Posts Tagged catholic hierarchy

Defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teenager in 1970s / The Boston Globe

“Until now, McCarrick appeared beyond the reach of the criminal courts.”

The Boston Globe

“Defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged Wednesday (Jul. 28) with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College in the 1970s, making him the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the United States to face criminal charges in the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

“McCarrick, 91, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who fraternized with popes and presidents before he was expelled from the priesthood over sexual abuse allegations, is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 in a criminal complaint filed by Wellesley police in Dedham District Court.’

“A summons had been issued ordering McCarrick, now living in Missouri, to appear at the court for arraignment Sept. 3. McCarrick’s attorney, Barry Coburn of Washington, D.C., said Thursday (Jul. 29) that ‘we will look forward to addressing this issue in the courtroom.’

“Until now, McCarrick appeared beyond the reach of the criminal courts. Several men have filed civil lawsuits in New York and New Jersey, alleging that McCarrick sexually abused them in those states when they were children between the 1970s and the 1990s. But the statute of limitations has expired in those cases, preventing authorities from pursuing criminal charges.”

By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

July 26, 2021

TOP STORIES

Multimillion-dollar maze: Vatican trial to test finance reforms
“The alleged mishandling of millions of dollars of church funds will bring several high-profile individuals to a makeshift Vatican courtroom(link is external) set up in a multifunction room of the Vatican Museums. The surprise announcement July 3 that Vatican prosecutors indicted 10 individuals and entities, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, former prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, on a slew of charges related to financial mismanagement and malfeasance was the latest twist in the seemingly unending saga of the Vatican’s controversial investment in a property in London’s Chelsea district.” By Catholic News Service in The Catholic Sun

Three years after the 2018 ‘summer of shame,’ what do American Catholics think about the sex abuse crisis?
“Nearly three years after a searing report issued by a Pennsylvania grand jury detailed the sexual abuse by clergy of thousands of children and the extensive cover-up by church leaders that followed, America asked the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University to survey Catholics nationwide about their understanding of the crisis, its emotional impact and how it has affected their faith(link is external).” By Mark M. Gray and Thomas P. Gaunt, America: The Jesuit Review

Connecticut diocese files for bankruptcy amid abuse claims
“A Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut filed for federal bankruptcy protection on Thursday (Jul. 15) to resolve dozens of lawsuits alleging the abuse of teenage students(link is external) decades ago at the former Academy at Mount Saint John School, a residential treatment center for troubled youth in Deep River. Documents filed by the Diocese of Norwich, which oversaw the facility, indicate it has $50 million to $100 million in estimated liabilities owed to 50 to 99 creditors. To date, nearly 60 former residents of the school have sued the diocese and a former bishop for damages, exceeding the diocese’s current financial ability to pay, according a statement issued by the diocese.” By Susan Haigh, Associated Press

Synod theologian says laity must make decisions, not just implement them
“Looking ahead to a looming Synod of Bishops on the concept of ‘synodality,’ a lay Venezuelan theologian says the time has come for bishops to grasp one key point: Lay people aren’t just called to implement decisions in the Church made by others, but to make those decisions themselves(link is external). Layman Rafael Luciani, who divides his year between Venezuela and Boston, where he works at Boston College, is one of three Latin American theologians who were chosen as consultants for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the matter of Synodality, to which he hopes to contribute ‘from a non-clerical vision.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

LatAm webinar says in anti-abuse fight, buck stops on the bishop’s desk
“Some 165 bishops from across Latin America are taking part this week in an on-line seminar on abuse prevention that includes top-level experts from both the region and Rome, based on the premise that although fighting abuse requires various forms of commitment and expertise, as far as the Catholic Church goes, the buck still stops on the bishop’s desk(link is external). ‘Following the crisis that became public in the Church with regard to abuse, in recent years much emphasis has been placed on the role and responsibility of bishops, not only for the correct treatment of cases that come to their attention, but also with regard to the prevention of these situations,’ said Argentine laywoman Maria Ines Franck, a bioethics and canon law expert who helped organize the seminar.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Justices deal blow to outdated claims of child sexual abuse
“Pennsylvania’s high court on Wednesday (Jul. 21) dealt a blow to victims of child sexual abuse(link is external), throwing out a lawsuit by a woman whose lower court victory had given hope to others with similarly outdated claims who’d sued following a landmark report that documented decades of child molestation within the Catholic church in Pennsylvania. The 5-2 decision ended plaintiff Renee Rice’s legal effort to recover damages from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown for allegedly covering up and facilitating sexual abuse she said had been inflicted on her by a priest in the late 1970s.” By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

DOJ: ‘Uneven’ response from Catholic dioceses in statewide inquiry of clergy abuse
“The head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice says the state’s five Catholic dioceses are not all cooperating in a statewide inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy and other faith leaders(link is external). Attorney General Josh Kaul held a press conference Tuesday (Jul. 20) to provide an update on his office’s review of clergy and faith leader abuse. Kaul said they’ve received more than 100 reports of either sexual assault or how faith organizations have responded to abuse since launching the investigation in April.” By Hope Kirwan, Wisconsin Public Radio

NDAs Kept These Christians Silent. Now They’re Speaking Out Against Them.
“A growing number of ministers, missionaries, Christian workers, abuse victims, and victims’ advocates are publicly objecting to the non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses used by major religious organizations(link is external). They say the legal tools that were designed to protect tech industry ‘trade secrets’ are widely misused to conceal abuse, preserve secrets, and protect powerful reputations without regard for the human cost.” By Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today

BISHOPS

Canadian Bishops convey commitment to healing and reconciliation
“The Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) released a statement on Friday (Jul. 16) noting its support to Bishops of Saskatchewan who have issued an ‘Appeal for Support of Healing and Reconciliation’ in favor of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada(link is external). The project aims to generate fundraising to promote healing and reconciliation. It also foresees cemeteries on the sites of former residential schools, as well as educational and cultural support. The goal of the campaign, according to the Bishops of Saskatchewan, is to ‘support Indian Residential School survivors and their communities, and to engage more deeply in our own ongoing commitment and response to the Truth and Reconciliation process.’” By Vatican News

Abuse allegations against the late Bishop Sullivan deemed ‘credible’
“The Diocese of Lansing has deemed as credible two allegations of sexual abuse leveled against the late Bishop James Sullivan(link is external) (1929 – 2006). Bishop Sullivan was Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing from 1972 to 1985 before becoming Bishop of Fargo in North Dakota from 1985 to 2002. Both accusations stem from the mid-1960’s when then-Father Sullivan was living in residence at a parish in Lansing. Both victims were boys who were subject to sexual grooming and inappropriate contact by Sullivan.” By Diocese of Lansing Michigan

Buffalo Auxiliary Bishop Grosz accused of molesting child at confirmation
“Retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, who for many years played a key role in the handling of sex abuse complaints against priests in the Buffalo Diocese, is accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy(link is external) after a confirmation service in 1990. A Genesee County man told The News on Monday (Jul. 12) that Grosz repeatedly groped him at a gathering in a church hall following the confirmation ceremony inside St. Brigid Church in Bergen. Grosz is the highest-ranking clergyman in the Buffalo Diocese to be accused of child sex abuse.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

With looming retirements, Francis can pick up the pace on naming U.S. bishops
“If personnel is policy, then a vote last month by the U.S. bishops to draft a controversial document on Communion that the Vatican had cautioned against reveals Pope Francis may have considerable work ahead of him in his efforts to get the American Catholic hierarchy to embrace his priorities(link is external) … Yet if Francis, who turned 84 in December and was hospitalized last week for the first major health scare of his papacy, is seeking to pick up the pace of episcopal appointments with bishops more aligned with his agenda, he does have a number of opportunities on the horizon. To date, three dioceses in the U.S. are currently vacant, another nine bishops have already passed the age of 75, when bishops are required to submit their resignation to the pope, and there are several other dioceses that will soon open.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Catholic priest who has spoken out about clergy abuse faces removal as Richmond Bishop with petition to the Vatican
“A Virginia priest could be removed from the priesthood. He continued to blog about the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals(link is external) even after the Catholic Diocese of Richmond Bishop ordered him to keep quiet. Father Mark White at first obeyed an order to stop blogging. However, he restarted the online conversation once COVID hit and in-person church services halted. That has now prompted Bishop Barry Knestout to take their battle to Pope Francis.” By Kerri O’Brien, ABC-TV8 News

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women believers changed the Roman Empire — now we must change the Roman Church
“On the feast day of the ‘apostle to the apostles,’ St. Mary of Magdala, I want to reflect on something I suspect this first witness to the Resurrection and foremost leader in the early Jesus movement might find puzzling. Namely, what is the big deal about recognizing women’s leadership in today’s Catholic faith communities?(link is external) We live in a very different cultural context than did Mary of Magdala and other early Christian women, but our own times are no less in need of Christ’s healing energy than the ones in which they lived. The Jesus movement spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire because of the initiative of female prophets, evangelists, missionaries, heads of house churches and widows, and financial support from Christian businesswomen such as Mary of Magdala and Joanna (Luke 8:1-3(link is external)) as well as Lydia (Acts 16:11-40(link is external)), Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2(link is external)), Olympias,(link is external) a fourth-century deacon (whose feast day is July 25) and others.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Plans for next synod continue at Vatican
“The Vatican released the names of members of two commissions charged with assisting the leaders of the Synod of Bishops’ general secretariat in reviewing documents, drafting resources and developing best practices. According to the synod website, the theological commission and the methodology commission will include religious and lay experts from around the world(link is external). The theme chosen by the pope for the next synod is: ‘For a synodal church: communion, participation and mission.’” By CatholicPhilly.com

Prosecutor seeks sentences in Vatican youth seminary sex abuse trial
“A prosecutor on Thursday (Jul. 15) asked a Vatican court to sentence a man who is now a priest to six years in prison for alleged sexual abuse committed in a youth seminary in the Vatican(link is external) before he was ordained. Father Gabriele Martinelli, now 28, is accused of having forced a person known only as L.G. to have sex, mostly while they were both minors between 2007 and 2012. The alleged abuse took place in the Pius X Pre-Seminary, which houses altar boys who serve Mass in St. Peter’s, including for popes, and are thinking of becoming priests.” By Reuters on KFGO-AM 790 Radio News

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican financial watchdog reports on its 2020 activities
“The Vatican’s financial watchdog agency said that in 2020 more financial transactions were flagged as suspicious by Vatican offices, but after investigation it did not have to suspend any transactions or freeze any accounts(link is external). The 2020 annual report of the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority, published July 15, said it received 89 suspicious activity reports, 85 of which came from the Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly called the Vatican bank. In 2019, 64 suspicious activity reports were filed.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Lessons from Pope Francis’ financial reform efforts
“Cleaning up the Vatican’s finances has been a long, complex and personally costly process for Pope Francis. Despite many obstacles, he has persevered, and that determination is starting to pay off. On July 3, the Vatican announced it would prosecute 10 individuals, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, for alleged financial crimes. This is an unprecedented moment and marks a potentially decisive chapter in Francis’ reform efforts(link is external) … Church sources have often told me that a root cause of the difficulties is an outdated system in which multi-million-dollar investments are overseen or managed by prelates who have not been financially trained.” By Christopher Lamb, Chicago Catholic

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Authority in a wounded church: Leaders see ‘synodality’ as way forward
“Since his election in March 2013, Pope Francis has called for a true conversion within the Catholic Church(link is external), one in which all the baptized become ‘missionary disciples,’ where ordination — as a priest or bishop — means service and not power, and where anyone who is suffering finds a listening ear, a merciful heart and a helping hand. In many countries, hundreds or thousands of cases of clerical sexual abuse have made the need for conversion painfully obvious and have led to a reckoning with how power is viewed, exercised and protected within the church.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

The church in the West is in decline―and nationalism won’t save it
“I was 17 years old when I heard the Lord’s Prayer spoken in public for the first time. It was in November 1989 during the Velvet Revolution, which brought freedom to Communist Czechoslovakia. The crowd of almost 500,000 people chanted and cheered while the dissidents spoke. But when the Rev. Václav Malý started praying the Our Father, it grew quiet. After two generations of religious suppression and intense Communist indoctrination, few people could recite the prayer by heart(link is external). Many had never heard of it. But everyone understood it was a solemn moment.” By Kamila Valenta, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Bankruptcy adds to sad legacy of Catholic Church scandal
“The past moral bankruptcy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich has led inevitably to its financial bankruptcy(link is external). Last week the diocese serving the Connecticut counties of New London, Middlesex, Windham and Tolland, as well as Fishers Island, N.Y., filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal Bankruptcy Code. Along with Catholic dioceses across the nation and the world, the Norwich Diocese shares a shameful legacy of placing the protection of the church’s reputation above protecting children, above acting lawfully, and above the Great Commandment to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” By The Day Editorial Board

Time to put the ‘catholic’ back into the Catholic Church
“What does the reaction to Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis’ motu proprio restoring the restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass that existed before 2007, tell us about the necessity of the document? And what about the prospects for ecclesial unity that Francis cited as his rationale for taking this decision?(link is external) It is important to distinguish between those who simply found the antiquity of the old rite a comfort in a fast-changing world, or those for whom the traditional Latin Mass offered an aesthetic that served to mediate the divine, and those for whom the Tridentine liturgy was a kind of ideological statement displaying their opposition to the Second Vatican Council.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: How you see the sexual abuse crisis
“The Catholic Church still has a trust problem, as shown by the results of a comprehensive survey of U.S. Catholics commissioned by America Media and featured in this issue. (Look for more results in our September issue.) Seventy-six percent of respondents to the survey, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in May and June, said that the sexual abuse of minors by clergy has hurt the reputation of the church at least somewhat(link is external), and about one-third said they were ‘embarrassed’ to tell others that they were Catholic because of the crisis.” By Editors at America: The Jesuit Review

Sexual Abuse by Clergy: The evil of and in the Church
“The alarming reports of sexual abuse by Catholic priests of minors and vulnerable adults(link is external) in most parts of the world is a shocking truth about the rot that exists within the religious institution. Sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults happens in most institutions in the world – religious or non-religious including families and is not a vile habit of some priests in the Catholic Churches alone.” By Savio Rodrigues, The Goa Chronicle

Bishops’ meetings won’t heal the U.S. church. We need a Fourth Plenary Council involving all Catholics.
“The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore concluded in December 1884. Among its results was the standardized catechism known to generations of Catholics as the Baltimore Catechism. This meeting was the last of 13 councils of different kinds that took place in Baltimore between 1829 and 1884. These 13 councils made the United States one of the most conciliar places in the Catholic Church during that time—rooted, in part, in the country’s own democratic experiment. Given all the challenges facing the Catholic Church in our country, we are far overdue for a moment in which the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of our country can discern together how to be the people of God in our time and place(link is external). It is time that we as a church” By Brian P. Flanagan, America” The Jesuit Review

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Colorado law allows sex abuse victims to collect restitution inn civil court from public and private institutions
“On Tuesday (Jul. 6), Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law Senate Bill 88, which allows victims of sexual abuse to file for restitution from public and private entities in civil court(link is external). The law adopted July 6 permits victims of abuse from 1960 to January 2022 retroactively to collect restitution from employers who knew about or who should have known about the abuse taking place, as long as claims are filed by January 2025.” By Autumn Jones, Catholic News Association, in National Catholic Register

An uncertain future for the Adult Survivors Act
“The Adult Survivors Act unanimously passed the New York State Senate during this year’s legislative session, but its future in the Assembly remains unclear(link is external). New York’s legislative session ended nearly one month ago, but not without criticism from advocacy groups. The Adult Survivors Act would create a one-year look back window for cases of adult sexual abuse. That’s similar to the Child Victims Act, legislation passed in 2019 targeted at victims of child sex abuse.” By Darrell Camp, WSKG-FM National Public Radio

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

A Widow’s Hunt for the Priest Who Preyed on Her Husband
“Instead of driving to Burlington for that meeting, Peter met his death by suicide(link is external) in the foaming, churning waters funneling through steep rock formations … Twenty-three years later, on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at 3:36 p.m., an email arrived from one Edward Mechmann with the heading, ‘Complaint against Fr. Malone.’ ‘I am the Safe Environment Coordinator for the Archdiocese of New York. As such, I oversee the child protection programs of the Archdiocese… First of all, on behalf of the Archdiocese, please permit me to express my deep regret and sorrow that your husband was abused by one of our priests.’” By Jenny Grosvenor, The Daily Beast

Anti-gay Catholic priest accused of having sex with men to ‘heal’ their homosexuality
“A French priest with a history of campaigning against gay rights faces a Catholic Church trial over allegations that he sexually assaulted men to ‘heal’ their homosexuality(link is external). Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a Vatican adviser and psychotherapist, will stand trial in church court after multiple allegations of abuse and inappropriate sexual relationships with his male clients. No details have yet been made public about when Anatrella will face trial, but the Paris Archdiocese previously reprimanded Anatrella in 2018 due to the allegations against him, preventing him from practicing therapy or hearing confession.” By Rhuaridh Mass, Metro Weekly

CALIFORNIA

Former student sues Providence High School in Burbank, alleges sexual abuse of minor by then track coach
“Providence High School, a private Catholic school in Burbank, was sued by a former student who alleges her track and field coach sexually molested her as a minor(link is external) in 2019, and then warned her not to tell anyone what he’d done. The lawsuit, brought Wednesday (Jul. 7) in Los Angeles Superior Court, identifies 27-year-old Mohamed Haddada as the former coach. The now 18-year-old plaintiff is listed only as Jane Doe.” By CBS-TV9 News Los Angeles

CONNECTICUT

Lawyer for sex abuse victims: Norwich Diocese bankruptcy filing could deny full compensation
“A bankruptcy filing by the Norwich Diocese to shield its finances as it faces lawsuits over scores of sexual abuse claims may deny full compensation to the victims(link is external), one of their lawyers said Friday (July 16). New London attorney Kelly E. Reardon, who represents six men who accused the church of sexual abuse decades ago, said insurance coverage is ‘fairly limited’ and may not result in full compensation.” By Stephen Singer, Hartford Courant

MASSACHUSETTS

Examining priest abuse after closure of Croteau case
“New details Monday (Jul. 12) night surrounding a defrocked priest who authorities said was responsible for the murder of altar boy Danny Croteau nearly 50 years ago. Western Mass News learned of new allegations against former priest Richard Lavigne(link is external), who died days before the Hampden DA could bring murder charges against him. Danny Croteau is one of those names that never left the heart of the western Mass. community.” By Audrey Russo and Amanda Callahan, FOX-TV6 News

MICHIGAN

Former U.P. Priest sentenced in Dickinson County
“Eight to 15 years in prison, that’s the sentence given to Gary Jacobs a former Upper Peninsula Priest, facing criminal sexual conduct charges(link is external). Jacobs appeared in Dickinson County court Tuesday (Ju;. 13) afternoon for sentencing. His attorney stated Jacobs wrestled with his sexuality as a gay man and alcohol abuse when he committed the criminal sexual conduct. In May, the 75-year-old Jacobs pleaded guilty to one count of second degree CSC in Dickinson County.” By Jerry Tudor, FOX-TV6 News

‘A wicked problem’: Advocacy center expands to deal with increase in child abuse allegations
“Child sexual abuse sometimes takes place under the blankets while a child sits with their abuser on the sofa, watching TV in a room full of people. ‘It’s a wicked problem that happens in the shadows,’ said Ginger Kadlec, executive director of the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, which recently added 2,200 square feet of space to deal with the rise in reports of sexual and physical abuse(link is external).” By Patti Brandt Burgess, Travers City Record Eagle

NEW MEXICO

Las Cruces diocese says abuse records disclosed voluntarily, despite New Mexico attorney general’s claims
“While New Mexico’s attorney general has taken credit for securing Catholic Church documents on sex abuse by clergy, saying they will be released to the public soon, a spokesperson for the Las Cruces diocese said it provided the documents voluntarily(link is external) out of a desire to address the “abhorrent crime” of sex abuse, not because of a search warrant or legal obligation.” By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency

NEW YORK.

3 adults, including priest, sexually abused young Mount Loretto resident, suit alleges
“Three adults, including a priest, sexually abused him over the course of six years(link is external) when he lived at the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto three decades ago, a former resident alleges in an explosive lawsuit. His assailants also threatened the plaintiff, who was in his early teens, with physical violence if he revealed what they did to him, alleges a civil complaint against the New York Archdiocese.” By Frank Donnelly, SILive.com

Bankruptcy judge rejects jury-trial motion, insurance settlement
“The U.S. Bankruptcy Court July 9 denied a motion by the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors that would have allowed 21 sexual-abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Rochester to proceed in state court(link is external). The motion was filed June 8 by attorneys representing the Committee, which was appointed by the Office of the United State Trustee and comprises several survivors of childhood sexual abuse who had filed claims against the diocese under New York state’s Child Victims Act. Also during the hearing, the court denied the diocese’s motion for approval of a $35 million settlement with several insurers involved in its bankruptcy case, which began in September 2019.” By Jennifer Burke, Catholic Courier

Retired priest placed on administrative leave following child abuse complaint
“The Diocese of Buffalo announced Friday (Jul. 9) that a retired priest who continues to assist in the ministry of St. Matthew’s parish in Buffalo has been placed on administrative leave in the wake of a child abuse complaint against him(link is external). A statement released by the diocese said it recently became aware of an action brought pursuant to the Child Victims Act by a woman who alleges she was abused as a child in the early 1980s by Monsignor Leo McCarthy, 88.” By Harold McNeil, The Buffalo News

NORTH CAROLINA

Former ministry leader at NC university sexually abused student for years, lawsuit says
“A former Catholic ministry leader at Western Carolina University in the North Carolina mountains sexually abused a student for years in the 1980s(link is external), according to a lawsuit the former student filed on Tuesday (Jul. 6) against his alleged abuser and the Charlotte Catholic Diocese. On Friday, the diocese issued a statement that it ‘has zero tolerance for child sexual abuse, and we continue to encourage anyone who has been the victim of abuse to seek help and report to authorities.’” By Joe Marusak, The Charlotte Observer

OHIO

Strongsville priest pleads guilty to sex trafficking, child pornography charges; diocese plans to ‘defrock’ him
“A Strongsville Catholic priest pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday (Jul. 16) to several charges, including sex trafficking of a minor and possession of child pornography(link is external). According to the Department of Justice, Rev. Robert D. ‘Bob’ McWilliams decided to plead guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, and one count each of transportation of child pornography, receipt and distribution of visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and possession of child pornography.” By Dave ‘Dino’ DeNatale, Tyler Carey, Marisa Saenz, WYKC-TV3 News

Former Steubenville teacher sentenced for sex abuse of 15-year-old
“A former Steubenville Catholic Central High School teacher was sentenced after accepting a plea agreement to one count of sexual battery(link is external). Corissa A. McCalister, 22, of Steubenville was sentenced to two years of probation, community service and must register as a sex offender. McCalister originally pled not guilty. McCalister was the head cross country coach and assistant track coach at Steubenville Catholic Central High School, where she reportedly was driving a 15-year-old student home from a track meet at Edison High School when she made a stop at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Cadiz and engaged in sex with the teen.” By John Lynch, WKBN-TV27 News

TEXAS

$10M lawsuit filed against Vatican, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston after priest accused of child sexual abuse
“A $10 million lawsuit has been filed against Holy See and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and its Cardinal, Daniel N. DiNardo, on behalf of the parents of a child they say was sexually abused by Rev. Phi Thanh Nguyen(link is external) in November 2018, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states that Nguyen sexually abused the child when she was 10 years old while attending the Nazareth Academy in Victoria, Texas. The lawsuit names Holy See because ‘Nguyen would not have been able to ingratiate himself at Nazareth Academy,’ according to the lawsuit.” By Click2Houston.com

VERMONT

Former South Burlington priest accused of child sexual abuse
“A former South Burlington priest has been accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1960s. The victim, who is remaining anonymous, is now in his 60s. He says Father Roger W. Carlin molested him when he was nine in 1966 and 1967 at St. John Vianney church in South Burlington. ‘He wants to try to heal, he wants to try to help other victims, and he wants to make the world a safer place for children,’ said Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney representing the alleged victim. Garabedian has represented thousands of other sex abuse cases and says coming forward can be cathartic for victims.” By Katherine Huntley, WCAX-TV3 News

VIRGINIA

Area Catholic diocese adds four priests to list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse
“The Richmond Catholic Diocese has added four names to its list of clergy who have credible, substantiated claims of sexual abuse involving a minor against them(link is external). Three of the priests — Robert Beattie, Leo Creamer and Patrick Quinn — are dead. The fourth, Joseph Slowik, hasn’t actively served in the ministry since 2006. They join the list, which was first made public in 2019, of 23 other priests with sexual abuse allegations in the diocese, which includes the Charlottesville area.” By Colbi Edmonds, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Former Christendom College professor arrested on charges of soliciting a child
“A longtime economics and political science professor at Christendom College in Virginia has been charged with solicitation of a minor younger than 16 years old and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. William R. Luckey, 72, who taught for about 30 years at the Catholic institution, which touts being one of only 15 colleges recommended by the conservative Cardinal Newman Society, was arrested on June 25 and released on a secured $50,000 bond on July 12.” By Jenn Morson, National Catholic Reporter

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin DOJ encourages survivors to report clergy and faith leader abuse
“Wisconsin’s attorney general is encouraging survivors of clergy or faith leader abuse to report it to the state’s Department of Justice(link is external). Attorney General Josh Kaul says the state’s victim services specialists can help survivors in a safe and confidential way. ‘We want to get to the bottom of this, both so we can connect survivors to services, but also so we can help get some measure of accountability,’ Kaul says. ‘Hopefully by working with the dioceses to update their lists of credibly accused priests as the facts dictate … we can work to prevent this from ever happening again.’” By Leah Rivard, News8000.com

More than 100 church-related abuse claims filed with DOJ
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice has received more than 100 reports of abuse by clergy and faith leaders across the state(link is external) since announcing a statewide investigation in April, the law enforcement agency said Tuesday (Jul. 13). The reports received by the agency to date include allegations of abuse and also relate to how churches and religious organizations responded to abuse, the justice department said.” By Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

Priest guilty of 25 sexual abuse charges
“A Catholic priest has been found guilty of numerous historical abuse charges including three counts of having homosexual sex with young boys(link is external). Anthony William Peter Caruana, 79, was convicted of 25 charges relating to 12 victims after jurors in his Sydney trial were deliberating for nearly 10 days. They will return to the NSW District Court on Wednesday to continue deciding on a majority verdict for the remaining two counts.’ By Australian Associated Press on YahooNews.com

EAST TIMOR

East Timor: Defrocked priest’s trial must be swift – NGO
“An East Timorese NGO has called for more respect and support for victims of sexual abuse in the country(link is external), calling for a speedy trial of a defrocked priest accused of sexually abusing several children over a period of years. ‘Sexual violations against women and girls are serious crimes, and everyone must unite to oppose these acts. Activists, journalists, the state, human rights institutions and our entire population need to act more purposefully to fight for the physical safety, privacy and freedom of women and girls,’ said La’o Hamutuk, a Timorese non-governmental organisation (NGO).” By Lusa, MacauBusiness.com

FRANCE

Anti-LGBTQ+ Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse to Cure Homosexuality
“A French Catholic priest, Tony Anatrella, who once served as a Vatican adviser regarding sexuality, is facing a church trial over alleged sexual relationships with his male clients(link is external). The priest, 80, has a history of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ rights initiatives including authoring an article that supported a ban on queer people serving in the priesthood, according to Queerty. The website also reported that he claimed gay men raised violent children.” By Alex Cooper, The Advocate

PHILIPPINES

Legislators must end Philippines’ child sex shame
“The greatest shame of the Philippines is the fact that it is legal under the 1930 Penal Code for a 50-year-old man to have sex with a pre-pubescent 12-year-old child(link is external) and get away with it if the man can convince a court that the child ‘gave consent.’ Soon that will change and justice will be done for thousands of child victims. At present many children, under pressure from parents and abusers, are forced to stay silent when sexually abused or to say to government officials or in court that ‘He is my boyfriend,’ or that ‘I loved him.” By Shay Cullen, Manila, UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

July 13, 2021

TOP STORIES

Vatican indicts 10, including a cardinal, in London deal
“A Vatican judge on Saturday (Jul. 3) indicted 10 people, including a once-powerful cardinal, on charges including embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion and fraud(link is external) in connection with the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro investment in a London real estate venture. The president of the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, though lawyers for some defendants questioned how they could prepare for trial so soon given they hadn’t yet formally received the indictment.” By Nicole Winfield Associated Press

The German synodal way explained
“Some Catholics in the United States are deeply concerned about the German church’s ‘synodal way.’ A quick YouTube search returns titles like, ‘What is going on in Germany!?!?!’ ‘English Bishop WARNS Vatican ‘Stop German Bishops, We’re Heading to Schism!’ and ‘Vatican in Crisis Management Mode Over Catholic Bishops in Germany.’ Is any of this true? Not really(link is external). For this week’s special episode of America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast, I spoke with four German Catholics who understand the synodal way well: A bishop involved in the synod’s forum on power, a theologian involved in the forum on women’s roles, one of the synodal way’s spiritual guides, and a critic of the process.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Review board chair urges bishops to focus on healing for abuse survivors
“Although major steps have been taken to help achieve healing and reconciliation with survivors of clergy sexual abuse, much work remains ahead for the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external), the chairwoman of the National Review Board told the spring assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Citing the progress that has occurred since 2002 when the abuse scandal exploded, Suzanne Healy said in a prerecorded address to the bishops that the church’s outreach efforts must continue to evolve as the needs of survivors are better understood. ‘We must focus on the areas of healing and reconciliation, accountability, transparency and ongoing education for all involved in child and youth protection,’ said Healy, who has chaired the NRB since June 2020.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Polish church reports recent clergy abuse of 368 children
“In its latest report on the sexual abuse of minors, Poland’s Catholic Church says 292 clergymen allegedly abused 368 boys and girls from 2018 through 2020. The report, released June 28, comes at a time when the Vatican is investigating reports of abuse and of a lack of reaction by church leaders in Poland(link is external), a predominantly Catholic nation where the clergy enjoy special esteem. The Vatican recently punished a few Polish bishops and archbishops for negligence and barred them from church and lay ceremonies. The Holy See is also investigating reports of negligence by retired Krakow archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who before that served as personal secretary to the late pope, St. John Paul II.” By Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press

French priest, former Vatican adviser, to face church trial on abuse claims
“A prominent French priest and psychotherapist who was once an influential Vatican adviser on matters regarding human sexuality is going to face trial in a church court over accusations of inappropriate sexual relationships with male clients(link is external), the Paris Archdiocese has confirmed. The charges against Msgr. Tony Anatrella have not been announced.” By Elisabeth Auvillain, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

New law forces priests to report child abuse
“A new Queensland law requires priests to report to police any information about child sexual offences heard during confession(link is external). According to the law, all adults will have a legal duty to report to police sexual offending against children, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so. The law came into force on Monday (Jul.5). It passed through the state’s Parliament with support from both major parties last September, despite the Church defending the seal of confession. In a formal submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge explained that stripping Catholics of the seal of confession made priests ‘less a servant of God than an agent of the state.’” By CathNews.com

Why criminal charges for deaths at residential schools would be unprecedented — and enormously complex
“Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme said he is treating the site of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School ‘like a crime scene.’ Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said the deaths of children at the school was ‘a crime against humanity.’ And yet, after the second discovery in less than a month of hundreds of previously unknown burials at former residential schools, there is no indication that criminal charges of any kind will be laid in connection to those deaths(link is external).” By Nick Boisvert, CBC News

Catholics must know how Peter’s Pence is spent, Vatican official says
“The head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said he hopes efforts at financial transparency and reform will foster Catholics’ trust ahead of the annual Peter’s Pence collection(link is external). In an interview with Vatican News June 25, Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said Catholics ‘have the right to know how we spend the money given to us.’ ‘Sometimes contradictions arise from a lack of knowledge, which, in turn, comes from a lack of transparency,’ Guerrero said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope agrees to meet with Indigenous groups from Canada about schools
“Pope Francis will meet with Indigenous leaders later this year to discuss coming to Canada to apologize for the church’s role in operating schools(link is external) that abused and forcibly assimilated generations of Indigenous children, a step toward resolving the grievances of survivors and Indigenous communities, the head of Canada’s largest Indigenous organization said on Wednesday (Jun. 30).” By Ian Austen and Vjosa Isai, the New York Times

BISHOPS

Sex abuse claims against late Fargo bishop dating to ’60s found credible
“The Diocese of Fargo said July 2 it has added the late Bishop James S. Sullivan, sixth bishop of Fargo, to its list of clergy with credible accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor(link is external). The diocese said it took this action after it was informed by the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, that an investigation of accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor from decades ago made against the late bishop were deemed credible. Sullivan was ordained as a priest for the Lansing Diocese in 1955.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

N.J. Catholic diocese sells archbishop’s controversial ‘luxury’ retirement house for $910K
“A sprawling retirement house used by former Newark Archbishop John J. Myers — that drew protests from some parishioners for being too lavish for a Catholic priest(link is external) — has been sold, church officials said. The Hunterdon County residential house, which included two elevators, indoor and outdoor pools and a three-story addition, sold last month for $910,000 to an undisclosed buyer, the Archdiocese of Newark said in a statement.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com

US bishops’ latest display of desperation has roots in years of dysfunction
“The recent vote by this country’s Catholic bishops, the equivalent of a corporate tantrum, was cringe-inducing but should not have been a surprise. The move to produce a document designed to render a severe and public judgment of President Joe Biden was engineered by men who, ensconced in a culture capable of stunning depravity and cover-up, have been searching for any means to reestablish their authority(link is external). The vote by three-quarters of the bishops was the latest in a series of tawdry displays of desperation cloaked in the language of piety and gestures of moral superiority. The irony is as subtle as a Wile E. Coyote anvil. Their cause even further off target. The subsequent protestations — that any new document will not be a political statement — is a transparent reaction to public outcry. The damage has been done.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops respond to Interior Department investigation of Native American boarding schools
“Responding to the announcement of a Department of Interior initiative that will look at the history of Native American boarding schools and seek to identify the possible grave sites of a still-unknown number of Indigenous children(link is external), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, through its spokesperson Chieko Noguchi, issued a cautious statement on June 28, noting that the conference would ‘look for ways to be of assistance’ to the Interior Department’s investigation: ‘We are deeply saddened by the information coming out of two former residential boarding school sites in Canada,’ Ms. Noguchi said. ‘We cannot even begin to imagine the deep sorrow these discoveries are causing in Native communities across North America.’” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Bishop’s ‘heartfelt’ apology over Catholic college abuse
“Men who were sexually abused as boys at a training school for Roman Catholic priests have welcomed a bishop’s ‘momentous’ apology(link is external). The group were pupils at St Peter Claver College in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, when they were molested in the 1960s and 70s. At a meeting with the men, the Bishop of Leeds said their abusers were people they should have been able to trust. One victim said the apology marked a changing attitude from the church.” By BBC News

PRIESTS

Vermont Catholic priest numbers plummet to historic lows
“Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne stepped onto the altar of St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington this month to announce what, at first glance, appeared to be good news. ‘We have arrived at a place where things can return to normal,’ he said. Coyne was speaking of the state lifting Covid-19 restrictions, allowing Vermont’s largest religious denomination to reopen its 68 parishes at full pre-pandemic capacity. But he was saying so at an annual clergy ordination that, as in too many past years, was welcoming just one new priest(link is external).” By Kevin O’Connor, VTDigger.com

Grace abounds at Association of US Catholic Priests’ meeting
“When giving a talk, it is necessary to scan the audience every few minutes, to make sure you are not losing them. But every time I scanned this audience, once I assured myself they were still very attentive, different thoughts entered my mind(link is external). How many dying souls had been comforted in their last hours by the men in this room? How many children had received their first Communion from these hands? How many grieving families had been comforted at a funeral presided over by one of these priests? How many sermons had stirred an individual to a moment of personal growth or conversion, or stirred an entire congregation?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

No surprise: Nuns are taking the lead in putting ‘Laudato Si’’ into action
“In December 2019, students from the Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore joined members of the Atlantic-Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame at a grocery store for a giveaway of reusable bags. The reusable bags were handmade by Sisters Virginia Brien and Clara Beall, aged 94 and 85. Other sisters, many long retired, attached information about plastic pollution and climate change. It was one of the many ways that the School Sisters of Notre Dame exemplify what it means to promote ‘the dignity of life and the care of all creation(link is external),’ as their directional statement ‘Love Gives Everything’ exhorts.” By Kathleen Bonnette, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH REFORM

Momentum for Catholic Church reform builds in Australia
“As Australian Catholics prepare for an historic plenary council assembly in October, a leading churchman says there’s ‘unprecedented momentum for deep reform(link is external).’ The Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long, a Vietnamese-born former boat refugee and a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, has called for the elimination of clericalism and for more women to be given roles in church governance and decision-making.” By Mark Bowling, The Tablet

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholics must know how Peter’s Pence is spent, Vatican official says
“The head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said he hopes efforts at financial transparency and reform will foster Catholics’ trust ahead of the annual Peter’s Pence collection(link is external). In an interview with Vatican News June 25, Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said Catholics ‘have the right to know how we spend the money given to us.’ ‘Sometimes contradictions arise from a lack of knowledge, which, in turn, comes from a lack of transparency,’ Father Guerrero said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

CLERICALISM

How do you recognize clericalism?
“In November of 2019, the Report on Clerical Sexual Abuse made 31 recommendations for preventing and investigating sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. In particular, recommendation #25 called for ‘…the immediate establishment of a leadership team comprised of lay, religious and clergy to prayerfully explore the development of an Archdiocese-wide plan’ to combat ‘the inherent evil of clericalism(link is external)’ within both the laity and clergy of the Archdiocese.” By Archdiocese of Vancouver Clericalism Committee on BCCatholic.ca (The BC Catholic)

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Buffalo Diocese considers merging parishes to share resources, priests
“After filing for bankruptcy amid growing clergy sex abuse claims, the Buffalo Diocese is working on a ‘Road to Renewal.’ Catholic Church Deacon, Paul Snyder, said he wants churchgoers to have an input on the renewal(link is external). ‘What I have seen so far is in this Road to Renewal is its telling people in the pews what they need to do,’ Snyder said. ‘I find that very surprising because it was never the people in the pews causing these problems.’ This plan comes as church attendance continues to decline.” By Lilia Wood, WKBW-TV7 News

Buffalo Diocese eyes grouping parishes to share priests, schools as it emerges from scandal
“The numbers tell a stark story about the extent of decline within the Buffalo Diocese over the past decade or so. Average weekend Mass attendance fell by 41% – from 158,300 people in 2011 to 93,134 people in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Enrollment in Catholic elementary and high schools dipped from 16,716 students to 12,643 students during the same time. And 62 fewer priests were working in the diocese in 2019, compared to 2011 … As they try to restore the diocese’s battered reputation and finances, Bishop Michael W. Fisher and other church leaders are also asking Western New York Catholics to re-imagine the traditional parish structure(link is external) that has marked the practice of the faith since their births into it.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Bishops’ conference walks back mixed messaging on Communion and Catholic politicians
“Following a virtual meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops, at which a majority of the country’s hierarchy voted to advance a divisive document on the Eucharist, the U.S. bishops’ conference is seeking to clear up its own mixed messaging and is insisting the eventual document will no longer target Catholic politicians(link is external). A June 21 document published by the bishops’ conference states ‘there will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians’ and notes that the timing of the document is related to ‘declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful,’ which has been of concern ‘for some time.’ The new messaging from the bishops’ conference, however, has now undergone some revisions from their original proposal.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Catholic Church has misplaced moral priorities
“Talk about lousy timing. The biggest religion story in Iowa last week was a jaw-dropper. Attorney general Tom Miller announced he has concluded a three-year investigation of sexual abuse allegations against priests in the four Roman Catholic dioceses(link is external) in our state. Miller’s staff examined church records, some dating to the 1930s, that involved about 100 priests. His office also received and looked into 50 allegations against 36 priests, many of whom were the subject of earlier complaints.” By Randy Evans, nwestiowa.com

The USCCB’s misguided effort to punish President Biden
“‘As a convert, I never expected much of the bishops,’ Dorothy Day wrote in a 1968 letter. ‘In all history, popes and bishops and abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy(link is external). I never expected leadership from them.’ Many Catholics, and not only converts, would agree with Day’s jaundiced view of bishops—and June’s meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded us why that’s the case. President Joe Biden’s worthiness to receive Communion dominated coverage of the proceedings, a predictably divisive outcome that underscored the bishops’ political obtuseness and pastoral failings.” By The Commonweal Editorial Board

Editorial: The Catholic Church must come clean – completely – about what it did to native Americans
“Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has helped all Canadians and First Nations communities grapple with the sorrowful realities of their nation’s colonial past, particularly the gruesome legacy of its residential schools for Indigenous children. Those schools, many administered by Catholic religious orders and intended to be engines of assimilation, became centers of despair and brutality(link is external). The recent discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at two schools, and the likelihood that thousands more will be found at other residential school sites, have added to the anguish. But at least in Canada, a foundation for healing is being laid by the government-sponsored truth and reconciliation commission.” By America: The Jesuit Review Editorial Board

Janet Petersen: Give survivors of sexual abuse a chance to pursue justice, no matter their birthday
“Attorney General Tom Miller recently released the findings of his investigation into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, which represents just a small fraction of sexual abuse cases in Iowa … Despite Iowa’s new law eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse, these Roman Catholic priests who drugged and raped Iowa children and the dioceses that covered up the crime are immune from criminal prosecution in every case(link is external).” By Janet Petersen, Guest Columnist, The Des Moines Register

Editorial: Don’t put your faith if the bishops’ conference
“At their June meeting, 168 U.S. bishops voted to move forward with a document on the Eucharist, an idea that came out of a working group concerned with President Joe Biden’s political positions on abortion. Although subsequent messaging from the conference has indicated the document will not address denying Communion to politicians, it was clear from the discussion at the meeting that such exclusion motivated many bishops. They proceeded with this divisive project despite repeated warnings(link is external) (including from the Vatican) that it would lead to further politicization and polarization — concerns confirmed within hours of the release of the vote total, when a group of Democratic Catholic politicians responded with a letter of their own, lambasting the ‘weaponization of the Eucharist’ … What a mess.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Board

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

AG’s Office releases report on clergy abuse
“The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has completed a review of clergy abuse in Iowa(link is external). The office examined records involving about 70 Catholic priests and looked into 50 complaints of sexual abuse and misconduct reported to the attorney general. ‘Sexual abuse took place over decades. The complaints, the victims, the duration of the abuse were overwhelming,’ a report by the AG’s Office concluded. ‘Our hearts go out to the victims of these acts. The consequences are severe and lifelong.’ The report concludes that while the Catholic Church in Iowa had a long, painful history of abuse by priests and a cover-up by officials, the Dioceses have enacted many reforms over the last two decades. The Dioceses have become more responsive to victims of clergy abuse and each now reports all accusations to law enforcement authorities.” By Iowa Attorney General’s Office

COLORADO

Colorado survivors of childhood sexual abuse can sue institutions that hid or ignored it
“Individuals who were abused as children in Colorado can sue the institutions that hid abuse or did nothing to stop it(link is external) starting in January. Gov. Jared Polis signed SB21-088 into law Tuesday (Jul.6), giving survivors another avenue to pursue claims against government entities, schools and private institutions that have youth programs like the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church. The law caps how much victims can get from the lawsuits — up to $1 million from private entities and up to $387,000 from governmental entities.” By Saja Hindi, The Denver Post

IOWA

Former St. Mary’s priest names in attorney general’s abuse report
“A former Storm Lake priest and Fonda man affiliated with the Catholic church have been accused of sexually abusing young boys(link is external) decades ago, according to an Iowa Attorney General’s report that commended the Sioux City Diocese for keeping an active list of ‘credibly accused’ priests and clergy members. The attorney general’s report released last week said Everett Apt of St. Mary’s Parish and an unidentified ‘non-clergy member who was involved in a Catholic organization’ in Fonda were among its list of 31 alleged abusers.” By tom Cullen, The Storm Lake Times

Attorney General: Iowa report finds ‘overwhelming’ sex abuse by Catholic clergy
“Citing ‘overwhelming’ incidents of abuse and ‘extensive’ cover-up that spanned decades, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller issued a report Wednesday (Jun. 23) detailing 50 complaints his office received about allegations of sexual impropriety by Catholic clergy, non-clergy or spiritual leaders(link is external) — including 17 victims who had not previously come forward to report abuse to authorities. The report concluded the Catholic Church in Iowa has had a ‘long, painful history of abuse by priests and a cover-up by officials’ but has taken steps recently to implement reforms and respond to victims.” By Rod Boshart, Special to the Globe Gazette, in Blue Mountain Eagle

LOUISIANA

Diocese of Lafayette puts deacon on leave pending sex abuse investigation
“The Diocese of Lafayette has received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Deacon Shawn Jude Gautreaux(link is external), according to a news release. Following an initial inquiry, the Diocese has placed Gautreaux on administrative leave pending a further determination in the matter. The allegation received, according to the release, relates to a period of time many years before he was ordained a deacon. Further, the Diocese has reported the allegation to law enforcement authorities in St. Martin Parish.” By The Daily Advertiser

MAINE

Maine priest placed on leave following sexual abuse allegation
“A Roman Catholic priest serving several midcoast churches but who has worked throughout Maine is on temporary administrative leave while the diocese investigates a decades-old abuse allegation(link is external), officials said Monday (Jul. 5). According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, the Rev. Robert Vaillancourt has been accused of sexually abusing an underage girl in the 1980s. He has been placed on administrative leave while the diocese’s Office of Professional Responsibility conducts an internal investigation, consistent with the diocese’s protocol for such allegations.” By Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald

MASSACHUSETTS

Trial date set for Catholic priest charged with rape
“A trial date has been tentatively scheduled for the Catholic priest who was charged with rape in a local case(link is external). Mark Hession is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 5, according to a pretrial hearing Monday (Jul. 12) in Barnstable Superior Court. He faces two charges of rape, one charge of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, and one charge of intimidating a witness. Hession, a 63-year-old Fairhaven resident, on Jan. 11 pleaded not guilty to the charges.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times

MICHIGAN

Ex-Catholic priest in Oakland County faces more sex abuse charges
“A former priest in Oakland County charged with sexually assaulting a minor decades ago now faces two more cases(link is external), the Michigan Attorney General’s office announced Monday (Jun. 28). The three cases against Gary Berthiaume stem from allegations in the 1970s involving victims who were between 13 and 15 at the time, investigators said in a statement. Berthiaume, 80, was then a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, according to the release.” By Mark Hicks, The Detroit News

MINNESOTA

Northwest Minnesota priest cleared of child sex abuse; deacon now faces similar allegations
“Just days after a priest in the Crookston Catholic Diocese was cleared of sexually abusing a minor, leadership announced a deacon who oversaw youth camps is under investigation for similar accusations(link is external). Deacon Aaron Kaiser has been placed on administrative leave pending the probe into allegations of child sex abuse, according to a news release issued June 11. He has been removed from ministry.” By April Baumgarten, Brainerd Dispatch

NEW YORK.

Buffalo priest placed on leave following abuse allegations in new lawsuits
“A retired Buffalo priest who is accused of child sex abuse in two recent Child Victims Act lawsuits has been put on administrative leave(link is external). Bishop Michael W. Fisher suspended Monsignor James G. Kelly from active ministry Wednesday (Jun. 30) after an unnamed plaintiff said in court papers that Kelly molested him from 1980 to 1982. The plaintiff was an 8-to 10-year-old student of the Diocesan Educational Center and attended church at St. Nicholas and St. Benedict the Moor at the time of the alleged abuse. The school and both parishes are now defunct.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

OHIO

Cleveland-Area Catholic Priest Intends To Plead Guilty To Child Sex Charges
“A Cleveland-area Roman Catholic priest intends to plead guilty to federal charges involving the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography(link is external), according to his attorney. Attorney Robert Dixon filed a motion Thursday saying Robert McWilliams will plead guilty to charges contained in an indictment without a plea agreement. Dixon declined to comment on Friday (Jul. 2). McWilliams was accused by prosecutors in an indictment filed last July of posing online as a female to persuade boys to send him sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves and threatening to tell their parents if they did not send more images.” By KDKA-TV2 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Father Robert Cedolia, Catholic priest, charged with sexual assault
“A former priest-administrator at several Roman Catholic parishes in Allegheny County has been charged with twice sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy(link is external) who was preparing for his first Holy Communion, police said. The Rev. Robert J. Cedolia, 70, was charged with aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and related offenses for alleged sexual assaults that occurred in the spring of 1998 in the sacristy of Our Lady of Joy in Plum and two weeks later in a restroom at the back of the sanctuary, according to a criminal complaint filed by Allegheny County police detectives.” By Kris B. Mamula, Pittsburg Post-Gazette

SOUTH CAROLINA

Catholic church fires employee, allegation of sexual misconduct involving minor
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston has fired an employee over a 2016 allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor(link is external). The allegation was reported to Charleston Police Department on June 18, reports show. The employee was identified by the Diocese but his position was not noted. The Post and Courier is not naming the accused. ‘(The employee) was terminated after officials with the Diocese of Charleston learned of an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor,’ Maria Aselage, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Charleston, wrote.” By Olivia Diaz, The Post and Courier

CANADA

Disgraced Bishop Hubert O’Connor again accused of sexual assault
“A dead former B.C. Roman Catholic bishop convicted in 1997 of rape and indecent assault against residential school students has again been named in new allegations of sexual assault(link is external). The now-dead Bishop Hubert O’Connor is one of three priests named in the lawsuit. In 1997, O’Connor was convicted of rape and indecent assault of female students at schools. He was later acquitted of indecent assault in a 1999 appeal and a new trial was ordered for the rape charge but the Crown decided not to pursue the case after O’Connor apologized.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique News Magazine

5 more priests named in latest archdiocese sexual abuse report
“The latest progress report from the committee studying clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Vancouver names five more clergymen(link is external) involved in abuse settlements, lawsuits, or other cases. The previously unpublished names are Father Roland Joncas, Brother Edward Patrick English, Father Frederick Robert Neilsen, Father Duncan George Goguillot, and Father William Crawford Mendenhall.” By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

B.C. man sues Vancouver archdiocese over abuse claimed at Catholic summer camp
“Vernon Mulvahill says he has lived with an anger at his core since he was seven or eight years old. In the decades since, the Chilliwack truck driver’s rage has expressed itself through violence, heavy drinking and restlessness. Mulvahill says he is tired of feeling ashamed for a wrong that was done to him as a child. He is suing the Roman Catholic bishop of Vancouver and the archdiocese over sexual assault he claims happened at a summer camp(link is external) in the late 70s.” By Jason Proctor, CBC News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former priest jailed for repeated indecent assault of a boy in 1970s
“Former priest Tony Walsh has been jailed for two years for repeatedly indecently assaulting a child(link is external) 45 years ago. Walsh (67) was a trainee priest when he sexually abused the child victim on six occasions inside a church in the 1970s. Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Walsh has 39 previous convictions, 34 of which are for previous offences of indecent assault.” By Brion Hoban, The Irish Times

POLAND

Polish Catholic Church Facing Wave of Sex Abuse Allegations
“The Catholic Church in Poland is facing a wave of allegations of sexual abuse, church authorities said on Monday (Jun. 28), as they laid out statistics on the extent of abuse amid an investigation into alleged cover-ups by a senior clergyman. Seen by many as a core element of Poland’s national identity, the Catholic Church is a powerful force in public life. However, it has been rocked by a series of pedophilia scandals that have contributed to the erosion of its authority, especially among younger Poles.” By Reuters in U.S. News & World Report

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Vatican indicts 10, including a cardinal, in London deal / Associated Press

Five former Vatican officials, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu and two officials from the Secretariat of State, were indicted, as well as the Italian businessmen who handled the investment.

Associated Press

“A Vatican judge on Saturday (Jul. 3) indicted 10 people, including a once-powerful cardinal, on charges including embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion and fraud in connection with the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro investment in a London real estate venture.

“The president of the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, though lawyers for some defendants questioned how they could prepare for trial so soon given they hadn’t yet formally received the indictment.

“The 487-page indictment request was issued following a sprawling, two-year investigation into how the Secretariat of State managed its vast asset portfolio, much of which is funded by donations from the faithful. The scandal over its multimillion-dollar losses has resulted in a sharp reduction in donations and prompted Pope Francis to strip the office of its ability to manage the money.

“Five former Vatican officials, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu and two officials from the Secretariat of State, were indicted, as well as the Italian businessmen who handled the investment.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 30, 2021

TOP STORIES

New Vatican laws on clergy abuse not enough, says former papal commissioner
“A respected former member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse has expressed disappointment in the recent revision of the criminal section of the Catholic Church’s canon law, saying the changes do not go far enough to protect children and vulnerable adults from possible predators(link is external). Marie Collins, an Irish survivor who resigned in frustration from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2017, pointed during a June 15 webinar to the fact that the new provisions do not mandate that a priest found guilty of abuse be removed from any office he may hold, or from the priesthood.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

A Vatican office rallies the strength of the laity
The Holy See’s Dicasteries recounted from the inside: history, goals and mission – a look at how the offices work that support the Pope’s ministry. The prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, describes the work of his office in this interview.
Five years in existence and three areas of competence as big as the world can be summarized in a single word: laity(link is external). Pope Francis created this new structure of the Holy See in response to his wish to bring together men and women of every background, culture and part of the world. The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life is the privileged place and observatory to discern and promote all that can give prominence to the lay vocation in the Church and the world … The aim is to promote reflection in anthropological, moral, and philosophical areas, as well as action in political, economic, and ethical spheres in order to protect and promote the dignity of human life..” By Alessandro De Carolis

The abuse crisis and the elusive horizon of a repenting church
“The Catholic Church enjoyed a bit of a renewed honeymoon with the global media after the May 21st announcement of the ‘synodal process 2021–2023.’ But the love fest lasted only about a week.(link is external) It was brought to an abrupt and ugly end when law enforcement officials in Canada discovered 215 unmarked graves of indigenous children at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia. International organizations quickly demanded that the Church in Canada and the Holy See admit responsibility for the tragedy … For the Catholic Church in the 21stcentury, the present is unmanageable, the future continues to slip away, and the hope of a fresh start has become elusive.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

In Canada, Another ‘Horrific’ Discovery of Indigenous Children’s Remains
“The remains of 751 people, mainly Indigenous children, were discovered at the site of a former school in the province of Saskatchewan, a Canadian Indigenous group said on Thursday (Jun. 24), jolting a nation grappling with generations of widespread and systematic abuse of Indigenous people. The discovery, the largest one to date, came weeks after the remains of 215 children were found in unmarked graves on the grounds of another former boarding school(link is external) in British Columbia. Both schools were part of a system that took Indigenous children in the country from their families over a period of about 113 years, sometimes by force, and housed them in boarding schools, where they were prohibited from speaking their languages.” By Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky, The New York Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Synodality? What’s Synodality?
The USCCB just isn’t into it, and that’s a problem.
“This necessarily means a rebalancing of power in the Church—not only between the clergy and the laity or between men and women, but also (for example) between the power of money and the contributions of the voiceless. Therefore, even though the bishops are in charge, the synodal process requires a mobilization of the entire Church(link is external) … All have the opportunity to play an important role during the next two years. If everything is left to the vertical institution of the Church, this two-year ‘synodal process’ will simply perpetuate an ecclesiastical order that works only for an increasingly small number of people—that is, for clerics and the clericalized laity.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

UN rights experts urge Vatican to halt child sex abuse
“A group of United Nations human rights experts said Monday (Jun.21) they had urged Pope Francis and the Vatican to take steps to stop child sex abuse in Catholic institutions and prevent it from happening again(link is external). The experts called on ‘the Holy See to take all necessary measures to stop and prevent the recurrence of violence and sexual abuse against children in Catholic institutions, and to ensure those responsible are held to account and reparations are paid to victims.’ The four special rapporteurs, who do not speak for the United Nations but report their findings to it, wrote to the Vatican on April 7.” By Buenos Aires Times

Vatican regulates lay movements to prevent governance abuses
“The Vatican took steps Friday (Jun. 11) to better regulate Catholic lay religious movements(link is external) by imposing term limits on their leaders and requiring internal elections to be representative of their memberships. The Vatican’s laity office cracked down on the largely unregulated world of international associations of the faithful after some cases of abuses of authority and bad governance had been reported.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on MyJournalCourier.com

POPE FRANCIS

Francis names Oblate priest new secretary of papal clergy abuse commission
“Pope Francis has named Oblate Fr. Andrew Small secretary ‘pro tempore’ of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external). Small, 53, had served two terms as national director for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, and his successor there was named in April. The Vatican June 22 announced Small’s appointment to the commission, which Pope Francis established in 2014. The body of experts, with input from survivors, is meant to make proposals and spearhead initiatives to improve safeguarding norms and procedures throughout the church. Its work is separate from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s investigation and canonical prosecution of clerics accused of abuse.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

German says Pope made right call when he refused Cardinal’s resignation over abuse crisis
“A leading German bishop says Pope Francis made the right decision when he refused the resignation of German Cardinal Gerhard Marx(link is external), who had asked the pope to release him from his role as archbishop of Munich in an attempt to assume collective responsibility for the clerical sexual abuse scandals. ‘It creates security for the others: You never know for what mistake a bishop might be obliged to resign,’ said Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Carinal says Church law on abuse will need ‘continuous updating’
“Cardinal Oswald Gracias says the Church was trying to ‘answer present-day needs’ when it revised the section on canon law dealing with penal matters, but also noted Church law on abuse will need ‘continuous updating(link is external).’ Under the new version of the code promulgated at the beginning of the month, there is new chapter on “Offenses Against Human Life, Dignity, and Liberty,” covering matters of abuse.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

German cardinal’s resignation, refused by pope, reinvigorates church reform
“Pope Francis rejected the resignation of German Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s on Thursday (June 10), but the news did little to calm the shockwaves Marx’s move sent through the Vatican and supporters of Germany’s controversial Synodal Path movement(link is external), who view the prelate as their champion. In a letter published June 4, Marx offered his resignation to Francis in light of the sexual abuse scandals shaking the church in Germany and beyond, which Marx said was ‘also caused by our personal failure, by our own guilt.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

CCCB Statement – Delegation to the Holy See
“The Catholic Bishops in Canada have genuinely heard the sincere invitation to engage wholeheartedly with the past and are deeply committed to take truly meaningful active steps together with Indigenous Peoples in view of a future filled with greater respect and cooperation. The recent discovery of children’s remains at a burial site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia reminds us of a tragic legacy still felt today(link is external). With the strong encouragement of Pope Francis, the Bishops of Canada have pledged true and deep commitment to renewing and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land.” By the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Poland’s embattled bishops to meet with Pope Francis
“When Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, a retired Polish prelate, was sanctioned by the Vatican in late May for mishandling sexual abuse by his clergy, it was just the latest blow to the once-unsullied image of the country’s Catholic Church. In recent days, there have been reports that the Polish bishops have been specially summoned to Rome in the fall by Pope Francis because of a spate of sexual abuse cases(link is external) that have rocked the country’s church. Although officials have denied the accuracy of the reports, they nonetheless signal the deep unease now afflicting religious life in Europe’s most Catholic country.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Can the US bishops grasp Pope Francis’ ecclesial vision?
“When Cardinal Reinhard Marx published his remarkable and unexpected letter of resignation as archbishop of Munich and Freising on June 4, religion reporters, theologians and members of the hierarchy jumped on the phone to try and make sense of it. Some writers foolishly rushed into print with analysis … Francis did not accept the cardinal’s resignation. Again he surprised us. Not only that, his response to the German cardinal was so spiritually rich, and so provocative in its understanding of the source of episcopal authority(link is external), it could well serve as the starting point for the discussion the U.S. bishops will have at their spring meeting later this week. The pope’s vision might yet save the bishops’ conference from its worst instincts.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Irish bishops choose woman to head steering group for synodal pathway
“The Irish Catholic bishops have chosen a laywoman to head preparations for a national synod, due to be held in the next five years(link is external). Nicola Brady has worked in a number of peace-building roles, both nationally and internationally, and currently works on building relations between the Christian traditions in Ireland. Bishops meeting virtually for their summer 2021 plenary meeting announced June 16 that Brady will head up a new synodal steering group to make preparations.” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

VATICAN

Vatican to seek dismissal of Guam rape case
“The Holy See, or the Vatican, will be seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed against it by a former Catholic school student who claimed that former Archbishop Anthony Apuron raped him(link is external) in the mid-1990s. ‘The Holy See intends to file a motion to dismiss based upon numerous grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficient services of process and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,’ the Vatican’s legal team said in court filings. That motion would detail the team’s defense against claims that the Vatican is liable for an archbishop’s rape and molestation of children, among other things.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

Vatican regulates lay movements to prevent governance abuses
“The Vatican took steps Friday (Jun. 11) to better regulate Catholic lay religious movements by imposing term limits on their leaders and requiring internal elections to be representative of their memberships. The Vatican’s laity office cracked down on the largely unregulated world of international associations of the faithful after some cases of abuses of authority and bad governance(link is external) had been reported. Canon lawyers and theologians said the crackdown was perhaps a sign that other lay movements, which have flourished over the last half-century but were largely left to govern themselves, might be similarly targeted.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH REFORM

Voice of the Faithful 2021 Conference will feature well-known theologian and women religious leader
“An internationally recognized theologian and author and the leader of an organization representing thousands of women religious will speak at Voice of the Faithful’s 2021 Conference Re–Membering the Church: Moving Forward(link is external). Overall, this year’s VOTF conference will look closely at the body of the Catholic Church to see how structure, power, participation, and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world.” By PRZen on DigitalJournal.com

CHURCH FINANCES

No Vatican-NZ money-laundering probe
“Media coverage of a spectacular error in an Australian financial authority’s reporting of financial transactions from the Vatican to Australian(link is external) accounts earlier this year prompted some Catholic figures to mention possible New Zealand connections, as part of a wider discussion about money-laundering between nations. But New Zealand Police have told NZ Catholic that the New Zealand Financial Integrity Unit ‘has not commenced any money-laundering investigations in relation to the transfer of funds between the Vatican and New Zealand.’” By Michael Otto, New Zealand Catholic

Nun who ran Torrance Catholic school will plead guilty to stealing funds that financed gambling habit
“A nun who ran a Catholic elementary school in Torrance agreed to plead guilty to stealing more than $ 835,000 from school funds(link is external) to pay her personal expenses, including gambling habits. Mary Margaret Kluper, 79, was charged with one wire fraud and one money laundering charge on Tuesday, according to the California Central District Federal Attorney’s Office. The judicial transaction was submitted with the billing documents. Kluper’s lawyer, Mark Burn, said he was ‘extremely regretful of what happened’ about how Kluper became a nun at the age of 18 and devoted his life to helping others.” By California News Times

As new report released, Vatican bank chief says ‘bad old days’ are done
“With release of an annual report showing a healthy profit in 2020 despite the Coronavirus pandemic, Friday capped what’s already been a good run in June for the Institute for the Works of Religion, the so-called ‘Vatican bank,’ including good grades from Europe’s top financial watchdog and a key recognition by the IRS in America. In tandem with other milestones in recent years, President Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, the French economist and banker who’s led the IOR since 2014, believes June 2021 marks an historic turning point. ‘I think we can say,’ de Franssu told Crux, ‘that the era of the old Vatican bank is ove(link is external)r.’ By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

Sardinia charity linked to ousted Vatican cardinal searched
“Italian police searched the offices of a Sardinian charity and diocese on Wednesday (Jun. 9) on behalf of Vatican prosecutors who are investigating a once-powerful cardinal on alleged embezzlement charges(link is external). Lawyers for Cardinal Angelo Becciu said in a statement that any and all documentation seized would only serve to confirm the absolute correctness of the behavior’ of Becciu, the charity and the diocese of Ozieri. Pope Francis sacked Becciu as head of the Vatican’s saint-making office and stripped him of his rights and privileges as a cardinal in September, amid a crackdown on financial mismanagement and corruption in the Holy See.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Watchdog group: Vatican needs to improve handling of financial crimes
“Moneyval, the European financial watchdog committee, said that while the Vatican has made progress in combatting financial crimes, its investigations into potential crimes committed by senior officials needs more fine-tuning(link is external). The group, also known as the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, released its assessment of the Vatican’s compliance with financial regulation standards June 9. The 275-page report was published after experts from Moneyval conducted a two-week onsite inspection of the Vatican in October.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, America: The Jesuit Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Joe Biden, the Bishops & Vatican II: The Battle Over the Brand of U.S. Catholicism
“With the Catholic Church now besieged by scandal, financial collapse and an extraordinary exodus of the faithful hastened by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are good reasons to be worried that the bold experimental spirit of Vatican II, its hope for a church engaged with the world, is at its end(link is external) in these Biden years. Many Catholics could be tempted to indulge hopes that the Biden administration could be a new beginning for the council’s spirit of engagement with the world if Mr. Biden can excite Americans about Catholicism—while at the same time exciting Catholics about the goodness of our political obligations.” By Steven P. Millies, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Thomas Merton’s wisdom for a church in crisis
“It’s striking how timely those opening observations (of Thomas Merton’s) are 57 years later. Indeed, the church, at least within the United States, is facing a crisis(link is external). And, as I have written here before, part of what contributes to the crisis is the refusal of many bishops to recognize the ongoing creative power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, they double down on their own sense of self-assurance and the mistaken belief that they — and they alone — are responsible for the success or failure of Christ’s church. This is part of what I see playing out in their reduction of the Blessed Sacrament to an idolatrous token of political partisan approval or as a blasphemous weapon to be used in controlling the people of God.” By Daniel P. Horan, OFM, National Catholic Reporter

The collapse of the US bishops’ conference
What we witnessed last week at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring meeting was outrageous(link is external). As mentioned in my last column, bishops questioned each other’s motives without any objection from the chair. Bishops argued that this push to draft a document on the Eucharist was not motivated by politics, but then had to acknowledge that the idea came from a working group formed to cope with the Biden administration. And, in what would appear funny were it not so tragic, every time the principals in the effort to draft the document explained that they were not motivated by politics, that this effort was not directed at any one individual, one of the culture warrior backbenchers would get up and mention President Joe Biden by name.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church response to sexual abuse must center on survivor well-being, not defensiveness
“In light of the recent discovery of 215 Indigenous children in unmarked graves at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia and investigations at other former residential schools, there have been renewed calls for the Pope to apologize for residential schools and for the Catholic Church to release its records(link is external). The story has also turned public scrutiny on how the Catholic Church has responded to other calls to apologize and be accountable to victims in cases of sexual abuse both in residential schools and throughout the church.” By Beth Daley, TheConversation.com

Church For Residential Schools: Experts
Too few people in charge of residential schools have faced legal consequences for ‘crimes against humanity” committed against Indigenous children, experts say.
Following the discovery of the remains of 215 undocumented children, some as young as 3, under a former residential school in British Columbia, calls are mounting for leaders and staff of residential schools to be punished. Starting in the 1800s, residential schools were funded by the Canadian government and operated by churches to forcibly assimilate an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children. More than half of all schools were Catholic-run. Sweeping physical and sexual abuses, disease, and malnutrition were rampant, and up to 15,000 children, many undocumented, were killed nationwide(link is external). The last school only closed its doors in the mid-1990s.” By Anya Zoledziowski, VICE.com

A mass grave for Indigenous children was found in Canada. Could it happen in the United States
“After years of grueling testimony about the treatment of First Nations and other Indigenous children in residential boarding schools during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Canadians could be forgiven if they believed they had already heard the worst. But on May 27, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that a land survey using ground-penetrating radar at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia discovered the remains of 215 children—and more are expected to be found(link is external) after another survey this month.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

As Child Victims Act nears end, details of abuse still elusive
“Nearly two years ago, the Child Victims Act went into effect, touted as a way to bring both a reckoning for individuals and institutions involved in decades of child abuse and a measure of justice for their victims. But none of the thousands of court cases that have been filed in New York have yet gone to trial(link is external) and many details of the alleged institutional coverups that shielded the abuse remain cloaked in secrecy.” By Edward McKinley, Times Union

New Maine law will remove time barrier to civil claims on childhood sexual abuse
Anyone who has experienced childhood sexual abuse in Maine soon will be able to file a civil claim against their perpetrator, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred(link is external). In 2000, Maine eliminated the statute of limitations for those lawsuits. But that policy was not retroactive, so victims whose claims had expired still could not bring them forward. On Monday (Jun. 21), Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill that will lift the statute of limitations for those cases as well. Supporters said that means more survivors will have the option to take their abusers to court.” By Megan Gray, Portland Press Herald

Pa. lawmakers threaten university funding over statute of limitations deadlock
“A pair of state lawmakers who sponsored a bill to give adult survivors of child sexual abuse the right to sue their assailants beyond the statute of limitations say they will block state appropriations for Pennsylvania’s public research universities if Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward continues to stall a vote on their bill. State Reps. Jim Gregory, R-Blair County, and Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, say they’ve assembled a coalition of lawmakers from diverse sectors who are willing to block funding to Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities unless Ward, a Hempfield Republican, moves the bill to a vote.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Louisiana Legislature allows for more child sex abuse lawsuits — including against the Catholic Church
“The Catholic Church and other major institutions accused of mistreating children stand to lose a lot more money to lawsuits brought by victims of abuse(link is external) under a bill unanimously approved by the Louisiana Legislature Thursday. House Bill 492, sponsored by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, removes the time limit for civil lawsuits over child abuse. Currently, a person must sue over child abuse before they turn 28 years old.” By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

First-Of-Its-Kind Law Allows Child Sex Assault Survivors To Sue Institutions That Covered Up Abuse
“On the last day of the legislative session, state lawmakers gave final approval to what will be a first-in-the-nation law. The bill will allow survivors of child sexual assault between 1960 and 2022 to sue institutions like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts if their assault was the result of a cover-up by the institution(link is external). They will have three years to file the lawsuit. Earlier this year, lawmakers lifted the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases going forward but, because the state constitution bars retroactive claims, it didn’t help those abused in the past. This bill creates a new type of claim not under the statute of limitations.” By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Do not say ‘rape’ but term it ‘inappropriate contact’: Catholic Church
“In 2018, the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime – the division within the bureau that provides profiles of violent criminals, among other things – reviewed much of the evidence the Pennsylvania Grand Jury received and concluded that its analysis of the material revealed something akin to ‘a playbook for concealing the truth(link is external).’ First, the church employed euphemisms for sexual assault, referring to the crime not as rape, but as ‘inappropriate contact’ or ‘boundary issues,’ center investigators said. In one case, the grand jury reported a priest’s repeated and violent sexual assaults of children were referred to as ‘his difficulties.’” By Savio Rodrigues, Goa Chronicle

Catholic churches publicly report a fraction of sexual abuse allegations
“The number of sexual abuse accusations made public by Catholic churches in Illinois is a fourth of the total number(link is external), according to Attorney General Kwame Raoul. An investigation launched by Former Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2018 discovered Catholic churches kept at least 500 sexual abuse accusations a secret. At the time, only 185 clergy members in the state were publicly identified as being “credibly” accused of child sexual abuse. Madigan announced her investigation in August 2018, and by December, the state discovered those 500 undisclosed cases, bringing the total number of allegations up to about 690.” By Renée Cooper, WCIA.com

CALIFORNIA

Attorney says ‘predator’ Craig Harrison sexually assaulted 2 minors, one at Bakersfield church
“Attorneys have filed lawsuits alleging former priest Craig Harrison sexually assaulted two minors(link is external), one at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Bakersfield. Harrison sexually assaulted a 13-year-old at St. Francis in about 1990, said plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson at a press conference in Fresno. He said Harrison lured the teen into the rectory and ‘violated him repeatedly.’” By Jason Kotowski, KGET.com Bakersfield

Diocese of Fresno vows to soon release report on priests accused of sexual misconduct
“The Diocese of Fresno is close to releasing a much-anticipated report on priests accused of sexual misconduct, an official said Wednesday (Jun.9). ‘We are in the process of finalizing that report,’ said Cheryl Sarkisian, chancellor and victim assistance coordinator for the diocese. ‘It has been time- and labor-intensive and is close to being finalized for release soon. The diocese under then-Bishop Armando Ochoa vowed in January 2019 to release a list of accused priests, much like other dioceses have done across the country.’” By Robert Rodriguez, Fresno Bee

ILLINOIS

Chicago Archdiocese settles sexual abuse suit for $880,000
“Two men who said they were sexually molested decades ago by a notorious Catholic priest who was imprisoned for molesting other boys have agreed to a settlement of $880,000(link is external) from the Archdiocese of Chicago, attorneys announced Wednesday (Jun.23). The men alleged Norbert Maday sexually abused them repeatedly starting when they were as young as 10 years old while they were altar boys and students at St. Bede the Venerable Elementary School on the city’s South Side, attorneys Jason Friedl and Martin Gould said.” By Don Babwin, Associated Press

How one Catholic order closes its eyes to sexual abuse by clergy
“Among Catholic religious orders in the United States that, like the U.S. church itself, are facing a national reckoning over clergy sexual abuse of children, the Claretians stand out(link is external). The Claretians operate Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3200 E. 91st St. on the Southeast Side, which was the first Mexican American Catholic congregation in Chicago. Many of the order’s ministries center on children, including tutoring, violence prevention and arts programs. Like other orders that operate in the Chicago area, the Claretians have faced abuse allegations. Six clerics accused of sexual abuse have served at some point at Our Lady of Guadalupe, records show.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Tmes

Northwest Side pastor reinstated following sexual abuse investigation by Archdiocese of Chicago
“The Archdiocese of Chicago reinstated the Rev. Daniel McCarthy to a Northwest Side parish(link is external) less than a year after a decades-old sexual abuse allegation surfaced. In a letter released Monday to the congregation of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish and School, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich stated McCarthy would be reinstated effective immediately following an investigation from last year’s report. ‘The Review Board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father McCarthy is guilty of these allegations,’ Cupich stated in the letter.” By Elvia Malagón, Chicago Sun-Times

IOWA

Iowa Attorney General’s report reviews dozens of ‘overwhelming’ sex-abuse complaints against Catholic priests
“In Iowa as in the rest of the country, the incidence and duration of sexual abuse by clergy ‘were overwhelming’ and the cover-up ‘extensive(link is external)’ in earlier decades, a report by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office that was released Wednesday (Jun. 23) concludes. A years long investigation by the office reviewed nearly 50 complaints of sexual abuse against current and former Catholic priests and other officials, including 17 allegations that had never before been reported.” By William Morris and Melody Mercado, Des Moines Register

KANSAS

KCK Catholic diocese says finding that priest did not sexually abuse minor was wrong
“A finding in 2002 that one of its priests did not sexually abuse a minor was inaccurate(link is external), the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced on Friday (Jun.18). ‘With deep sorrow for the suffering of victims and survivors of abuse, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announces that William Haegelin, a priest who was removed from ministry in 2002 and laicized in 2004, has been the subject of a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor,’ the archdiocese said in a statement published in Friday’s issue of The Leaven, its official newspaper.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

A Catholic Priest Admitted to Raping a Child. Because His Deposition Is Sealed, He Walks Free.
“The Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse (SCSA) issued a letter to various law enforcement officials requesting that they read the sealed deposition of accused child rapist, and former Catholic priest(link is external), Lawrence Hecker. The President of SCSA Richard Windmann explained that a ‘Federal Court in New Orleans, Louisiana, has sealed a deposition in which a Catholic priest admitted to raping a child. Because the deposition is sealed by the court, this predator is a free man on the streets of our community, and no child is safe, and he has escaped Justice.’” By Helen Lewis, Big Easy Magazine

Faced with financial liability, Lafayette Diocese and fallen priest shift blame to victim’s family
“Disgraced priest Michael Guidry has twice changed his story about the night in 2015 that he molested a teenage altar boy in the rectory of St. Peter’s Church in Morrow(link is external), a small community in St. Landry Parish. When the boy reported the abuse three years later, Guidry initially told St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives that he could not recall the fondling. But moments before taking a lie detector test, he admitted rubbing the boy’s genitals.” By Ben Myers, The Acadiana Advocate

MICHIGAN

Former Jackson music teacher facing 10-20 years in prison after sexual abuse plea
“A former music teacher is facing 10 to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse charges dating to his tenure at a Jackson Catholic school(link is external) in the 1970s. Joseph Comperchio pleaded guilty Friday (Jun. 18) in Jackson County Circuit Court to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office. Nessel’s office in September charged Comperchio with six counts of criminal sexual conduct for sexually abusing two children and added five new counts in October related two individuals.” By Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News

Former Catholic school teacher downstate pleads guilty; 4th conviction in AG’s Clergy Abuse investigation
“A former Catholic school music teacher will serve at least a decade in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of criminal sexual conduct(link is external), which will result in the harshest prison sentence thus far in the Michigan Department of Attorney General’s ongoing clergy abuse investigation. Joseph – or Josef – Comperchio, of Fort Myers, Florida, was first charged last September for sexually abusing two children. In those cases, he was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Then in October of last year, five new counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving two individuals were added.” By FOX-TV6 News

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Supreme Court sends case accusing Catholic priest of abuse back to Forrest County
“Robert McGowen’s hopes for relief decades after he says he was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest(link is external) are still alive after the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling Thursday (Jun. 17). McGowen was 12 and 13 years old in 1984-85, when he says he was sexually abused by former Sacred Heart Catholic Church priest Father John Scanlon. McGowen said he did not remember the abuse until one day in December 2018, after which he sought counseling, according to court documents.” By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American

MISSOURI

Kansas City diocese hasn’t named all priests credibly accused of sex abuse, group says
“The Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese has failed to include nearly 20 priests on its list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse even though they are named elsewhere(link is external), a victim’s advocate group said Wednesday (Jun. 23). Those priests — including one convicted in Texas of trying to hire a hit man to kill his victim— all had ties to the diocese in the past, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group publicly released the names at an afternoon news conference.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW JERSEY

Attorney for clergy sex-abuse victims claims Camden diocese ‘underreported’ assets
“The Diocese of Camden ‘grossly underreported’ its assets in a bankruptcy filing in an effort to ‘disadvantage survivors of clergy abuse(link is external),’ a lawyer charged Wednesday (Jun. 23). Attorney Jeff Anderson asserted Bishop Dennis Sullivan, the diocese’s leader, ‘has at least $774 million under his control.’ In contrast, he said, the diocese’s bankruptcy filing lists assets of almost $54 million and net assets after liabilities of $28.1 million.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

Law firm adds 9 N.J. priests to list of accused abusers, as deadline nears in diocese’s bankruptcy case
“Anyone who was sexually abused by a Catholic priest has less than two weeks to file a claim before a deadline set in the Diocese of Camden’s bankruptcy case, attorneys said as they added nine new names to the list of accused priests(link is external). The diocese — which includes parishes in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties — filed for bankruptcy last fall after church officials said its finances were overwhelmed by clergy sexual abuse settlements and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

N.J. man sues Delbarton School alleging monks sexually abused him repeatedly in the 1970s
“A former star athlete and football player at Delbarton School in Morris County has filed a lawsuit against the order that runs the private Catholic institution, claiming three monks sexually abused him as a teenager(link is external) in the 1970s – the latest in a series of similar lawsuits filed against the school. Rodney Baron, now 57, claims in the lawsuit he was abused in the late 1970s when he was 13 or 14 years old. Baron states in the suit that he and his brother were the only Black students at Delbarton and were instructed to be ‘exceptionally obedient’ because of their race.” By Anthony G. Attrino, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Buffalo Diocese to monitor 18 priests accused of abuse with home visits, restrictions
“The Buffalo Diocese, heavily criticized by State Attorney General Letitia James for not keeping better tabs on priests who molested children, is launching a monitoring program that will include monthly home visits and other restrictions for offending priests(link is external). Bishop Michael W. Fisher confirmed in an interview with The News that the diocese has developed and begun to implement a ‘detailed monitoring plan with a professional monitor who will be in contact with each of these priests who have been relieved of ministry.’” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Tollner seeks info from Diocese on abuse he says he suffered
“Rensselaerville resident Richard Tollner has filed a legal petition against the Diocese of Albany, relating to an effort to secure justice against a Catholic priest whom Tollner says sexually abused him when he was a teenage prep-school student(link is external) in Nassau County. The petition for pre-action discovery, filed on May 28, would allow Tollner and his attorneys to acquire information from the Diocese of Albany that would help them to ‘fully evaluate [Tollner’s] claims’ against the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which oversaw the prep school, St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary, where Tollner says he was sexually assaulted a number of times by Alan Placa in the 1970s.” By The Altamont Enterprise

Rochester diocese seeks approval for $35M settlement with insurers for sex abuse victims
“The Diocese of Rochester has asked a federal judge to approve a $35 million settlement agreement with its insurers to help pay survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). In a statement issued Friday (Jun. 11) afternoon, the diocese said the proposed agreement was with Lloyd’s of London and Interstate Fire and Casuality, who are among the major insurers involved in its bankruptcy case.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Sexual abuse claims at Bronx Catholic school spanning 3 decades come to life
“It’s taken him decades to tell his story, but one man is sharing with News 12 his traumatic memories of being sexually abused as a little boy for years at a Catholic school(link is external) and community center in the Bronx. He says the time to get justice is now as the expiration date for the state’s Child Victims Act approaches. ‘As a little child, I could not process what was happening to me. I felt defenseless, I felt dirty. I felt it was my fault,’ said the man. John Doe spoke with News 12’s Asha McKenzie under protection of anonymity.” By News 12 Staff

Rochester diocese seeks approval for $35M settlement with insurers for sex abuse victims
“The Diocese of Rochester has asked a federal judge to approve a $35 million settlement agreement with its insurers to help pay survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). In a statement issued Friday (Jun. 11) afternoon, the diocese said the proposed agreement was with Lloyd’s of London and Interstate Fire and Casuality, who are among the major insurers involved in its bankruptcy case.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

NEVADA

Law Review: Seven more victims sue the Catholic Church
“A few years ago, this column summarized the statistics of thousands of lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church for ignoring the molestation of children by priests who historically were transferred to other parishes where their pedophilia continued. Today’s case, Ratcliff v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, analyzes a new case filed by seven adults. Seven adults claiming they were molestation victims(link is external), sued the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles and related individuals and entities for molestation allegedly committed by Father Christopher Cunningham.” By Jim Porter, Sierra Sun

TEXAS

New list of clergy accused of sex abuse released by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
“Faith leaders from the Catholic dioceses in Texas have added four more names to the list of clergy who were accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) from 1950 through the end of 2018. The original list was presented as part of an effort to bring about the restoration of trust, according to the website hosted by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The updated list includes John Patrick Barry, C.S.B., Franz B. Lickteig, O.Carm. and William ‘Herb’ Schreiner, C.S.B. who have all been “deceased for decades.” By ABC-TV13 News

WISCONSIN

Lawsuit claims racial discrimination in treatment of clergy abuse survivors
“We’ve heard the reports of alleged and confirmed sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, but we’re also learning about racial disparities in the treatment of clergy abuse victims(link is external). In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, June 8, the lawyer for a Black clergy abuse victim accused the Franciscans of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headquartered in Franklin, Wisconsin, and the Diocese of Jackson Mississippi, of discrimination. He said both churches ignored Raphael Love’s repeated claim of abuse by former Franciscan Brother Paul West.” By CBS 58 Newsroom

AUSTRALIA

Some abuse survivors to receive advance payments
Elderly and terminally ill survivors of child sexual abuse will be able to access advance compensation payments of up to $10,000(link is external), after an inquiry found the scheme designed to support victims is a bureaucratic nightmare. In its first two years of operation, the national redress scheme has been criticized as incredibly slow, overly complicated and traumatizing for survivors forced to recount horrific tales of abuse in the hope of securing financial support. A review commissioned by the Morrison Government has been released by Social Services Minister Anne Ruston and agreed with many of those sentiments.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Ottawa archbishop apologizes for Catholic Church’s role in residential school system
“Ottawa-Cornwall Archbishop Marcel Damphousse issued a formal apology Monday (Jun. 21) to Indigenous people for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system(link is external). He also called on Pope Francis, the global head of the church of approximately 1.3 billion people, to apologize, as well. The apology is the latest expression of contrition from a Canadian Catholic leader since the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked burial sites of children’s remains adjacent to a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. It follows similar apologies from the archbishops of Vancouver and Regina.” By Ryan Patrick Jones, CBC News

Catholic order that staffed Kamloops residential school refuses to share records families seek
“The order of nuns that taught at the former Kamloops residential school, and others in B.C., continues to withhold important documents that could help tell the story of how Indigenous children died at the schools over the past 150 years(link is external). The Sisters of St. Ann has never approved the release of relevant government records — documents that could relate to deaths at the schools — according to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the religious order.” By Angela Sterritt, Jennifer Wilson,·CBC News

Sask. Catholic churches delay, reject calls to release internal files on abuser priests
“Joey Basaraba cries randomly while sitting in his Saskatoon apartment, in the shower or out walking. He can’t remember the last time he slept through the night. ‘I take it one day at a time,” Basaraba said in an interview this week. Basaraba, who says he was sexually abused for years starting at age six by two Prince Albert, Sask., priests(link is external), is joining the renewed national calls for church transparency after the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a Catholic residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.” By Jason Warick,·CBC News

GERMANY

Archdiocese of Berlin suspends work of commission on sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Berlin announced that it was temporarily suspending the work of its expert commission established to follow up on a legal report about sexual abuse in the archdiocese(link is external) since 1946. The archdiocese said June 22 that the commission is recommending that findings from the legal firm Redeker Sellner Dahs be reworked or that another legal firm be commissioned to investigate the abuse. In a statement later that day, lawyers Sabine Wildfeuer and Peter-Andreas Brand of Redeker Sellner Dahs said they learned about the suspension of the archdiocesan Sexual Abuse Expert Commission through the media.” By Anli Serfontein, Cruxnow.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Fr Malachy Finnegan: Abuse survivor Tony Gribben gets six-figure settlement
“A man abused for years by a pedophile priest at a County Down school is to receive a six-figure sum in damages(link is external), the High Court has been told. Tony Gribben, 61, sued the trustees and board of governors at St Colman’s College in Newry and the Diocese of Dromore. He took the lawsuit over the sexual and physical assaults suffered at the hands of the late Father Malachy Finnegan. The pay-out to Mr Gribben forms part of a settlement.” By BBC News

‘The Irish Handmaid’s Tale’: Mother and baby home survivor says reality was worse than fiction
“The way survivors of mother and baby homes have been treated by the Catholic Church and successive governments in Ireland amounts to ‘abuse of the abused(link is external),’ one woman has said. Terri Harrison was among the survivors to give testimony to the Investigation Committee of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. Speaking to The Journal, Terri said that recalling the trauma she suffered when coerced into giving her son up for adoption, and her ongoing search for him, while giving evidence to the Commission was incredibly difficult.” By TheJournal.ie

‘I was disgusted by it’: Former Belvedere College pupils claim priest assaulted them
“A number of former pupils of Belvedere College in Dublin have alleged that a priest who taught at the fee-paying secondary school assaulted them(link is external) in the late 1970s and 1980s. In March the Jesuits in Ireland publicized the name of a former Belvedere College teacher, Fr Joseph Marmion SJ, who is now deceased, to encourage people who may have suffered abuse to come forward. The Order said at the time that Marmion had ‘sexually, emotionally and physically’ abused pupils at Belvedere College in Dublin in the 1970s.” By The Irish Journal

Retired priest seeks to stop child sex abuse trial going ahead
“A retired priest is seeking a High Court order halting his trial on charges of child sexual abuse dating back to the 1960s. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is facing four charges of sexual assault of a female(link is external) on dates between 1966 and 1969. The complainant was a secondary school student and a minor at the time of the alleged assaults in Co Galway. The first assault is alleged to have taken place in the room of an abbey.” By Aodhan O’Faolain, The Irish Times

POLAND

Poland asks Vatican’s data for its church sex abuse probes
“Poland’s state commission for fighting sex abuse of minors said Thursday (Jun. 24) it has asked the Vatican for data on abuse by the clergy in Poland because Poland’s church is not providing the requested information(link is external). Head of the commission Blazej Kmieciak said that some 30% of cases of abuse of persons aged under 15 that the commission is analyzing relate to the clergy. He said, however, that despite written requests made earlier this year to regional leaders of Poland’s Catholic Church and of other churches, only one bishops’ court made its files available to the State Commission for Cases of Pedophilia.” By Associated Press in Las Vegas Sun

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 14, 2021

TOP STORIES

New Vatican law criminalizes abuse of adults, even by laity
“Pope Francis has changed church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority, and to say that laypeople who hold church office can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes(link is external). The new provisions, released Tuesday (Jun. 1) after 14 years of study, were contained in the revised criminal law section of the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law, the in-house legal system that covers the 1.3 billion-strong Catholic Church. The most significant changes are contained in two articles, 1395 and 1398, which aim to address major shortcomings in the church’s handling of sexual abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Governance report ‘catalyst for conversation’
“Catholic Religious Australia is launching a series of online conversations to explore the 2020 Church governance review report(link is external), ‘The Light from the Southern Cross.’ ‘The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia’ report, published in August 2020, has been commended as an important and substantial contribution to the life and mission of the Church in Australia, and a roadmap for the future of the Church. CRA president Br. Peter Carroll FMS said, ‘The report is a valuable resource and in light of the Plenary Council, the timing is right for the People of God to reflect on the themes in the report and discern what those themes mean to them.’ By CathNews.com

Archdiocese of Milwaukee says it won’t participate in AG investigation of clergy sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is pushing back against a recently announced attorney general investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy(link is external), calling it a display of ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ and a violation of the First Amendment. In a letter from the archdiocese’s attorney, Frank LoCoco of the Milwaukee firm Husch Blackwell, contends Attorney General Josh Kaul doesn’t have the authority to investigate the Catholic dioceses of the state and that doing so would go against the U.S. Constitution and state laws.” By Laura Schulte and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Pope Francis orders review of the Vatican congregation that oversees over 410,000 Catholic priests worldwide
“Pope Francis has asked an Italian bishop, Msgr. Egidio Miragoli, 65, to carry out a visitation of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, which has oversight of the more than 410,000 Catholic priests around the world(link is external). Bishop Miragoli broke the news today, June 7, in a letter to the priests of the Diocese of Mondovi, in Italy’s Piedmont region, where he is pastor … He (Miragoli) revealed that on June 3, Francis explained in some detail what he expected him to do when he met the bishop at a private audience in Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where the pope lives. The bishop did not disclose the details of his brief, and the Vatican has not commented on the meeting or a visitation of the congregation.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis refuses resignation of German cardinal, commends his courage
“Although agreeing with him that the clerical abuse crisis is a ‘catastrophe,’ Pope Francis rejected the resignation presented to him by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx(link is external) as archbishop of the archdiocese of Munich. ‘You tell me that you are going through a moment of crisis, and not only you but also the Church in Germany is going through it,’ Francis wrote in a letter dated June 10. ‘The whole Church is in crisis because of the abuse matter; moreover, the Church today cannot take a step forward without addressing this crisis.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Vatican punishes Polish churchmen for alleged abuse cover-up
“The Vatican said March 29 that it is punishing a retired Polish archbishop and a bishop for their alleged roles in covering up sexual abuse committed by other clergymen(link is external). Former Gdansk Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz and former Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz have also been forbidden from living in their former dioceses or participating in any public religious celebrations there. The Vatican Embassy in predominantly Roman Catholic Poland also said each of the two is being required to contribute personal money into a fund helping victims of clerical abuse.” By Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter

Poland’s embattled bishops to meet with Pope Francis
“When Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, a retired Polish prelate, was sanctioned by the Vatican in late May for mishandling sexual abuse by his clergy, it was just the latest blow to the once-unsullied image of the country’s Catholic Church. In recent days, there have been reports that the Polish bishops have been specially summoned to Rome in the fall by Pope Francis(link is external) because of a spate of sexual abuse cases that have rocked the country’s church. Although officials have denied the accuracy of the reports, they nonetheless signal the deep unease now afflicting religious life in Europe’s most Catholic country.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Missing residential school records: Vatican won’t release documents, feds destroyed files
“While the Vatican has refused to release residential school records, it isn’t the only body suppressing the racism and abuse experienced within these institutions(link is external). The Canadian government destroyed 15 tons of paper documents related to the residential school system between 1936 and 1944, including 200,000 Indian Affairs files. From the age of four, Mike Cachagee attended three separate residential schools in northern Ontario. But there are few records to prove it.” By Omar Sachedina and Brooklyn Neustaeter, CTV News

POPE FRANCIS

A reforming pope’s dilemma: Using the center to deliver decentralization
“Before St. John Paul II, the old joke used to go that being pope meant never having to say you’re sorry. Since John Paul actually apologized for various failures and sins of the church well in excess of 100 times, that bit of papal humor no longer really applied. However, here’s another old papal saw that’s still highly relevant: ‘Do as I say, not as I do(link is external).’ The thought comes to mind in light of news that the Vatican under Pope Francis, for the very first time in history, is carrying out a financial audit of the Diocese of Rome.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Pope orders visitation of German archdiocese
“Pope Francis has ordered an apostolic visitation ‘to obtain a comprehensive picture of the complex pastoral situation’ in the Archdiocese of Cologne and to investigate how accusations of clerical sexual abuse were handle(link is external)d, the Vatican nuncio to Germany announced. The pope asked Swedish Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm and Dutch Bishop Johannes van den Hende of Rotterdam to carry out the visitation, which include onsite visits in the first half of June, the note said.” By Catholic News Service on UCANews.com

Pope expresses sorrow but no apology for indigenous school deaths in Canada
“Pope Francis expressed sorrow Sunday (Jun. 6) for the gruesome discovery of a mass grave in Canada containing the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children. The remains were found at a boarding school for Indigenous Canadians, operated by Catholic clergy. ‘I join the Canadian Bishops and the whole Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people, who have been traumatized by this shocking news,’ Francis told an audience in St. Peter’s Square, according to a translation of prepared remarks. ‘This sad discovery further heightens awareness of the pain and sufferings of the past.’” By Matthew S. Schwartz, National Public Radio

CARDINALS

Cardinal Marx offers Pope Francis his resignation, citing ‘responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse’
“In a decision that has sent shock waves through the German Catholic Church, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, 67, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, revealed that on May 21 he met Pope Francis in the Vatican and handed him his letter of resignation(link is external), with a strong plea that the pontiff accept it. He said Francis asked him to continue serving as bishop of the archdiocese until he has made a decision on his request. In a declaration issued today (Jun. 4), Cardinal Marx said: ‘It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse perpetrated by representatives of the church over the past decades.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

PRIESTS

Pope Francis: The church needs fragile pastors – not ‘superman’ priests
“Pope Francis told a group of priests studying in Rome that if they do not want to be pastors, spending time with the faithful, they should request dismissal(link is external) from the priesthood and concentrate on academics instead. ‘Be pastors with the scent of your sheep, persons able to live, laugh and cry with your people—in other words, to communicate with them,’ the pope told the priests June 7. The priests, who are studying at pontifical universities in Rome, live at the city’s St. Louis of France residence.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Wisconsin priest digs in to refuse bishop’s demand to resign
“The Rev. James Altman calls himself ‘a lowly priest’ serving a blue-collar city in western Wisconsin. But when his bishop demanded his resignation – after a series of divisive remarks about politics and the pandemic – Altman refused to oblige(link is external) and has since raised more than $640,000 from his conservative supporters to defend himself. While not unprecedented, a Catholic priest’s refusal to abide by a bishop’s call to resign is certainly rare. Altman’s case, which has garnered national attention and made him a celebrity of sorts among conservative Catholics, has further fueled the divide between them and those urging a more progressive, inclusive church.” By Todd Richmond and David Crary, Religion News Service

We need to talk about our Catholic seminaries
“We are looking for our priests to be shepherds; to live among us, to listen to our joys and sorrows, and above all to love us with the heart of Jesus. In my last podcast, I talked with the Rev. Erich Rutten, a white priest who pastors St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, a historically Black Catholic parish in Saint Paul, Minn. He recounted how he prepared for his current assignment at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University(link is external) in New Orleans, La.” By Gloria Purvis, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN’S VOICES

Ambassador welcomes Vatican ‘See change’ on women
“There is ‘definitely’ a change in the Holy See in their approach to women(link is external), according to Sally Axworthy, British ambassador to the Holy See. ‘There are more senior appointments now…Sister Natalie Becker is the deputy in charge of synods, there’s a deputy foreign minister who’s a woman…women are increasingly being appointed to positions of real responsibility in the Vatican.’ By Sebastian Milbank, The Tablet

New canon on women’s ordination nothing new, can be changed
“Now it is formally illegal to ordain a woman as a deacon. Or as a priest. Or as a bishop(link is external). On June 1, Pope Francis promulgated revisions to the Code of Canon Law detailing crimes and punishments. The new ‘Book VI: Penal Sanctions in the Church’ takes effect Dec. 8. Most of the revisions have to do with crimes of sexual abuse and the responses (or non-responses) of bishops and religious superiors. Some have to do with financial crimes. And then there is the one about women’s ordination: ‘Can. 1379 § 3. Both a person who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive the sacred order, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by dismissal from the clerical state.’” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Priests testify at Vatican trial on abuse in minor seminary
“Several priests, some of whom were former students at a minor seminary located in the Vatican, testified at the ongoing trial of Fr. Gabriele Martinelli, who is accused of sexually abusing a younger student at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary(link is external). The priests — Frs. Giuliano Zanotta, Daniele Pinton, Giampaolo Cozzi and Ambrogio Marinoni — described Father Martinelli’s influence at the minor seminary, as well as that of his mentor and former rector of St. Pius X, Msgr. Enrico Radice, and L.G., the victim who is also a former student. Also testifying was Deacon Alessio Primante.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH REFORM

Pope pushes “synodality” dialog to reform Catholic Church
“Using the word ‘synodality’ at the start of an article is enough to turn readers off. Boring! And when they learn it’s about the Roman Catholic Church, many might say they’re interested only in its scandals about sex or money. But the champion of this ‘synodality’ reform drive is Pope Francis, one of the world’s most popular religious leaders(link is external). The drive will be either his biggest victory or the worst failure of his papacy. And its success will depend to a large part on how young people react to it.” By Tom Heneghan, News-Decoder.com

Vatican Curia, semper reformanda
“A new papal document reforming the Curia — the Vatican bureaucracy, mostly composed of priests and bishops — will soon be published(link is external). I’m sure Pope Francis’ heart is in the right place, but I expect to be disappointed. Attempts to reform the Curia have been going on since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, each announced with great fanfare, but the effects were only incremental. There is no reason to expect anything better this time.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

Perth Catholic priest who denied stealing almost $500,000 from church agrees to pay money back
“A Catholic priest previously accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish(link is external) has settled civil proceedings with the church, acknowledging he used parish money partly for personal use and agreeing to pay it back. Father Joseph Walsh had been facing criminal charges, accused of stealing the funds from St Joseph’s parish in Subiaco by allegedly using church credit cards and cheques to pay for personal expenses between 2014 and 2017.” By Nicolas Perpitch, ABC News

Cathedral fraudster who took £235,000 must pay back £1
“A fraudster who took £235,000 from Norwich’s Catholic Cathedral(link is external) has been ordered to pay back £1 because he has no money left. Rene Mugenzi siphoned off the cash while volunteering as the treasurer at St John the Baptist from 2016 to 2018. He moved the money, much of which had been donated by the congregation and was designated for charity work, from the Cathedral’s account into his own.” By Tom Bristow, Eastern Daily Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

What new revisions to the Cod of Canon Law mean for safeguarding
“The new series of laws and provisions set out in the revised section on crimes and penalties in the Code of Canon Law will help the Catholic Church in its efforts at safeguarding(link is external), said two canon lawyers. And yet, like with every new norm and measure, its success will depend on following through on enforcement, being mindful in interpreting still unclear aspects and working on remaining gaps, they said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

VOICES

Church still incapable of saying there is no excuse for a priest abusing a child
“I don’t know whether he or the people around him still regard the institution as more important than the people it is supposed to serve, but sometimes abuses. Or maybe it’s just — and I don’t know the answer to this either — he and those around him think we’re all fools. Whatever the answer to those questions, I don’t believe it is possible to read the most recent changes to canon law — the law of the Catholic Church — without feeling utterly let down by Pope Francis(link is external). The Pope who promised so much, but has changed as little as possible.” By Fergus Finlay, Irish Examiner

Crime of abuse is personal failure, not institutional
“A cleric who sexually abuses a child and a bishop or religious superior who covers up that abuse are personally morally at fault, but the Catholic Church as an institution is not, said Cardinal Julián Herranz, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. In a letter published on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, the 91-year-old cardinal said that ‘the errors, sins and sometimes even crimes of her members, including senior members of the hierarchy’ cannot be allowed to ‘cast doubt on the credibility of the church(link is external) and the salvific value of her mission and her magisterium.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Abuse laws come 40 years too late for Catholic Church
After thousands of reported cases of sexual abuse, the Vatican has finally updated its canon laws(link is external) for handling cases within the Church — standards which haven’t been touched since the 1980s. The new canon laws, or a set of laws set by the Roman Catholic Church to be followed by members of the religion, sought to streamline and clarify how to deal with child sexual abuse. The biggest of these changes included requiring all priests and nuns to become mandated reporters, making grooming for sex or child pornography illegal, and enforcing punishment within the Church like defrocking.” By Hayley DeSilva, DePauliaOnline.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Here’s what you need to know about the Child Victims Act, a proposed bill to allow survivors to pursue justice after sexual abuse
“A proposed bill that would allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to hold their abuser accountable is facing an uncertain future in the state Legislature(link is external). The Child Victims Act would allow survivors to pursue civil action against their abuser or the organization that employed the person, removing the current limitation that allows a person to pursue action only until they turn 35 years old. The bill, survivors say, would allow them to finally feel a sense of justice, share their stories as adults and hopefully prevent future crimes from taking place.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

The Catholic Church is reinstating priests accused of sexual abuse
“In most of the cases uncovered by VICE News, the Catholic Church has also provided little to no insight into how, exactly, its officials determined that these priests weren’t guilty of sexual assault(link is external). And in at least three cases, the Church gave the priests back their jobs but added a glaring asterisk: They had to agree to abide by certain restrictions, such as staying away from kids.” By VICE News

Sex abuse victims want AG to keep convicted priest locked up
“An attorney and victims of sexual abuse by a Chicago Roman Catholic priest on Thursday (Jun.3) urged Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to keep the defrocked priest locked up(link is external). Daniel McCormack is committed indefinitely under a state law that allows sex offenders to be held in custody beyond their sentences if a judge finds they are substantially likely to re-offend. ‘Daniel McCormack as a priest is a serial predator and has been incarcerated for some years,’ victims’ advocate and attorney Jeff Anderson said.” By Associated Press

CALIFORNIA

Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse by Former Diocese of San Diego Priest
“A man who alleges a former Catholic priest repeatedly molested him when he was a young boy, then continued to be active at parishes(link is external) within the Diocese of San Diego for decades, said Tuesday he decided to file a lawsuit to protect children. Beau Potter, now 54 years old, alleges Father Ramon Marrufo molested him in Rialto over the course of several years in the 1970s, beginning when the plaintiff was in second grade. Prior to 1978, the Diocese of San Diego stretched into portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.” By Times of San Diego

ILLINOIS

Names sought of all Illinois order priests accused of abuse
“An attorney is calling on Catholic bishops across Illinois to end the ‘dangerous deceit’ and release a full list of religious order priests who face credible sexual abuse accusations(link is external). Attorney Jeff Anderson last week made public the identities of 175 priests accused of sex abuse, including 117 who previously worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Those names came from lawsuits as well as lists compiled by the religious orders themselves, among other sources, he said.” By Associated Press in The Southern Illinoisan

Pfleger returns to St. Sabina, reflects on ‘painful nightmare’ that followed sex abuse allegations
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger on Sunday Jun. 6) returned to his South Side parish for the first time since he was reinstated last month following an investigation into decades-old allegations of sexual abuse(link is external), a process he described as ‘a painful nightmare’ spurred by ‘false accusations.’ ‘It’s good to be home,’ Pfleger told a raucous congregation at St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham that included director Spike Lee and acting Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.” By Tom Schuba, Chicago Sun Times

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield diocese to expand list of those ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors
“The Catholic Church in western Massachusetts has announced that it will release an expanded list of those credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor while serving the church(link is external). In a letter to parishioners, Bishop William Byrne said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is expanding its criteria for disclosure of accusations. The diocese will release its updated list in early June, and Byrne said it will include a “considerable addition” by including those who were dead when an allegation surfaced, were members of a religious order or were lay employees of the diocese.” By Dusty Christensen, Athol Daily News

NEW MEXICO

Las Cruces Diocese Says Abuse Records Were Disclosed Voluntarily, Despite New Mexico Attorney General’s Claims
“While New Mexico’s attorney general has taken credit for securing Catholic Church documents on sex abuse by clergy, saying they will be released to the public soon, a spokesperson for the Las Cruces diocese said it provided the documents voluntarily(link is external) out of a desire to address the “abhorrent crime” of sex abuse, not because of a search warrant or legal obligation.” By Kevin Jones, National Catholic Register

NEW YORK.

Abuse survivors in Rochester Diocese bankruptcy case ask judge to go to trial
“Attorneys for survivors who have filed child sex abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester say mediation has failed. Nearly 500 claims are part of a federal bankruptcy proceeding(link is external). Now, in documents filed Tuesday (Jun. 8), some are asking the judge to take a rather unusual step: to allow them to move their cases to a different court.” By WHAM-TV13 News

Former Olean priest among three accused in lawsuit
“Three priests — including one who long served in Olean — have been placed on leave in response to claims in a lawsuit filed last month that they sexually abused a boy(link is external) in the 1990s, the Diocese of Buffalo announced over the weekend. Bishop Michael Fisher said Saturday (Jun. 5) the priests all ‘deny ever committing any acts of abuse’ but were placed on leave pending an investigation. The diocese also notified the Erie County District Attorney’s Office of the claims, which emerged in a lawsuit last month.” By Olean Times Herald

Priest on leave after his name appears on clergy offender list
“A priest serving in the Albany Diocese is on administrative leave, after his name appeared on a list of clergy offenders in the Springfield Diocese(link is external) Wednesday (Jun. 2). Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has placed Rev. Jeffrey L’Arche, a priest of the LaSalette Missionaries and pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Amsterdam and St. Stephen’s Church in Hagaman, on administrative leave, effective immediately. While on leave, Father L’Arche is barred from officiating at sacraments, wearing clerical garb, or presenting himself as a priest.” By WRGB-TV6 News

TENNESSEE

Big trouble in little Knoxville: Misconduct cases bring systemic, cultural weaknesses into sharp focus
“Who shall watch over the Watchers? That is just one of the questions raised by the complex and deeply troubling circumstances of the Diocese of Knoxville(link is external), only some of which have been reported. The Catholic Herald has learned significant details regarding several cases of clerical misconduct and mismanagement in Knoxville. The details of one case in particular involve senior Church leaders in the US and abroad, and raise questions regarding oft-cited structural weaknesses in the Church’s new ‘metropolitan’ system for investigating abuse and coverup allegations.” By Christopher R. Altieri, Catholic Herald

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest’s evidence in abuse trial
“A Catholic priest writing of his unwanted ‘sexual problem’(link is external)

 left something crucial out of the passage, a jury has heard. ‘In my dreams,’ Anthony William Peter Caruana told Sydney’s District Court. ‘When you talk about fondling young boys, is this referring to your dreams or real life?’ the 79-year-old’s barrister Bernard Brassil said on Wednesday (Jun. 10). ‘My dreams,’ Caruana said.” By Greta Stonehouse, 7News.com.au

After 40 years of waiting, Garden Point abuse survivors get justice
“Forty-two survivors of Aboriginal forced removal policies have signed a deal for compensation and apology 40 years after suffering sexual and physical abuse in the Garden Point Catholic Church mission(link is external) on Melville Island north of Darwin. ‘I’m happy, and I’m sad for the people who have gone already … we had a minute’s silence for them … but it’s been very tiring fighting for this for three years,’ said Maxine Kunde, the leader of a group which took civil action against the church and Commonwealth in the Northern Territory Supreme Court.” By Jane Bardon, ABC News

86-year-old pedophile priest loses Australian court appeal
“An 86-year-old pedophile former Catholic priest came a step closer to deportation to Ireland when a court on Friday (Jun.4) upheld a decision to strip him of his Australian citizenship. Finian Egan has been fighting a five-year legal battle against former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s decision to cancel his citizenship over the defrocked priest’s criminal record(link is external). Egan initially won an appeal in 2016 in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, a court that reviews government decisions.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

CANADA

Sask. Catholic churches delay, reject calls to release internal files on abuser priests
“Joey Basaraba cries randomly while sitting in his Saskatoon apartment, in the shower or out walking. He can’t remember the last time he slept through the night. ‘I take it one day at a time,’ Basaraba said in an interview this week. Basaraba, who says he was sexually abused for years starting at age six by two Prince Albert, Sask., priests, is joining the renewed national calls for church transparency after the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a Catholic residential school(link is external) site in Kamloops, B.C.” By Jason Warwick, CBC News

B.C. Catholic archdiocese sued in Gambier Island camp sexual allegations
“A B.C. man is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver and its archbishop alleging a camp counsellor sexually abused him(link is external) and others at a Bible camp. Vernon Mulvahill, in a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court June 7, alleges a man named only as John Doe exposed his penis to him, touched him in a sexual manner, made other children perform sexual acts on him in the same room and made the plaintiff perform oral sex on him.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, VancouverIsAwesome.com

Catholic Church must take responsibility for the harm done in residential schools
“In reality, these were prisons for children; children who were treated as a looming threat to that so-called civilized society(link is external). Children forcibly taken from their parents and then forced to remain in the custody of institutions managed by various Christian denominations and paid to do so by the federal government. This particular ‘school’ was operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Roman Catholic order of priests who were assisted by various orders of Catholic nuns. It was established in 1890 and closed down in 1978.” By Gillian Steward, Toronto Star

CHILE

Chile’s Jesuits confess ‘crimes, negligence and errors’ on sex abuse
“In an internal report made public this week, the Jesuits of Chile acknowledge that based on accusations and investigations that emerged over a fifteen-year period, at least 64 people have been sexually abused by 11 Jesuit priests in the country(link is external). Among those victims were 34 minors, both boys and girls. The report compiles investigations carried out by the Jesuits in Chile between 2005 and 2020, meaning, five years before explosive revelations against former priest Fernando Karadima, found guilty of abusing seminarians, including minors, in 2011.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

EAST TIMOR

The disgraced priest, the children’s shelter and a fight for justice in East Timor
“The road up to the village of Kutet in East Timor’s western enclave of Oecusse is so rough that most highlanders walk the jungle trail when they need to visit the coast … At Kutet’s centre is a shelter for girls and boys that for many years was run by American Catholic priest and Timorese independence hero Richard Daschbach. There, visitors would witness a serene setting with children playing marbles, with jump ropes and running around apparently as happy as can be … But it was all an illusion(link is external).” By Chris Barrett, The Age

GERMANY

German Catholic abuse victims meet papal investigators
“Victims of Catholic Church sex abuse met on Tuesday (Jun. 8) with two senior bishops sent by the Pope to investigate the German archdiosese of Cologne, which has come under increasing pressure after a report found hundreds of historic cases. The Pope’s two envoys are looking at possible mistakes committed by Germany’s largest archdiocese(link is external), after an 800-page report in March found more than 200 abusers and more than 300 victims, mainly children, in cases from 1975-2018.” By Reuters

HUNGARY

Catholic bishops’ conference condemns all forms of child abuse
“The Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (MKPK) has condemned all forms of child abuse and declared zero tolerance towards it(link is external). In a statement issued on Wednesday (Jun.2), MPKP added, however, that manifestations suggesting that there are links between church profession and the propensity to commit abuse ‘fail to serve the interests of society.’ Child abuse is a serious sin and a crime, regardless of whether it is committed in school, at sport clubs, in camps, within family, or in secular or religious institutions, the statement said.” By Hungary Today

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Up to 7,000 abuse survivors assisted by Catholic Church support service
“Over the past 25 years the Catholic Church in Ireland has provided a counselling service for almost 7,000 survivors(link is external) of institutional, clerical, and religious abuse, and members of their families. It is free and involves a network of counsellors in Ireland and abroad which provides essential therapy to those who have suffered such abuse, said Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh, Michael Router. He is a director of Towards Healing which, with its forerunner Faoiseamh, provides the counselling service.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

POLAND

Polish bishop sanctioned in new abuse scandal
“Another Polish bishop has been sanctioned by the Vatican and ordered to withdraw from public life, for covering up sexual abuse of minors by clergy(link is external) in the predominantly Catholic country. ‘Acting on the basis of Canon Law provisions and Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, the Holy See conducted proceedings, following formal reports, into reported negligence by Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy,’ Poland’s southern Krakow Archdiocese said in a weekend communique.” By Jonathan Luxmore, The Tablet

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The abuse crisis and the elusive horizon of a repenting church / National Catholic Reporter

“For the Catholic Church in the 21stcentury, the present is unmanageable, the future continues to slip away, and the hope of a fresh start has become elusive.”

National Catholic Reporter

“The Catholic Church enjoyed a bit of a renewed honeymoon with the global media after the May 21st announcement of the ‘synodal process 2021–2023.’ But the love fest lasted only about a week.

“It was brought to an abrupt and ugly end when law enforcement officials in Canada discovered 215 unmarked graves of indigenous children at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia.

“International organizations quickly demanded that the Church in Canada and the Holy See admit responsibility for the tragedy.

“Pope Francis expressed his ‘closeness with Canadians traumatized by the shocking news,’ as he addressed pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square at last Sunday’s Angelus. But he stopped short of issuing a direct apology …

“These last two weeks demonstrate the predicament of the Catholic Church today. Every time the ecclesiastical hierarchy has tried to turn a new page, the past has come back to bite them.”

By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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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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