Posts Tagged catholic priests

Clergy shortage grows to more than 14k Catholics for every priest, Vatican data shows / Religion News Service

The reasons for the steady hemorrhage of Catholic clergy worldwide are varied, from secularization to the church’s ongoing sexual and financial scandals. And the COVID-19 pandemic has brought its own challenges. (Religion News Service)

“Catholic missions are struggling amid dwindling vocations and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Vatican ahead of the World Mission Day this Sunday (Oct. 18).

“The number of priests and ordained leaders has dropped significantly, especially in Europe and America, according to the report issued on Friday (Oct. 16) by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, charged with distributing clergy and coordinating missions around the world.

“The total number of priests in the world decreased to 414,065 in 2018, with Europe registering a drop of 2,675 priests compared to 2017. The report also reveals a slight decrease in the number of Catholic faithful in America, Europe and Oceania. Meanwhile, Africa and Asia continue to show signs of growth, according to the data.

“‘We mustn’t be afraid! Mission goes on thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit,’ said Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, the secretary of the evangelizing congregation, during a press conference at the Vatican on Friday.

“However, the diminishing number of clergy coincides with an increase in the global population, putting pressure on priests who must minister to larger numbers of people. As of December 2018, the report shows, there are 1,328,993,000 Catholics in the world.”

By Claire Giangrave, Religion News Service — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

BISHOPS

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

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

WOMEN DEACONS

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

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

LAITY & THE CHURCH

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

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

VATICAN

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

VOICES

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

ARIZONA

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

ARKANSAS

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

CALIFORNIA

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

LOUISIANA

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

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

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

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

MINNESOTA

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

MISSISSIPPI

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

MISSOURI

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

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

NEW JERSEY

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

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

NEW MEXICO

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

NEVADA

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

OHIO

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

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

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

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

VIRGINIA

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

WEST VIRGINIA

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

AUSTRALIA

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

CANADA

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

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

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

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

MALTA

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

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Explainer: What the church has done to fight clergy sex abuse since 2018’s ‘summer of shame’ / America: The Jesuit Review

According to a ProPublica database, 178 dioceses and religious orders in the United States have now released lists of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The lists name 6,754 alleged abusers in total. (America: The Jesuit Review)

“It has been two years since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was published on Aug. 14, 2018, documenting in at times disturbing detail at least 1,000 cases of abuse by 300 predator priests spanning seven decades. Within two months, 13 more states and the District of Columbia had launched similar investigations, and Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then-archbishop of Washington, who was named in the report as failing to deal adequately with abuse when he was bishop of Pittsburgh.

“The Pennsylvania report came in the middle of what became known as the Catholic Church’s ‘summer of shame,’ which began with the surfacing of accusations of abuse of minors by the now-laicized former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and ended with the release of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s bombshell letter accusing church leaders, including Pope Francis, of knowing about Mr. McCarrick’s actions and failing to take action.

“Two years later, the church has taken actions on local and global levels toward greater transparency regarding abuse accusations and investigations, closed loopholes that had allowed bishops who covered up abuse not to face consequences and created universal guidelines for abuse reporting systems to be established in every diocese in the world.”

By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


August 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

Former Vatican ambassador to stand trial in Paris on charges of ‘sexual aggression’ against four men
“The former Vatican nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 75, will stand trial in Paris on Nov. 10 on charges of alleged ‘sexual aggression’ against four men(link is external), Agence France-Press and other French media, including Le Monde, reported today, based on information from judicial sources. It is the first time in the modern history of papal diplomacy that a nuncio of the Holy See will stand trial in a civil court.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Church in Argentina is making a ‘change in mentality’ on clerical sexual abuse
“Two major archdioceses in Argentina are facing allegations of wanting to ‘replace the state’ by creating a commission to receive allegations of clerical sexual abuse(link is external), but one expert says civil law and canon law aren’t competitors for justice. ‘Always, every case, the law of the State wherever the abuse happens, must be followed and respected,’ said Maria Ines Franck, the executive secretary of the Pastoral Council for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Argentine bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

A Church That Is Poor? Money, Sectarianism, & Catholic Tradition
“What to make of the fact that the Catholic Church received $1.4 billion from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program? The remarks from Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley seem to suffice. As he put it, the ‘Catholic Church’ in this case encompasses the hundreds of individual Catholic dioceses, parishes … Yet at the same time, we should remain mindful about the constitutional and political issues concerning the relationship between Church and state, and the continued need for financial accountability and transparency in light of the links between the sexual-abuse crisis and financial mismanagement in Catholic institutions(link is external).” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Latin Americans press fight against clerical sexual abuse
“Public Mass might have stopped across much of the world during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several aspects of the life of the Church have continued, including efforts to prevent clerical sexual abuse in Latin America … ‘Nowhere have I encountered the level of destruction I found within the Church,’ said Chilean laywoman Maria Josefina Martinez Bernal, a member of the National Council on Abuse Prevention and Victims Accompaniment of the Chilean bishops conference since 2011, and a member of the Fundacion para la Confianza, an NGO founded by three survivors of former Chilean priest Fernando Karadima.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Is child abuse now just more hidden from view?
“Authorities have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of child abuse cases being reported, but they aren’t viewing it as good news(link is external). Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic and Jamie Rossow, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan, say they suspect that child abuse is actually up and is just not being reported. They said this is occurring not just locally but all across the country.” By Julie Swidwa, Herald Palladium

Papal envoy to meet women who ‘applied’ to be priests, bishops
“‘We’re working for equality of all baptized Catholics, and we understand that in a very broad way,’ she (Alix Bayle, a representative of the coalition) said, but insisted that it’s not just about the priesthood. ‘What should be clear is that we don’t just want ordination for women, and actually some of us don’t want that … but we do want a reformed Church, we want the Church to be reformed so that also laypeople have more responsibilities and actions, and that true synodality is lived(link is external).’ Bayle said there is a common feeling inside the coalition that the Catholic Church ‘is in urgent need to respond on many fronts,’ one of which is ‘asking for equality for all baptized women.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Magazine report is aimed at silencing nuns on sex abuse, says Vatican critic
“An article in a Jesuit magazine describing alleged exploitation of nuns in Catholic convents has been criticized as an attempt to silence members of women’s religious orders who have begun to speak out against sexual abuse by priests(link is external). ‘I think there is a possibility of a revolt of religious sisters,’ said Lucetta Scaraffia, the former head of the Vatican magazine Donne, Chiesa, Mondo (Women, Church, World), adding that many nuns she has heard from ‘are furious.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston rolls out third-party system for reporting of alleged abuse, harassment
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston announced two third-party reporting systems for people to use about concerns and allegations of abuse and harassment in the diocese. DWC officials announced on Monday (Aug. 3) the partnership with Navex Global to roll out a new version of its EthicsPoint platform, intended to report suspected financial, professional, and personal misconduct of a priest, deacon, religious, or lay employee of the diocese, parish, or Catholic school in West Virginia(link is external). This comes more than a year after the Catholic Church investigation concluded disgraced former Bishop Michael Bransfield sexually harassed younger priests and misused millions of dollars in church money.” By West Virginia MetroNews

French Sex Assault Trial Ordered For Pope’s Ex-envoy
“Pope Francis’s former ambassador to France, Luigi Ventura, will stand trial for sex assault in Paris in November following complaints by four men(link is external), one of whom accused the cleric of inappropriate touching, lawyers said Thursday (Jul. 30). Ventura, an Italian-born archbishop, was stripped of his diplomatic immunity by the Vatican last July after he was questioned by French police, and resigned in December when he reached the 75-year age limit for his post.” By Agence France Press

Diocese Still Awaiting Guidance From Vatican on Bransfield’s Amends
“More than eight months after the amends for disgraced bishop Michael Bransfield were announced, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston officials still have heard nothing from The Vatican about how to proceed(link is external). In a letter sent to Roman Catholics across West Virginia on Tuesday Jul. 28), the Most Rev. Mark Brennan said he is still waiting for guidance from Pope Francis on whether the amends set forth against the former bishop are appropriate or whether there should be changes.” By Mike Jones, The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

New Abuse Lawsuit Filed Concerning Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
“Today, I filed a civil sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Metuchen concerning a courageous survivor who was abused by McCarrick(link is external) in the early 1980’s when McCarrick was the bishop of Metuchen. Apart from all the recent news stories about McCarrick, I learned about McCarrick and his secret life about 15 years ago from Richard Sipe, a good friend and colleague. When our discussions turned to the Catholic Church and sexual abuse, Richard never hesitated to share his frustration with the hierarchy, including popes and bishops, whom he said knew about McCarrick’s sexual abuse of children and seminarians.” By Joseph H. Saunders, Los Angeles Injury Loss News, The Legal Examiner Affiliate

Catholic Church hesitant to publish McCarrick report as survivors continue to sue
“Insiders say the Vatican sponsored investigation of disgraced and former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been completed for months and sits gathering dust on Pope Francis’ desk(link is external). In the meantime, survivors come forward and file abuse lawsuits against Catholic dioceses in New Jersey, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Archdiocese of Washington revealing more embarrassing details of McCarrick’s history of predation.” By Legal Examiner

Eradicating the McCarrick Virus
“It has now been two years since Pope Francis accepted Theodore McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals(link is external), shortly after allegations of his sexual abuse of a minor and evidence of other sexual exploitations first detonated into public view. Yet after all this time, Catholics in the United States are still waiting for answers about which Church leaders, here and in Rome, knew about McCarrick’s scandalous situation but failed to take meaningful disciplinary and preventive actions — and possibly even facilitated and abetted his meteoric rise to prominence.” By The Editors, National Catholic Register

PRIESTS

Priest shortage forcing Jesuits to leave New Mexico
“A shortage of Jesuit priests is forcing the storied Society of Jesus Catholic order to abandon New Mexico(link is external) after more than 160 years. The St. Louis, Missouri-based Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province is pulling out the last remaining four Jesuit priests next year, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Rev. Warren Broussard, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church and Parish in Albuquerque will be the last to depart next June 30.” By The Associated Press

Should priests still lead parishes? German bishops debate new Vatican document
“The Vatican instruction on the reform of Catholic parishes continues to stir debate in Germany, where some bishops say the current parish model with a priest in charge is no longer sustainable because of a lack of vocations(link is external). The instruction bars laypeople from leading parishes and emphasizes the role of priests. It directly opposes efforts to hand over the management of parishes to teams made up of priests and dedicated church members as well as other staff.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

A virtual LCWR assembly aims to discern modern role of women religious
“Meeting fellow sister leaders over coffee or lunch, perusing and networking with exhibition booths, sharing deep exchanges between speakers: The subtle yet substantial interactions that infused past annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will be absent this year. But rather than canceling the gathering that was to be in Dallas, Texas, LCWR decided to take the Aug. 12-14 assembly online(link is external), as the coronavirus pandemic discourages large, in-person gatherings.” By Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter

Franciscan Sisters give NCR $1.5 million to help ‘wake up the world’
“The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration announced on July 31 a gift of $1.5 million to NCR’s endowment(link is external) earmarked to support and amplify ‘integral ecological education and journalism reflecting the spirit of Laudato Si’.’ The gift marks the establishment of the Laudato Si’ Fund, which NCR will seek to grow with gifts from other donors. It is one of the largest donations ever received by NCR. The donation represents roughly half of the amount needed to permanently endow NCR’s environmental coverage.” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

Vatican official laments system of ‘dominance, submission’ for women religious
“Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, the Vatican’s point man on consecrated life, has criticized what he said is a state of ‘dominance’ that men often hold over women in the Catholic Church, and stressed the need for a deeper renewal of religious life across the board(link is external). ‘In many cases, the relationship between consecrated men and women represents a sick system of relations of submission and dominance that takes away the sense of freedom and joy, a misunderstood obedience,” said Braz de Aviz in a recent interview.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Catholic bishops urged to appoint a woman as co-chair of Plenary Council
“Australia’s Catholic bishops must appoint a woman as co-chairperson of the church Plenary Council (PC) if they wish the summit meeting to be taken seriously(link is external), the Australian Catholic Coalition on Church Reform has declared. After a Zoom meeting attended by over 100 church reform advocates representing thousands of Catholics from around Australia and New Zealand on 16 July, co-chairs Andrea Dean and John Warhurst said there was overwhelming support for recognition of women’s leadership in the church. This is fundamental to the reform of church governance.” By Catholic Outlook

VATICAN

Vatican instructions give parishioners more hope in face of closings
“Arthur McCaffrey fought for about a decade to keep his parish in suburban Boston open. But in 2015, St. James the Great Parish in Wellesley was demolished. The site is now home to the Boston Sports Performance Center … Now, four years later, the Vatican’s new document on pastoral care raises the question of whether parishioners have more legal recourse(link is external) within the church to keep their parishes open. The answer appears to be yes. The 22-page document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, released July 20, is titled ‘The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the church.’” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

Former Vatican ambassador to stand trial in Paris on charges of ‘sexual aggression’ against four men
“The former Vatican nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 75, will stand trial in Paris on Nov. 10 on charges of alleged ‘sexual aggression’ against four men(link is external), Agence France-Press and other French media, including Le Monde, reported today, based on information from judicial sources. It is the first time in the modern history of papal diplomacy that a nuncio of the Holy See will stand trial in a civil court. This was made possible when Pope Francis last year authorized the Holy See to lift the archbishop’s diplomatic immunity.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Progressive millennials offer the church much hope and promise
“I wasn’t surprised when, in late July, the Vatican put out new instructions limiting the extent to which the laity can preside over a parish. But I was sad to see an institution so intent preserving clerical power that it is willing to deny the gifts that the laity offer to the life of the church every day(link is external). Laypeople, the document says, should not be ‘directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish.’ Only a priest can exercise ‘the full care of souls,’ the Vatican tells us — which means, of course, women never can.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Congress Should Expunge Statutes of Limitations on Child Sexual Assault
“July 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of Florida’s repeal of all civil and criminal statutes of limitation for prosecution of cases involving child sexual battery(link is external). The repeal has opened courthouse doors so survivors can enter when they are sufficiently recovered mentally and emotionally to confront their abusers. A delayed report of child sex abuse to law enforcement no longer means officers have to wait for the reporting of a predator’s next victim and abusers can now be brought to justice and exposed in our communities.” By Michael Dolce, Newsweek

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

The Heavy Toll of Priest Sex Abuse
“Readers share their stories of growing up in the Catholic church and of the culture that allowed the abuse to happen(link is external).” Letters to the Editor, The New York Times

Case against diocese draws attention
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the past week has received several friend-of-the-court briefs both supporting and challenging a landmark decision made by the court last year in which it allowed an Altoona woman to proceed with a sexual abuse case against a priest, even though the alleged offenses occurred in the mid-1970s(link is external). Pennsylvania’s highest court agreed in March to review the Superior Court decision, which has drawn interest from church organizations as well victims’ rights groups nationwide.” By Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror

CALIFORNIA

Warrant issued for California priest who failed to show
“A San Francisco Bay Area priest accused of sexual battery failed to appear in court(link is external) Monday (Jul. 27) and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. Varghese Alengadan, 67, known as ‘Father George,’ was charged last week with one count of misdemeanor sexual battery for allegedly inappropriately touching a woman in July 2019.” By Associated Press

KENTUCKY

Diocese of Covington: 59 priests sexually abused children since 1950
“A nearly year-long review of records at the Diocese of Covington found that 59 Catholic priests and 31 others associated with the church have sexually abused children(link is external) since the 1950s. A report summarizing the findings of the review was released Friday (Jul. 31) on the diocese’s website, along with a list naming the accused and a letter of apology from Covington Bishop Roger Foys.” By Erin Glynn and Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

LOUISIANA

Abuse victims say Archdiocese of New Orleans must reveal ‘secret’
“Local victims of Catholic clergy abuse(link is external) want to see investigation records the Archdiocese of New Orleans has shared with the Vatican. Members of the Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests (SNAP) held a news conference Friday (Jul. 31) at Notre Dame Seminary, where area Catholic priests are trained. They called upon Archbishop Gregory Aymond to share all documents related to abuse probes.” By WDSU-TV6 News

New Orleans priest continued serving 13 years after abuse claim landed him in treatment
“Sixteen years ago, Ricky Monsour spoke up for the first time about how he was groomed and molested in his boyhood by a priest the Catholic Church(link is external) eventually acknowledged was almost certainly a child predator. But it was only recently that he decided to speak out about the details of the $106,000 payment that the church later gave him to quietly settle his claims of abuse at the hands of Carl Davidson.” By David Hammer, Eyewitness News, and Ramon Antonio Vargas, The New Orleans Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Vicar general of Springfield diocese won’t accept reappointment, says he was ‘unfairly’ portrayed in Weldon report
“Fallout continues in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield as the diocesan vicar general, the Rev. Monsignor Christopher Connelly, will not seek reappointment, saying he was ‘unfairly and unfavorably portrayed’ in the recent report into allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon. Connelly’s announcement coincides with letters having circulated in the religious community in which retired priest James Scahill, an outspoken advocate on behalf of victims of sex abuse within the Catholic church, called for the removal of the vicar based on the results of the report by retired Judge Peter A. Velis. The vicar is second only to the bishop in the diocesan hierarchy.” By Anne-Girard Flynn, MassLive.com

MISSOURI

Two new lawsuits filed against Kansas City diocese over local priests’ alleged sexual abuse
“Two new lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, claiming the diocese covered up abuse by two local Catholic priests(link is external). ‘My church was completely aware,’ a victim’s statement reads. An interpreter read the statement Tuesday (Jul. 28) in front of the Kansas City Catholic Diocese headquarters. ‘I was taken to him for help,’ the victim said. ‘Unfortunately, help was the furthest thing from his mind.’” By Regan Porter, FOX4-TV News

MONTANA

Jesuits: Child sex abuse claim ‘credible’ against former Missoula pastor
“A former Jesuit pastor at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Missoula has been permanently removed from ministry after officials in the church’s province found claims that he sexually abused a minor girl 40 years ago to be credible(link is external), according to a statement from the province. The Rev. Rich Perry will remain at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in California and live under a safety plan, according to the statement provided to the Missoulian … Perry’s name and a timeline of his assignments have been added to a publicly available online list of Jesuits with credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult.” By Seaborn Larson, Missoulian

NEW JERSEY

Camden’s Roman Catholic diocese suspends payments to clergy abuse victims, citing COVID-19 financial stress
“Citing financial losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden in New Jersey said Friday (Jul. 31) that it would halt payments from a clergy sex-abuse victim fund that has paid out nearly $7.6 million(link is external). In a statement, the diocese said it had suffered a “precipitous decline in revenue” and was rapidly approaching a point where it would not be able to continue to borrow money to pay authorized awards.” By Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer, on Bakersfield.com

Metuchen Diocese looks to settle mentally disabled man’s clergy sexual abuse case
“The Diocese of Metuchen has offered to settle a lawsuit brought by a mentally disabled man who claims he was sexually abused by priest(link is external) in the basement of St. James Catholic Church in Woodbridge nearly three decades ago. The priest, the Rev. Kevin P. Duggan, took the man to a private area of the basement of St. James on Amboy Avenue on two separate occasions and pulled the man’s pants and underwear down to his ankles and touched his penis, according to the lawsuit.” By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News, on MyCentralJersey.com

Former Cardinal McCarrick accused of participating in beach house ‘sex ring,’ lawyers allege
“He is known only as ‘Doe 14.”’ Raised in a devout Catholic family, he attended St. Francis Xavier in Newark and Essex Catholic in East Orange in the Archdiocese of Newark, participating in church and youth activities. And by the time he was a teenager, his lawyers say he was being groomed for a role in what they called a ‘sex ring’ involving then-Bishop Theodore McCarrick(link is external), the 90-year-old now defrocked and disgraced former cardinal who was cast out of the ministry last year over decades-old sexual abuse allegations.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW MEXICO

Two more Catholic priests accused of child sexual abuse in southern New Mexico
Two Catholic priests were accused Tuesday (Aug. 4) of child sexual abuse(link is external) in southern New Mexico. Civil complaints were filed against the two priests, as well as the Las Cruces and El Paso dioceses and the parishes where the alleged sexual abuse occurred. Fr. Roderick Nichols and Fr. Damian Gamboa were named in the alleged abuse of John Doe and Jane Doe.” By Leah Romero and Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News

NEW YORK.

Dunkirk church named in new Child Victims Act suit
“The former pastor of a Dunkirk church is being accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1960s in a new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Monday (Aug. 3). The complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County, names the former St. Mary’s Church as a defendant. The victim claims to have been abused by the Rev. Maurus Schenck between 1962 and 1968 when the victim was about 12 to 17 years old.” By Eric Tichy, Post-Journal

Two weeks remain for civil lawsuits against Diocese of Rochester
“All legal claims against the Diocese of Rochester must be filed within the next two weeks, according to a federal bankruptcy judge(link is external). U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul Warren issued the ruling Wednesday (Jul. 29), stating August 13, 2020 will be the deadline for filing claims in the Diocese’s Chapter 11 case. An official committee representing plaintiffs in abuse cases and other unsecured creditors had filed a motion to extend the deadline, but were denied.” By WHAM-TV13 News

Child Victims Act plaintiff confronts Bishop Scharfenberger: ‘I lost my son’
“Kevin Brun, a member of the committee representing childhood survivors of sex abuse in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy proceedings, told Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger on Wednesday (Jul. 29) that his son killed himself within 24 hours of reading Brun’s letter of being abused by a priest(link is external) more than 40 years ago. Brun gave Scharfenberger a heart-wrenching account of losing his son Patrick, 21, on Easter Sunday in 2019, saying he wanted the bishop and the diocese’s lawyers to understand his level of commitment to making sure victims of abuse get a measure of justice in the bankruptcy.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

FBI: Queens Priest Shared Sexually Explicit Texts, Photos With 15-Year-Old Boy
“A priest in Queens was arrested Wednesday (Jul. 29) by the FBI for allegedly sending sexually explicit text messages and photos to a 15-year-old boy(link is external). Francis Hughes, 65, a pastor at a religious institution in Glendale, is charged with receiving images of child pornography via text from a 15-year-old minor in Westchester. ‘The allegations against Francis Hughes are chilling and frightening to any parent. A person who, by the nature of his profession, is presumed to be trustworthy allegedly victimized a child,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.” By Erica Brosnan, WCBS News Radio

Four new sex-abuse suits filed against Monsignor Paddack; 1 from time as Farrell principal
“A new lawsuit claims that Monsignor John Paddack sexually abused a boy at Monsignor Farrell High School in the early 2000s(link is external). The former principal of the all-boys school in Oakwood was named in four new lawsuits filed Wednesday in Manhattan state Supreme Court by Jeff Anderson & Associates under the New York Child Victim’s Act. ‘These lawsuits demonstrate Paddack’s pattern of predation: In each instance, exploiting his clerical power to abuse children,’ said attorney Jeff Anderson. His firm has filed numerous lawsuits alleging sex-abuse by clergy.” By Maura Grunlund, SILive.com

Legislation would make clergy mandatory reporters
“Legislation introduced by Assembly member Monica Wallace titled the CARE Act has passed the Assembly this week. The Child Abuse Reporting Expansion Act would add clergy members to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse and maltreatment(link is external), ‘closing a loophole that allowed for the proliferation and cover-up of child abuse,’ according to Wallace. The act was introduced last year, weeks after passage of the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations for survivors of child abuse to file civil claims and provided a temporary period during which survivors could file a claim regardless of how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.” By Cheektowaga Bee

A flurry of lawsuits alleging child sex abuse are filed as deadline for claims nears
“In one lawsuit filed on Thursday (Jul. 23), eight men alleged that a longtime Orange County priest sexually abused them when they were children(link is external), adding their claims to those of at least three other accusers of the late Rev. George Boxelaar who have sued. In another case brought one day earlier, a former Middletown School District student alleges he was molested in second or third grade by Dr. Stefan Irving, a former school pediatrician now serving almost 22 years in prison for a 2003 conviction on charges he traveled abroad to have sex with minors.” By Chris McKenna, Times Herald-Record

Suit alleges sexual abuse at St. Agnes Rectory in 1980s
“One word comes to mind when Mark Rowe recalls Joseph Larrabee, a former priest who’s now the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children(link is external). ‘I guess the word is charismatic,’ said Rowe, the latest to file suit against Larrabee. ‘Funny guy. There wasn’t anybody that didn’t like him – adults, kids. He was very likable.’So when Larrabee, an associate pastor at the St. Agnes parish, invited Rowe and some of his classmates over for a sleepover at the rectory one summer in the early 1980s when Rowe was in his early teenage years, Rowe didn’t think much of it.” By Matt Leader, Livingston County News

OHIO

Catholic order’s list of accused shows past of mishandling abuse allegations
“A Dayton Daily News investigation into the Society of Mary’s handling of alleged abuse of children by its members found the religious order concealed allegations against some from parents, students and school officials(link is external). The order released a list this summer of 46 priests and brothers its leaders say sexually abused children since 1950, but critics say the disclosure falls short.” By Josh Sweigert, Dayton Daily News

Clinical counselor taking clergy abuse reports at Coumbus Diocese
“Laura Lewis believes that mental health counseling is beyond essential when working with survivors of priests’ sexual abuse of minors(link is external). That’s part of the reason she said she was happy to accept the position of interim victims assistance coordinator when it was offered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. Lewis began the part-time position on July 15, replacing Monsignor Stephan Moloney in the role that includes taking all reports of sexual abuse by a clergy member in the diocese; leading the Diocesan Board of Review for the Protection of Children, a group of 10 that determines whether claims are credible; and facilitating healing and help for survivors.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

Archdiocese of Philadelphia grants over $50 million in financial reparations to survivors of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid out or approved over $50 million so far to 222 clergy sex abuse survivors(link is external), according to a new report from the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program. IRRP was launched in November 2018 as a means of providing settlements to claimants alleging abuse by archdiocesan clergy. The program’s administrators, acting independently of the archdiocese, assess claims and offer compensation with no monetary cap, either individually or in total. Claims are considered regardless of how long ago the events in question occurred, or whether the statute of limitations has expired.” By Gina Christian, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Erie Diocese sued over claims of abuse cover-ups
“A woman is using a new ruling in Pennsylvania law to sue the Catholic Diocese of Erie over claims it covered up child sex abuse allegations against one of its priests(link is external), the Rev. Michael G. Barletta, named as one of 301 ‘predator priests’ in the statewide grand jury report issued two years ago. The woman’s lawsuit, filed in Erie County Court this week, appears to be part of a growing trend. Other plaintiffs have filed at least three other legal actions against the diocese in Erie County Court since July 15, with claims related to sex abuse allegations or cover-ups.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Man sues Allentown diocese, Northampton church and school, claiming priest molested him when he was 11
“A 57-year-old Pennsylvania man who claims that he was molested by a Catholic priest from a Northampton church starting when he was 11 years old(link is external), has filed a lawsuit, one of numerous claims recently made under a potential loophole in the statute of limitations for civil cases involving sexual abuse. The plaintiff, identified as Joe Doe in the suit filed Wednesday (Jul. 22) in Lehigh County Court, claims that he was sexually abused in the 1970s and early 1980s by the Rev. Thomas Kerestus.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call

TENNESSEE

Harriman priest named in sexual abuse lawsuit
A lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Knox County accuses a Harriman Catholic priest of sexually abusing a female parishioner(link is external). Plaintiff Celeste Arnone alleges that she sustained injuries and damages as a result of a sexual relationship with Father Michael Sweeney, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Harriman. The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville is also listed as a defendant.” By Hugh Willett, Roan County News

Nashville Diocese Paid $65K Settlement to Priest’s Alleged Abuse Victim
“The Catholic Diocese of Nashville paid $65,000 in May to settle the case of an adult woman who says she was sexually abused by a priest who was working as a chaplain at Aquinas College and the Dominican Campus. The settlement was revealed by the London-based Catholic Herald, which published an investigation over the weekend raising questions about how the diocese handled the abuse allegations.” By Steven Hale, Nashville Scene

WASHINGTON

Former Gonzaga Prep Jesuit priest added to list of credibly accused abusers
“A Jesuit priest assigned to Gonzaga Preparatory School for two periods in the 1960s and ’70s has been added to a list of Catholic clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). Richard Perry has been assigned to the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in California since October, as provincial authorities investigated an allegation of sexual abuse by an adult female at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Missoula. During that investigation, a second credible allegation was made regarding abuse against a female student at Seattle Preparatory School in the late 1970s and early ’80s, according to a statement from Jesuits West.” By

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Lawsuit claims McCarrick ‘groomed’ abuse victims
“A man has filed a lawsuit claiming that he and others were sexually abused as boys(link is external) in the 1980s in New Jersey by Catholic priests and bishops, and were groomed for and by Theodore McCarrick, who went on to become Archbishop of Washington. The New Jersey lawsuit also claims that McCarrick began sexually abusing boys in 1969, 50 years before he was laicized by Pope Francis in 2019.” By Rick Massimo, WTOP News

WISCONSIN

Pewaukee priest once accused of sexual assault of a minor free to return to church
“A Pewaukee priest whose sexual assault of a minor case ended with a mistrial and then dropped charges is being allowed to return to work(link is external) at his church, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced Saturday. The announcement comes after the archdiocese says it completed its own investigation into the allegations against the Rev. Charles Hanel, 63, and determined they were unsubstantiated and false.” By Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

CHILE

Survivors’ group in Chile condemns abuse ‘secretism’ of Catholic Church
“A little over two years after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a controversial Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse by his mentor, a local network of clerical abuse survivors are alleging that neither civil nor Church authorities are making allegations public(link is external). In an online map that is updated periodically, mostly recently on Wednesday (Jul. 29), the Chilean Network of Clerical Sexual Abuse Survivors counts 41 new allegations against priests, religious brothers, and religious sisters in the past 6 months.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

96-year-old man ‘ruined many lives’ and used his position in society to cover up his secret … and he got away with it for decades
“A 96-year-old former Catholic priest was jailed today (Jul. 29) for sexually abusing six boys(link is external) more than 30 years ago. All but one of Father John Kevin Murphy’s victims came forward to police after seeing media reports about him being imprisoned in 2017 for molesting other boys. Liverpool Crown Court heard he had been ordained as a priest in 1962 and served in a number of parishes in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire until he retired.” By Lynda Roughley and Helen Johnson, Manchester Evening News

INDONESIA

Justice delayed, denied for victims of sexual abuse in Catholic Church
“Victims of sexual abuse and harassment in the Indonesian Catholic Church face ‘thick walls’ of silence, secrecy and denial, having to bear trauma while the priests who they have accused remain on a moral pedestal. Sisca, who has chosen to use an alias to protect her privacy, said she was molested by a Catholic priest in Jakarta when she was 11 years old(link is external). The 38-year-old watches the same priest greet school children in the same Catholic school every morning, and in December of last year, she heard His Eminence Ignatius Cardinal Suharyo, the highest-ranking member of the Indonesian Catholic Church, deny that he had ever received any reports of sexual abuse in the Church.” By Ivany Atina Arbi, Evi Mariani and Dwi Atmanta, The Jakarta Post

PHILIPPINES

Ex-judge to clergy: Focus on fixing Church scandals, not politics
“Former Sandiganbayan justice and Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Harriet Demetriou on Tuesday (Jul. 28) called out religious leaders for engaging in politics and urged them to focus instead on reforming the Catholic Church which has been plagued by scandals(link is external). ‘Instead of your non-stop politicizing, criticizing and demeaning the System which includes the judicial power of the Philippines, you wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on some issues you rally behind together with some politicians and ‘prostitute’ the dignity of your being ministers of God for self-seeking objectives,’ Demetriou said in a Facebook post particularly directed to Manila Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.” By Benjamin Pulta, Philippine News Agency

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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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