Posts Tagged catholic priests

Vatican says bishops should report sex abuse to police

While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. (Associated Press)

“The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday (Jul. 16) they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests.

“The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws continue to be ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favor of protecting their priests.

“While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. That policy requires bishops and religious superiors to report allegations of sex crimes with minors only where local laws require it.

“The manual says: ‘Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.’

“And it says church leaders must comply with ‘legitimate’ subpoena requests.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Latest USCCB abuse audit report shows cover-up’s extent, 4,400 new allegations last year

BOSTON, Mass., Jun. 26, 2020 – The numbers tell the story. According to the USCCB’s 2020 Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, more than 4,400 allegations of Catholic clergy sexual abuse were reported over the single year ending Jun. 30, 2020, the period of the report, which was released yesterday.

The report said the actual number of child sexual abuse survivor allegations over the past year was 4,434, more than three times the 1,451 allegations in the 2017-2018 reporting period.

The numbers show like none since the 2002 revelations in the Boston Archdiocese the extent of the cover-up the Church’s hierarchy has perpetrated. This increase in allegations has brought to light thousands of concealed clergy abuse cases from victims/survivors just now coming forward as a result of recent reforms of state statutes of limitations, nationwide civil investigations prompted by the August 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, increases in lawsuits and victim compensation plans employed by several dioceses. How many abuses will remain hidden by diocesan bankruptcies may never be known, and many victim/survivors agreeing to compensation plans will never get their day in court.

The USCCB’s National Review Board chairman, Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., pointed out in a letter prefacing the report that activities and “a growing desire among the laity for greater involvement in addressing this issue has led many to question whether the audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root.”

Equally if not more troubling is the report’s reference to current rather than historical cases. Thirty-seven 37 new abuse allegations have been made since last year. Cesareo made the magnitude of the problem perfectly clear. As much at 30 percent of dioceses have recurring difficulties pointing to a “lack of diligence that puts children’s safety at risk.”

“The current year’s Annual Report” he said, “highlights concerns also noted in previous years that speak to the issue of complacency. We continue to see the failure to publish reporting procedures in the various languages in which the liturgy is celebrated; poor recordkeeping of background checks; dysfunctional Diocesan Review Boards; lack of a formal monitoring plan for priests who have been removed from ministry; failure to update policies and procedures in light of the 2011 Charter revisions.”

And, with the Charter still not requiring parish audits, the need for continued vigilance is obvious.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Jun. 26, 2020
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


Jun. 8, 2020

TOP STORIES

Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolerance’
“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way. In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter(link is external) and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Secret bishops’ report calls for radical revamp of Catholic Church
“Australia’s Catholic Church could be dramatically overhauled to give lay people more power, increase the number of women in leadership roles and force parishes to open up their finances to the public(link is external). A secret 200-page report being considered by the nation’s bishops has called for unprecedented reform in a bid to make the church more inclusive and break down the structures that contributed to decades of clergy abuse and cover-ups … But in a sign of how sensitive the church is to issues of reform, the body that commissioned the report – the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference – is unlikely to publicly release or reveal how it will respond to its 86 recommendations until the end of the year.” By Farrah Tomazin, The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops
“It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops(link is external), say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR. They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions. Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi: the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Brooklyn bishop accused by 2nd man of sex abuse in the 1970s
“The Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn, already under a church investigation for alleged sex abuse, has been accused by a second man of abuse in the 1970s, when the bishop was a parish priest in New Jersey(link is external). Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio ‘repeatedly sexually abused’ Samier Tadros starting when he was about 6 years old, according to a March 9 letter that Tadros’ lawyer sent to the attorney representing the Archdiocese of Newark. The letter alleges the abuse happened in Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

Australia’s bishops seeking ‘whole-of-Church’ approach for child protection
“Plans are moving forward for the establishment of a national system for child protection within the Australian Catholic Church(link is external), according to a report following the meeting of the country’s Catholic bishops earlier this month. The ‘National Response Protocol’ will develop a comprehensive system for reporting complaints of clergy abuse or misconduct and establish new guidelines for child protection policies.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

ACOUNTABILITY

Pope makes anti-corruption spending rules mandatory in Vatican
“Pope Francis has approved sweeping new rules for procurement and spending in the Vatican meant to cut costs, ensure transparent competition and reduce the risk of corruption(link is external) in awarding contracts. An Apostolic Letter and 30 pages of new norms released on Monday (Jun. 1) are the culmination of a four-year process to rationalize spending procedures and tackle nepotism and cronyism. They come as the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the Vatican’s finances, forcing it to implement some of the toughest cost-control measures ever.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

New suit alleging sexual abuse by an Allentown priest uses a loophole in hopes of getting around statute of limitations
“Relying on a loophole that could open the floodgates for other victims years, or even decades, after the statute of limitation on such claims has expired(link is external), Berks County state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Tuesday (May 26) filed a lawsuit against the Allentown Diocese and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading, saying he was sexually abused by a priest in the 1980s, when he was 13 years old. Rozzi’s attorneys say they are relying on an August state Superior Court ruling that allowed a similar lawsuit, based on new information from the 2016 grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, to move forward.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call

POPE FRANCIS

Criticizing a pope: a dialogue between Massimo Faggioli and Bill McCormick, S.J.
“The driving thesis of Mr. McCormick’s article is that ‘the papacy does not have an agenda: the papacy is an agenda in itself.’ This is hard to reconcile with an ecclesiology of the papacy as an ecclesial ministry in the framework of a sacramental ecclesiology. But this approach has also far-reaching consequences(link is external). The first is that Mr. McCormick’s argument seems to be not about the style or content of my critique of Pope Francis’ approach to two particular issues, but about the very possibility of criticizing the bishop of Rome at all.” By Massimo Faggioli and Bill McCormick, S.J.

CARDINAL PELL

Inside stories: lawyers on the trials of the Pell case
“In a sexual abuse case that has polarized opinion, for the solicitors working on both sides it has been business as usual(link is external). When the High Court announced on 7 April that it would uphold Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his County Court conviction for sexual abuse of two choirboys in the 1990s, it drew a line, for now, under years of work for the solicitors who have been intimately involved in the case. It has been a case that has polarized opinion, has had international notoriety and involved controversy on a number of levels.” By Karin Derkley, Law Institute Victoria

PRIESTS

Priesthood and the renewal of the Church
Debates about celibacy have recently been in the forefront of conversations regarding the Church(link is external), given the ongoing fallout of the abuse crisis and the meeting of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region in the fall of 2019. Although the synod sought to confront the general pastoral difficulties of the Amazon region, stretched over many South American nations, European prelates focused excessively on changes to the priesthood and ecological problems.” By Jared Staudt, Denver Catholic

CHURCH FINANCES

Opening salvos in Pope Francis’s financial ‘Reform 2.0’
“Facing both a looming economic crisis and reminders that the anti-financial scandal measures adopted to date haven’t been fully effective, Pope Francis and his Vatican team this week (May 27) have moved to try to defuse the bomb(link is external) before it goes off, closing several Swiss holding companies responsible for portions of its assets and reallocating internal control over financial data collection.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Vatican Finances, what is going on? The Vatican City State Administration
“Plans for a ‘Vatican Asset Management’ outfit were laid out almost as soon as Pope Francis created the new Secretariat for the Economy. The VAM was supposed to be a centralized office that managed all Vatican investments(link is external). The proposed management outfit would have responded to two needs: that of generating revenues to support the expenses of the Holy See / Vatican City State; and, that of keeping investments under better control (because each dicastery had some funds that it managed independently).” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

CHILD PROTECTION

Reporting abuse – the church’s blind spot
“When in doubt, REPORT. If every allegation of child sexual abuse was simply reported by church leaders to appropriate authorities, the resulting positive impact would be immeasurable(link is external). Survivors of abuse would feel validated — by itself a significant positive outcome — pathways to healing would open, future victims would be spared and abusers would be revealed. Criminal behavior would be investigated and prosecuted, and elements of  realaccountability put in place. When ministry leaders simply report suspicions and allegations of sexual abuse, the church is perceived as a sanctuary where God’s love and justice are demonstrated.” By Gregory Love & Kimberlee Norris, Church Executive

International Safeguarding Conference announces new webinar series
“In a new series of webinars beginning on 29 May, the International Safeguarding Conference (ISC) will be encouraging ‘the Catholic Church and other faith-based organizations’ to ‘continue with safeguarding programs, despite the expected Covid-19 recession(link is external).’ ICS annually brings together Church representatives, professionals and scientific specialists to share knowledge and good practices on the subject of child protection. ISC writes that the upcoming webinar is ‘the first in a series of webinars’ … which aim to enable safeguarding professionals to share good practice in safeguarding, both in the current pandemic circumstances ‘and in ‘normal’ times.’” By Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Record numbers leave Church in Munich archdiocese
“A record number of people left the Church in the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising last year, a local statistical office said Tuesday (May 26). The Munich statistical office told CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, May 26 that 10,744 Catholics formally withdrew from the Church in 2019(link is external). It noted that this was a fifth higher than in 2018, when 8,995 people left. Statisticians said this was the first time that annual departures had surpassed the 10,000 mark since records began. Previously, the highest figure was 9,010, set in 1992.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic World Report

VOICES

New bishop says Catholic Church has learned from the past
“Minnesota priest selected to be the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City comes from a diocese that concluded bankruptcy proceedings last year agreeing to pay tens of millions of dollars to victims of child sexual abuse. Father Peter Muhich, 59, said addressing the abuse of victims was ‘obviously a very difficult process’ for the church(link is external) and especially for the victims themselves.” By Kevin Woster, Rapid City Journal

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child Victims Act gets 1-year extension
“The Child Victims Act received a second extension, bringing the filing deadline for child sexual abuse cases past the statute of limitations to Aug. 14, 2021(link is external). Championed for years by New Baltimore activist and attorney Gary Greenberg, who is a survivor of child sexual abuse, the law initially opened a one-year window of opportunity for claimants of child sexual abuse to bring their case to civil court, regardless of the statute of limitations and when the alleged abuse took place.” By Melanie Lekocevic, Columbia-Greene Media

Texas Statutes of Limitations for sexual crimes against children
“For many years, the Catholic Church has come under fire for the widespread occurrence of child molestation. While the majority of the media attention has fallen on U.S. priests, clergy members in many other countries have been identified as abusers. ‘Sexual Assault, commonly referred to as ‘rape,’ is perhaps the most stressful allegation with which to be faced, particularly if the sexual assault involves a child.” By Broden Mickelsen, Dallas Sex Crimes Lawyers, News.TopWireNews.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Documentary Prompts Polish Archbishop To Refer Case To Vatican
“Poland’s most senior Archbishop referred a child sex abuse case to the Vatican(link is external) on May 17th. Following the release of a Youtube documentary from Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, Archbishop Wojciech Polak has called on the Vatican to launch proceedings against Bishop Edward Janiak. The film alleges that Janiak knew about the allegations for years, but failed to take any action.” By Maria Kuuiper, Current Events, The Organization for World Peace

Revictimizing the victims of sexual abuse
“Victims of sexual abuse by clergy frequently have told me that the way they were treated by bishops has hurt them more than the abuse did(link is external). Virtually every bishop has made the announcement that he is dedicated to helping victims who have been sexually abused by priests and that he has put considerable resources toward that effort. Unfortunately, from what I have heard from too many victims, some bishops are quite adept at virtue-signaling and at making empty promises.” By Janet E. Smith, National Catholic Register

CALIFORNIA

Catholic priest sexual abuse survivor suing Oakland Diocese and East Bay churches
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland and two East Bay churches are the target of a lawsuit by a young man who was sexually abused by a priest when he was a child(link is external), his attorney said Tuesday (May 26). In a complaint recently filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the victim seeks unspecified damages against the the Diocese, St. John’s Catholic Church in San Lorenzo, and Corpus Christi Church in Fremont, accusing them of negligence in not protecting children like him from ‘predator priests.’” By Joseph Geha, Bay Area News Group

LOUISIANA

Alleged victim of nuns’ sex abuse fears Archdiocese bankruptcy will silence him
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans has filed for bankruptcy, and survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy say it’s just a maneuver meant to silence them. They include one man who says he was molested by nuns at a West Bank youth home in the 1970s(link is external), and he’s now urging other victims to speak out. Jeff, whose real name isn’t being used, says his parents sent him to Madonna Manor in Marrero in 1976 for help with dyslexia. He was 11 years old at the time.” By Greg LaRose, WDSU-TV6 News

SNAP asks governor to order state investigation of church
“The Louisiana chapter of SNAP has asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to direct State Police to investigate the Catholic Church(link is external). The organization, which represents and speaks for survivors of sexual abuse by priests, believes that the recent declaration of bankruptcy(link is external) by the Archdiocese is an effort to seal evidence in sex abuse cases.” By KATC-TV3 News

Clergy abuse survivors, Hancock Bank on Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy creditors’ committee
“A committee representing the unsecured creditors in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case will include clergy abuse claimants and Hancock Whitney Bank(link is external), which has managed more than $38 million in state facilities bonds that helped the local Catholic Church rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Federal court records Wednesday only identified one representative on the seven-member committee: Beth Zeigler of Hancock Whitney. The rest of the names were redacted, suggesting that the committee’s balance might be comprised of people who claim they were sexually molested by New Orleans-area clergymen and religious personnel.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield forms independent task force to advise Bishop Mitchell Rozanski on confronting reported clergy sex abuse
“Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski announced on Wednesday (May 27) the creation of an independent task force to advise the Diocese of Springfield on the ongoing issue of sexual misconduct and abuse by clergy(link is external) within the diocese. The 10-member Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield will have retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford as chairman and Irene Woods, founding executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin, as vice chairwoman.” By Patrick Johnson, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Former priest bound over on criminal sexual conduct charges
“A former Upper Peninsula priest accused of molesting children(link is external) was bound over to Ontonagon County Circuit Court. Gary Jacobs, 74, had a preliminary hearing on Tuesday (May 26) and Wednesday in 98th District Court in Ontonagon. No date has been set for his circuit court arraignment. Jacobs was also arraigned in Dickinson County’s district court Monday for similar charges there. He will be arraigned in circuit court next month.” By Garrett Neese, The Daily Mining Gazette

MINNESOTA

St. Cloud Diocese reaches settlement framework for clergy abuse survivors
“The Diocese of St. Cloud says they have reached framework for a settlement for survivors of clergy abuse(link is external). In a news release from the diocese, it says, ‘the resolution will include the diocese filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the near future. In the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the framework for resolution will include a consensual plan of reorganization that will provide for a $22.5 million trust to compensate survivors of clergy sexual abuse.” By Jenifer Lewerenz, KNSI Radio News

NEW JERSEY

Judge denies Delbarton School’s request to find new sex abuse law unconstitutional
“A judge has denied a challenge to a law that loosened restrictions on civil sex abuse complaints — allowing a lawsuit to continue(link is external) against the order that runs the Delbarton School and clearing the way for dozens of similar cases against the Catholic Church and other institutions to go forward in state courts. The lawsuit against Delbarton was filed more than two years before New Jersey extended the civil statute of limitations for sex abuse cases. Dozens of sex abuse lawsuits have been filed since the law took effect on Dec. 1, 2019, many of them against the Catholic Church for alleged abuse from decades ago.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK

LI priest molested me, now church is trying to keep me quiet, lawsuit says
“A man says a Long Island priest sexually abused him when he was a teen(link is external) — and that church investigators are now trying to intimidate him into silence, new court papers show. Greg Hein, 52, says in a Nassau County lawsuit that Father Gregory Cappuccino repeatedly molested him in the sacristy and rectory of St. Anthony of Padua in Rockville Centre in 1984. Hein was 17 at the time, while the priest oversaw the parish’s youth programs, the suit says.” By Rebecca Rosenberg, New York Post

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie diocese priest reinstated after abuse probe ends
“A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Erie is returning to active ministry after Bishop Lawrence Persico said the diocese could not substantiate allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external) made against the priest a year ago. The priest, Monsignor Charles Kaza, has been reinstated as pastor of St. Tobias Parish, in Brockway, Jefferson County, Persico announced on Monday (Jun. 1).” By Times-News staff on GoErie.com

Attorneys: Abuse victims getting low offers from Diocese of Pittsburgh’s fund
“Many people filing claims of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are being offered compensation amounting to only a ‘fraction’ of what victims have received in other dioceses(link is external), according to attorneys representing many of them before an out-of-court compensation fund. Attorney Alan Perer, who said he represents about 75 clients who applied to the fund, is accusing Bishop David Zubik and the diocese of breaking a promise to compensate victims fairly.” By Perter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Erie Diocese wants out of New York lawsuit against Trautman
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit in New York that tries to connect the diocese to claims that retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman(link is external) covered up clergy sex abuse of a minor when he was a top official in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in the 1980s. The suit also names Trautman as a defendant, though the claims against him mostly pertain to his tenure in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The suit alleges the abuse took place there about six years before Trautman was named the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Erie, in 1990.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

TEXAS

Catholic Archdiocese asks to have child abuse lawsuit dismissed, contends case filed too late
“The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, claiming the church covered up allegations of abuse(link is external), and continued to allow La Rosa-Lopez access to children. Lawyers for the Archdiocese filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit contending it was filed years after the statute of limitations ran out in 2011. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says the archdiocese is trying to escape responsibility by relying on a legal technicality.” By KPRC-TV2 News

A year later, most documents seized in Dallas police raid of diocese ordered returned as sexual assault investigation continues
“A year after police searched Dallas Catholic Diocese offices for records related to allegations of sexual abuse by priests, most of the documents seized in the raid were returned to the church as beyond the scope of the police investigation(link is external). And charges have been filed against only one of the five former priests, who are targets of the investigation. Dallas Bishop Edward Burns condemned the May 15, 2019 raid, which involved dozens of law enforcement officers, as ‘unnecessary and sensational,’’ in a statement released by the diocese Thursday (May 28).” By David Tarrant, The Dallas Morning News

AFRICA

My catholic priest uncle molested me when I was 11 – DJ Switch
“Nigerian rapper and disc jockey, Obianuju Catherine Udeh, popularly known as DJ Switch, has opened up on how her uncle, who’s a catholic priest, molested her at the age of 11(link is external). The songwriter who was the winner of the Glo X-Factor revealed this on his Instagram page on Monday, adding that her revelation may shock her family. DJ Switch’s post is coming after the brutal killing of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) who was raped and murdered in a church in Benin where she went to study.” By Taiwo Okanlawon, pmnewsnigeria.com

AUSTRALIA

Former principal who warned of dangerous priest to sue Catholic Church
Mr (Graeme) Sleeman now plans to sue the Catholic Church over the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s catastrophic inaction in the 1980s on his complaints about (pedophile priest Peter)Searson(link is external). He estimates his lost education career cost him $3 million. Searson’s infamy was known at the top: the then archbishop of Melbourne, Frank Little, knew of an allegation Searson raped a young woman in 1974, and his conduct around parishioners and children was discussed at archdiocese meetings in the early 1980s.” By Adam Cooper, The Sydney Morning Herald

Bishop backs mother’s plea to release report
“A 94-year-old Newcastle woman calling for the release of royal commission findings on sexual abuse her son endured and his subsequent suicide is being backed by the local bishop. Audrey Nash fears she will die before the findings of the 2016 royal commission probe into her son Andrew Nash’s suicide are made public. Andrew Nash died in 1974 when he was just 13.” By Giselle Wakatama, ABC News, on CathNews.com

Report Suggests High-Ranking Australian Priest Covered Up Decades of Abuse Within Catholic Church
“Weeks after Cardinal George Pell was released from jail, a newly release report suggests that he knew of child sex abuse by Australian priests as early as the 1970s(link is external) but failed to take action to stop it. Pell, an ex-Vatican treasurer, is the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

CANADA

London Catholic Diocese loses appeal in child sexual abuse case
“An Ontario appeals court has dismissed a bid by the Diocese of London to fight a lower court’s decision to throw out a settlement involving a victim of child sexual abuse(link is external). Justice David Aston ruled in 2018 that London-area resident Irene Deschenes would not have settled with the church for the abuse she suffered at the hands of a priest had the church disclosed key information about previous sexual assault allegations.” By CBC News

FRANCE

Church orders French pedophile priest Preynat to compensate victims
“The Ecclesiastical Court of Lyon has paved the way for the compensation of victims of French ex-priest Bernard Preynat(link is external), convicted in March for the sexual assault of minors. In a sentence handed down on Thursday but made public two days later, 21 people assaulted by Preynat between 1971 and 1991 are to receive an unspecified amount of compensation.” By rfi.fr

GUAM

‘Look what he’s taken from me’: the deadly toll of Catholic church sex abuse on Guam
“Roosters crow in the distance as Walter Denton gestures toward a white one-story concrete building behind a church in Agat, a village in southern Guam. ‘You know, just standing here, right behind you, that is where I was raped,’ says Denton, 56. It has been more than three years since Denton first went public with accusations that Guam’s former archbishop Anthony Apuron assaulted him(link is external), and even though he has told the story many times his voice is still heavy with emotion.” By Anita Hofschneider, The Guardian

PHILIPPINES

Priest slams crimes against, and abuse of, children
“A Catholic priest said the sins and crimes committed against children are crimes that cry out to heavens for justice(link is external). Father Melvin Castro of the Diocese of Tarlac said this on the heels of a study by the International Justice Mission stating that the Philippines has become the world’s largest known source of online child sexual exploitation with parents and relatives the ones responsible for facilitating the abuse in nearly all cases.” By Leslie Ann Aquino, Manila Bulletin

POLAND

Polish priests defy bishops and pedophilia scandal
“The documentary ‘Hide and Seek’ by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, which was watched by almost 7 million people on YouTube within a week, continues to make waves in Poland. The film tells the story of two brothers who were sexually abused by a priest in the diocese of Kalisz in central Poland in the 1990s(link is external). They were 7 and 13 years old at the time. The documentary makes it clear that the local bishop, Edward Janiak, knew about the abuse and swept the scandal under the carpet. The filmmakers uncovered dozens of other cases in the diocese as well.” By Deutsche Welle

SOUTH KOREA

Bishop apologizes for priest’s sex abuse after 23 years
“Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Incheon, issued a statement apologizing for a priest’s sexual abuse(link is external) of students of a Catholic university about 23 years ago. The sexual abuse cases were made public recently through an investigative TV program. In a statement uploaded on the website of the Diocese of Incheon, the bishop said he was deeply sorry for letting such an inappropriate incident happen, confirming the media report was true.” By Park Ji-won, The Korea Times

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Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolearance’ / Cruxnow.com

“To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” (cruxnow.com)

“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way.

“In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

“In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.

In part, such perceptions are rooted in memory. When the abuse scandals broke out in the United States in 2002, several Vatican officials initially dismissed them as a uniquely ‘American problem’ and described the ‘zero tolerance’ policy as a legalistic and Puritanical American overreaction.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest
“Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children(link is external), and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded. A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.” By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com

The acquittal of Cardinal Pell
“In setting aside the guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell on sexual-assault charges, Australia’s High Court effectively concluded the criminal-justice aspect of a case that has consumed the nation and the Catholic Church for years. But the April 7 ruling doesn’t really settle anything in the relationship between the church and the Australian state, nor is it likely to resolve the clash between the different ‘kinds’ of Catholicism in Australia and elsewhere. In fact, the decision will probably keep the contentious debates alive(link is external), perhaps for a long time to come.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Archdiocese of New Orleans to file bankruptcy; Aymond meets with area priests
The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to file for bankruptcy, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday (Apr. 30) evening, as the mounting cost of unresolved clergy-abuse lawsuits and the shutdown of church services due to the coronavirus deliver crushing blows to church finances. The 227-year-old local institution serving half a million New Orleans-area Catholics will join 26 other American dioceses and Catholic religious orders that have sought financial protection(link is external) from creditors and claimants since the clergy-abuse scandal reached a fever pitch in 2002.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

German Catholic Church agrees to rules for investigating abuse cases
“The Catholic Church has become Germany’s first institution to agree to fixed and binding rules for investigating sexual abuse cases(link is external). The agreement, described as historic by the German government’s abuse commissioner, could become a blueprint for other institutions in the fight against abuse. The Protestant Church in Germany and churches in many other countries have yet to take that step, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service on AngelusNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Sooner or later, Pope Francis will have to face the perplexities of reform
“Granted, right now Pope Francis has bigger fish to fry. Among other things he’s trying to hold the nation of Italy together, appealing on Saturday (May 2) for political unity at a time when regional governors from the political opposition are threatening to sabotage Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s plan for gradually easing coronavirus restrictions by issuing their own ad hoc decrees. Yet at some point when this is over, Francis will have to face the fact that his own house needs some work too(link is external).” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

On a call with President Trump, Cardinal Dolan reveals his true colors
“The ongoing collusion between certain U.S. bishops and President Donald Trump hit its nadir point this weekend (Apr.25). Or at least we have to pray it did. Crux’s Christopher White obtained a recording of a phone call that took place on Saturday between Trump and an estimated 600 Catholics, among whom were bishops and Catholic school superintendents. Leading the pack was New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who seems to like to boast about his relationship with Trump almost as much as Trump likes to boast about himself(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

Victorian government clears release of Pell royal commission findings
“Unpublished findings about Cardinal George Pell’s handling of child sexual abuse complaints(link is external) have been cleared for release by the Victorian government. Attorney general Jill Hennessy has advised her federal counterpart, Christian Porter, that blacked-out sections of two reports from the institutional child abuse royal commission can be released, after the high court overturned the cardinal’s convictions for child sexual abuse earlier this month.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

BISHOPS

Nigerian bishop, rejected by former diocese, installed at new diocese
“Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke was installed April 29 as the bishop of the new Ekwulobia Diocese, after having been rejected in the Ahiara Diocese by priests and parishioners in a prolonged crisis that engulfed the Catholic Church in the region for about eight years(link is external). ‘It’s one of the greatest news of the decade in this part of the church in Nigeria because the creation of the new diocese has long been overdue,’ Fr. Martin Anusi, the director of communications at the Awka Diocese, told NCR. ‘People have dreamt and made appeals for a new diocese over the years.’” By Patrick Egwu, National Catholic Reporter

An Australian bishop speaks about a national church ‘fraught with division’
“Like many Catholics in Australia, Bishop Vincent Long speaks about the upcoming plenary council(link is external) as something of a final chance for the national church to show it has both reformed on clergy sexual abuse and can still be culturally relevant in the 21st century. In an emailed NCR interview focused on how the quashing of Cardinal George Pell’s convictions might affect the gathering, which has been in preparation for two years, Long called the assembly ‘the last throw of the dice.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Church members show support for priest in legal battle
“Congregation members of two Catholic churches are showing their support for a priest who was removed by Richmond Diocese Bishop(link is external). The priest has appealed his removal and is still in place at both churches while the process unfolds. Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount … Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount. Originally Father Mark White was told to stop his blog, which at times was critical of the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. He shut the blog down for some time, but once the pandemic hit and he wasn’t able to meet with his members face to face, he started it up again and he was removed shortly after.” By Eric Pointer, WFXR-TV News

CARA study on new ordinands spots trends worth watching
“The annual survey of seminarians scheduled for priestly ordination(link is external) this year reveals continuing trends and suggests potential trends in the making. ‘We’ve been consistent over the last 20 years in terms of the age of men being ordained to the priesthood. It continues to hover into the low to mid-30s,” said Father Luke Ballman, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in Rhode Island Catholic

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Peter’s Field Hospital: Interview with Dr. Phyllis Zagano on women in the Church
“This week on Peter’s Field Hospital, Dan Amiri and I had the privilege of interviewing the Catholic author and theologian Phyllis Zagano. Phyllis Zagano is an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the church(link is external). In 2016, Phyllis was named by Pope Francis to serve on the Papal Commission on women in the diaconate. Her new book, Women: Icons of Christ traces the history of ministry by women in the Church, especially women deacons. In this book, she shows how women were removed from leadership, prevented from using their voices, and eliminated from official ministries in the history of the Church. This book also argues in favor of the restoration of women to the ordained diaconate, while refuting the arguments against it.” By Mike Lewis, WherePeterIs.com

Seminaries must hire, involve more women, Cardinal Ouellet says
“For some priests and seminarians, ‘women represent danger, but in reality, the true danger are those men who do not have a balanced relationship with women(link is external),’ said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The cardinal was interviewed about the role of women in seminaries and seminary formation for the May issue of the women’s supplement to the Vatican newspaper; the interview was published April 24 by Vatican News.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Your thoughts on women’s roles in the church
“On April 8, Pope Francis announced he had created a new commission to study the ordaining of women as deacons in the Catholic Church. This is the second commission on the topic under Francis, however several members of this new commission seem to be opposed to women deacons. This revelation sparked a response from NCR columnist Jamie Manson, who writes: ‘By selecting these members for the commission, Francis has effectively killed the possibility of any real progress for women in the church(link is external).’ Relatedly, St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk wrote a column entitled ‘Women demonstrate what the priesthood of Jesus truly means,’ of which NCR executive editor Tom Roberts mentions in his last NCR Connections column.” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

CHURCH FINANCES

Fraudster jailed for stealing $340,000 from Catholic Church to fund ‘indulgent’ lifestyle
“Adelaide mother Kerry Ann Keen used more than $340,000 that she stole from the Catholic Church(link is external) to pay for expensive overseas holidays and indulgent consumer goods. Now, the 57-year-old will spend at least three years in jail for her crimes. ‘In short, this was protracted, calculated dishonestly over a prolonged period [and involved] a large sum of money to fund an indulgent lifestyle,’ SA District Court Judge Stephen McEwen said during sentencing.” By Meagan Dillon, ABC News

Clergy Abuse Costs Drive New Orleans Archdiocese to File for Bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans announced on May 1 that it is seeking federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection(link is external) amid growing legal costs related to sexual abuse by priests. The filing for reorganization could free the archdiocese from the threat of creditors’ lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances. The New Orleans archdiocese is the latest of more than 20 dioceses nationwide to take such action.” By Kevin McGill, Insurance Journal

Seychelles: Police Investigating Nigerian Priest’s ‘Suspicious’ Bank Transactions
“The police in Seychelles are investigating a Nigerian priest based in the island nation following suspicious bank account transactions(link is external), the authorities said Wednesday (Apr. 29). The police statement came a day after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Victoria announced in a communique that ‘a member of its clergy, Father Fidelis Mbanefo has been suspended from his ministerial duties as a priest in the Diocese of Port-Victoria, as of the 17 April 2020.’” By Patsy Athanase, Seychelles News Agency, in Eurasia Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Will the pandemic force the Catholic Church to transform
“While the church has a vast body of members, the pandemic is leaving one of the oldest religious institutions in financial limbo(link is external). The Catholic Church has survived many things, including the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, capitalism and secularism. As the world’s oldest religious institution, with nearly 1.3 billion followers, the Catholic Church is the largest continuously operating international organization, and the faithful would also like it to survive this deadly pandemic. But no one can deny that the Vatican’s finances are in disarray.” By TRTWorld.com

VOICES

Cardinal Pell: A decision with little certainty
George Pell is a cardinal in the Catholic Church. And that is where the problem lies(link is external). It lies as well in the institution. The two are inextricably intertwined so that the fate of one informs the other. Some, like Pope Francis, say, ‘I would like to pray today for all those persons who suffer an unjust sentence because someone had it in for them.’ The Vatican News reported that the pope made this statement at his morning Mass in Santa Marta, shortly after the news broke that the High Court of Australia had quashed the convictions against Pell.” By Gail Grossman Freyne, National Catholic Reporter

COLORADO

Colorado’s priest abuse reparations program has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims so far
“The Catholic Church so far has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims of priest abuse in Colorado(link is external) as part of a review of claims by an independent committee. The work of the oversight committee is ongoing, but its leaders announced Wednesday (Apr. 22) that they have received claims from 91 victims of abuse by priests who worked in one of Colorado’s three dioceses.” By Jennifer Brown, Colorado Sun

FLORIDA

Sexual abuse lawsuit filed in Polk County against retired priest
“On Monday, April 27, 2020 sex abuse attorney Adam Horowitz filed a Complaint in Polk County Circuit Court against Catholic priest Father Fred Ruse, who in 2018, suddenly retired from the active ministry. The suit, filed on behalf of a Sarasota County man, alleges that in 2001 and 2002, he was sexually abused multiple times by Father Ruse(link is external) in a classroom and in the chaplain’s office at the Demilly Correctional Institution in Polk City, Florida, when the plaintiff was approximately 14 and 15 years old.” By Horowitz Law

HAWAII

Hawaii courts filling with sex abuse cases
“Fallout from a slew of recently filed sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external) has a trustee from Punahou Schools stepping down. According to the school, Monica McLaren voluntarily stepped down from the Board, after her husband Christopher McLaren was named in one of several civil cases against Punahou. Hawaii courts have filled with last minute filings for sexual abuse cases.” By Paul Drewes, KITV-TV4 News

IDAHO

Idaho court upholds ex-priest’s prison sentence
“A former Boise priest convicted of possessing violent and extreme child pornography(link is external) will be sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, an appellate court ruled. William “Tom” Faucher, 74, was sentenced in December 2018 without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to distribution of sexually exploitative material, possession of sexually exploitative materials and drug possession, the Idaho Statesman reported.” By Associated Press in Lewiston Tribune

LOUISIANA

Louisiana priest convicted of molestation released on bond
“A former Louisiana priest convicted of molesting an altar boy was released from jail on bond(link is external) over coronavirus safety concerns. Michael Guidry, 77, was released Friday (APR. 24) nearly a year after he pleaded guilty to molesting a 16-year old boy after giving him alcohol in Guidry’s home. The victim said in a civil lawsuit that he woke up one day in 2015 after doing chores in Guidry’s home and found the former priest molesting him. The victim told authorities about the molestation when he was an adult, four years after it happened.” By Associated Press on WBRZ-TV2 News

Survivors of clergy sex abuse want accountability following priest released on house arrest
“The release of a priest convicted of molesting a teenage boy is raising questions for the judicial system and the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Guidry is out on bail tonight (Apr. 27). One-year-ago this week, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with three years suspended, after pleading guilty to molestation of a juvenile(link is external). According to court records, Guidry’s defense counsel, Jane Hogan, requested an emergency appeal hearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” By Chris Welty, KATC-TV3 News

MAINE

Maine high court upholds sex crime convictions of defrocked priest
“The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday (Apr. 23) upheld all but one of the 11 convictions of a former priest who is serving 16 years in prison for sexually assaulting a boy(link is external) during multiple vacations to Maine in the 1980s. Ronald Paquin, now 77, was found guilty in 2018 of 11 counts of gross sexual misconduct. A York County jury acquitted him of similar charges related to a second boy. A judge sentenced him last year to 20 years in prison with all but 16 years suspended.” By Matt Byrne, Portland Press Herald

MISSOURI

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese releases investigation into priest with many ties to the Ozarks
“The Springfield-Cape-Girardeau Diocese reports a review board determined inappropriate physical/sexual misconduct involving a priest(link is external). Father Gary Carr became an ordained priest in 1982. He then served at several churches and schools in the diocese, including in Springfield, Monett and West Plains. The allegations involve a male student between the ages of 10-13. The report has been forwarded to the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in southeast Missouri. This is only a report from the diocese. Police have not arrested Father Carr.” By KY3-TV News

MONTANA

Montana sees flurry of child sex abuse lawsuits as deadline approaches
“The one-year window Montana lawmakers opened to give child sex abuse survivors a chance to bring old claims is closing soon(link is external), and a flurry of lawsuits is hitting the courts. Adults who were abused as children have until May 6 to bring claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. The Montana Legislature created the window in 2019,” By Phoebe Tollefson, Helena Independent Record

NEW JERSEY

‘Prolific pedophile’ priest dies in News Jersey nursing home
“A pedophile priest who was defrocked in New Jersey after admitting abusing a dozen children(link is external) has died in a nursing home, the diocese confirmed to The Post. James Hanley — who abused young parishioners in Mendham and Pompton Plains over the course of 14 years — died last week, the diocese’s attorney, Kenneth Mullaney, confirmed.” By Lee Brown, New York Post

NEW YORK

Buffalo seeks halt to outstanding sex abuse lawsuits
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has taken legal action seeking to stop all outstanding clergy sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external) while it navigates bankruptcy proceedings in federal court. The diocese filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court on Saturday (May 2) seeking an injunction on lawsuits filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. About 250 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese since August, when the act gave victims one year to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse.” By Associated Press

23 suspended Catholic priests to lose their pay and health insurance
“In the last few days, 23 suspended priests have been contacted by senior leadership of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese and told they lose their pay and health insurance on Friday (Apr. 24). These are men who have ‘substantiated’ allegations of sexual abuse(link is external). They remain priests, but can’t hold themselves out as priests, are not allowed to say Mass publicly or wear clerical garb.” By Mike Desmond, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

Accused priests cannot be left ‘destitute’
“The Diocese of Buffalo clarified on Friday (May 1) that priests accused of sexual abuse cannot be left ‘destitute(link is external),’ even as the diocese acts to withdraw financial support payments. The diocese had announced earlier this week that 23 priests “with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse” would no longer receive financial assistance or health benefits from the Diocese of Buffalo as of May 1. However, the diocese said that pension plans would not be affected by the decision.” By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency

OHIO

Diocese of Toledo names seven deceased priests accused of sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Toledo on Wednesday (Apr. 29) released the names of seven deceased clerics who are credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). In each case an accuser had come forward after the cleric had died. The Diocesan Review Board considered their cases this year and last year. The diocese for years declined to name or consider allegations against clerics in such cases ‘as they can neither defend themselves against the accusation nor possibly be a future threat to anyone if the allegation were true,’ according to an explanation the diocese provided for years on its website.” By Nicki Gorny, The Blade

PENNSYLVANIA

Philadelphia Archdiocese committed to paying $130 million to sex abuse victims
“In a profound letter to parishioners, the newly installed Archbishop of Philadelphia, Nelson Perez, addressed claims of prior priest sex abuse of children head-on(link is external), saying the archdiocese is committed to paying about $130 million in reparations. When new Archbishop Perez came to Philadelphia from Cleveland a few months ago, he inherited a mess stemming from the priest sex abuse scandal. But on Tuesday (May 5), he says in a letter that he deeply regrets the pain and suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them.” By Dann Cuellar, WPVI-TV6 News

TEXAS

Dallas priest accused of abuse removed from ministry
“The Diocese of Dallas has removed a priest from the ministry after sexual abuse allegations(link is external) arose in the Colombian archdiocese where he formerly served. Father Oscar Mora was among 19 priests suspended last month by the Catholic Archdiocese of Villavicencio after the allegation arose earlier this year, The Dallas Morning News reported Monday (Apr. 27).” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

WISCONSIN

Waukesha County DA will not pursue new charges against priest accused of sex assault
“The Waukesha County District Attorney will not pursue new charges against a priest accused of sexual assault of a teenage girl(link is external). Father Charles Hanel was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in December 2017 during confession at Queen of Apostles Church.” By FOX6 News

AUSTRALIA

On the right track, work still to be done for Christian Brothers
“The audit, by the Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, found that the Christian Brothers had either implemented or was substantially progressed in the implementation of 91 (89 per cent) out of the 102 indicators(link is external) relevant to the province under the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. CPSL chief executive Sheree Limbrick said that on the back of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, CPSL is auditing Church organizations across Australia to make sure they have sound and robust processes in place to keep children safe.” By CathNews.com

Notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is almost certain to die in jail
“Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is likely to die in jail as he faces more sexual abuse charges(link is external). The 85-year-old will be heard on May 14 for 10 indecent assault charges and four buggery charges in Victoria between 1973 and 1979 to further his time behind bars. The charges will likely extend his time behind bars beyond 2022, his earliest release date. Ridsdale is suffering chronic health problems including heart conditions, arthritis, bowel problems and high blood pressure.” By Australian Associated Press and Jackson Barron for Daily Mail Australia

After 26 years, Eileen Piper has finally won an apology from the Catholic Church for her daughter’s abuse
“It’s taken 26 years, reams of legal documents and many tears, but Eileen Piper has done what she set out to do — cleared the name of her daughter, Stephanie, who was abused by a Catholic priest in the 1970s(link is external). In December, Mrs Piper, 95, received a written apology from Melbourne’s Archbishop, Peter Comensoli, and the Pallotine order of priests which, for years, had denied the crimes of Father Gerard Mulvale.” By Karen Percy, ABC News

‘The Catholic Church should close the Christian Brothers down’
“A McGowan Government minister and former student of CBC Fremantle has publicly criticized the Christian Brothers for a lack of care towards the victims of child sexual abuse(link is external). Dave Kelly, the MLA for Bassendean, attended CBC Fremantle in the 1970s from grade 4 to grade 12. Today on Mornings with Gareth Parker he has revealed his disgust with the Christian Brothers for failing to reckon with their shameful past in dealing with the legacy of child sexual abuse.” By Gareth Parker, 6PRNews

CANADA

Supreme Court says Basilian Fathers responsible for $2.5M in damages to sexual abuse victim Rod MacLeod
“Rod MacLeod, the victim of a pedophile priest in the 1960s at a Sudbury high school, said he hopes his latest legal victory will inspire other sexual abuse victims to come forward(link is external) and ‘seek justice through the court.’ MacLeod made the comments on April 30 when the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the Basilian Fathers of Toronto’s bid for a further appeal after they were held responsible when one of their priests was convicted in 2011 of abusing 17 students at schools over a 38-year period.” By SooToday.com

Supreme Court rejects Catholic Church appeal to reduce damages in sex abuse case
“The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a Catholic teaching order concerning damages awarded to a former Sudbury high school student. Lawyer Rob Talach says Father Hodgson Marshall was convicted of sexually abusing his client(link is external), Rod MacLeod, who was a student at St. Charles College from 1963-1967. In 2011, Marshall was ultimately convicted of abusing 17 young people over his 38-year career. He served two years in federal prison and died in 2014.” By CBC News

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Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest / Cruxnow.com

The inquiry rejected Pell’s evidence given by video link from Rome in 2016 that he was deceived and lied to by Catholic Church officials about Australia’s worst pedophile priest … (Cruxnow.com)

Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children, and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded.

“A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.

“The government decided to release the full report after the High Court last month overturned convictions against Pell on charges he molested two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral in the late 1990s when he was an archbishop.”

By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 27, 2020

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

CARDINAL PELL

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

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

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

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

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

BISHOPS

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

PRIESTS

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

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

WOMEN DEACONS

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

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

CONNECTICUT

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

HAWAII

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

ILLINOIS

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

MISSOURI

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

NEW YORK

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

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

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

NORTH CAROLINA

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

VIRGINIA

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

CANADA

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

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

JAPAN

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


January 31, 2020

TOP STORIES

New database of abusive clergy will ‘put pressure’ on bishops to improve transparency
“A new, independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse was launched this week(link is external), marking what some observers say is a sign of a new era of transparency in the Catholic Church and others labeling it the “privatization of justice” after years of church leaders blocking such efforts. The database, which was activated on Monday (Jan. 27), was a yearlong effort by ProPublica, ‘a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.’ The launch comes after the 2018 release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which sent shock waves through the U.S. Church as it chronicled seven decades of abuse of more than 1,000 victims at the hands of 300 priests.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Vatican orders sex abuse investigation of Brooklyn bishop
“The Vatican has ordered an investigation of a sexual abuse allegation against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio(link is external), who was previously named by Pope Francis to investigate the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York received instructions on Jan. 7 to begin an investigation of allegations that DiMarzio molested a child while he was a parish priest in New Jersey in the mid-1970s, according to a statement released over the weekend (Jan. 18) by Dolan’s spokesman Joseph Zwilling.” By Associated Press

10 years after Vatican reform, Legion in new abuse crisis
“The administrator of the elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, used to take the girls out of class and send them to the chapel, where the priest from the Legion of Christ religious order would sexually abuse them(link is external). ‘As some were reading the Bible, he would rape the others in front of them, little girls aged 6 to 8 or 9,’ said one of his victims, Ana Lucia Salazar, now a 36-year-old Mexican television host and mother of three. ‘Afterward, nothing was the same, nothing went back to the way it was,’ she said through tears at her home in Mexico City.” By Maria Verza and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Rome summit to examine clerical sex abuse
“Rome is to host a summit examining how the clerical sexual abuse crisis is forcing the Church to go back to its core mission and re-think its model of the priesthood(link is external). The gathering of around 90 theologians from across the world, hosted by the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, will look at the ecclesiological impact of abuse, in a way that is not simply legal, or procedural. The 11-14 March meeting is to look clericalism, ecclesial reform and rediscovering the mission of Jesus in Church structures.” By Christopher Lamb, The tablet

Appeals court acquits French cardinal of sex abuse cover-up
“A French appeals court on Thursday (Jan. 30) acquitted a French cardinal of covering up the sexual abuse of minors in his flock(link is external). The appeals court in the southeastern French city of Lyon gave no explanation on Thursday for its ruling. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, had been convicted in March and given a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report a predator priest to police. But Pope Francis refused to accept the cardinal’s decision to resign until the appeals process is complete.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Catholic leaders promised transparency about child abuse. They haven’t delivered
“Over the last year and a half, the majority of U.S. dioceses, as well as nearly two dozen religious orders, have released lists of abusers currently or formerly in their ranks. The revelations were no coincidence: They were spurred by a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, which named hundreds of priests as part of a statewide clergy abuse investigation. Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests. But even as bishops have dedicated these lists to abuse victims and depicted the disclosures as a public acknowledgement of victims’ suffering, it has become clear that numerous alleged abusers have been omitted and that there is no standard for determining who each diocese considers credibly accused(link is external).” By Lexi Churchill, Ellis Simani and Topher Sanders, Pro Publica

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis remakes the American hierarchy, one bishop at a time
“As archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput was not afraid to take a different line from the pope on issues facing the church. In 2016, after Pope Francis opened the possibility of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, Chaput added a stipulation: In his diocese, such couples who wanted to receive the Eucharist would have to abstain from sex … A Catholic bishop, even one who disagrees with a new pope, cannot just be fired and replaced. The pope must wait until the bishop reaches retirement at 75 years of age before appointing a successor. But if change is slow, the direction is clear, and Francis, like popes before him, is slowly filling the American hierarchy with bishops who reflect his values and priorities(link is external).” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

Pope Francis replaces conservative archbishop of Philadelphia
“Pope Francis sought to shift the ideological balance of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States on Thursday, replacing one of his most prominent conservative critics as the archbishop of Philadelphia(link is external). Pope Francis announced in a statement that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia was retiring, and that Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Cleveland, a former Philadelphian and relative newcomer to the national scene, would assume the role.” By Jason Horowitz and Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times

CARA study finds bishops are satisfied with their life and ministry
“Catholics may be surprised to learn that many U.S. bishops describe their lives as both all-consuming and satisfying, a priest-researcher said(link is external). ‘These are guys who generally get up very, very early in the morning, pray about two hours every day and work about 10 hours a day,’ Father Stephen Fichter, a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in Washington, which conducted the survey. ‘(They) just really do some interesting things and there are a lot of difficulties that they’re dealing with all the time.’” By Susan Klemond, Catholic News Service, The Pilot

PRIESTS

Priests in group shut down by Vatican accused of sex abuse
“Nine priests and brothers of a Catholic group recently shut down by the Vatican are under investigation by Italian authorities for allegedly sexually abusing two brothers(link is external), officials and news reports said Wednesday (Jan. 29). Prato Bishop Giovanni Nerbini confirmed that Prato criminal prosecutors had opened an investigation after he reported the case to police against members of the Disciples of the Annunciation community. He pledged the church’s cooperation with the investigation.” By Associated Press in The New York Times

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Vatican women’s magazine blames drip in nuns on abuses
“The Vatican women’s magazine is blaming the drastic drop in the number of nuns worldwide in part on their wretched working conditions and the sexual abuse and abuses of power(link is external) they suffer at the hands of priests and their own superiors. Women Church World dedicated its February issue to the burnout, trauma and exploitation experienced by religious sisters and how the church is realizing it must change its ways if it wants to attract new vocations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Salt Lake Tribune

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Woman’s place at Pope Francis’ right hand
“Pope Francis opened 2020 with a strong call to acknowledge the dignity of women, end violence against them and stop the exploitation of women’s bodies(link is external). His homily on January 1 was not generic: it referenced prostitution, rape, coerced abortion, pornography and even advertising. The Pope called for the involvement of women in decision-making processes in civil society, specifically when it comes to promoting peace.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in Scottish Catholic Observer

CHURCH FINANCES

Priest sued over church’s missing $500,000
“The Church has launched legal action against a priest accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish(link is external) as it seeks to recoup the missing money. Fr Joe Walsh, who led the parish of Subiaco in Perth’s western suburbs, was charged by police last year with stealing and is due to appear in court tomorrow to determine a date for his criminal trial. Documents filed in the West Australian Supreme Court show the Perth Archdiocese was seeking details of amounts held by Fr Walsh in four NAB accounts and a term deposit, as well as money tied up in Perth-based property investment group Primewest.” Paul Garvey, The Australian, on CathNews.com

Dioceses come under scrutiny as they change legal structures
“As dioceses across the country continue to face multi-million dollar payouts related to clerical sex abuse, some bishops have relied on advice from lawyers to reconfigure the property of their dioceses into charitable trusts(link is external). The practice – which has been implemented by several dioceses after the clerical sex abuse revelations of the early 2000s – creates significantly different outcomes for dioceses and abuse victims in the case of bankruptcies.” By Jack Lyons, Cruxnow.com

Vatican rejoins financial intelligence network after raid
“A global network of financial intelligence units has readmitted the Holy See after a two-month suspension(link is external) sparked by a Vatican police raid on the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency. The Holy See said Thursday (Jan. 23) that the Egmont Group had revoked its suspension after Vatican prosecutors signed a memorandum of understanding about the treatment of confidential documents that were seized in the raid.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Sex and the (Vatican) City: a brief history of clerical celibacy
“In a scene that wouldn’t be amiss in Netflix’s The Two Popes, a standoff between the current Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, is playing out across the world. The pontifical sticking point is the sexual relations of priests(link is external) – or, lack thereof. In his forthcoming book, From the Depths of Our Hearts, the Pope Emeritus and his co-author, Cardinal Robert Sarah, issue a warning against relaxing the rules on Catholic priesthood as the rainforest runs dry of priests in some remote South American areas.” By History Extra

Cardinal at center of two popes storm doubles down on celibacy
“A Vatican cardinal at the center of a storm over a book about celibacy and the Catholic priesthood is denouncing the ‘brutality’ of criticism directed at him and hiSs collaborator, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio published Saturday (Jan. 25), Cardinal Robert Sarah doubled down on his argument in the book, ‘From the Depths of Our Hearts,’ that the Catholic priesthood is incompatible with marriage(link is external).” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Roman Catholic priests have been celibate for a thousand years – but this could change
“For almost a thousand years, Roman Catholic priests have been required to be celibate. But this age-old practice is now under fire(link is external), with the suggestion that the rules should be relaxed for the Latin American Catholic church. In response to such rumblings, a new book sets out a vigorous defense of priestly celibacy against the ‘fashionable errors’ of its detractors. The book is particularly notable for being described as co-authored by Cardinal Robert Sarah and the former pope, Benedict XVI, who since his resignation in 2013 has avoided public intervention in the time of his successor, Pope Francis.” By Helen Parish, The Conversation

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Germany’s synodal assembly a step to rebuilding church’s credibility
“Catholic leaders in Germany have compiled responses from lay Catholics in areas related to who holds power in the church, sexual morals, the role of priests and the place of women in church offices in preparation for an upcoming synodal assembly(link is external) to debate church reforms. More than 940 suggestions and questions had been submitted by early January in advance of the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 assembly in Frankfurt, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service

As Dutch parishes close, some Catholics just quit going to church
“A Dutch Catholic newspaper warned churches will continue to close in the Netherlands, where half of all Catholic parishes have already been dissolved amid plummeting church participation(link is external). ‘It’s never good to panic, but there are grave concerns about the way things are going here,’ said Peter Doorakkers, an editor at the Katholiek Nieuwsblad weekly. ‘It’s been hoped people would draw the obvious conclusion — that if you want your church to stay open, you don’t just need to support it financially, you also have to attend it more. But if you look at the numbers at Mass now and average ages, it’s obvious more churches will close in the near future.’” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

VOICES

Editorial: Dolan investigating DiMarzio points up flaws in ‘Vos Estis’
“We have long held unabashed admiration for Pope Francis. But events keep raising issues about the shortcomings of Vos Estis Lux Mundi, his signature intervention to address the church’s sex abuse crisis(link is external). Latest case in point: According to press reports and statements from the dioceses involved, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, under Vos Estis provisions, is investigating Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, his neighbor across the East River. DiMarzio has been publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor dating back 45 years to a parish in Jersey City, when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey … Our problem is with making Dolan responsible for leading an inquiry.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Pope Francis put a woman in a top Vatican role. It shows how little power Catholic women hold.
“Recently, the Catholic Church took two small steps for womankind: This month, Pope Francis named the first woman to a managerial position in the Vatican’s most important office, the Secretariat of State. And in October, the world’s bishops suggested that Francis reconvene a commission he had created, at the urging of nuns, to study the ordination of women as permanent deacons … Yet these reforms only make clear how little power women hold in the church(link is external), where they constitute about half of Catholicism’s 1.2 billion adherents.” By Celia Viggo Wexler, NBC News

Requiring clergy to report abuse is a thorny issue, but protecting kids makes it worth it
“Rep. Angela Romero’s inbox has been a busy, hostile place for a few weeks. Since the Catholic League issued a call to action to its members about a week ago, Romero estimates she has received somewhere between 400 and 600 emails. A sampling: ‘You are doing the work of Satan and will not prevail.’ ‘Disgusting anti-Christian politicians like you … attack Christianity relentlessly.’ It goes on from there. She incurred the unholy wrath by sponsoring legislation that would require members of the clergy to notify law enforcement when they receive information about child abuse or neglect— even if it happens in a religious confession(link is external).” By Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune

Why do child sex abuse victims in Missouri have only 10 years to file civil lawsuits?
“An outdated Missouri law limits civil claims arising from sexual abuse offenses committed against children to a 10-year window(link is external). House Bill 1411 would finally lift the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in child sexual abuse cases. The measure, which is sponsored by state Rep. Sheila Solon, a St. Joseph Republican, is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday (Jan. 21). In 2018, Missouri lawmakers removed the statute of limitations for criminal child sex abuse offenses. Just as a time limit for criminal charges was misguided, so, too, is imposing an expiration date limiting survivors’ ability to seek justice through civil lawsuits.” By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Theologians to examine Church response to abuse
“The Center for Child Protection at Gregorian University in Rome and Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church, an international network of moral theologians, will host the March 11-14 theological ‘laboratory.’ The organizers, including professors James Keenan SJ from Boston College and Hans Zollner SJ from the Centre for Child Protection, have invited more than 70 ecclesiologists and ethicists. The meeting has been called a ‘laboratory’ to emphasize active engagement of all participants in advancing theological thought, reflection and leadership in response to the crisis(link is external), with a view to supporting the global Church in its response.” By CathNews.com

ALASKA

Archdiocese commission accuses 14 Southcentral Alaska clergy and church employees of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Anchorage for the first time has named 14 Southcentral Catholic clergy members accused by church investigators of sexually abusing children and vulnerable adults(link is external). The report released Thursday (Jan. 23) is the result of a 15-month investigation by an independent church commission into allegations of sexual abuse by clergy, church employees and volunteers over a 54-year period.” By Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News

CALIFORNIA

Anaheim priest named in lawsuit alleging sexual abuse
“A judge today (Jan. 29) cleared the way for the public identification of a Roman Catholic priest named in a lawsuit alleging he molested a 6-year-old boy(link is external) at a Catholic school in Stanton in 1994. Father Edward Poettgen had previously been listed anonymously in the lawsuit filed in June. An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled today that the plaintiff could publicly identify the priest.” By KFIAM640.com

First Catholic diocese child sex abuse case settled since passing of new law
“A California Catholic Diocese on Tuesday (Jan. 28) settled the first child sexual abuse case since the passing of the Child Victims Act(link is external) back in September 2019. Attorneys representing Richard Barrios, 47, allegedly abused as a child by convicted pedophile priest Lawrence Lovell, announced a $1.9 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Lawrence Lovell and the Claretian Missionaries. In the lawsuit, Barrios alleged that he was sexually abused by Father Lawrence Lovell throughout a two-year period from 1982 through 1984 when the victim was 9 to 11 years old.” By 23ABC Digital Staff

COLORADO

Even if Colorado gives child sex assault victims unlimited time to sue, it may be too late for those already abused
“Colorado lawmakers plan to bring legislation this year that would give child sexual assault victims unlimited time to sue their abusers and the institutions that protect the predators(link is external). But for people abused in the past—including the more than 150 victims of Catholic priests identified in a recently released report on sexual misconduct in Colorado — the change may be coming too late.” By Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun

FLORIDA

Priest child sex abuse laws continue to change in Florida
“At a 2018 press conference, then Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a statewide investigation into child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests(link is external) saying, ‘Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the Church and a threat to society,’ Shortly before the investigation was announced 15 victims had already contacted authorities. Now after more than a year victims are continuing to come forward yet the state has been tight lipped about the number of tips reported through the statewide hotline.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

LOUISIANA

One year after releasing names of abusive priests, Baton Rouge Diocese adds two more
“At the one-year anniversary of releasing a list of clergymen credibly accused of abuse, the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has added two more priests who served in Ponchatoula to their list of those with credible claims against them(link is external). Diocesan officials announced Wednesday morning that they were adding two priests from religious orders who served in the diocese to their list, which has grown since its initial release a year ago. The additions of the Rev. Richard Raphael Archer, a Dominican friar, and Rev. Lawrence Dark, a Congregation of the Holy Cross priest, bring the total of Catholic clergy members who worked in and around Baton Rouge and were credibly accused of abuse to 45.” By Andrea Gallo, The Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Victims’ lawyer releases credibly accused clergy list for Fall River Diocese
“The Diocese of Fall River is being pressured to release a list of clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). On Tuesday (Jan. 21), Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, well known for representing sexual abuse victims in claims against the Archdiocese of Boston, released his own list of nine priests and one Catholic Church employee within the Diocese of Fall River that he says have been ‘accused of sexually abusing one minor in which this office has successfully brought child abuse claims against.’” By Kiernan Dunlop, South Coast Today

Diocese of Fall River suspends retired Catholic priests James Buckley, Edward Byington over claims of child sex abuse
“Two retired Catholic priests were suspended from the ministry over allegations they sexually abused children(link is external) decades ago, the Diocese of Fall River announced Sunday (Jan. 19). The suspended priests, James F. Buckley and Edward J. Byington, are not assigned to a parish but have assisted with masses at various churches since their retirements in the 2000s, the Diocese of Fall River said in a statement.” By Jackson Cote, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Clergyman sentenced to jail after restraining teenager
“The second priest to be convicted through Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s clergy abuse investigation was sentenced on Monday (Jan. 27) to jail time after he pleaded guilty to holding a teenage boy against his will(link is external) in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in 2013. The Rev. Brian Stanley was sentenced to 60 days in Allegan County Jail, with credit for two days served, five years’ probation and must register as a sex offender for 15 years.” By Oakland County Legal News

MINNESOTA

Tuesday’s hearing ends civil action between Ramsey County and archdiocese
“Officials in Ramsey County and the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis go to court Tuesday (Jan. 28) to mark the end of a nearly four-year civil case(link is external). In 2016, Ramsey County prosecutor John Choi dropped criminal sexual abuse charges against the church. The church was allowed to admit guilt and institute a plan, overseen by Choi’s office, to ensure children’s safety.” By WCCO Radio Newsroom

Archdiocese to hold conference for clergy abuse survivors
“The daylong conference in Lake Elmo, east of St. Paul, will include Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi providing an update on the impetus for the conference: The settlement of civil charges filed by the county in 2015 alleging the archdiocese was negligent in the case of an abusive priest(link is external). “Mr. Choi always felt restorative justice should be part of the archdiocese taking accountability for its actions and providing a means of healing for the community,” said Stephanie Wiersma, an assistant Ramsey County attorney who will participate in the conference and has been involved in the case since the beginning.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

NEW JERSEY

Catholic fund has paid out million to N.J. priest sex abuse victims. Friday is the last day to apply.
“More than 500 people have applied to receive cash settlements from a new Catholic Church fund created to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey(link is external), said the program’s managers who plan to accept the last new applications Friday (Jan. 31) … As of early this month, the program has paid out more than $10 million in settlements to New Jersey victims, though only 86 of the 552 applications had been decided, said Camille Biros, co-administrator of the fund.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

New lawsuits against Newark Archdiocese accuse former Rutherford priest of sex assault
“A pair of lawsuits filed under new state law have been filed against the Archdiocese of Newark by men saying they were sexually abused nearly four decades ago by a late Catholic priest(link is external). The men accuse the church of failing to protect them from the Rev. David Ernst, who was assigned to Saint Mary’s in Rutherford and taught at Our Lady Help of Christians parochial school in East Orange.” By Valerie Musson, Dsily Voice

New Jersey Catholic school priest suspended during sexual abuse investigation
“A Catholic priest assigned as chaplain at Oratory Catholic Preparatory School in Summit has been placed on leave pending investigations(link is external) by Union County authorities, and school and church officials said. Rev. Salvatore DiStefano is currently on administrative leave as the Union County Prosecutor’s Office investigates ‘complaints issued in the past several days,’ Maria Margiotta, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a statement.” By Katie Kausch, NJ Advance Media, on nj.com

NEW MEXICO

Former priest accused of sex crimes heads to trial
“Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday (Jan. 29) in the trial of an ex-priest accused of raping a first grader at a parochial school in Santa Fe County(link is external) in the late 1980s. Marvin Archuleta’s criminal trial is the first to come out of state Attorney General Hector Balderas’ ongoing investigation into claims of child sex abuse in Roman Catholic churches throughout New Mexico. The state intends to bring Thomas P. Doyle of Virginia, a national expert on clergy sex abuse, to testify in the case, according to a witness list.” By Phaedra Haywood, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK

Court papers: put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand for questioning in abuse cases
“He wants to be identified only by his initials, the same identity he uses in the lawsuit he filed against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester. ‘The victims need to know. We have a right to know,’ he said about new developments in the case. Attorneys for child sexual assault victims are asking a judge to put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand(link is external). He ran the diocese for 33 years.” By Jane Flasch, WHAM-TV13 News

Three victims come forward with allegations of child sex abuse against priest
“Three new victims are coming forward with allegations of child sex abuse against a Catholic priest(link is external) who previously pleaded guilty to forming a sex club and molesting dozens of children. Convicted child molester Father Edward Pipala is once again at the center of a child sex abuse scandal and alleged church cover-up. ‘For decades, he was given license and permission by the Archdiocese and top officials to continue one of the most predatory paths we’ve seen,’ says attorney Jeff Anderson.” By News12 Westchester

OHIO

Ohio priest pleads not guilty to child-porn related charges
“An Ohio Catholic priest pleaded not guilty to 21 child pornography-related counts(link is external) in a Cleveland courtroom on Wednesday (Jan. 22). The Rev. Robert McWilliams, 39, was indicted last week by a Cuyahoga County grand jury. He was arrested last month at a parish in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville after the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force searched his living space using a warrant from neighboring Geauga County.” By Associated Press in The Washington Times

Columbus bishop creates task force, hires attorney to tackle allegations
“Bishop Robert Brennan, of the Diocese of Columbus, has started a task force to look into diocesan policies regarding sexual abuse of minors by priests(link is external). The diocese has also hired a local law firm to look into its records and see if more priests should be added to a list of 50 clergy members who have been accused thus far. Columbus Bishop Robert Brennan says he wants to look at the sexual abuse of minors by clergy members with ‘new eyes.’” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

OKLAHOMA

Retired Oklahoma City priest added to clergy abuse list
“Archbishop Paul Coakley announced Tuesday (Jan. 21) the addition of a now-retired Oklahoma City priest who served in churches across the state to the list of priests who have had a substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor(link is external). According to the investigation, the archdiocese was contacted in 1993 by a former parishioner of Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Enid who reported allegations of abuse against Father Marvin Leven, 94, that started when the victim was age 15 and recurred as a young adult at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.” By Kaylee Douglas, KFOR-TV4 News

TENNESSEE

Documents contradict Knoxville diocese’s timeline of knowing about sexual abuse allegations against priests and teacher
“After months of publicly discrediting and denying sexual abuse allegations against prominent priests and a diocesan employee(link is external), documents obtained by the Times Free Press suggest the Diocese of Knoxville may have known about those allegations for almost a year before suspending the accused employee.” Wyatt Massey, Chattanooga Times Free Press

TEXAS

Ex-Dallas-area Catholic priest accused of molesting a child
“A 78-year-old former Roman Catholic priest whose whereabouts remain unknown has been accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child(link is external) while serving as a priest in North Texas, according to a police affidavit. Dallas police obtained a warrant Tuesday for the arrest of Richard Thomas Brown, a priest who served at five North Texas churches before he was removed in 2002 and recently defrocked. The affidavit accused Brown of sexually molesting a child on July 5, 1989.” By Associated Press in Washington Times

Corpus Christi priests accused of credible abuse file appeal in defamation case
“A lawyer is arguing retired Corpus Christi priests were wrongly included in a list of clergy ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external),’ especially when one was exonerated multiple times. In an Appellants’ brief submitted Monday to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals, attorney Andrew M. Greenwell argues retired priests Michael Heras and John Feminelli were included in a Diocese of Corpus Christi list of priests ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.’” By Alexandria Rodriguez, Caller Times

WASHINGTON

Prominent Catholics together call for review of Seattle Archdiocese’s secret clergy abuse files
“A group of prominent Catholics announced Tuesday (Jan. 28) that it’s pursuing a ‘lay-led,’ independent review of the Seattle Archdiocese’s secret clergy files(link is external) to fully expose the breadth and depth of the church’s sexual abuses in Western Washington and find a path forward for healing the damage caused to generations of the religion’s followers.” By Lewis Kamb, Seattle Times

WISCONSIN

La Crosse Diocese names 25 former priests who abused children
“At least 25 priests who served in the Diocese of La Crosse over the past several decades sexually assaulted children(link is external), the diocese disclosed Saturday (Jan. 18). The disclosure, posted at 4 p.m. on the diocese website at diolc.org, brings the total number of Catholic priests with substantiated accusations of sexual abuse in Wisconsin to nearly 160. The La Crosse diocese serves nearly 200,000 Catholics in counties across central and western Wisconsin, including those in Marathon, Portage and Wood counties.” By Laura Schulte, Wausau Daily Herald

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church attempts to stop one of its own priests from suing it for child abuse
“The Catholic church is attempting to stop one of its own priests from suing it for child abuse because he took too long to come forward(link is external), prompting criticism that it has learned nothing from the royal commission. The Lismore diocese plans to seek a permanent stay in the New South Wales supreme court to prevent one of its priests from suing for abuse he suffered as a 12-year-old altar boy. Court documents allege the altar boy was abused in the 1960s by Clarence “David” Anderson, a now-dead priest.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Christian Brothers child sex abuse survivor John Lawrence said attacker made him feel ‘worthless’
“An elderly man who was sexually abused by the Christian Brothers as a child(link is external) has described the pain and fear he experienced being repeatedly raped as a nine-year-old boy at a group home for vulnerable children. Perth man John Thomas Lawrence, 75, has become the first child sex abuse survivor to testify about his ordeal in court since Western Australia removed time limits on such cases being heard.” By Eliza Borrello, ABC News

Religious privilege: priest confessed to child abuse 1,500 times
“Father Michael McArdle wrote in a 2004 affidavit that he made confessions of child abuse 1,500 times over 25 years(link is external). Each time, he walked out of the confessional booth with his sins absolved. Rockhampton Bishop Brian Heenan barred McArdle from contact with children in 1996 after hearing allegations from victims. Although McArdle never denied the allegations, Heenan failed to contact the police.” By Destiny Rogers, qnews.com.au

CHILE

Catholic clergy abuse victim leads drive to shakeup establishment politics in Chile
“James Hamilton, a doctor who was one of the first people in Chile to come forward claiming he was the victim of child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), has called his party Dignity. The name is a reference to the public square in the Chilean capital where protesters have gathered over the past three months to denounce inequality and high living costs. Hamilton is seeking to unite his countrymen around “principles” rather than ideologies of left and right.” By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda, Reuters

FRANCE

French trial exposes how church covered for predator priest
“One of the first people to notice Bernard Preynat’s unhealthy obsession for young boys was the supervisor at the seminary where, still a teen, the future priest started training for his career in the church. ‘At 14, 15 years old, I became interested in the youngest boys and the supervisor summoned me to tell me that I was abnormal and sick,’ the self-confessed child abuser said at his trial in France this past week. ‘I explained this to the bishop.’ And yet, after a two-year church-imposed course of psychotherapy, Preynat was still ordained into the priesthood(link is external).” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press

GERMANY

On abuse-scandal efforts, German bishops urge patience
“German bishops urged patience toward their efforts to deal with the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external). The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops, meeting in Wurzburg, said the plans that resulted from the latest investigations needed time. Their appeal came 10 years since the first revelations of the abuse emerged. ‘We need this time and we hope for understanding; we will not be absolving ourselves from the responsibility,’ they said Jan. 28.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

GUAM

‘Greatest measure of justice’: $21M for survivors, other claimants in Archdiocese plan
“Guam’s clergy sex abuse survivors and other claimants may be able to receive some $21 million in restitution(link is external) from the Archdiocese of Agana, if the church’s reorganization plan to solve its bankruptcy gets court approval. This is the first public disclosure of the amount the archdiocese and its insurers plan to pay claimants, including those allegedly molested and raped by bishops, priests and other clergy dating back to the 1950s.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

SLOVENIA

Catholic group calls on Ljubljana archbishop to resign over inaction on multiple rape allegations against priests
“A Catholic civil society group dedicated to fighting sexual abuse in the Slovenian Roman Catholic Church has called for the resignation of Slovenia’s most senior cleric, Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore, due to the church’s persistent failure to tackle sexual abuse allegations against members of the clergy(link is external). The church keeps adopting and updating recommendations on how church workers should deal with allegations of sexual abuse, but ‘everything remains dead ink on paper,’ said Igor Vovk, a senior member of the Dovolj.je (It’s Enough) group and director of the Catholic pro-life NGO Zavod Iskreni.” By Total Slovenia News

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New database of abusive clergy will ‘put pressure’ on bishops to improve transparency / Cruxnow.com

As of January 20, they (Pro Publica) note, there have been at least 178 lists produced by U.S. dioceses and religious orders. 41 dioceses and dozens more religious orders, they write, have not yet done so. (Cruxnow.com)

A new, independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse was launched this week, marking what some observers say is a sign of a new era of transparency in the Catholic Church and others labeling it the “privatization of justice” after years of church leaders blocking such efforts.

“The database, which was activated on Monday, was a yearlong effort by ProPublica, “a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.” The launch comes after the 2018 release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which sent shock waves through the U.S. Church as it chronicled seven decades of abuse of more than 1,000 victims at the hands of 300 priests.

“Since then, numerous dioceses have rushed to publish their own list of accused priests.

“‘Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests,’ write the researchers behind the ProPublica effort.”

By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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10 years after Vatican reform, Legion in new abuse crisis / Associated Press

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.” (Associated Press)

The administrator of the elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, used to take the girls out of class and send them to the chapel, where the priest from the Legion of Christ religious order would sexually abuse them.

“‘As some were reading the Bible, he would rape the others in front of them, little girls aged 6 to 8 or 9,’ said one of his victims, Ana Lucia Salazar, now a 36-year-old Mexican television host and mother of three.“

“‘Afterward, nothing was the same, nothing went back to the way it was,’ she said through tears at her home in Mexico City.

“Salazar’s horrific story, which has been corroborated by other victims and the Legion itself, has sparked a new credibility crisis for the once-influential order, 10 years after the Holy See took it over after determining that its founder was a pedophile.

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.”

By maria Verza and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read More …

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