Posts Tagged catholic laity
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 I 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 …
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.
- Catholic Church investigation concludes Bransfield sexually harassed younger priests, misused church money(link is external), By Jeff Jenkins, Metro News
‘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
- The hierarchical spirit that will not die, By Eugene Cullen Kennedy(link is external), 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
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
- Top U.S. cardinal defends handling of aides sexual abuse case(link is external), By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
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
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
- McCarrick correspondence confirms restrictions, speaks to Wuerl and China(link is external), By Cruxnow.com Staff
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
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
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
- Bishops in the United States: the basics(link is external), 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- Catholic Church spent more than $633K lobbying in New Jersey, focused on thwarting legislation that would aid clergy abuse survivors(link is external), By InsiderNJ.com
- Report: Catholic Church spent $5.3M lobbying in Pennsylvania since 2011(link is external), By John Finnerty, The Daily Item
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
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 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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
- One day after diocese issues IRCP report, abuse advocate criticizes process,(link is external)By Michael Mroziak, WBFOI-FM, Buffalo’s National Public Radio Station
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
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
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
- Here’s what Dallas police seized from Catholic diocese offices,(link is external) By Cassandra Jaramillo, Dallas News
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 …
Jan. 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, email@example.com, (781) 559-3360
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.
“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.
With ‘Spotlight’ movie an award contender, Catholic reform movement assesses scandal / National Catholic Reporter (‘Spotlight’ received Best Picture Oscar a few days after the post was made)
The critically acclaimed movie ‘Spotlight’ could receive a Best Picture Oscar this Sunday. The film about how The Boston Globe investigated and brought to light clergy sexual abuse of children and its cover up in the Boston archdiocese has brought renewed awareness to the scandal worldwide.
“But many Catholics have had a heightened sense of the crisis all along. Some of those Catholics — determined to remain faithful while addressing the scandal — formed Voice of the Faithful only a couple of months after the Globe’s sensational January 2002 story appeared.
“VOTF continues its work nearly a decade and half later because the scandal remains — ‘a mass psychological dysfunction hidden in plain sight, which has stretched back decades or even centuries and will, unchecked, do precisely the same in the future,’ according to Peter Bradshaw’s “Spotlight” review in The Guardian.
“Amid the passionate indignation the scandal created, VOTF grew rapidly to comprise an international membership. Key to members is to remain faithful Catholics and to help redress and prevent scandal by changing the way the Church operates …”
By Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.