Posts Tagged catholic laity

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


Nov. 8, 2019

TOP STORIES

USCCB president disinvites Bishop Bransfield from fall assembly
“Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in consultation with the members of the USCCB Administrative Committee, has taken the highly unusual step of disinviting a fellow bishop from the conference’s fall general assembly(link is external). The decision affects Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, retired bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who left his position in September 2018 under a cloud of allegations of sexual and financial misconduct.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Catholic bishops back ordination of married men as priests in Amazon region, a milestone
“ A summit of Roman Catholic bishops meeting at the Vatican recommended on Saturday (Oct. 26) that Pope Francis allow the ordination of married men as priests in the Amazon region(link is external), which would lift a roughly 1,000-year-old restriction and potentially revolutionize the priesthood. It is the first time a grouping of bishops convened by a pope has endorsed such a historic change to the tradition of a celibate priesthood. The proposal is limited to remote areas of South America where there is a scarcity of priests but could set a precedent for easing the restriction on married priests throughout the world.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Synod calls for more church roles for women but stops short of diaconate
“Members of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon asked that women be given leadership roles in the Catholic Church, although they stopped short of calling for women deacons(link is external). In the Amazon, like in the rest of the world, the essential roles women play within the family, the community and the church should be valued and recognized officially, members of the synod said in their final document.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Illinois chief justice distrusts church hierarchy to police itself on abuse
Don’t count on the bishops to clean up sex abuse in the church(link is external), Anne Burke told the annual gathering of Voice of the Faithful here Oct. 19. Burke, chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and a justice of the court’s First Judicial District, formerly served as interim chair of the National Review Board for the U.S. bishops’ conference; she last addressed Voice of the Faithful in 2012. At that time, she saw reason for optimism that the bishops were willing to address the sex abuse crisis.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Voice of the Faithful surveys U.S. dioceses’ financial transparency
“Catholics in the icy north of Anchorage, Alaska, know the warmth of financial transparency in their local church, while Catholics in tropical St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, are getting the cold shoulder. Those two dioceses represent the polar opposites of this year’s financial transparency survey of American dioceses compiled by Voice of the Faithful(link is external). The Anchorage Archdiocese rated a perfect 100 score, while the St. Thomas Diocese rated the lowest, at 14 points. A total of 177 dioceses were rated. This is the third year of studies on financial transparency compiled by Voice of the Faithful …” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

A New York diocese filed for bankruptcy, Will others follow?
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester was the first in New York to seek bankruptcy protection under the weight of new sexual misconduct lawsuits, but lawyers and church leaders say it may not be the last(link is external). All eight of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses face financial pressures as a result of the state’s new Child Victims Act, which temporarily set aside the usual statute of limitations for lawsuits to give victims of childhood sexual abuse a year to pursue even decades-old claims. More than 400 cases have been brought against the dioceses since Aug. 14, when the law’s one-year “look back” period for such suits began.” By Carolyn Thompson, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Church admits liability in child abuse case
“The Church has accepted legal responsibility for the sexual abuse of a child(link is external) by pedophile Gerald Ridsdale in a significant case that could open the floodgates for survivors seeking compensation. After denying any knowledge of Ridsdale’s offending before the nine-year-old boy was raped in a confessional box at Mortlake, in western Victoria in 1982, lawyers for the Church on Friday (Nov. 1) accepted an amended statement of claim from the survivor in the Supreme Court – in effect admitting legal liability for his crimes.” By CathNews.com

Pope accepts resignation of New York City bishop accused of abuse
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a New York City bishop after he was accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy(link is external) in the 1980s. Auxiliary Bishop John Jenik is the latest head to roll in the ongoing abuse scandal. The Vatican announced his resignation had been accepted Thursday (Oct. 10). For decades the Vatican turned a blind eye to bishops and cardinals who abused minors and adults or covered up the crimes.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

For the editor behind The Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigation, Colorado’s clergy abuse report is ‘eerily similar’
“It’s a group no one wants to be a part of: communities scarred by abuse in Catholic Churches(link is external). With the Attorney General’s office’s report, Colorado now has at least a partial accounting of child sexual abuse in the state’s three dioceses. The independent inquiry revealed that priests abused, at minimum, 166 children in Colorado over 70 years. The Centennial State is far from the first community that has already been down this path. A prominent one is Boston, where in 2002, the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigation revealed widespread sexual abuse of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston and an ensuing cover-up by church leaders.” By Avery Lill, Colorado Public Radio

Catholic group calls on more diocese restructure following latest Bransfield report
“West Virginia Catholics are once again stunned by news about former Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael Bransfield(link is external). The Washington Post recently reported that Bransfield took millions of dollars from church-owned Wheeling Hospital for the bishop’s fund. Mark Switzer, part of the Lay Catholics for Change said on Wednesday’s (Oct. 30) MetroNews ‘Talkline’ the reaction of church members has been much of the same with the most recent report.” By WVMetroNews.com

French bishops plan to open plenary meetings to lay participation
“France’s Catholic bishops plan to open their plenary assembly for the first time to lay participation(link is external) following the passage of a controversial bioethics law despite mass church-backed opposition. Constance Pluviaud, media relations officer of the French Catholic bishops’ conference, said Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, conference president, ‘wants to change how our plenaries function and highlight themes common to both church and society.’ By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Bransfield extreme, but most U.S. bishops have no meaningful spending controls
“Michael Bransfield is the poster child for runaway clericalism. The former bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, represents the worst in the corrupted tradition of the priesthood over the centuries. He saw the church and its resources as his personal plaything(link is external). He saw the people of the church, both clergy and laity, as his servants. He sees himself as a feudal lord. Unlike Jesus, he did not see himself as a servant, especially to the poor … Why were there no controls? Most U.S. bishops have no meaningful controls on their spending.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican cardinal stirs controversy by saying it’s time to ‘exit’ abuse scandals
“If (Cardinal Peter) Turkson wants an exit strategy, (Marie) Collins wrote, ‘He should recommend the Church institute a transparent process of accountability(link is external) for negligent/corrupt bishops, deal with the huge backlog of abuse cases lingering in the CDF, put in place universal mandatory reporting to civil authorities…stop fighting the extension of statutes of limitations, put in place strong normative child safeguarding policies in every country, stop the use of pontifical secret in abuse trials and implement REAL zero tolerance in all cases of a guilty perpetrator.’ And this, she said, is ‘just for a start.’” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope’s words ‘difficult to reconcile’ with Vatican’s lack of cooperation with abuse inquiry
“It was “very disappointing” the Vatican failed to give testimony during an investigation into sex abuse in the Catholic Church in England and Wales(link is external), according to the lead counsel to the inquiry. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) investigation into the bishops’ conference’s response to the sex abuse crisis is taking place Oct. 28 – Nov. 8, and there has been frustration with the lack response from the Holy See to requests for information.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis criticized by child sex abuse inquiry after Vatican refuses to send crucial evidence
“The Pope has been criticized by the government-ordered child sex abuse inquiry after the Vatican refused to provide crucial evidence(link is external). The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has repeatedly asked the Holy See about whether officials in Rome assisted convicted pedophile Laurence Soper while he was fugitive monk wanted in Britain for child abuse offences.” By Gabriella Swerling, The Telegraph

CARDINALS

English cardinal admits ‘extent of failures’ on abuse ahead of inquiry
“Cardinal Vincent Nichols has issued a statement admitting to ‘failures’ on handling abuse by church officials(link is external) ahead of a government-established inquiry into sex abuse in the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was established by the British Home Office – which oversees similar areas as the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security – in 2014. It is independent and does not answer to the government.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal’s legal team objects to prosecutor’s response
“Cardinal George Pell’s legal team has accused the state’s top prosecutor of failing to properly respond to his High Court appeal bid(link is external). Cardinal Pell is fighting to overturn his convictions for the abuse of two choirboys and has lodged an application with the High Court seeking special leave to appeal. He has argued the Victorian Court of Appeal was wrong to dismiss his appeal in a 2-1 majority decision.” By CathNews.com

Australian prosecutors argue no grounds for ex-Vatican treasurer’s final sex crimes appeal
“Prosecutors have urged Australia’s High Court to refuse to hear a final appeal by former Vatican treasurer George Pell(link is external) against his convictions for sexually abusing two 13-year-old boys in the late 1990s. In opposing arguments put by Pell’s lawyers to Australia’s highest court, prosecutors said there was no error in the approach taken by the Victorian state Court of Appeal.” By Reuters

BISHOPS

What the U.S. bishops can learn from the Amazon synod
“As the U.S. bishops gather for their annual meeting in Baltimore next week (Nov. 11), they might take a page from the Vatican’s recently ended synod on the Amazon region(link is external). There are six major differences between the synod, which met in Rome Oct. 6-27, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ three-day meeting, which starts Nov. 11.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Financial records reveal questionable decisions about bishops fund within Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
“Michael Bransfield’s salary as bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston spiked sharply in 2016 — just more than a year after he created his own nonprofit Bishops Fund Inc. to channel money to various West Virginia projects(link is external). Bransfield’s pay increased nearly 60 percent to $215,571 after the Bishops Fund completed its first full year. At the end of 2016, the fund held more than $7.5 million in assets, according to IRS records that were filed by the organization.” By Mike Jones, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

U.S. bishops set to begin their ‘ad limina’ visits to Rome
“The bishops of every diocese in the United States have prepared detailed reports on the life of the Catholic Church in their dioceses(link is external) and have made or are making reservations to fly to Rome. The U.S. bishops’ visits ad limina apostolorum – to the threshold of the apostles – begin Nov. 4 with a group from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Upcoming bishops’ meeting reflects current state of U.S. church
“Two weeks from today, the U.S. bishops will gather in Baltimore for their annual plenary meeting and, in a sense, the gathering is a metaphor for the situation of the Catholic Church in our nation at this moment in time(link is external). The meeting, like the church, is traditional, but no one knows what to expect, it will largely be ignored by mainstream society, and it is difficult to feel much confidence in the current leadership. The biggest challenge is to get back to a sense of normalcy without downplaying the still potentially explosive issue of clergy sex abuse.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican still investigating claims against former bishop
“The Vatican’s ‘administrative penal process’ into former Wyoming bishop Joseph Hart — which could see the cleric removed from the priesthood — has yet to resolve(link is external), the church said Tuesday (Oct. 22), and investigations in Kansas City are on hold until the process in Rome finishes. Current Wyoming Bishop Steven Biegler announced in June that Hart, who has been accused of sexual abuse by more than 10 men, would face adjudication by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The body was first formed to safeguard church doctrine and to investigate heretics nearly 500 years ago.” By Seth Klamann, Caspar Star-Telegram

Tainted Kerala bishop faces fresh harassment charges
“A nun, who had filed a rape case against Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is out on bail, approached the national and state Women’s Commissions and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), alleging that the priest and his supporters harassed her through various online platforms(link is external). ‘Attempts to intimidate and defame me and my colleagues through the social media were made by the bishop and his followers. False statements, imputations and fabricated stories tarnishing our reputation and character are being systematically spread through the YouTube channel, Christian Times, run by Bishop Franco and his aides,’ the complaint said.” By A.M. Abdussalam and Ashraf Padanna, Gulf Today

Synod appears to be moving toward ordination for married men in Amazon
“The synod of bishops meeting in Rome appears to be moving toward recommending the ordination of married men in the Amazon region(link is external). While no one can predict what the bishops will do, one Brazilian bishop recently estimated that two-thirds of the bishops at the synod will support ordaining ‘viri probati’ — a church phrase meaning ‘married men of proven virtue.’ Another participant told Religion News Service that only a couple of the 185 bishops spoke against the idea during the first week of the synod.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

PRIESTS

Nouwen a witness to committed priestly ministry
“Today’s priesthood stands on shaky ground. Just who and what is a Catholic priest?(link is external) Since the Second Vatican Council, priests have struggled to come to terms with the implications of the council’s focus on baptism as the central, core and foundational sacrament of the Christian life. The ordained priest, like all the faithful, is called by his baptismal incorporation in the Christian family to discipleship and witness to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. And he meets this call not as one set apart, but as a servant leader embedded in the very heart of the Christian community.” By Donald Cozzens, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Indian nun appeals to Vatican after dismissed following protests of bishop accused or rape
“A religious dismissed from her congregation after she took part in protests against a bishop accused of raping a different nun(link is external) has appealed the decision to the Vatican’s highest court of appeal. Sister Lucy Kalapura has asked the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura to allow her to present her case in person; she has also requested a personal audience with Pope Francis.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

Women religious should have vote at synod, theologian says
“While the Catholic Church has made strides to include the voice of women, especially in the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, women should be included among synod voting members and in church leadership positions, a German theologian said(link is external). Medical Mission Sister Birgit Weiler, a member of the Peruvian bishops’ pastoral ministry for the care of creation, told journalists at a Vatican news briefing Oct. 11 that such changes would allow the Church to become ‘a community of sisters and brothers, sharing faith, discerning together.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

WOMEN DEACONS

On Catholic women deacons, San Diego’s McElroy is ‘in favor of it’
“San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said he supports allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic Church(link is external), in what appears as the first such public disclosure of a U.S. prelate since Pope Francis reopened consideration of the history of women’s diaconal ordination in 2016. In an NCR interview Oct. 27, McElroy said he hoped the pope’s surprise decision at the end of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon to reconvene the Vatican’s study commission on women deacons would lead to ‘a conclusion that it is not prohibited to ordain women to the diaconate.’” By Joshua J. McElroy, National Catholic Reporter

Fordham symposium discusses possibilities of women deacons
“As the synod for the Amazon was entering its final week in Rome, scholars Phyllis Zagano, Meghan Clark and George Demacopoulos discussed the importance and need for women deacons(link is external), especially in the Amazon, at an Oct. 22 symposium at Fordham University here. Zagano, a member of the papal Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate(link is external), said that the issue had also been discussed in previous synods. She recalled meeting women religious from around the world who were performing baptisms due to lack of priests. They didn’t want to be ordained for power, rather to prevent people from going ‘next door to the Pentecostals.’” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

Support for women deacons ‘substantial’ at synod, says Brazilian bishop
“A sizeable group among the 185 Catholic prelates at the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops for the Amazon approve of ordaining women as deacons in order to address a lack of ministers across the nine-nation region(link is external), said one of the participating bishops. ‘There’s a lot of support for it,’ Bishop Derek Byrne told NCR in an Oct. 17 interview. “’Especially from bishops who are in this situation and who find that they just can’t serve their people.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Catholic bishops agree: anything but a woman
“The modern Catholic Church is beset with serious problems. Among them is that not enough men want to be priests(link is external). Over the past three weeks, 184 bishops gathered at a Vatican summit to seek solutions for the Amazon region in particular, singled out because of myriad crises it is facing, including environmental devastation, violence and a shortage of priests to serve the needs of the faithful there. The bishops’ solution: Do anything other than ordaining women as priests.” By Sara McDougall, The New York Times

Women of the Church takes stock of Catholic chaos, urges women’s leadership
“Catholic women in the United States gathered to urge greater leadership roles for women in the church(link is external), even as bishops were discussing the possibility of women deacons at a synod in Rome. Organizers of the second Women of the Church conference could not have known that the diaconate for women, as well as the possibility of ordaining some married men, would be making headlines from the Synod on the Amazon at the same time they were meeting, Oct. 18-20, at St. Mary’s College here.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Conference hears how women’s voices can help strengthen Catholic Church
“The Church needs the voices of women wherever important decisions are made – and it needs their voices now more than ever(link is external), speakers said during the three-day Women of the Church Conference. The national conference, held Oct. 18 to 20 at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, drew 150 women of all ages – from college students to elderly religious – and a handful of supportive men.” By Marnie McAllister, Cruxnow.com

Amazon synod: bishops vote on women deacons
“A proposal to ordain women deacons has made it into the final document of the Amazon synod(link is external) which bishops will vote on at the end of this week, The Tablet has learnt. Church sources say the possibility of a female diaconate will be among the final proposals in the text, making it the first time that such a move has made it into a synod final document.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Bishop highlights need for lay ministries in Amazon
Lay men and women involved in ministry have been fundamental(link is external) in spreading the Gospel and furthering the Catholic Church’s mission in the Amazon, a Brazilian bishop said. Bishop Wilmar Santin of Itaituba, told journalists at a Vatican press briefing Oct. 10 that the formation of ‘ministers of the word’ among the Munduruku indigenous community in his prelature helped advance the church’s mission and presence.” By Junno arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Vatican’s investigation of Buffalo Diocese finishes first week with 30 interviews
“The Diocese of Brooklyn has issued a statement, saying Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio visited Buffalo earlier this week (Oct. 11) and interviewed 30 people as part of his Apostolic Visitation. Bishop DiMarzio is investigating the Buffalo Catholic Diocese’s handling of sexual abuse cases(link is external). Movement to Restore Trust leader John Hurley said he was surprised the bishop had not contacted anyone from MRT, making him wonder about the nature of the investigation.” By Marian Hetherly, WBFO-FM Buffalo’s NPR News Station

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican cash crisis: Sex abuse scandals are ‘driving away donations and have lost the Holy See €44m in a year’
“The Vatican is rapidly losing money with donations plummeting as sex abuse scandals damage the Catholic Church’s reputation(link is external), according to a new book. Gianluigi Nuzzi writes that the Vatican lost nearly €44million (£38million) last year while its property empire made a loss for the first time. The Italian journalist, whom the Vatican attempted to put on trial for publishing leaked secrets in 2016, said attempted reforms by Pope Francis were being ‘anaesthetised, blocked and sabotaged’ by Vatican insiders.” By Tim Stickings for MailOnline.com

Leaked documents detail $200 million Vatican deal for swanky London property
“Against the backdrop of a Synod of Bishops on the Amazon dedicated to the defense of some of the world’s most impoverished people, the Vatican finds itself rocked by yet another financial scandal(link is external) after publication Sunday (Oct. 20) of seamy details about a $200 million purchase of a swanky 183,000-square-foot apartment building in the Chelsea district of London. ‘Hundreds of millions of Euro destined for the least and the poor are still administered opaquely and with no transparency, as if the Vatican were a merchant bank in an offshore country,’ the report claims.” By John L. Allen, The Tablet

CHILD PROTECTION

Church continues to strengthen child safety practices
“The Church has made significant progress in responding to the royal commission into child sexual abuse(link is external), Archbishop Mark Coleridge said today (Oct. 22) on the anniversary of the National Apology to survivors and victims. On October 22 last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and then-opposition leader Bill Shorten delivered apologies on behalf of the Australian people to those who were sexually abused as children. They followed the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, published in December 2017.” By CathNews.com

CLERICALISM

Reflections on the dangers of clericalism in the Church
“What is clericalism and how is it such a danger in our Church? There are many definitions of clericalism and yet they all come back to a basic reality. Clericalism is a culture and expectation that ordained ministers are better than and should rule over everyone else among the People of God. As Pope Francis said, this diminishes and undervalues the baptismal grace of our people. In doing so, it also downplays the equal dignity of every human being made in the image and likeness of God. Clericalism leads to many dangers in the Church and in the lives of all people, clergy and laity(link is external).” By Louis Arceneaux, CM, Famvin.org

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Dissenting note struck on married priests as solution for the Amazon
“For the first time in one of the Vatican’s daily news briefings during the Oct. 6-27 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, a dissenting voice was struck Wednesday (Oct. 16) about the idea of ordaining married men to solve priest shortages in the region.(link is external) ‘I don’t see celibacy as the main problem’ in attracting young men to the priesthood, said Bishop Wellington Tadeu de Queiroz Vieira of Cristalândia in Brazil, emphasizing that nobody had appointed him a spokesman for the synod but nevertheless saying, ‘I think there are many who share my views.’” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Pope’s path to allow married priests for Amazon straightforward, say canon lawyers
“If the prelates attending the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops for the Amazon ask that Pope Francis allow the ordination of married men(link is external) to address a lack of Catholic ministers across the nine-nation region, the path for implementing such a proposal is fairly straightforward, say four eminent canon lawyers. Although the canonists have slightly different ideas about the concrete method the pope could use to allow for married priests on a regional basis, they agree that the way forward is relatively easy, as celibacy is only a practice of the church and not a revealed dogma.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

As U.S. ‘nones’ increase, we must start asking different questions
“Nearly nine years ago, I covered a full day symposium at Fordham University called ‘Lost? Twenty-somethings and the Church,’ sponsored by the university’s Center on Religion and Culture. The event was primarily concerned with three questions: Have young adult Catholics lost their way? Has the church lost twenty-somethings? And, if so, how do we get them back?(link is external) Those inquiries were apparently so urgent that the center had to open up a second auditorium and livestream the program to accommodate the overwhelming number of registrants.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

As lay ministers flourish, overworked ministers struggle with burnout
“Sue Antoinette, a retired youth minister in Cincinnati, spent her career being attentive to others’ needs. But she didn’t always receive the same in return. Because Antoinette worked with kids, she found that people tended to take her work less seriously. She even remembers a time when a priest patted her on the head. In 2005 lay ministers working in parish settings outnumbered diocesan priests for the first time in the United States(link is external), according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.” By Teresa Coda, U.S. Catholic

VOICES

West Virginia Catholics confronting Bransfield scandal
“Most Christians know well a verse in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that comes to mind when the collection plate is passed: ‘God loves a cheerful giver.’ But many congregants of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston find themselves somewhat reluctant tithers these days because of the scandal surrounding former Bishop Michael Bransfield(link is external).” By Hoppy Kercheval, WVMetroNews.com

Married priests and women deacons: It’s about law, not doctrine
“The Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region discussed two new-old ideas during its October Rome meeting: married priests and women deacons(link is external). News flash: It’s about law, not doctrine. The custom of ordaining only celibate men as priests and the refusal to restore women to the ordained diaconate are practices rooted in legal, not doctrinal determinations. Each is what canon lawyers call a ‘merely ecclesiastical law.’” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Money shapes the U.S. Catholic narrative
The Catholic Church in the United States is for sale(link is external). In quiet investments over a period of decades, wealthy entrepreneurs and flush nonprofits have supplanted elements of church life that once were the province of official church organizations. Church leaders have watched as individuals and groups with substantial resources became the voice of the church in the public square, fashioning a Catholic narrative for the wider culture.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

A tale of two synods: putting the people of God first, 14 years later
What a difference prioritizing the people of God makes!(link is external) At this writing, a majority of the small group reports from the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon are discussing ordaining married men and women deacons. Ten of 12 small groups discussed married priests while seven of 12 reference female deacons with four recommending ordination and three others suggesting the need for further study. According to Bishop Derek Byrne of the Diocese of Primavera do Leste-Paranatinga, Brazil, among the synod’s 185 prelates there is ‘substantial support’ for ordaining women deacons.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

Justice shouldn’t have an expiration date
“Survivors of childhood sexual abuse may soon win the right to prosecute their cases in court no matter how long ago their trauma occurred(link is external). Pennsylvania’s Senate Judiciary Committee held a forum on Oct. 2 to debate whether or not to eliminate the state’s statute of limitations — a law set that restricts how long an alleged victim has to bring a case to court — for sexual abuse civil cases.” By Grace McGuinness, The Pitt News

CHURCH FINANCES

Johnson County Catholic priest pleads no contest to stealing over $42,000 from church
“A Johnson County Catholic priest accused of stealing more than $42,000 from his Gardner parish pleaded no contest to felony theft(link is external) Friday (Oct. 25). The Rev. Joseph Cramer’s trial was set to start on Monday (Oct. 28) before he pleaded. He was originally charged with one count of theft and two counts of computer crime. The computer crime charges were dropped Friday. Cramer, 68, was charged in May 2018 after he was placed on leave from Divine Mercy Parish months earlier for ‘financial irregularities.’” By Katie Bernard, The Kansas City Star

Contributions to Catholic Church plunge amid sex abuse crisis as Vatican ‘faces default’ over financial failings
“Worldwide donations to the Catholic Church have plunged in the wake of sex abuse scandals that have eroded faith in the Vatican(link is external), a new book claims. The Church’s finances are in such a dire state – a result of a toxic mix of incompetence, internal wrangling and corruption – that the Vatican risks a default by 2023, according to the expose.” By Nick Squires, The Telegraph

Can the Vatican Bank be reformed? After the latest raid, doubters multiply
“Earlier this month, gendarmes raided the offices of the offices providing oversight to the Vatican Bank in search of ‘documents and electronic devices,’ a move casting doubt on the six-year reform process for what must be the world’s most mysterious and high-profile small bank(link is external). Information about the raids trickles out daily. The latest investigation was triggered by a series of wire transfers connected to paying off the mortgage on a building in London’s tony Sloane Square neighborhood. That the London building was partially owned by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State raised the suspicions of investigators.” By Eric J. Lyman, Fortune

Cardinal Becciu at center of Vatican financial investigation
“The recent raid of Vatican offices is connected to an investigation into charges that Vatican money financed the development of luxury properties in London(link is external), and led to a windfall for the Vatican’s investment managers, according to an October 14 report from Financial Times. According to Financial Times, Vatican police and prosecutors are investigating the possibility of improprieties in a 2014 $200 million investment made through Athena Capital, a Luxembourg investment fund, which financed a stake in the development of a luxury apartment project in London.” By Ed Condon and J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency, in Catholic Herald

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

California governor signs legislation giving huge victory to childhood sex abuse survivors
“California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that will provide a 3-year window for old sexual abuse cases(link is external) previously barred by the current statute of limitations. This means that previously barred survivors can bring abuse lawsuits against the institutions that aided and abetted the perpetrators. In anticipation of the Governor’s signing six of the 12 California Catholic dioceses have introduced a compensation program hoped to stem the tide of future lawsuits.” By Joseph H. Saunder, The Legal Examiner

Advocates rally for change to statute of limitations laws for victims of sexual abuse, investigation into abuse by Catholic priests
“A group that provides resources to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests is demanding the Louisiana Attorney General’s office launch an official investigation(link is external). The group is called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).  “I was abused at Jesuit High School in New Orleans as well by a priest and a janitor,” said Richard Windmann. Windmann is vocal as to what he allegedly happened to him on the Jesuit High School campus in the 70′s.” By Kiran Chawla, WAFB-TV9 News

‘I am not going to take their hush money’: clergy sexual abuse victim calls for statute of limitations reform
“A victim of the first priest sentenced to prison time as a result of the state Grand Jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse says statute of limitations reform is necessary. Disgraced retired priest, Fr. John Sweeney, of the Diocese of Greensburg, was sentenced nearly a year ago to 11½ months to five years in prison. Now, one of his victims, who Sweeney admitted to abusing, is calling for changes to the statute of limitations process(link is external).” By KDKA-TV2 News

Survivors of child sex abuse by Catholic priests call for Colorado statute of limitations reform
“Survivors of child sex abuse by Catholic priests are calling for reforms to Colorado’s statute of limitations(link is external) for such crimes in the wake of a damning report detailing decades of sexual abuse and cover-up in the church. Such reforms could allow survivors to use lawsuits to expose more child sex abuse than was included in the 263-page report.” By Forest Wilson, The Colorado Independent

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Church urged to boost response to needs of clergy sexual abuse survivors
“A Chilean survivor of clergy sexual abuse pleaded for Catholic Church leaders to follow the example of a Wyoming bishop who continues to seek justice and answers for other survivors(link is external). Juan Carlos Cruz expressed support for the work of Bishop Steven R. Biegler of Cheyenne, Wyoming, during a panel discussion at Georgetown University Nov. 4, saying the prelate’s efforts to resolve questions surrounding a retired predecessor’s alleged abuse demonstrates that someone within the church cares enough to raise up the needs of survivors.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

‘By the Grace of God’ explores the church’s unimaginable betrayal of child victims of sexual abuse
For a member of the clergy to sexually violate a child is one of the most stark and cruel betrayals imaginable(link is external). That an institution would prevaricate and dissemble about these betrayals rather than take immediate, decisive action to pursue justice and provide restitution creates a greater betrayal. After years of such actions, betrayal reaches a near-unimaginable level. And yet, we don’t have to imagine. In the Roman Catholic Church, these violations have been rife, and the stories behind them are appalling.” By Glenn Kenn, The New York Times, in Minneapolis Star Tribune

Accused of sexual abuse, a priest left Colorado for a safe haven: San Diego
“In 1953, the Rev. Walter Buetzler was accused of molesting a fifth-grade boy after hearing the child’s confession(link is external) at St. Joseph Parish in Monte Vista, Colo. After the boy’s father complained to the parish council and later to the Diocese of Pueblo’s bishop, Buetzler left the state. He quickly secured a new job: professor of classical languages at the San Diego College for Men, then part of the University of San Diego.” By Peter Rowe, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Irish ex-priest who raped a abused at least 25 kids in California is arrested in Portugal for child pornography
“A pedophile Irish ex-priest who raped and abused at least 25 children(link is external) in California, has reportedly been arrested on the Algarve. Portuguese police sources confirmed on Thursday (Oct. 24) Oliver O’Grady, 74, the subject of a 2006 documentary film called Deliver Us from Evil, was the man they had arrested.” By Gerard Couzens, Daily Mail

What is owed to victims of abuse in the Catholic Church? That’s up to Kenneth Feinberg to decide.
“It’s a difficult job, but one attorney Kenneth Feinberg has taken on — again and again. After 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombings and the Aurora Theater shooting, Feinberg has been responsible for deciding how much money is owed to victims(link is external) of those tragedies and others. By his own admission they aren’t easy decisions. ‘This is a judgment that one has to make based on the credibility of the claim, the nature and scope of the abuse and the damage suffered by the victim,’ Feinberg said.” By Anthony Cotton, Andrea Dukakis, and Alex Scoville

Insurance firm sues Buffalo Diocese to avoid paying for sex abuse claims
“A Chicago-based insurance company has launched an opening salvo in what are expected to be bruising legal battles between the Buffalo Diocese and its insurers over payouts on clergy sex abuse claims under the Child Victims Act and the legal costs of defending the diocese against the claims. Continental Insurance Company is arguing in court papers that insurance policies it may have issued to the diocese more than 40 years ago don’t apply to childhood sex abuse(link is external) lawsuits being filed now against the diocese.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Orsolits abused kids after Buffalo Diocese’s cover-up of assault, lawsuits say
“The Buffalo Diocese removed the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits from a South Buffalo Catholic parish in 1968, shortly after parents complained that Orsolits had molested a 14-year-old boy in the back seat of his car at a drive-in theater. But Orsolits quickly wound up in another Buffalo parish(link is external). And he went on to molest other boys across Western New York, according to several lawsuits filed over the past two months.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

ARIZONA

Tucson bishop responds to Oklahoma City Archdiocese abuse report
“Bishop Edward Weisenburger of the Tucson Diocese has responded to a recent report involving clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City(link is external). Weisenburger served as Vicar General in Oklahoma City from 1998 to 2012, and helped investigate claims of misconduct. The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City received a letter from a former resident of Oklahoma regarding abuse by a priest in August of 2018, according to our Oklahoma City sister station, KFOR-TV. The church announced they would review and report all similar allegations.” By KVOA-TV4 News

ARKANSAS

New sexual abuse survivors group forms in Arkansas
“A new support group for survivors of abuse will soon be available to people of any faith through the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock(link is external). The Maria Goretti Network will hold the first meeting of its Arkansas chapter at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Conway in November. Miguel Prats, a sexual abuse survivor, co-founded the Texas-based nonprofit with the Rev. Gavin Vavarek in 2004.” By Francisca Jones, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

CALIFORNIA

Sacramenyto Catholic Diocese helped accused priest obtain clergy position in Mexico, lawsuit claims
“A new lawsuit filed on Tuesday (Oct. 15) claims the Catholic Church’s Sacramento diocese assisted one of its priests in obtaining a new position with a parish in Mexico after sexual abuse accusations in Northern California(link is external) in the 1980s. The lawsuit includes a letter allegedly written by Diocese of Sacramento attorney Louis N. Desmond and indicates that former Bishop Francis A. Quinn approved a request by Priest Jose Antonio Pinal Castellanos to begin working in Mexico.” By Bob Moffitt, Capital Public Radio, Sacramento, Calif.

COLORADO

Colorado releases new report on Catholic sex abuse in state
“Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has unveiled a new independent report detailing allegations of sex abuse(link is external) against at least 166 children by 43 Roman Catholic priests over the course of 70 years. Weiser announced the more than 250-page report during a news conference on Wednesday (Oct. 23), describing the documented abuse of children by Catholic priests going back decades as ‘unimaginable.’” By Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service

CONNECTICUT

Demonstrators demand accountability for Catholic clergy sex crimes
“A small group of demonstrators stood outside the Cathedral of Saint Patrick(link is external) on Sunday (Nov. 3) to mark All Survivors’ Day, which recognizes survivors of sexual abuse. As men and women in military dress exited the Cathedral following the 28th annual Red, White & Blue Mass’s reception, they strode past the group of demonstrators, which fluctuated between four and eight survivors and their supporters.” By Sten Spinella, The Day

FLORIDA

Diocese of Venice faces second suit alleging priest sexually assaulted female parishioners
“The Diocese of Venice is facing its second $15 million suit this month(link is external), alleging that the Rev. Nicholas McLoughlin, 77, formerly of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Avon Park, sexually assaulted a female parishioner. Both suits were filed in the 12th Judicial Circuit by Fort Lauderdale-based attorney Adam Horowitz.” By Earle Kimel, Herald-Tribune

IDAHO

Catholic church updates list of credibly accused priests
“Catholic church leaders in Idaho have updated their list of priests the church says were credibly accused of child sex abuse since the 1950s(link is external) to include more details about where the clergy served when the incidents occurred. The known allegations of child sex abuse involve 15 priests and one deacon, and they span the state geographically, including parishes in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Caldwell, McCall, Moscow, Soda Springs, Kamiah, Aberdeen, DeSmet, Wallace, St. Maries and Kellogg.” By Rebecca Boone, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Credible allegations of child sexual abuse against six former priests, one deacon in Boise Diocese
“Since the 1950s, there have been six priests and one deacon that have credible allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external) while assigned or associated with the Diocese of Boise, according to a list released by the Diocese. Incidents date back to 1950, with some as recent as 2018. The Diocese said the incidents are dated to the approximate time that they happened. The list also includes the years that the abuse was reported to the church.” By KTVB-TV7 News

Catholic Church strips Boise priest of title, cuts ties with sex offender
“The Vatican has formally cut ties with W. Thomas Faucher, a former Boise priest who pleaded guilty last year to some of the most violent, depraved child pornography seen in recent Ada County history(link is external). Faucher, 74, pleaded guilty to five felonies and was sentenced in December to 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole.” By Ruth Brown, Idaho Statesmen

ILLINOIS

Joliet Diocese is sued over Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a man who has a disability at residential center in Kankakee
“The Diocese of Joliet is facing a lawsuit in connection to a priest who is accused of sexually assaulting a man who has a disability(link is external) while visiting a Kankakee development center to minister to residents there. Richard Jacklin, 67, was criminally charged in 2017 after a nurse reported walking in on Jacklin performing a sex act on a 39-year-old man who was living at the Shapiro Developmental Center, prosecutors said. The center provides housing and care for people with intellectual disabilities. The man is paralyzed and has an intellectual disability.” By Madeline Buckley, Chicago Tribune

INDIANA

Suspended Indianapolis priest charged with sex crimes
“A suspended Catholic priest in Indiana is facing charges alleging he sexually abused a child in 2016(link is external). The Rev. David Marcotte of Indianapolis is charged in suburban Hamilton County with child solicitation, vicarious sexual gratification and dissemination of matter harmful to minors. The Indianapolis Archdiocese suspended the 32-year-old Marcotte from public ministry in February after its victim assistance coordinator learned of the abuse allegations.” By Associated Press

IOWA

Ex-N’West Iowa priest accused of sex abuse
“A Catholic priest with N’West Iowa ties who died in May has been accused of sexual abuse(link is external). In a 13-page civil complaint filed on Wednesday, Oct. 9, in Woodbury County District Court in Sioux City against the Diocese of Sioux City, 60-year-old Samuel Heinrichs accused the Rev. Dale Koster of physically and sexually abusing him when he was about 10 years old.” By Mark Mahoney, NWestIowa.com

KENTUCKY

Allegations against Catholic priest lead to his resignation
“A Catholic priest in Kentucky has resigned as pastor of a church following allegations of inappropriate contact made by two men(link is external). The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that in a letter Tuesday (Oct. 15), Bishop John Stowe accepted the resignation of the Rev. Alan Carter as pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Danville. Catholic Diocese of Lexington communications director Don Clemmer says Carter was removed as vocations director of the diocese last month following the first allegation, which Clemmer says dates back to when Carter was ordained seven years ago.” By Associated Press on WKYT-TV News

MASSACHUSETTS

Two Fall River Diocese priests placed on leave over alleged misconduct
“Two Massachusetts priests have been placed on administrative leave(link is external), according to a statement from Fall River’s Catholic Diocese. Father Richard E. Degagne, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Easton, and Father Daniel W. Lacroix, co-pastor of St. Joseph-St. Therese, St. Mary, and Our Lady of Fatima Parishes in New Bedford, have been placed on leave because of alleged misconduct that is said to have occurred decades ago.” By Mike Manzoni, NBC-TV10 News

Msgr Francis Strahan placed on leave after allegation of abuse
“The Archdiocese of Boston announced Oct. 25 that it has placed Msgr. Francis V. Strahan, the pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Framingham, on administrative leave after receiving an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). Msgr. Strahan has served as pastor of St. Bridget’s since 1983 and was named a monsignor by Pope John Paull II in 1998. Earlier this year, he celebrated his 60th anniversary of priestly ordination.” By Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Springfield diocese looking to hire clergy sexual abuse investigator
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is seeking to hire a new investigator to look into reports of clergy sexual abuse of minors for the Diocesan Review Board(link is external). Jeffrey L. Trant, who was recently appointed to lead the diocese’s newly designated Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance that oversees such allegations, said the person hired will succeed the first person to hold the position, retired State Policer Officer Kevin Murphy. An active search for his successor is underway.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican

MICHIGAN

Diocese of Lansing releases report on priest accused of sexual misconduct
“The Diocese of Lansing admits it did not properly handle allegations of sexual misconduct made against a priest in 1990(link is external). The Diocese released the results of an external review into two allegations against Fr. Pat Egan. Egan was banned from the Diocese in March following an internal investigation. Egan is a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster in England. He’d been serving as an extern priest for the Lansing Diocese since 1983, living off-and-on in Ann Arbor.” By WILX-TV10 News

MINNESOTA

Judge approves $40 million settlement with Duluth Diocese
“A judge’s approval of a nearly $40 million settlement with the Diocese of Duluth(link is external) was welcome news to the tearful survivors of clergy sexual abuse who crammed into a federal courtroom here Monday (Oct. 21). It meant their suffering was recognized. It meant the church was being held accountable. ‘It means that perhaps they’re going to start keeping an eye on these people,’ said Eugene Saumer, 80, who described struggling throughout his life with the memories of being abused while he temporarily lived in a Catholic orphanage at age 9.” By Pam Louwagie, Star Tribune

NEW YORK

Suit claims retired Albany bishop told sex abuse victim to ‘forget about it’
“A newly filed lawsuit claims retired Bishop Howard Hubbard told a teenage boy more than 60 years ago that he should ‘forget about’ alleged sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of another priest(link is external) who had what Hubbard allegedly described as ‘a moment of weakness.’ The suit, filed Monday (Nov. 4) in state Supreme Court in Albany, claims Father Edward Leroux groomed and abused a 16-year-old boy in the summer of 1956 while the teenager was working weekends at the Jesuit Retreat House in Glenmont.” By Cayla Harris, Albany Times Union

Buffalo diocese investigation ends, DiMarzio will send report to Vatican
“Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has completed his Apostolic Visitation of the Diocese of Buffalo. A statement released by DiMarzio’s own Diocese of Brooklyn on Thursday (Oct. 31) confirmed that the visitation had concluded(link is external) and he will submit a report to the Holy See. The bishop offered no comment on his findings in the scandal-hit Buffalo diocese. The visitation, a canonical inspection and fact-finding mission, was ordered by Cardinal Marc Ouellet of the Congregation of Bishops in Rome, the Vatican department responsible for overseeing the personal and administrative conduct of bishops.” By Catholic News Agency

Plantiffs claiming sexual abuse from the 1960s file civil suits against Diocese of Rockville Centre
“A total of five lawsuits were filed Tuesday (Oct.22) against the Diocese of Rockville Centre alleging priest sex abuse(link is external) from decades ago. Sheryn Silvestre and Joanne Jack made the allegations in February that they were abused by staff at St. Agnes Parish in the 1960s. Joanne’s brother, Alexander, has now joined the case, alleging that he too was sexually abused.” By News12 Long Island

In bad faith: child sex abuse and the Catholic Church
“They say that Father John Paddack – who was ordained in 1984 and had been ministering in New York until he was suspended in July – molested them during confession and counselling sessions(link is external) in different Catholic schools across the city. The men allege years of abuse by Paddack, sparking the latest revelations in a decades-old scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church to its foundation.” By Faultlines on Aljazeera.com

Man relives past abuse by Plattsburg priest
“The day M.G. turned 23, he lost the chance to sue his childhood abuser. Now, nearly three decades later, the Child Victims Act has returned his voice(link is external). Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the legislation earlier this year, loosening up some state regulations surrounding child sexual abuse claims. A key piece of the act was its one-year revival period, which beginning mid-August temporarily lifted New York’s statute of limitations on such cases, allowing victims of any age to step forward.” By Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Former pastor in area accused of child sex abuse
A longtime area Catholic priest has been placed on administrative leave following an allegation of child abuse(link is external) from years ago. Monsignor Edward Weber, the director of Priest Personnel Office in the archdiocese, is one of four priests in the Archdiocese of New York to be placed on leave following new allegations, said an article in the Catholic New York, the archdiocese’s newspaper.” By Kathy Reakes, White Plains Daily Voice

Four archdiocese priests on leave amid new church sex abuse accusations
“As the sun shines down on Holy Rosary Church in Hawthorne, N.Y., a cloud of suspicion hovers over its parish priest and three other priests in the New York archdiocese(link is external) now facing allegations of abusing children several decades ago. The four clergy of the Archdiocese of New York have been accused of abuse with minors, cases not included in the special investigation released two weeks ago.” By CBS-TV News New York

Diocese’s insurer: If you conceal abuse, we don’t have to pay
“The Diocese of Buffalo’s insurance company is arguing in court that it is not liable for sex abuse judgments because the diocese concealed the abuse for decades(link is external). In documents recently filed in state court, Continental Insurance Company — whose predecessor insured the diocese for much of the 1970s — says that its policy only covers ‘accidents’ which are reported in a timely manner to the insurer.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

NORTH CAROLINA

List of Catholic priests in western North Carolina accused of sexual abuse to come in December
“The Catholic Church in western North Carolina is conducting a review of personnel documents going back to the creation of the diocese in 1972 to release a list of priests accused of sexual abuse(link is external). The plan is to release the list by December. On Wednesday (Oct. 23), the Rev. Patrick Winslow, the vicar general and chancellor for the Diocese of Charlotte, came to St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Hickory to discuss the review process.” By Megan Suggs, Record & Landmark

Former mountain priest pleads guilty to child sex charges, survivor forgives
“A former mountain priest is sentenced to a dozen years in prison(link is external). 78-year-old Howard White pleaded guilty to multiple child sex abuse charges during his tenure at Waynesville’s Grace Church in the Mountains. White was rector at the church from 1984 until 2006.” By WLOS-TV13 News

Five clergy who worked in Charlotte Diocese on list of allegation of abuse
“Five clergy who worked in the Charlotte Diocese were named on a list of credible allegations of abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult(link is external). The list was put together by Glenmary, which is a Catholic religious institute of priests and brothers. It put together the list of 11 names where it found credibleallegations of abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult.” By Allison Latos, WSOC-TV9 News

OHIO

1,300 people sign petition for Pope to intervene in Father Drew scandal
“A Cincinnati organization recently began a petition asking for the Pope to intervene in the scandal surrounding a former Cincinnati pastor. Father Geoffrey Drew(link is external), 57, pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape. He is held in lieu of $5 million bond at the Hamilton County jail. Monday (Oct. 28), the organization Concerned Catholics announced a petition with nearly 1,300 signatures that made its way to Vatican City asking Pope Francis to investigate ‘Archdiocesan commitment to the Decree of Child Protection.’” By Sarah Hager, Fox19Now.com

Toledo Diocese rules Catholic priest accused of sex abuse unfit for duty
“The Diocese of Toledo has unanimously decided that Father Nelson Beaver is not suitable for priestly ministry. The decision was announced today. Father Beaver was put on administrative leave in October of 2018 after an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) dating back over 25 years. Three additional allegations linked to the sexual abuse of a minor were also made and according to the diocese, substantiated against Father Beaver.” By ABC-TV13 News

OKLAHOMA

Church report provides lesson on transparency
“With its approach to determining which of its priests may have committed sexual abuse, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City impressed even a group that’s been one of the Catholic Church’s most vocal critics(link is external) throughout the clergy abuse scandal. There’s a lesson to be learned here. Zach Hiner, executive director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said the archdiocese’s report ‘goes into much greater detail than most other reports commissioned by church officials.’” By The Oklahoman Editorial Board

PENNSYLVANIA

Greensburg Diocese paid $4.35 million in sexual abuse claims
“The Greensburg Catholic Diocese paid $4.35 million to settle claims with 57 adults who suffered child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy(link is external), church officials announced Thursday (Oct. 17). Greensburg was among five Pennsylvania dioceses and one archdiocese that established compensation funds for survivors of clergy child sexual abuse following last year’s release of a statewide grand jury report detailing allegations of abuse against 301 priests over seven decades.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Allentown Diocese taps little of its $300 million in Lehigh Valley real estate to compensate abuse victims
“Five months ago, the Allentown Diocese opened a window for people who were abused by priests to apply for a payout from the church. To the hundred or so people who already had reported abuse, the diocese sent information about applying for compensation. To those who had kept silent, they extended an invitation. On Sept. 30, the window closed, capping the amount of money the diocese will be offering victims(link is external).” By Emily Opilo, The Morning Call

Lehigh County priest removed from ministry following allegations of sexually abusing a minor
“Authorities are investigating allegations that a Lehigh County priest sexually abused a minor(link is external).

The Rev. Robert J. Potts, 82, pastor of St. Ursula Church in Fountain Hill, has been removed from ministry services. Potts is accused of sexually abused a child in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Diocese of Allentown announced Sunday. Potts owas the pastor at St. George Parish in Shenandoah during the time of the alleged abuses.” By Virginia Streva, PhyllyVoice.com

Woman sues Greensburg diocese, bishops, claiming sexual assaults by pries in 1970s
“A woman has sued the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, along with its current and most recent bishops, alleging in graphic terms that she was sexually abused by her parish priest dozens of times while a child(link is external) in the 1970s. The suit, filed Wednesday in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court, accuses the late Rev. George R. Pierce of “grotesquely abusing” and sexually assaulting the woman in various ways, starting when she was 10 or 11 years old and lasting until she turned 15.” By Jonathan D. Silver, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TEXAS

Jesuit Prep sued again over sex abuse, this time involving a priest and coach
“A fourth former student at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas has filed a lawsuit alleging he was abused by priests(link is external) when he was a student there. The plaintiff, a Dallas lawyer in his 50s, filed the lawsuit this month against the school and the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, among others, saying he was sexually abused in the early 1980s by two Jesuit Prep priests.” By Jennifer Emily, The Dallas Morning News

Jury finds former priest not guilty of sexual abuse charges
“A Parmer County jury found Peter Wafula, the former priest accused of sexual abuse of a child, not guilty today(link is external) (Oct. 23). The courtroom heard the closing statements today before the jury went into deliberations. During the closing statements, the defense told the courtroom, ‘There is no greater crime on earth than to convict an innocent man.’ On the other hand, the prosecution said, ‘A person who knows he should never be alone with a child has him alone in a place where he has control.’” By Kaitlin Johnson and Arianna Martinez, KFDA-TV10 News

VIRGINIA

Virginia priest admits to having contact with child in ’90s, diocese says
“A Catholic priest at a Northern Virginia church admitted he had sexual contact with a minor at another church and has stepped down(link is external) from his position as pastor, according to a letter from the Diocese of Arlington. Father Christopher Mould was the pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Clifton. Mould told Bishop Michael Burbidge on Tuesday (Oct. 15) the sexual contact happened ‘on one occasion’ when he was parochial vicar at St. Thomas à Becket Church in Reston from 1992 to 1995, Burbidge said in the letter to parishioners.” By Gina Cook, NBC-TV4 News

WYOMING

Wyoming sex abuse queries lacked victim cooperation
“Two Catholic Church officials who succeeded a Wyoming bishop accused of sexual abuse(link is external) say a lack of victim cooperation hampered the investigations. The Casper Star-Tribune reports at least 16 men said they were abused by former Bishop Joseph Hart, who retired in 2001.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Extra jail time for rapist ex-priest who assaulted boy at summer camp
“A former Catholic priest who was jailed for raping a boy at a notorious Victorian boarding school(link is external) will spend more time in prison for sexually assaulting another child. Michael Aulsebrook, a one-time deputy principal at Salesian College Rupertswood, is in prison after he was last year found guilty of raping an 11-year-old boarding student at the Sunbury school in 1988.” By Adam Cooper, The Sydney Morning Herald

CANADA

Historic judgement against Basilian Fathers means easier road to justice for all abuse victims
“Rob Talach has been battling the Catholic Church for a long time(link is external). He has earned the monicker the Priest Hunter, and in his career at Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers, he has launched 395 suits against the church. But an award of punitive damages and one for loss of income in the case of Rod MacLeod, a former student at St. Charles College in the 1960s, has set a new standard, Talach said in an interview with Sudbury.com.” By Darren MacDonald, Sudbury.com

Catholic diocese admits liability in sex assaults
“The Catholic diocese in Kamloops is admitting liability at the civil trial involving a priest accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a school teacher(link is external) more than 40 years ago. On Wednesday (Oct. 9), John Hogg, a lawyer for the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, made the admission of vicarious liability by the defendant diocese for the conduct of Rev. Erlindo Molon, the priest in question.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun, on TimesColonist.com

EL SALVADOR

El Salvador archbishop apologizes over priest sex abuse cases
“El Salvador’s top Roman Catholic cleric apologized Sunday (Nov. 3) for the alleged sexual abuse by a priest of an unidentified minor 25 years ago(link is external). ‘We have apologized to the victim and now I am repeating it publicly, and we also ask for forgiveness from the community for the scandal that this has caused,’ San Salvador Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas said in a news conference after celebrating Mass.” By The Associated Press on ABCNews.go.com

FRANCE

Francois Ozon on dramatizing the biggest abuse scandal to hit the French Catholic Church
“For most film directors, the nail-biting action unfolds on screen. Not, however, for François Ozon. The theatrics over his latest film played out in the French courts as he fought a last-minute attempt to stop it being released and found himself at the center of a legal and national controversy. Today, Ozon can almost but not quite laugh about his starring role in the off-screen drama that earlier this year came perilously close to having his €5.9m (£5.2m) film By the Grace of God – the story of a real-life scandal involving a pedophile priest(link is external) – canned.” By Kim Willsher, The Guardian

French abuse victims urge Vatican to have archdiocese pay compensation
“Victims of sexual abuse by a Lyon priest have urged the Vatican to recognize the responsibility of his archdiocese in the affair(link is external), which could open the door to compensation payments by the Church. About 15 of them sent their demand to the Vatican after the admitted abuser, Bernard Preynat, was removed from the clerical state in July. The archdiocesan court said at the time that he could now concentrate on considering the financial demands of his victims.” By Tom Heneghan, Reuters, in The Tablet

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest planned to sexually abuse 2-yesr-old boy
“A Catholic priest is being jailed for more than three years after police say he planned to sexually abuse a 2-year-old boy(link is external). BBC News reports Matthew Jolley, 32, admitted to trying to arrange for sexual activity with a child in the United Kingdom. According to Metro, Jolley told an undercover Cheshire police officer — who he thought was a 36-year-old man — that he was sexually attracted to children. Through messages on the Grindr dating app, the newspaper said Jolley revealed he would be interested in meeting up with the fictitious man’s 2-year-old son and proceeded to send an indecent picture of himself.” By BBC News on WTSP-TV10 News

GUAM

Guam clergy sex abuse survivors may receive payments in 2020
“Officials say Guam’s clergy sex abuse survivors could begin receiving compensation from the Catholic Archdiocese of Agana in the first half of 2020(link is external). The Pacific Daily News reported a U.S. District Court judge has given the archdiocese more time to calculate payment amounts to nearly 280 clergy sex abuse survivors and other claimants. Officials say victims and church officials are scheduled to go into mediation Oct. 30, with a church reorganization plan to follow.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

INDIA

Mysuru priests accuse bishop of sexual misconduct, corruption, shoot letter to Pope Francis
“A group of 37 priests from the Mysuru Diocese has written a letter to Pope Francis requesting his urgent intervention in the affairs of the Bishop of Mysuru KA William. The priests have demanded that the Bishop be removed(link is external) over his alleged involvement in criminal offences, misappropriation of funds and sexual misconduct. The Bishop has also been accused of practising factionalism, favouritism and also getting married.” By Nolan Pinto, India Today

NEW ZEALAND

The Church’s procedures to deal with complaints against bishops
“Pope Francis published his motu proprio ‘You are the Light of the World’ (Vos Estis Lux Mundi) on May 10, 2019. A ‘motu proprio’ is a legislative document Popes use, meaning ‘at my own initiative.’ This motu proprio introduces mandatory reporting within the Church for cases of sexual abuse(link is external). As well, Vos Estis Lux Mundi outlines the procedures to deal with complaints of sexual abuse by bishops, or failures of bishops and religious leaders to deal properly with complaints in either canon or civil law.” By NZCatholic.org

Man fights to hold Catholic Church accountable for abuse
“One drunken night in 2013 in Melbourne, Marc wrote an email to the Catholic Church in New Zealand. He was drunk a lot back then. ‘I could drink half a bottle of vodka right now and probably still have a lucid conversation with you,’ he said. Not now, now he’s dry. He was a functioning alcoholic back then, but still, he couldn’t remember sending the email. ‘The first line, and this was five years ago, was, ‘If there’s ever a Royal Commission in New Zealand, I will come back and give evidence(link is external).’” By Phil Pennington, Radio New Zealand

PHILIPPINES

U.S. priest who gave out gifts in Philippines accused of abuse
“The American priest‘s voice echoed over the phone line, his sharp Midwestern accent softened over the decades by a gentle Filipino lilt. On the other end, recording the call, was a young man battered by shame but anxious to get the priest to describe exactly what had happened in this little island village(link is external). ‘I should have known better than trying to just have a life,’ the priest said in the November 2018 call. ‘Happy days are gone. It‘s all over.’” By Tim Sullivan, Associated Press, in Casper Courier

POLAND

Polish court orders compensation for 1980s victim of pedophile priest
“The appeals court in the northern city of Gdansk ordered the accused priest, his former parish and diocese to pay 400,000 zlotys (92,500 euros) to Marek Mielewczyk, 50, the victim of sexual abuse(link is external) from 1982-87. ‘Sexually abusing minors unaware of the criminal nature of the acts perpetrated on them is to treat others in a humiliating and inhumane manner, which is the same as torture,’ judge Dorota Gierczak said, according to the PAP news agency on Tuesday, October 8. The judge said the statute of limitation did not apply because it involved ‘acts incompatible with the rules of society.’” By Agence France-Presse on Rappler.com

UKRAINE

Ukrainian Catholic Church urges victims of abuse to not be silent
“Victims of violence need consolation, healing and justice, the Ukrainian Catholic Church said in a pastoral letter on safeguarding. Reaffirming a commitment to preventing and fighting ‘any manifestation of violence in our church structures(link is external),’ the bishops urged anyone who may have experienced or witnessed abuse in any forms or its cover-up, to not be silent.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

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Reform or dismantle? Why we need to keep the institutions that keep us / Commonweal

The division of Catholicism into various brands—liberal, progressive, conservative, traditionalist—fosters a spirit of zero-sum competition rather than communion. (Commonweal)

One of the effects of the sex-abuse crisis is the current moment of institutional iconoclasm—the temptation to get rid of the institutional element of the Catholic Church. The failures of the church’s institutions are now on full display, even more so than after the revelations of the Spotlight investigation. It is hypocritical, however, to interpret the abuse crisis as a clerical abuse crisis rather than a Catholic abuse crisis. Obviously, the clergy had a unique role in the crisis, but the moral and legal responsibilities do not belong exclusively to those wearing a Roman collar. We are still reluctant to acknowledge the systemic nature of this crisis as something that affected the entire Catholic world and not just its ordained ministers. We would like to contain it neatly within the hierarchy so as to exempt ourselves from the burden of critical self-reflection.

“American Catholicism has not yet found its way out of the blame game for the abuse crisis. One sees this on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Recent attempts to use the crisis as a pretext for abolishing the priesthood are just a liberal version of conservative attempts to blame sexual abuse on gays or the sixties. All such strategies spare lay Catholics the bother of having to ask ‘What did do wrong?’ The abuse itself damaged the lives of the victims and their families, friends, and communities. Now, the shortcomings of our response to the abuse crisis—our failure to deal with its root causes—is causing another kind of damage. When prominent scholars of Catholicism publicly display their ‘disgust’ for Catholicism, it is clear that the abuse crisis has blurred the line between an ecclesially engaged Catholic theology and the more dispassionate, agnostic religious studies of Catholicism. The abuse crisis has produced two kinds of counter-evangelization:

  • first, the counter-evangelization of the hierarchical church, whose example scandalizes the faithful and repels outsiders;
  • second, the counter-evangelization of those who have used this crisis to self-righteously declare their liberation from what they describe as a morally corrupt institution.

There is a prefabricated quality to at least some of these declarations. They seem less like honest reckonings with new information than shrewdly timed expressions of old resentments. There will always be an appreciative audience for “Why I Left” pieces.”

By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


June 13, 2019

TOP STORIES

U.S. Catholic Church reports big rise in sex-abuse allegations
“Quantifying its vast sex-abuse crisis, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church said Friday (May 31) that allegations of child sex abuse by clerics more than doubled in its latest 12-month reporting period, and that its spending on victim compensation and child protection surged above $300 million(link is external). During the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 allegations of abuse, according to the annual report of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. That was up from 693 allegations in the previous year. The report attributed much of the increase to a victim compensation program implemented in five dioceses in New York state.” By David Crary, Associated Press

Double-barreled McCarrick news perfectly captures accountability challenge
“Sometimes the fates who govern the news business have a wicked sense of timing. After a long stretch of relative quiet regarding Theodore McCarrick, the ex-cardinal who was defrocked over sexual misconduct and abuse charges, Tuesday (May 28) brought not one but two major new developments(link is external) … The double whammy of these two stories coming at once does neatly illustrate two of the major questions left hanging by the McCarrick case, which in turn encapsulates the meta-narrative of the entire saga …” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

West Virginia bishop gave powerful cardinals and other priests $350,000 in cash gifts before his ouster, church records show
“In the years before he was ousted for alleged sexual harassment and financial abuses, the leader of the Catholic Church in West Virginia gave cash gifts totaling $350,000 to fellow clergymen(link is external), including young priests he is accused of mistreating and more than a dozen cardinals in the United States and at the Vatican, according to church records obtained by The Washington Post. Bishop Michael J. Bransfield wrote the checks from his personal account over more than a decade, and the West Virginia diocese reimbursed him by boosting his compensation to cover the value of the gifts, the records show.” By Michelle Boorstein, Shawn Boburg and Robert O’Harrow, Jr.

‘Revolution’ in Poland as nation confronts priestly abuse
“One victim spoke out, and then another, and another. A statue of a pedophile priest was toppled in Gdansk, put back by his supporters, and finally dismantled for good. A feature film about clerical abuse was a box office hit. Poland thought it had started confronting the problem of clerical abuse and its cover-up by church authorities. Then a bombshell came(link is external): A documentary with victim testimony so harrowing it has forced an unprecedented reckoning with pedophile priests in one of Europe’s most deeply Catholic societies.” By Vanessa Gera, Associated Press

Bishops of East Africa develop handbook to guide child protection
“Catholic bishops of East Africa have introduced a handbook to assist church leaders develop standards to safeguard the safety of children(link is external). Titled ‘Child Safeguarding – Standards and Guidelines: A Catholic Guide for Policy Development’ was introduced May 29 in the Kenyan capital May 29 by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, known as AMECEA.” By Francis Njuguna, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

The purgatory of the sex abuse crisis
“Eugene Cullen Kennedy, who died June 3, 2015, was one of the most prolific and insightful observers of the Catholic Church in the modern era. Following is the first of two pieces on the clergy culture and the sex abuse crisis(link is external) that were part of a larger work underway when he died. The manuscript, last worked on in January 2015, was shared with NCR by his widow, Sara Charles Kennedy, who noted the happy coincidence that Kennedy’s date of death was the same as that of St. Pope John XXIII, whom he greatly admired. John XXIII died in 1963. The longer manuscript was lightly edited for clarity and divided into two parts.” By Eugene Cullen Kennedy, National Catholic Reporter

Australian Catholic Church releases standards for child protection
“The Australian Catholic Church has released its National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, more than 18 months after they were recommended by the country’s landmark Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, in the latest chapter in the overhaul of how the Church responds to clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The standards closely parallel the commission’s recommendations as well as norms enshrined by the government in the National Principles for Child Safe Organizations, although some provisions have been watered down, observers noted.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

The U.S. Catholic Church spent more than $300 million on abuse-related costs in 12 months
“Between June 2017 and June 2018 the Catholic Church in the United States spent a whopping $301.6 million on costs related to clergy sexual abuse(link is external), including nearly $200 million in legal settlements, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The new report also revealed that, during the same 12-month period, the church fielded 1,051 new ‘credible allegations’ of sexual abuse of a minor by priests and other clergy.” By Daniel Burke, CNN

ACCOUNTABILITY

Ex-seminarian’s struggle shows ‘overlapping jurisdictions’ gap in abuse crisis
“Seventeen years ago, a young foreign-born seminarian was packing his bags for the opportunity of a lifetime. During a chance meeting at a Labor Day BBQ, the highly influential and now disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick encouraged him to transfer to Washington, D.C., where he enrolled in the Theological College. Little did he know that choice would influence the rest of his life. The experience turned sour when ‘Martin,’ a pseudonym, says he was sexually assaulted by a transitional deacon(link is external) who was studying at TC and who would be ordained a priest the following year.” By Inés San Martin and Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Woman accuses Cardinal DiNardo of dismissing sex abuse case
“When Cardinal Daniel DiNardo first met Laura Pontikes in his wood-paneled conference room in December 2016, the leader of the U.S. Catholic Church’s response to its sex abuse scandal(link is external) said all the right things. He praised her for coming forward to report that his deputy in the Galveston-Houston archdiocese had manipulated her into a sexual relationship and declared her a ‘victim’ of the priest, Pontikes said. Emails and other documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the relationship had gone on for years — even as the priest heard her confessions, counseled her husband on their marriage and pressed the couple for hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on ReligionNews.com

California archbishop ‘deeply disappointed’ by senate passing confession bill
“Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez, vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ by the California Senate’s passage of a bill that would force priests to disclose information about child sexual abuse that they hear in the sacrament of Confession(link is external). After legislators voted 30-2 in favor of the measure May 23, the archbishop urged the state’s Catholics ‘to continue to pray and make your voices heard on this issue, which is so vital to our faith and religious freedom.’” By Catholic News Service in Catholic Sun

Pope says Argentine bishop now facing Vatican sexual abuse trial
“An Argentine bishop close to Pope Francis is now on trial at the Vatican, accused of sexually abusing seminarians(link is external). Francis revealed the development in an interview with Mexico’s Televisa Tuesday. He said he received the results of a preliminary investigation into Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta two weeks ago and ordered the case be handed over for trial by a Vatican tribunal. Zanchetta resigned suddenly as bishop of Oran, Argentina in 2017 and within a few months, Francis named him to a senior Vatican administration position.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in Press Herald

McCARRICK CASE

Pope Francis denies he know of abuse by McCarrick
“For nearly a year, Pope Francis remained mostly silent in the face of a searing accusation by a former papal ambassador to the United States that he knew, and did nothing about, the sexual misconduct of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick … But in an interview published Tuesday (May 28), just weeks after Francis issued the first law requiring that officials in the Roman Catholic Church worldwide report cases of clergy sexual abuse to their superiors, he directly denied the accusation(link is external).” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Letters suggest lax enforcement of restrictions on disgraced D.C. ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick
“The former secretary to defrocked American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has released excerpts from private and confidential correspondence among top Vatican leaders(link is external)which reveal details of restrictions placed on McCarrick by the Holy See following allegations of sexual misconduct. The communications reveal the extent to which the restrictions were known among senior church leaders – and particularly by his successor Cardinal Donald Wuerl – but not enforced.” By Anna Matranga and Seth Doane, CBS-TV News

Pope Francis denies knowing of allegations against McCarrick
“Nearly a year later, Pope Francis denied claims made by a former apostolic nuncio to the United States(link is external) who accused him and other church officials of failing to act on accusations of abuse of conscience and power by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. ‘I knew nothing, obviously, of McCarrick. Nothing, nothing. I said several times that I didn’t know, that I had no idea,’ the pope said in an interview with Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki published by Vatican News May 28. ‘You know that I didn’t know anything about McCarrick; otherwise, I would not have stayed quiet.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

Vatican trial possible for Cardinal Pell
“Whether or not Cardinal George Pell wins or loses his appeal against his conviction in Australia for child sexual abuse he may still face a Vatican trial(link is external). This possibility was mooted in Rome once his sentence was announced in Melbourne. The 77-year-old Pell, who is now in jail, returns to a Melbourne court on Wednesday and Thursday to appeal his conviction after being found guilty of sexually abusing two choirboys in the 1990s. Three judges will hear Pell’s appeal.” By SBS.com.au

Analysis: Pell sex abuse conviction appeal
“Whatever the outcome of his appeal against a conviction for sexually abusing two choir boys, Cardinal George Pell’s case is far from over(link is external). Even if the Australian cardinal is successful in overturning his conviction, he could find himself back in jail if the highest court in the land were to re-confirm the jury’s declaration of guilt. Such a scenario is not without precedent, and it means the process could drag on into the middle of next year, and beyond. Justice, however, must take its course.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

BISHOPS

Catholic groups weigh in with ideas for bishops’ meeting on how to ‘solve’ abuse crisis
“As the U.S. bishops prepare to meet June 11-14 in Baltimore, with sex abuse concerns at the top of their agenda, they don’t lack for advice(link is external). Across the Catholic spectrum, groups and individuals have issued statements and offered declarations about how to fix the church. John Carr, a retired staff member for the U.S. bishops and now director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, urged the bishops to keep their focus …” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Here’s a must-do agenda for the U.S. bishops conference
“A week from tomorrow (that is, May 11), the U.S. bishops will gather in Baltimore for their annual spring meeting. The principal item on the agenda is the enactment of new policies regarding the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults(link is external). Last autumn, you will recall, the bishops planned to take action on several items to address the crisis but the Vatican ordered them not to vote on any proposals until after they had taken a retreat together, which they did in January, and until the conclusion of the February summit of bishops from around the globe called by Pope Francis to focus on this issue.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Conservatives still rule the U.S. bishops’ conference
“At the U.S. bishops’ meeting in November 2017, as the prelates voted in the much-anticipated election for chair of their pro-life committee, the ballot offered a stark choice: one candidate a culture warrior who emphasized opposition to abortion; the other, more moderate, took a “seamless garment” approach that connects life issues … The results proved that progressive prelates didn’t have the numbers to control the leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops(link is external), not to mention its statements, policies and priorities.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Officials look at meaning, role of ‘metropolitan archbishop’
“Most Catholics have never heard of a ‘metropolitan archbishop,’ even if their archbishop is one. Designating an archdiocese as a ‘metropolitan see’ is part of an organizational model, borrowed from the Romans(link is external), that goes back to the early days of Christianity, said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in Angelus

PRIESTS

Head of U.S. Catholic priests’ largest group asks bishops to end clericalism
“The Catholic Church in the United States needs to focus on three priorities: drawing the curtain on its culture of secrecy, ending clericalism, and giving women more roles in Church affairs(link is external), the chair of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) wrote in a letter to bishops dated June 4. ‘We are in crisis. We need change,’ wrote Father Kevin Clinton, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul – Minneapolis. ‘Please engage all of God’s People in bringing about the needed change. Clericalism most especially must be eradicated, and women must be integrated.’” By La Croix International Staff

The priesthood has meaning, and not just for male priests
“With every new wave of stories of sexual abuse by priests, it can be much harder not to create a spiritual bunker containing the people I like and leaving out the rest. I have felt despair and frustration at the crisis of abuse and the failure of leadership that got us here. The Church needs healing. It needs a new way forward. But it also needs the priesthood(link is external).” By Kerry Weber, Executive Editor for America: The Jesuit Review, in The Atlantic

WOMEN DEACONS

What the debate over deacons gets wrong about Catholic women leadership
“Two years ago I was on a panel at the University of Notre Dame where a fellow presenter lamented the almost total absence of women in leadership in the church(link is external). Perhaps she did not read my bio or listen to my presentation. During the panel discussion, I finally had to interject that I was the chancellor of one of the largest dioceses in the country and fourth on the organization chart for the Diocese of Orange.” By Pia de Solenni, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

German Catholic women begin boycott over lack of reforms
“A grassroots Catholic women’s movement – using the motto of the Virgin Mary who should be given her voice(link is external) – launched a week of disobedient non-service on Saturday (May 11) – with the backing of major lay organizations and even singular bishops. The women planned to hold rites outside churches, without priests, and withhold services inside parishes until May 18 at least 50 locations to back their call that the Vatican open the priesthood to women and drop celibacy.” By Deutsche Welle

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Laity not playing ‘gotcha’ with bishops on abuse, review board chair says
“The path to rebuilding the U.S. church’s credibility as it emerges from the lingering clergy sexual abuse scandal rests in embracing the role of laypeople as important collaborators(link is external), said the chairman of the National Review Board. Francesco Cesareo told Catholic News Service June 3 that laypeople want transparency and openness from the bishops and the sooner the prelates put aside their guardedness about welcoming laity as partners, the sooner the U.S. church will heal.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Laity need strong voice at government/bishops talks
Parishioners ‘must be heard’(link is external) in any future Church-State talks particularly regarding the future of Catholic schools, two leading Irish theologians have said. The call comes after the Irish bishops confirmed they will be discussing the Taoiseach’s proposed ‘new covenant’ between faith groups and secular society planned for July 4. Despite a commitment to divestment from Church leadership, at grassroots level there are ‘very, very strong views on the need to protect Catholic education,’ Prof. Eamonn Conway of Mary Immaculate College in Limerick told The Irish Catholic.” By Chai Brady, The Irish Catholic

CLERICALISM

Everybody wants a revolution, but nobody wants to do the dishes
“Currently, beyond the purely advisory role of parish and diocesan councils, laypeople hold no formal role in the authority structure of the Church. This must change. Giving laypeople a powerful voice at every level of Church governance(link is external) would be a consequential first step in building an ecclesial culture of justice, transparency, and humility.” By Susan Bigelow Reynolds, The Atlantic

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Cardinal Kasper says Francis will allow married priests, if bishops request it
“German Cardinal Walter Kasper, considered a close theological adviser to Pope Francis, said that if during an upcoming meeting of bishops on the Amazon region the prelates asked for the ordination of married men, the Argentine pontiff would grant the request(link is external). He also said that the ordination of women, even to the diaconate, is out of the question, as it would undermine a ‘millennia old tradition,’ noting, however, that the Catholic Church would ‘collapse’ without women.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Catholic is Kenya rebel against celibacy vow for priests
“He was a priest just out of seminary. She was a nurse. They were both from the slopes of Mount Kenya, but their paths improbably crossed in Rome. He became unshakable in his desire to marry her, even though he had taken the Catholic Church’s mandatory vow of celibacy for priests. When he returned to preach in Kenya, Peter Njogu was shocked when fellow priests told him that many of them had broken that vow, marrying and having children(link is external).” By Max Bearak, The Washington Post in Stars & Stripes

CHURCH REFORM

Proposed new apostolic constitution reorders Vatican’s offices
“The draft of Pope Francis’ document to reorganize the Vatican’s sprawling bureaucracy significantly reorients the mission of the Catholic Church’s central command(link is external), emphasizing that officials must no longer consider themselves a ‘superior authority’ but servants of the pope and the world’s bishops. The text of the proposed new apostolic constitution, obtained by NCR, also notably reorders the precedence of the Vatican’s offices, downgrading the once all-powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in favor of a new streamlined evangelization bureau charged with attracting followers by considering the ‘fundamental questions’ of our era.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Francis’ draft of curial reform fundamentally reimagines Vatican’s role
“Pope Francis’ long-awaited apostolic constitution on the reform of the Curia has finally appeared. Those looking for radical structural reform may be disappointed. However, the document contributes much toward a fundamentally different conception of the role and function of the Curia(link is external) within the life of the church. The Roman Curia in its modern form, dating back to the 16th century, has remained remarkably resistant to substantive reform, in spite of efforts undertaken by both Pope St. Paul VI and Pope St. John Paul II. Some of that resistance to reform may have been a consequence of the failure to consider the Curia within an ecclesiological framework sufficiently informed by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).” By Richard Gallardetz, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

New papal abuse policy will help restore trust
“Three months ago, Pope Francis called for an ‘all-out battle’ against the scourge of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and bishops(link is external). Now the Holy Father is making meaningful progress in the fight to protect the innocent and purify the church, and he deserves praise for his strong leadership. This month, Pope Francis ordered every diocese to develop a system that allows the public to submit allegations of abuse by any church official. Crucially, this includes bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, all of whom have historically escaped such oversight.” By Tim Busch, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic Church spent $10.6 million in Northeast on lobbying since 2011
“The Catholic Church has spent more than $10.6 million on lobbying in northeastern states since 2011 — and has poured a significant amount of that money into blocking bills aimed at clergy sexual abuse, a recent study revealed(link is external). The analysis of lobbying data, conducted by the Seeger Weiss and Williams Cedar law firms and dubbed ‘Church Influencing State,’ found that in the Empire State alone the New York State Catholic Conference and the Catholic Conference Policy Group spent $2.9 million over eight years to lobby government officials.” By Michael Gartland, New York Daily News

Unhappy Buffalo Catholics are giving less in wake of clergy sex abuse scandal
“The clergy sex abuse scandal is costing the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo more than the $17.5 million paid to childhood victims of abuse through a special compensation program. Giving at area Catholic parishes is down since last August(link is external) and is likely to result in a budget shortfall at the diocese and cuts to ministries and services, according to the Rev. Peter J. Karalus, the diocese’s chief operating officer. ‘The abuse scandal has had consequences on the financial condition of the diocese beyond the cost of settling claims,’ said Karalus, vicar general and moderator of the curia, in a preface to the diocese’s 2018 financial report.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Catholic archdiocese mired in deficit and debt
“Australia’s largest Catholic archdiocese has been plunged into budget deficit and debt, reflecting financial constraints across the church in the wake of the sex abuse scandal(link is external). Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli has flagged a major overhaul of finances and church structures in a talk to clergy and staff, calling for restraint and a new way forward to deliver services. Staff are expecting job losses and budget cuts to deal with the poor budget position.” By John Ferguson, The Australian

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Scott signs bills removing statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims
“(Vermont) Gov. Phil Scott last week signed a new law that removes the time limit for victims of child sexual abuse to bring civil claims against their abusers(link is external). Scott also signed a bill that will extend the statute of limitations for criminal offenses including manslaughter and sexual exploitation of a vulnerable adult. The bill eliminating the six-year statute of limitations for civil child sexual abuse cases was a priority for the House Judiciary Committee this year.” By Xander Landen, VTDigger.com

Arizona’s statute of limitations for child sex abuse is the worst in the country
“The arrest of a priest in Arizona on sex abuse charges out of Michigan could lend fuel to legislative efforts to expand the time that victims in this state have to sue their assailants(link is external) … The news comes as Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, is trying to convince colleagues to scrap existing Arizona laws which say that victims here have only until they turn 20 to file civil suits. Boyer told Capitol Media Services he can’t say whether Crowley and other priests accused of incidents of sexual abuse were purposely moved to Arizona because of what he sees as the limited ability of those who are abused and assaulted here to file civil actions.” By Daniel Perle, Capitol Media Services, on KJZZ.org

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Diocesan whistleblower slams compensation program for victims of clergy abuse
“The former executive assistant to Bishop Richard Malone says the compensation program set up by the diocese for victims of clergy sex abuse ‘didn’t have survivors best interest at heart or in mind(link is external).’ Siobhan O’Connor, who leaked several documents that detailed clergy sex abuse from the diocese’s archives, spoke at a press conference in Los Angeles Tuesday (Jun. 4) afternoon. The announcement was made as six dioceses in California are launching a victims’ compensation program similar to the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program that the Diocese of Buffalo set up.” By Chris Horvatits, WIVB-TV4 News

Survivors of sexual abuse by nuns want greater visibility for their accusations
“When Patricia Cahill was 15, she received an unexpected request(link is external). A nun who taught at a Catholic high school near her home in Ridgewood, N.J., called her at home and invited her to perform at an upcoming ‘hootenanny’ Mass. ‘This was [the] 1960s, you know. Peter, Paul and Mary and all that,’ Cahill said. ‘I didn’t really play guitar, but a nun — a nun! — asked me to.’” By Laura Benshoff, National Public Radio

CALIFORNIA

Law firm releases list of 43 clergy members allegedly accused of sexual misconduct
“A law firm that investigates child abuse claims released a list of 43 people within the Fresno Diocese who it says are accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). ‘We’re here because the Diocese of Fresno and the Catholic bishops in Fresno are dirty,’ said Jeff Anderson from Anderson & Associates. ‘They’re secret keepers.’ Anderson and his associates held a news conference in Fresno today (Jun. 5) accusing the Fresno Diocese of covering up sexual misconduct allegations.” By Amber Frias, KGET-TV

Three California priests credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors on first list released by Franciscans
“An Oakland-based Catholic order for the first time on Friday (May 31) released its own list of clergy with credible accusations of child sex abuse(link is external). The Franciscans of the Province of St. Barbara’s list contains 50 names involving 122 victims. Some of the accused have been previously reported by advocates or are included in court documents, but at least one has never been reported.” By Polly Stryker, KQED National Public Radio News

GEORGIA

Georgia attorney general opens Catholic priest abuse investigation
“Georgia has become the latest state to open a formal investigation into the Catholic Church’s priest sex abuse scandal(link is external) in the state. The state does not have a large Catholic population within the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah. However, the newly-minted archbishop of Washington DC is the former Archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton Gregory. Gregory’s predecessor in Washington was forced to retire after the scathing Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report concerning his tenure as Bishop of Pittsburgh.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

ILLINOIS

After 2006 sex abuse lawsuit, priest served in Whiting for seven years
“Months after the Rev. Stephen Muth retired at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Whiting, superiors put him on administrative leave, removing him from the priesthood. Church leaders had concluded Muth, 69, received a ‘recent credible accusation of sexual misconduct involving a vulnerable adult(link is external) (considered a minor under canon law),’ according to a statement dated Oct. 22.” By Meredith, Colias-Pete, Chicago Tribune

Chicago pastor arrested for allegedly sexually abusing twin girls he tutored at his home
“A Chicago pastor was arrested Friday (May 24) after allegedly abusing twin 12-year-old girls he had tutored at home(link is external). His arrest was announced by police Sunday, after the clergyman attended a bond hearing. Jeffery Parks, 51—a pastor at Good Shepherd Church—is accused of inappropriately touching the girls on multiple occasions since 2017. He tutored the twin girls for three years before he was reported to police, according to The Chicago Tribune.” By Katherine Hignett, Newsweek

IOWA

Iowa attorney general requests clergy abuse records from Catholic dioceses, launches hotline
“Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has requested information related to clergy abuse records from the state’s four Catholic dioceses(link is external), his office announced Monday (Jun. 3). Letters sent to officials in Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque and Sioux City ask the dioceses to voluntarily share records related to abuse allegations, diocesan review boards, and settlements by Aug. 1.” By Shelby Fleig, Des Moines Register

KENTUCKY

Bills enabling a statewide clergy abuse investigation stalled in Kentucky. Supporters blame politics.
“A pair of bills that would have opened an avenue to investigate alleged clergy abuse in Kentucky languished in this year’s legislative session(link is external), and some supporters of the proposals say partisan politics is to blame. Amid a national reckoning over allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Kentucky lawmakers failed to advance or even consider legislation to expand the Attorney General’s powers to investigate crimes, like clergy abuse, that often occur across multiple jurisdictions. Now, the attorney general and his allies are crying foul.” By Pete Madden, ABC-TV News

MASSACHUSETTS

Former insider sees cover-up by Springfield Diocese on abuse
“A former member of the board that reviews sexual abuse allegations for the Springfield Diocese says the church is attempting to quash an altar boy’s report of molestation to preserve the reputation of a longtime local bishop(link is external). In a statement in response to an article in The Eagle, the diocese says that when its review board met last year with a Chicopee man who served as an altar boy in the 1960s, that man did not allege sexual abuse by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon. But Patricia Martin and two others who attended that June 13, 2018, session confirmed this week that the victim specifically named Weldon as an abuser.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Five Catholic priests charged in Michigan sex abuse investigation
“As part of the state’s investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Friday (May 24) criminal sexual conduct charges against five priests in Michigan(link is external). ‘Some of these clergy … preyed on young children,’ Nessel said at a news conference about the men who were priests at the time of the alleged abuse. She said the five cases were the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as investigators continue to track down hundreds of tips on abuse by Catholic priests.” By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

Roman Catholic diocese suspends priest accused of misconduct
“A Roman Catholic diocese in Massachusetts says a longtime priest has been suspended amid an allegation of sexual misconduct(link is external). The Herald News reports that Fall River Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha said in an email Sunday (May 26) that Father Bruce Neylon, pastor of Holy Trinity Church, was removed from active ministry.” By Associated Press on ABCNews.com

MISSOURI

St. Louis victims have waited long enough for findings on clergy sexual abuse
“For months now, the St. Louis Archdiocese has been saying it intends to follow the lead of its counterparts around the nation and publicly identify its clergy who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of children. Since last year, the Missouri Attorney General’s office, under two consecutive office-holders, has said it will complete and release an independent investigation of the issue statewide. To date, neither promise has been fulfilled(link is external).” By St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board

NEW JERSEY

These three New Jersey nuns were accused of sex abuse. Here’s what we know about them
“When a law firm released a report earlier this month naming 311 Catholic clergy members from New Jersey accused of sexual misconduct there was something striking about the list– it included women(link is external). Three nuns from New Jersey were among the priests, monks, deacons and other clergy members listed in the report compiled by New Jersey attorney Greg Gianforcaro and Jeff Anderson & Associates, a Minnesota-based law firm that specialized in representing victims of abuse.” By Kelly Heyboer, New Jersey Advance Media on NJ.com

NEW YORK

Sex-abuse fallout triggers uncertain summer for Diocese of Rochester
“This is the second of two parts on the Diocese of Rochester’s ongoing response to the sexual-abuse crisis(link is external). Part I appeared in the Courier’s April edition. The summer of 2019 promises to be an uncomfortable one for New York’s Catholic bishops and their staffs. Last fall, the state’s attorney general launched an investigation into the handling of cases of clergy sexual abuse by New York’s seven dioceses and the Archdiocese of New York. The probe is one of nine similar investigations underway by attorneys general across the nation.” By Catholic Courier

Buffalo Diocese affirms abuse allegations against priest, returns two to ministry
Allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external) against the Rev. Michael P. Juran were substantiated by Buffalo Diocese Bishop Richard J. Malone after an investigation, and Juran will remain on administrative leave while the Vatican reviews the decision, Malone said Thursday (May 30) morning. An allegation of child sex abuse against the Rev. Robert M. Yetter was not substantiated, but Yetter will remain on administrative leave as the diocese continues to investigate allegations of adult sexual abuse by the former pastor of St. Mary Church in Swormville.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Long Island deacon accused of decades-old sex abuse
“A Roman Catholic deacon on Long Island is accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external)decades ago. According to a statement from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the allegation was made against Deacon Richard LaRossa, who served St. Raymond’s Church in East Rockaway. The alleged abuse happened about 26 years ago but was recently reported to the diocese’s Office for the Protection of Children and Young People. The diocese alerted law enforcement.” By LongIsland.News12.com

Buffalo diocese: Clergy abuse victims have been compensated
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo said Tuesday its clergy abuse compensation program rejected more than half the claims filed by alleged victims while offering 127 people awards ranging from $2,000 to $650,000. The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program was established last year amid public scrutiny of the diocese’s handling of claims of sex abuse against priests. In a summary, the diocese said that while a few awards are outstanding, the program ‘is substantially complete(link is external).’” By Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, in Lexington Herald Leader

Buffalo Diocese working to educate students, staff on clergy abuse crisis
“Sister Gail Glenn, longtime elementary school principal at Catholic Academy of West Buffalo, says her seventh and eighth graders have discussed the clergy sexual abuse crisis in class(link is external), while many of the younger students have not: About 8,500 elementary students attend Catholic school in Diocese of Buffalo; Clergy sexual abuse crisis discussed more among the upper grade levels; Students, staff provided ongoing abuse training. ‘We help them understand, that you’re going to find sick people all over and you just have to be aware,’ said Glenn.” By Mark Goshgarian, SpectrumLocalNews.com

OHIO

Catholic Diocese of Columbus adds additional priests accused of sexual abuse of a minor
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus has added four names to its website list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors(link is external). The list was initially released on March 1, 2019, with 34 names on it. On March 5, the diocese added two more names. The website was updated on May 23 with the additions of Rev. Walter H. Horan, Rev. Stephan L. Johnson, Rev. Francis M Sweeney, and Rev. John J. Walsh.” By Sarah Wynn, ABC-TV6 News

TEXAS

Dallas bishop questions affidavit, says police raid was ‘traumatic’
“Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas questioned an affidavit and a dramatic raid by local police who descended on church property in the Texas diocese(link is external) wearing ‘ski masks and SWAT gear’ in mid-May saying they were looking for documents related to abuse investigations. The Diocese of Dallas has fully cooperated with police and has been transparent and communicative with law enforcement, which is why ‘we were surprised, dismayed and even disappointed by the action taken,’ said the prelate in a May 17 video posted on the diocese’s website a couple of days after the raid.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Woodville priest placed on leave by Diocese of Beaumont during sexual misconduct investigation
“A Woodville priest has been removed from his duties at Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church after allegations of sexual misconduct at his former diocese(link is external) surfaced. Monsignor Frank Rossi, who retired from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, was accepted into the Beaumont Diocese in May 2017 to work at the parish according to a letter sent to parishioners Saturday by the Bishop of the Beaumont Diocese the Most Rev. Curtis J. Guillory.” By Reagan Gibson and Tyler Seggeman, 12NewsNow.com

VIRGINIA

Why advocates are pushing for more transparency in the Catholic Church
Local advocates are calling for more transparency in Catholic churches(link is external). They held a town hall discussion on the issue on Monday (Jun. 3) night in Vienna. Among the demands discussed were calls for a third-party national hotline, to hear out tips involving clerical sex abuse and full transparency throughout an investigation, when it comes to clerical sex abuse victims and their families.” By Anna-Lysa Gayle, WJLA-TV7 News

WEST VIRGINIA

West Virginia diocese releases more accused priests’ names
“West Virginia’s only Roman Catholic diocese has released the names of two more priests who it says have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse(link is external) in the state. The priests are accused of committing the abuse while working at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Both are deceased. One of them, the Rev. Raymond Waldruff, previously was accused of abuse in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the 1960s. Complaints of decades-old abuse were made against him in March in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and in April in the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky.” By John Raby, Daily Journal

WISCONSIN

Green Bay diocese names 48th priest determined to have sexually abused a minor
“The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay last month identified another priest who molested a child, amending its list of known abusers(link is external) with little notice to the general public. The diocese on May 23 added Steven Scherer to the list of priests who sexually abused minors over the past century. Scherer, who died in 1999, was determined by the diocese to have committed a single instance of abuse around 1980 or 1981. The allegation surfaced after his death.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Church’s astonishing defense ignores royal commission’s findings on notorious pedophile priest
“Here were lawyers for the very same Catholic Church launching a defense which rejected some of the royal commission’s key findings(link is external) in relation to one of its most notorious pedophile priests. The many good Catholics who espouse Christian values of decency and kindness and social justice might question the expenditure of the proceeds of their collective collection plates to mount that defense.” By Louise Milligan, Australian Broadcasting System

Church reaches new milestone in response to child sexual abuse
“Catholic Professional Standards Limited has released its National Catholic Safeguarding Standards in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. CPSL chief Sheree Limbrick said that during the royal commission, Catholic leaders committed to establishing nationally consistent standards and to the audit and public reporting of the compliance of Church authorities with those standards.” By CathNews.com

BANGLADESH

Church in Bangladesh to discuss new sex abuse norms in August
“Bangladeshi Catholics must break taboos surrounding sexual abuse to end a culture of silence(link is external), according to the country’s top prelate. Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, the Archbishop of Dhaka, leads the small Catholic community in the Muslim-majority South Asian country. Christians make up just 0.5 percent of the population and there are only around 400,000 Catholics in the country.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

CANADA

Canadians say the Catholic Church has failed in its sex abuse response
“Most Canadians, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, agreed in a recent poll that ‘the Catholic Church as a whole has done a poor job of addressing this issue of clerical sexual abuse(link is external).’ And 55 percent said the Catholic Church, still the country’s largest religious denomination, will be ‘weakened’ by its handling of the abuse crisis, a view shared by 42 percent of practicing Catholics. In the survey conducted online in early May and just published by the British Columbia-based Angus Reid Institute, 78 percent of all Canadians (including non-Catholics) gave the church a poor grade.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

CHILE

Chilean bishop-elect apologizes for comments on abuse crisis, women
“After the uproar caused by his words regarding Chile’s clerical abuse scandals and the role of women in the Church, the newly appointed auxiliary bishop of Santiago apologized for his comments(link is external). ‘I would like to sincerely ask for forgiveness for the pain and uncertainty my words might have caused,’ Bishop-elect Carlos Irarrazaval said May 29.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

FRANCE

Commission into clerical sex abuse in France opens
“An independent commission set up by the French Catholic Church to look at allegations of sexual abuse by clerics(link is external) began its work by launching an appeal for witness statements. France’s Catholic bishops set up the commission last year in response to a number of scandals that shook the church in the country and also worldwide. It now has the task to shed light on sexual abuse committed by French clerics on minors or vulnerable individuals going right back to the 1950s.” By RTE News

LIBERIA

Liberian bishops summoned to Rome over alleged sex scandal
“Last week representatives of the Liberian bishops’ conference traveled to the Vatican to address accusations from a local priest that two of the country’s bishops were guilty of soliciting him for sex(link is external). Bishop Anthony Borwah, President of the Liberia Bishops’ Conference, traveled to Rome to meet with Vatican officials after Father Gabriel Sawyer, a parish priest from Monrovia, raised accusations against the current Archbishop Lewis Zeigler, who heads the archdiocese, and against Bishop Andrew Karnley of Cape Palmas – located on Liberia’s southern coast – of sexual advances and abuses of power.” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

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Australian church completes first phase of historic plenary council / National Catholic Reporter

The landmark meeting … is already bringing to the surface debate about the role of the laity in the church and other reforms that are becoming more urgent in the wake of the ever-growing global sexual abuse scandal. (National Catholic Reporter)

The Australian Catholic Church has completed the first phase of its 2020 Plenary Council, in which laypeople will be allowed to vote and decisions could be binding on the nation’s Catholics, once ratified by the Vatican.

“The meeting’s organizers have received more than 20,000 submissions from more than 75,000 Catholics around the country in a 10-month ‘listening and dialogue’ process that finished March 13.

“The landmark meeting that will take place in two Australian cities during 2020 and 2021 is already bringing to the surface debate about the role of the laity in the church and other reforms that are becoming more urgent in the wake of the ever-growing global sexual abuse scandal.

“The Australian meeting will be only the third plenary council to held anywhere in the world since World War II; the Philippines held one in 1991 and Poland in 1993. There were three plenary councils in the United States before 1884, but none since.

“The Australian council was announced in 2017, during the five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”

By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Catholic bishops rule in their dioceses; who gets a say in their appointment?

Catholic BishopJan. 10, 2017 – Four U.S. Catholic bishops have reached retirement age and five more will in 2017, and their dioceses await word about who their next bishop will be. The stakes are high. Bishops rule in their dioceses.

Voice of the Faithful has long advocated for the widest possible input in selecting local bishops. Catholic lay people have the right and responsibility to comment and an expectation of being heard on issues important to the church. Not much is more important than who leads the local diocese. But papal nuncios (ambassadors), who recommend bishop candidates to the pope, listen only to a few influential clerics and even fewer lay people.

Pope Francis has made clear his desire for casting the widest possible net for bishop candidates. Most recently, the pontiff told his nuncios, “You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding grounds of ‘friends of friends,’” he said.

To help ensure the laity is heard, VOTF provides a website, votf.org/bishop, where lay people can become involved in the process. They can easily express their concerns and recommendations in three areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.

More than 500 Catholics in nearly a dozen dioceses from New England to Alaska have submitted their comments on the website. Recommendations made on the website go directly to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the present U.S. apostolic nuncio.

U.S. bishops who already have submitted letters of resignation to the Pope, required at age 75, are:

  • Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.;
  • Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona;
  • Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport, Iowa; and
  • Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California.

U.S. bishops who turn 75 this year are:

  • Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia;
  • Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana;
  • Bishop Alvaro Corrada Del Rio, S.J., of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico;
  • Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas, Nevada; and
  • Bishop Robert Meunch of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Several dioceses, where the Pope has accepted the bishops’ resignations, await replacements. They are:

  • Allentown, Pennsylvania, former bishop John Barres now bishop of Rockville Centre, New York;
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming, former bishop Paul Etienne now archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska;
  • Cleveland, Ohio, former bishop Richard Lennon resigned for health reasons;
  • Indianapolis, Indiana, former archbishop Joseph Tobin now archbishop of Newark, New Jersey
  • Juneau, Alaska, former bishop Edward Burns now bishop of Dallas, Texan;
  • Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, former bishop Gregory Parkes now bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida;
  • Raleigh, North Carolina, former bishop Michael Burbidge now bishop of Alexandria, Virginia.

Catholics in any of these dioceses can use votf.org/bishop to send their input about their next bishop to the U.S. apostolic nuncio.


Voice of the Faithful News Release, Jan. 10, 2017

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

Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, (781) 559-3360

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Francis: Spirit works in laypeople, ‘is not property of the hierarchy’ / National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis has again sharply denounced the culture of clericalism among priests in the Catholic church, calling it ‘one of the greatest deformations’ that must be confronted by the global faith community and saying it helps ‘diminish and undervalue’ the contributions that laypeople make.

“The pontiff has also strongly reaffirmed the right of laypeople to make decisions in their lives, saying that priests must trust that the Holy Spirit is working in them and that the Spirit ‘is not only the ‘property’ of the ecclesial hierarchy.’

“In a letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet in his role as the head of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, released by the Vatican Tuesday (Apr. 25), Francis says he wants to speak to the members of the commission about how to better serve what he terms ‘the Holy Faithful People of God.’

“‘Evoking the Holy Faithful People of God is to evoke that horizon which we are invited to look at and reflect upon,’ states the pope. ‘It is the Holy Faithful People of God that as pastors we are continually invited to look to, to protect, to accompany, to sustain and to serve.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

Voice of the Faithful wonders whether any clergy are listening to the Pope.

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Turning talk into action / The Irish Catholic

The decision to convoke a diocesan synod back in September 2014 was a bold move by Limerick’s Bishop Brendan Leahy who at the time was little over a year in office.

“After all, until last weekend (Apr. 9-10) there had not been a synod in Ireland in over half a century, and none in Limerick for 70 years.

“Having come from Dublin it was an opportunity for Bishop Leahy to get a feel for his flock. More importantly still it was a clear indication that this was a bishop willing to listen and take heed of what his faithful were telling him.

“Fast forward 18 months and Bishop Leahy now describes the synod as an ‘incredible journey’ that began because he ‘wanted to hear from the people exactly what they are concerned about and what we can do in the future to improve our Church and how it serves the people.’

“‘The great thing about it is that it has been a people-led journey. The people decided what would be on the agenda and the people voted,’ Dr Leahy said.”

By Cathal Barry, The Irish Catholic — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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