references to misdeeds. It is at times graphic and always revealing. As a whole, it is a devastating portrait of personal deception and institutional blindness, of opportunities missed and faith shattered(link is external). For those of us who have experience with Vatican documents and Vatican investigations, the report is amazing in its efforts to be transparent. At 449 pages, the report is exhaustive and at times exhausting. Not only were over 90 interviews conducted, but extensive quotations from relevant Vatican correspondence and documents reveal the internal back and forth between individuals and offices.” By Catholic News Service

Blame to share
“In the weeks since the Vatican released its report regarding disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the blame game has been in full swing. How is it possible, both critics and friends ask, that such a man as McCarrick could ever rise to the highest levels of the Church?(link is external) It’s a good question, with not a lot of good answers. The 460-page report does not lay blame on any one person or group. Instead, it has carefully followed the trail of facts and communiques inside and outside the Vatican regarding who knew what and when and how about the allegations of sexual misconduct against McCarrick. The issue of guilt isn’t addressed in the report; that had been decided by an investigation two years ago that found ‘credible’ evidence against him. He was subsequently removed from the priesthood.” By The Catholic Register Editorial Board

BISHOPS

U.S. Catholic bishops’ response to McCarrick report is sad but predictable
“The discussion of the Vatican report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick by the U.S. bishops at their annual fall meeting was sad but predictable(link is external) — sad because the bishops failed to communicate that they understood the report’s implications; predictable in that some bishops defended John Paul II against the report’s finding that the pontiff shared culpability in the McCarrick case. The report, released Nov. 10, acknowledged that despite it being known that McCarrick was sleeping with seminarians, he was promoted to the Archdiocese of Washington and made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis names new bishop of scandal-ridden Buffalo diocese
“Pope Francis Tuesday (Dec. 1) appointed Bishop Michael Fisher, an auxiliary of Washington, to be the next bishop of the scandal-ridden Diocese of Buffalo, New York(link is external). Fisher, 62, will take over leadership of Buffalo as the diocese faces a new lawsuit from the State of New York for failing to protect children from clergy sex abuse. The diocese also filed for bankruptcy in February of this year, after it was named in hundreds of clerical abuse lawsuits filed in New York courts. Fisher will be the 15th bishop of the western New York diocese, following Bishop Richard Malone, who resigned amid controversy in December 2019.” By Catholic News Agency

Canadian Catholic bishop resigns at age of 64 ‘for the good of the Church’
“Pope Francis accepted Sunday (Nov. 29) the resignation of a Canadian Catholic bishop at the age of 64. The Holy See press office said that the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Bourgon of Hearst-Moosonee on Nov. 29 … Radio-Canada reported Nov. 29 that Bourgon faced criticism following the dismissal of two priests facing charges of fraud. It added that following protests by parishioners, who believed the priests to be innocent of wrongdoing, Pope Francis mandated a visitation by Bishop Serge Poitras of Timmins, Ontario.” By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Seminaries need clear sexual harassment guidelines to prevent clerical abuse
“When the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was bishop of the diocese of Metuchen, N.J., he routinely asked seminarians to join him at his vacation home, visits that regularly included the bishop sharing a bed with young men. Any reasonable standards would characterize those episodes, in which a powerful authority figure even suggested sharing a bed with students, as instances of sexual harassment(link is external). Stories like these led to Mr. McCarrick’s downfall, as was laid out in a recent Vatican investigation into allegations of harassment and abuse.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

LAITY & THE CHURCH

The complicated legacy of Bishop John England
“Amid all the heart-searching that the Catholic Church is doing in response to the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance, the realization that laypeople need to be engaged in structural reform is central(link is external). No group should ever police itself, and that includes the bishops. The 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law made some progress in recognizing the rights and responsibilities of the laity, but it never got beyond allowing them a consultative role in the decision-making process. That this could change is clear, because the heartening truth about canon law is that it is subordinate to the Gospel; it must reflect and support Gospel priorities.” By Paul Lakeland, Commonweal

VATICAN

Vatican launches website dedicated to ‘Fratelli Tutti’ encyclical
“Beginning Tuesday (Dec.1), Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Fratelli tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship, will be more readily accessible by the faithful(link is external). The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announces a special website dedicated to the Encyclical which can be accessed either from the homepage of the Dicastery www.humandevelopment.va(link is external) or directly from the URL www.fratellitutti.va(link is external).” By Vatican News

CHURCH FINANCES

South Dakota Catholic priest steals nearly $260,000 from three churches, jailed for three years; also faces sex charges
“Most people are familiar with the phrase ‘caught with your hand in the cookie jar.’ However, a Catholic priest from Rapid City, South Dakota, earned himself a sentence in federal prison for being caught with his hand ‘in the offertory bag(link is external).’ Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, 42, was sent to prison for 7 years and 9 months on Monday (Nov. 30) for stealing nearly $260,000 from three parishes in Rapid City.” By Jeevan Biswas International Business Times

Swiss court orders full access to records for Vatican financial investigation
“Vatican investigators have been granted full access to Swiss banking documentation related to long-time Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso. The newly announced decision by a Swiss federal court is the latest development in the ongoing financial scandal(link is external) surrounding the purchase of a London building by the Secretariat of State in 2018. According to Huffington Post, the decision was issued on Oct. 13 but only published this week. The documents to be turned over to the Vatican include financial records of the company to Az Swiss & Partners. Az Swiss owns Sogenel Capital Holding, the company Crasso founded after leaving Credit Suisse in 2014.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

CLERICALISM

The implosion of clericalism dramatized in Leonard Berstein’s ‘Mass’
“I find myself again lamenting the abysmal sinfulness of the Catholic clerical system(link is external). The long-anticipated release of the McCarrick report sheds harsh light on the failure of complicit bishops and Pope John Paul II to believe then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s victims even after New York Cardinal John O’Connor warned the pope not to make him Cardinal Archbishop of Washington. The painful mendacity of the clerical system was also on depressing display at FutureChurch’s 30th anniversary celebration, where theologian Doris Wagner Reisinger received the organization’s Young Catholic Leaders Award. Reisinger spoke about her abuse as a young nun and her efforts to bring a prominent Vatican priest to justice. In her experience, Catholic sisters have too often been entrapped in a conspiracy of silence that protects abusing priests.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Switzerland’s Catholic bishops lament record exodus from Church in 2019
“Bishops in Switzerland lamented Wednesday (Dec. 2) a record exodus of Catholics from the Church in 2019(link is external). In a statement after their virtual plenary assembly Dec. 2, the bishops acknowledged new figures showing that last year saw the highest annual number of ‘church exits’ on record.” By Catholic News Service

Dozens of Catholic churches merging to create 14 new ones in the Diocese of Pittsburgh
“Fourteen new merged parishes will be created in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh on Jan. 4, the diocese announced Saturday (Nov. 28). Forty parishes will be part of the mergers and will bring the number of parishes in the diocese from 107 to 81(link is external), the release states. ‘For two years, you have journeyed together on a road that is intended to unite you on the mission to bring the Good News of Jesus to your neighbors and to strengthen all of you in faith,’ Bishop David Zubik said.” By WPXI-TV11 News

VOICES

The media is not the church’s enemy
“Yes, media outlets need to tell the whole truth, the good news as well as the bad. But as professional journalists, we also have to respect news values in our coverage, and often that involves some sort of conflict(link is external) … In his comments calling for transparency, Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, may have inadvertently promoted the work of journalists. “We as a church need to use all the resources that are available to us, and in many instances that will be found in lay people, who are skilled and qualified in investigating these kinds of accusations and helping us evaluate the facts,” he said. Exactly. The media are not the enemy. We are professionals, trying to do our jobs, in the service of the truth.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Confessions of a Vatican source: Jason Barry on the McCarrick report
“When Pope John Paul II made Theodore McCarrick a cardinal in 2001, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., was a silk-between-the-fingers fundraiser(link is external). A year later, when the pope summoned the U.S. cardinals to Rome to confront the abuse crisis, McCarrick took the lead at press conferences — a bold move, given his revelation to The Washington Post and CNN that accusations against him had been investigated and found false. In the ensuing years, McCarrick traveled the globe as an unofficial church diplomat, and rumors spread that he had slept with seminarians while a bishop in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, using a beach house on the Jersey Shore. Rumors no journalist could pin down.” By Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter

Who’s at fault? New reports on clergy sex abuse offer different views
“On the same day last week (Nov. 10), two reports on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church made headlines. The first report, released by the Vatican, is the so-called ‘McCarrick report’ … The second report was released by an independent commission in the U.K … What the reports have in common is long lists of sexual abuse victims and their broken families(link is external). The testimonies of survivors are instructive for the quality of their demand for justice and yet, to paraphrase Tolstoy, each unhappy survivor story ‘is unhappy in its own way.’ Each story is unbearable in its details of the physical and psycho-spiritual torture and the chronic wounds that remain.” By Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners on Sojo.net

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Prominent priest, EWTN contributor accused of sexual assault
“A floor mosaic inscribed with the words ‘The Truth Above All Things’ welcomes visitors to the Church of St. Michael in midtown Manhattan where popular priest Fr. George Rutler has served as pastor since 2013. Yet Rutler now stands accused of sexually assaulting a female security guard after she allegedly filmed him watching gay pornography(link is external) last month. Those allegations have shocked parishioners and associates of Rutler, as they seek to reconcile the accusations with their own experience of the politically and theologically conservative priest known for his regular appearances on EWTN and prolific writings where he derided ‘abortionists and the sodomites,’ advocated for traditional liturgical practices and regularly criticized Pope Francis.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Priests’ defamation suits are the latest wrinkle in sex-abuse fallout
“As U.S. dioceses continue to pay out big settlements for lawsuits, the church is facing another nettlesome problem stemming from the abuse scandal: Priests who say they were falsely accused are suing for defamation(link is external). In August 2018, shortly after a Pennsylvania grand jury report listed more than 300 priests in six dioceses in the state who had been credibly accused of abusing more than 1,000 minors since 1947, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson asked the three dioceses in his state to turn over files on church personnel credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1978.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

COLORADO

Further investigation into Colorado Catholic Church IDs 46 more victims, nine more abusive priests—including Denver’s Father Woody
“Father James Moreno sexually assaulted a teenage boy dozens of times over two years after they met at a Denver Catholic school(link is external) — including in the rectory of the city’s most prominent church. Moreno assaulted the boy more than 60 times between 1978 and 1980. He groomed him, gave him alcohol and marijuana, and raped him, according to a report released Tuesday Dec. 1) by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The abuse happened all over Denver: in the rooms of St. Andrew’s Preparatory Seminary High School, in Moreno’s car, in the boy’s home, in the rectory of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of Denver, one block from the state Capitol.” By Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post

FLORIDA

What can Florida do about 51 Catholic priests who abused kids? Nothing
“The state attorney general’s office has concluded a two-year investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Investigators believe the systemic abuse has been largely weeded out. That’s the good news. The bad news is investigators say they have enough evidence to prosecute dozens of priests, and here’s what they plan to do about it: Nothing(link is external). They can’t. Statute-of-limitations laws make the alleged criminal untouchable.” By Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board

ILLINOIS

Suburban Lake County priest investigated for past child sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago is investigating allegations that a suburban priest sexually abused children(link is external) 25 years ago. Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote a letter to parishioners on Saturday (Nov. 28) saying he asked the Rev. David Ryan to ‘step aside from ministry’ after the archdiocese received the allegations. Ryan, pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich, has been ‘directed to live away from the parish’ during the investigation and ‘is fully cooperating with this direction,’ Cupich said in the letter.” By NBC-TV5 News

MISSISSIPPI

Abuse trial delayed for ex-Catholic Church friar
“The trial for a former Catholic Church friar accused of sex abuse at a Mississippi school has been postponed(link is external). Paul West, a former member of the Franciscan religious order, was supposed to face trial on Tuesday for allegations that he sexually molested students in the 1990s at Greenwood’s St. Francis of Assisi School. No new trial date was immediately set, Kelly Roberts, senior deputy clerk of the Leflore County Circuit Court, told The Greenwood Commonwealth.” By Associated Press on WJTV-TV12 News

NEW JERSEY

Over a year, more than 230 sex abuse suits have been filed in NJ against the Catholic Church
“The lawsuits filed over the past 12 months in New Jersey alleging sex abuse by Catholic priests have been numerous — there are more than 230 of them — and varied(link is external). One man said that when he was a student at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale and told a vice principal that he’d been abused by a religious brother, the administrator struck the student over the head with a 500-page book, warned him never to speak of it again and imposed a five-day suspension.” By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK.

New York attorney general sues bishops Malone, Grosz and Buffalo Diocese for failing to protect children
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Monday (Nov. 23) sued the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and former bishops Richard J. Malone and Edward M. Grosz for failing to protect children and for engaging in a decades-long cover-up of sexual abuse by diocesan priests. New York’s top prosecutor also filed a motion that seeks to force a full public disclosure of predatory priests and their actions against those whom they were entrusted with spiritual care, and is seeking a court-appointed monitor that would ensure that interim Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger complies with sexual abuse policies and procedures.” By Charlie Spect, WKBW-TV7 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Allentown Diocese has paid $16 million to abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has paid nearly $16 million to victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy(link is external), it reported Tuesday (Nov. 24), as the program to compensate victims draws to a close. The payments, totaling $15.85 million, were made to 96 abuse victims through the diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, according to a final report by an independent committee appointed to oversee the program.” By Peter Hall, The Morning Call

UTAH

Utah priest abuse lawsuit poses new challenge to time limits on old cases
“What began as a routine visit to the deli aisle last year ended in a revelation for Guy Platt. Platt spotted the Colosimo name on a pork sausage label and wondered if it belonged to a member of the family he recalled from childhood. But an online search turned up a series of mugshots and a more profound connection. The man he said he remembers sexually abusing and threatening him(link is external) five decades earlier hadn’t been a schoolmate’s father like he’d thought.” By Annie Knox, Deseret News

CANADA

Catholics angered, saddened by Montreal church’s mishandling of abusive priest
“People who tried to warn Montreal’s Catholic Archdiocese about a pedophile priest say they’re sad, angry and overwhelmed by an explosive report outlining the church’s repeated failures to heed their warnings(link is external). The Montreal archdiocese asked retired Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo to investigate the church’s handling of allegations against former priest Brian Boucher, who was convicted in January 2019 of sexually abusing two young boys.” By Leah Hendry and Steve Rukavina, CBC News

FRANCE

‘My world was the Church,’ abuse survivor Andrew Madden on his journey to recovery
“Andrew Madden was an altar boy. He had always enjoyed going to the Church and wanted to become a priest. But aged 12, he was abused by Father Ivan Payne. That abuse lasted for several years(link is external).In Ireland, he was the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public with his story in 1995. As part of an Unreported Europe episode focusing on the survivors of Ireland’s child sex abuse scandal at the hands of Catholic priests, Euronews spoke to Madden his personal healing journey.” By Euronews

GERMANY

Child abuse in the Catholic Church—a scandalous approach to scandal
“Standing on the banks of the Rhine river, practically in the shadows of Cologne’s cathedral, Karl Haucke says he has lost faith in the Catholic Church. His story begins in the early 1960s, when he was sent to boarding school in the West German capital at the time, Bonn. From the age of eleven, he was regularly abused by a priest for four years—at least once a week(link is external). But the abuse was not just of a physical, sexual nature. The priest made him relate the stories during the weekly confession.” By Deutche Welle

German survivors accuse Cardinal Woelki of ‘abuse of abuse victims’
“The two abuse survivors who resigned as spokesmen of the victims’ advisory board in the Cologne Archdiocese have accused Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of a ‘renewed abuse of abuse victims(link is external).’ The board had been ‘completely overrun’ by Cardinal Woelki’s treatment of the Cologne abuse studies, Patrick Bauer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in comments published Nov. 19. ‘We were meant to deliver the certificate: approved by the advisory board,’ said Karl Haucke.” By Catholic News Service

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

New pupils barred from top UK Catholic school after abuse scandal
“The government has ordered one of England’s most prestigious Catholic boarding schools, Ampleforth college, to stop admitting new pupils as a result of ‘very serious’ failings. Scandal has surrounded the private school in recent years and an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse published a highly critical report in August 2018 that said ‘appalling sexual abuse [was] inflicted over decades on children as young as seven(link is external).’” By Mattha Busby, The Guardian

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Sins of the fathers: Ireland’s sex abuse survivors
“Ireland has one of the largest Catholic communities in Europe. The Church is rooted into the culture of the country, but when Pope Francis visited Dublin in 2018 his words divided the nation. Since 2002, multiple reports and investigations have shed light on nearly 15,000 cases of sexual abuse committed in Ireland between 1970 and 1990(link is external). The pontiff had come to apologise for those crimes carried out by members of the Church’s clergy. For many survivors, the visit and remorse that came with it was far too late.” By Euronews

MALTA

Stop blaming children for the behavior of sexual predators
“Two headlines this week have perturbed me considerably, not only because of the stories they refer to, but because it points to an alarming inability by some fellow members of the press to comprehend how important it is to report sex abuse stories using the right terminology(link is external). This is not about being ‘politically correct’, which has become a hackneyed phrase, and is often being used with negative connotations, much in the same way we sneer at people for being ‘snowflakes’, i.e., overly sensitive and easily offended.” By Josanne Cessar, Malta Today

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church abuse: Victim says church refused to strip honors from abuser
“A woman who was sexually abused at a Catholic school(link is external) says the church refused to strip her abuser of any honors or remove his name from a school classroom despite evidence he had abused multiple people. It also never told her to go to police and instead offered her $6000 in compensation – which she rejected. Frances Tagaloa, 52, gave her evidence before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care this morning (Nov. 29), as hearings began on abuse in faith-based institutions.” By Isaac Davison, New Zealand Herald

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Associated Press in The Boston Globe — Read more …

 

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

BISHOPS

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

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

WOMEN DEACONS

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

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

LAITY & THE CHURCH

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

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

VATICAN

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

VOICES

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

ARIZONA

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

ARKANSAS

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

CALIFORNIA

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

LOUISIANA

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

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

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

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

MINNESOTA

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

MISSISSIPPI

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

MISSOURI

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

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

NEW JERSEY

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

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

NEW MEXICO

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

NEVADA

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

OHIO

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

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

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

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

VIRGINIA

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

WEST VIRGINIA

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

AUSTRALIA

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

CANADA

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

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

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

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

MALTA

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

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O.C.’s bishop, a $12-million problem and a secret fight stretching to the Vatican / Los Angeles Times

The benefactors have accused Vann of violating state law by removing them from the board of an independent charity after they rebuffed what they contend was an illegal plan to “invade” endowment funds and flout donor wishes. (Los Angeles Times)

The FedEx envelopes landed at dawn on the doorsteps of some of Orange County’s most influential Catholic philanthropists — real estate developers, attorneys, CEOs and other church stalwarts who had raised tens of millions of dollars over the years for the local diocese.

“Inside were letters from Bishop Kevin Vann that boiled down to two words: You’re fired.

“Those June missives ignited a revolt inside the Orange County church that has burned all the way to the Vatican while remaining largely hidden from the diocese’s 1.3 million rank-and-file Catholics.

“At its heart is a falling out between a circle of well-connected lay people who helped the church rebound financially from the clergy abuse scandal two decades ago, and a prelate staring down fresh money problems brought on by the pandemic and a new round of molestation lawsuits.

“The benefactors have accused Vann of violating state law by removing them from the board of an independent charity after they rebuffed what they contend was an illegal plan to “invade” endowment funds and flout donor wishes.”

By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times — Read more …

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