Posts Tagged Catholics

Clergy & laypeople collaborate to confront clericalism / Association of U.S. Catholic Priests & Voice of the Faithful

Joint News Release from Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful

For Immediate Release, Aug. 15, 2019

Pope Francis condemns clericalism, repeatedly. Catholic commentators decry it. Theologians and church historians examine its roots. Now, in a significant collaboration, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful have examined the ways clericalism emerges from the clerical culture, generating complex problems facing the Roman Catholic Church today, and they suggest ways to combat it.

Their document, “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism,” was approved at the AUSCP June 2019 Assembly, where guest speaker Dr. Richard Gaillardetz called it “very informative, even visionary.” Keynote speaker Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, noting the real-life examples reported, said it was “nothing less than a catalogue of horrors chronicling imperial pronouncements, put-downs, claims of privileges, entitlements and exemptions from accountability, but also a culture so pervasive that, sadly, many of the laity have come to accept it as normal and yes, even have cooperated in maintaining it.”

Real-life examples are central to the report and a significant contribution to the study of clericalism today. As the writers note, “We typically encounter clericalism as an experience. Using only scholarly definitions and explanations when discussing clericalism cannot communicate this lived experience of clericalism in the Church. To fully understand clericalism, we also must hear the voices of those who experience abuse of power.”

One experience  describes a confrontation between a laywoman and a visiting priest in Boston during a 2003 meeting. “We must fix this [sex abuse] because we are the Church,” the laywoman said. The visiting priest replied, “YOU are not the Church,” and pointing to his Roman collar, declared, “WE are the Church.”

In another example, a new pastor announced that he would personally choose pastoral council members and no one would be allowed to disagree with him. In yet another, a seminarian criticized the pastor for his monthly blessing service because it differed from what the seminary practiced.

If these examples seem to focus blame on the clergy or an insulated hierarchy or any group or faction within the universal church, the document will not allow such a conclusion. Clericalism is not simply a problem of clerics, and the authors cite experiences where lay people enable such behavior.

Clericalism is toxic to all the baptized, they note. When lay people encounter clericalism: “They find another parish; they leave the Church; they never speak up again in meetings with priests; they abdicate all decision-making to the priest; they become audiences rather that participants in the parish’s life and sideline observers within the Church. Or all of the above. They abdicate their baptismal responsibilities.”

Priests may suffer, too, from unrealistic expectations stifling their human development. It is manifested in “overwork, isolation, loneliness, unrelieved stress, the expectation that he and he alone will handle all the parish business and be responsible for all the parish problems.”

The document delves into the culture of the diocesan priesthood and characteristics that help incubate clericalism: the hierarchical and patriarchal structure of the church, its requirements for celibacy, an ordination that is said to confer an ontological change, an education separated from the daily lives of laypeople, distinctive clothing and liturgical dress. Clerics also receive privileges of lifestyle and compensation not available to the people to whom they minister. The final section of the paper describes options for confronting clericalism.

“Our aim,” the AUSCP and VOTF writers say, “has been to raise the consciousness
of readers to the expressions of clericalism and its problems. Clericalism betrays the teachings of the scriptures and ignores the best practices of the first three centuries of Christian faith and life. Both clerics and lay persons can be afflicted with the disease. Both are often unaware that their mode and manner, their self-understanding, and their sense of ministry have wandered far from the example of Jesus … [We]” hope that our words help us all rise to the challenge of today in confronting and ultimately removing as many vestiges as possible of the clericalism that harms us all.”

Cardinal Cupich emphasized a similar conclusion: “Clericalism can only be confronted by reclaiming the authenticity of the conversion we are called to in Baptism.”

The team preparing the report worked with input from clergy and laypeople across the United States, modeling the synodality Pope Francis urges as one way to address clericalism’s damage. Following its completion, the white paper also was endorsed by FutureChurch, another organization that includes both priests and lay people.

Lead writers for “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” were Rev. Kevin Clinton, AUSCP Past Chair of the Leadership Team, retired pastor, Archdiocese of St. Paul–Minneapolis; and Ms. Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, member of Paulist Center Community, Archdiocese of Boston.

Contributors on the Working Group under the auspices of AUSCP were Rev. Gerry Bechard, AUSCP, pastor of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish, Archdiocese of Detroit; Ms. Alvera Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Mr. David Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Rev. Bernard R. Bonnot, AUSCP Executive Director, retired pastor in the Diocese of Youngstown; and Rev. Tom Ogg, AUSCP, retired pastor, Diocese of Cheyenne, Worldwide Marriage Encounter―U.S. Ecclesial Priest.

N.B. “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” can be read and downloaded at http://www.votf.org/AUSCP-Projects/Systemic%20Dysfunction%20Clericalism.pdf. Strategies for addressing clericalism in local faith communities can be found in “The BridgeDialogues: Laity & Clergy Reimaging the Church” at http://www.votf.org/content/priest-and-lay-reform-organizations-take-clerical-culture, which is a collaborative effort of AUSCP, FutureChurch and VOTF.


Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, dbdoucette@votf.org

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in reforming administrative structures that have failed. VOTF’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. More information is at votf.org.

Contact: Kevin Clinton, kevin@kevindome.com, Paul Leingang, prleingang@gmail.com

Association of U.S. Catholic Priests: AUSCP serves the People of God in parishes and other ministries. We seek to add a priest’s voice to the public conversation within our pilgrim church, among bishops and lay persons, vowed religious, ordained deacons and others. Our concerns are your concerns: good liturgy, social justice, the role of women in our church, immigration policies that reflect Gospel values, the dignity of all human lives, and a Church that welcomes all the People of God. Our mission is to be an association of U.S. Catholic priests offering mutual support and a collegial voice through dialogue, contemplation and prophetic action on issues affecting Church and society. Our vision is to be a Priest’s Voice of Hope and Joy within our Pilgrim Church. More information is at uscatholicpriests.org.

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How D.C. Catholics are leading the response to the clergy sexual abuse scandal / America: The Jesuit Review

The failure of church leadership to stop clerical sexual abuse hit Catholics in Washington, D.C. hard. (America: The Jesuit Review)

This week marks one year since the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which detailed the alleged crimes of hundreds of priests over seven decades and brought the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church back into the national spotlight.

“The failure of church leadership to stop clerical sexual abuse hit Catholics in Washington, D.C., hard. Two months before the grand jury report, claims of abuse against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then archbishop emeritus of Washington, became public. In October, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, then the archbishop of Washington, who had been criticized for his handling of abusive priests during his time as the bishop of Pittsburgh. A few months later, McCarrick was laicized by Pope Francis.

“In the wake of last summer’s news, my parish, Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., embarked on a “Season of Discernment.” We asked: How could a local parish help heal serious wounds—especially wounds of trust born of the scandal—for survivors and their families as well as the broader community of lay faithful? How might we avoid getting stuck in the status quo and move forward to enact meaningful change?”

By Kathleen Coogan, Pastoral Council, Holy Trinity Parish, Washington, D.C., in America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

Kathleen Coogan will be part of a panel discussion on local responses to clergy abuse during Voice of the Faithful’s 2019 Conference in Boston Oct. 10. Click here for information and registration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal — Read more …

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Following bishops’ spring meeting, Voice of the Faithful echoes calls for mandatory civil reporting and lay involvement in bishop accountability

BOSTON, Mass., June 18, 2019 – The 2019 U.S. Bishops’ spring assembly left Voice of the Faithful and concerned Catholics across America with a nagging sense of déjà vu. Once again, the plan for resolving the Church’s lengthy, widespread child abuse and cover-up scandal is for bishops to hold their fellow bishops accountable. This is the best they could do nearly 35 years after Jason Berry’s reporting on horrendous abuse in Louisiana and Fr. Tom Doyle’s comprehensive report on the extent and potential repercussions of Catholic clergy abuse.

Over the past three and a half decades, time and again, when clerical transgressions were brought to light by others, bishops apologized and promised reform. The reform attempted at this latest bishops meeting has left bishops monitoring other bishops, controlling reports to lay boards and establishing themselves as final arbiters when abuse is reported. It has left us still waiting for substantive actions that could signal real reform. Here are two:

  • mandatory reporting of abuse allegations to civil authorities, even where state law does not require it, as Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski emphasized during the bishops’ meeting; and
  • mandatory lay involvement in bishop accountability, without which, as the bishops’ National Review Board Chairman Francesco Cesareo has said, a culture of self-preservation would continue that suggests complicity.

For arguably good reasons, Pope Francis in his recent Vos estis lux mundi did not require either of these actions, only suggested them, while requiring that bishops’ transgressions be reported within the Church and investigated by other bishops. This is a variation of the medieval court system where only clerics were allowed to judge other clerics and not a step forward.

At their meeting, U.S. bishops adopted the metropolitan model suggested by Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich wherein a metropolitan archbishop, a largely ceremonial role, would be in charge of investigating bishops within his province. But without mandatory reporting to police and mandatory lay involvement, the faithful can only hope that the bishop involved will investigate properly—investigative work that is not covered in any catechism or theology course.

VOTF agrees with canon lawyer and former National Review Board chairman Nicholas Cafardi, who has been quoted, “The system really perpetuates clericalism, which is something Pope Francis has criticized in other situations—the idea that priests exist on a different level than lay people and bishops exist on a different level than priests, and that’s by divine origin and you can’t even talk about changing it.”

Although several bishops during their spring meeting spoke in favor of mandatory reporting and mandatory lay involvement, they did not carry the day. This underscores the necessity for Lay Catholics to continue the drumbeat for reform and repeatedly ask their bishops to lobby their brothers and the Pope for whatever is needed for real reform, whether papal edicts or changes in canon law.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, June 18, 2019
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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U.S. Catholic Church reports big rise in sex-abuse allegations / Associated Press

The findings were evidence of “complacency and lack of diligence on the part of some dioceses,” said a letter included in the report from Francesco Cesareo, who chairs a review board created by the bishops in 2002 to monitor sex abuse prevention efforts. (Associated Press)

Quantifying its vast sex-abuse crisis, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church said Friday (May 31) that allegations of child sex abuse by clerics more than doubled in its latest 12-month reporting period, and that its spending on victim compensation and child protection surged above $300 million.

“During the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 allegations of abuse, according to the annual report of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. That was up from 693 allegations in the previous year. The report attributed much of the increase to a victim compensation program implemented in five dioceses in New York state.

“According to the report, Catholic dioceses and religious orders spent $301.6 million during the reporting period on payments to victims, legal fees and child-protection efforts. That was up 14% from the previous year and double the amount spent in the 2014 fiscal year.”

By David Crary, Associated Press — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 13, 2019

TOP STORIES

Francis mandates clergy abuse reporting worldwide, empowers archbishops to do investigations
“Pope Francis issued sweeping new laws for the Catholic Church on the investigation of clergy sexual abuse(link is external) May 9, mandating for the first time that all priests and members of religious orders worldwide are obligated to report any suspicions of abuse or its cover-up. The pontiff has also established a new global system for the evaluation of reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops, which foresees the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates in their local regions with the help of Vatican authorities.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Francis: Women deacons commission gave split report on their role in early church
“The Vatican commission studying the history of women serving as deacons in the Catholic Church has been unable to find consensus on their role in the early centuries of Christianity and is yet to give a ‘definitive response(link is external),’ Pope Francis said May 7. In a press conference aboard the flight back to Rome after his three-day visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia, the pope said the primary question is whether women who served as deacons were ordained in a manner similar to male deacons. Each of the 12 members of the commission, said Francis, ‘thought differently.’ By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Ruling lets abuse survivor proceed with suit against California bishops
“A Los Angeles, California, superior court has ruled that a survivor of sexual abuse can sue the state’s Catholic bishops(link is external) and the California Catholic Conference. In a press conference livestreamed from Burbank, California, April 29, survivor of clergy sexual abuse Tom Emens spoke alongside attorneys with the Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm.” By Maria Benevento, National Catholic Reporter

Illinois Catholic Church didn’t disclose hundreds of abuse cases, new attorney general finding shows
“Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Illinois six Roman Catholic dioceses failed to disclose at least 500 sexual abuse cases involving priests(link is external). That’s one of the first findings the office has released so far in its ongoing investigation of the dioceses. In an interview last week, Madigan said one of the goals of the investigation is to uncover both the extent of sexual abuse incidents in Illinois’ Catholic Church and whether church officials tried to cover them up.” By Sam Dunklau, Illinois Public Radio

If leaked draft for Curia reform is for real, the Vatican is headed for disaster
“If there is any truth to the leaks concerning the Vatican’s forthcoming proposal to reform the Curia, it is going to be a disappointment and a disaster(link is external). A draft of the proposal, expected to be published at the end of June, was obtained by a Spanish weekly, Vida Nueva, and as the Vatican has not pushed back on its analysis, the Catholic News Service and other Vatican reporters are taking it seriously.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

At Rome’s American seminary, scandals aren’t deterring future priests
“‘None of us would have asked for this scandal and the hurt it’s caused,’ said Father Peter Harman, a priest of Springfield, Ill., and rector of the NAC (North American College) since 2016. ‘But perhaps, and I trust in God’s goodness, if this makes us want to be priests for the right reasons, then let it be.(link is external)’” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Editorial: George Weigel, wrong then, wrong now
“The Catholic University of America decided to give the final guest speaker spot in its commendable series of four programs(link is external) examining the priest sex abuse crisis to George Weigel. That was unfortunate, because his long-discredited narrative about the causes of the scandal and his illusory ideas about how to deal with it do a great disservice to the Catholic faithful in this moment when so much of the church is finally squaring up to the awful truth.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

What part of the church’s healing are we each responsible for?
“In the final episode of Deliver Us, we ask: What’s mine to do and not somebody else’s? What part of the church’s healing are we each responsible for(link is external)? To grapple with these questions, we spoke to people who have responded to the sex abuse crisis in different ways. Geoff Boisi and Kerry Robinson talk about why they formed Leadership Roundtable, an organization which brings best business practices to church leaders and which has convened experts to discuss the church’s future … Donna Doucette of Voice of the Faithful also joins the episode to offer her take on how lay people can contribute to healing, and Monica LaBelle offers her experience of setting up listening sessions in her parish. We also hear from you, our listeners, in this final episode. You tell us what you’ve been doing to help the church move forward.” By Maggi Van Dorn, Deliver Us, America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Attorneys reviewing ‘massive’ number of documents in Catholic Church investigation
“Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is working around the clock and then some in its review of thousands of pages of information(link is external) seized from Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses. More than 25 assistant attorneys general are assigned to the investigation, in addition to their other assignments, and several regularly work for free on the weekends to process the ‘massive’ amounts of information, said Nessel’s spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney.” By Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News

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

Los Angeles Archdiocese’s handling of sex abuse cases under investigation by attorney general
“The California attorney general’s office will review how the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has handled sexual abuse allegations(link is external), including whether it followed mandatory reporting requirements to law enforcement, according to a letter reviewed by The Times. The letter, dated Thursday (May 2), from Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to Archbishop Jose Gomez, requests that church officials preserve an array of documents related to clergy abuse allegations.” By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times

Catholic University sex abuse series wraps with starkly different viewpoints
“Two well-known lay Catholic leaders in the United States presented strikingly different opinions on the cause of the clergy sex abuse crisis, the role of the laity and the centrality of victim-survivors(link is external) at an April 25 conference at Catholic University of America, titled ‘The Way Forward: Principles for Effective Lay Action.’ The day-long conference, the fourth and final installment of the ‘Healing the Breach of Trust’ series, was marked by the divergent 25-minute presentations of George Weigel and John Carr, who spoke at different points in the day.” By Jesse Remedios, National Catholic Reporter

How far can statewide investigation of Catholic Church sex abuse go?
“Peter J. Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, has one goal in the review of sex abuse allegations in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Savannah Diocese. ‘We will follow the facts where they lead us and go from there(link is external),’ said Skandalakis, a career prosecutor, who joined PAC last year after more than two decades in public office. There could be further investigation or, perhaps, prosecutions by local district attorneys.” By Sheila M. Poole, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A lawsuit against all of California’s bishops will be allowed to proceed
“Last year, a California man sued bishops from every one of California’s 11 dioceses(link is external), arguing that the church’s history of concealing abusers’ identities is a threat to free speech. This month, a California judge ruled that some of the claims in the lawsuit would be allowed to proceed—a decision that could force church officials to release the names of alleged abusers in dioceses across the state.” By Emily Moon, Pacific Standard Magazine

Vatican reveals more about guidelines on children of priests
“The Vatican has confirmed that guidelines on dealing with Catholic priests who father children are sent to any episcopal conference(link is external) that requests them. Mgr Andrea Ripa, of the Congregation for the Clergy, wrote to Vincent Doyle, founder of the Coping International, which defends the rights of children of priests worldwide, confirming the policy of the Vatican concerning the document.” By Ruth Gledhill, The Tablet

POPE FRANCIS

Documentary chronicles Francis by showing Church changing the world
“An El Salvadoran countryside, a Canadian mosque, a carpenter’s workshop on the small Italian island of Lampedusa and a family home in Minnesota serve as the setting of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation’s latest documentary, The Francis Impact(link is external). Unlike most Vatican or papal-themed documentaries, there’s little footage of Rome. Instead, the documentary – released May 5 – aims to turn the viewer’s attention to the often forgotten regions of the world, much like the mission of its protagonist.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis urged to end clergy abuse in Argentina
“Pope Francis is being urged by campaigners to return to his homeland to deal with revelations of child sexual abuse committed by Roman Catholic clergy. Two international campaign organizations are in Argentina to meet the victims(link is external). They are also calling for clergy involved in abuse to be removed from office and to be prosecuted.” By Daniel Schweimier, Al Jazeera

Letter signed by more than 1,500 accuses Pope Francis of the ‘canonical delict of heresey’
“A group of Catholic scholars and priests has written an open letter to the College of Bishops accusing Pope Francis of heresy(link is external). The letter, published by LifeSiteNews April 30, accuses Francis of a ‘comprehensive rejection of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexual activity, on the moral law, and on grace and the forgiveness of sins’ and is framed as the third step in a process that began with a private letter to the cardinals and Eastern Catholic patriarchs in 2016.” By Maria Benevento, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

In Washington meeting, U.S. bishops dialogue with abuse victims
“On May 1, just behind the walls where the tales of abuse and healing were on display, a small group of Catholics just like the ones in the stories gathered with bishops, clergy, victim advocates and others for a daylong event on the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church(link is external), but also to acknowledge the pain caused, to offer comfort, express sorrow, to share a meal, to pray and extend the wish to heal a broken trust.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Profile of women religious rising at the Vatican
“The Vatican can move at a snail’s pace but looking back over the past six years, the profile of women, especially women religious, at Vatican events has risen sharply(link is external). The Roman Curia is not teeming with women leaders and Pope Francis has given no indication, for example, that he will open the diaconate to women, but women are taking center stage more often and doing so with the ‘parrhesia’ or boldness Francis encourages.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

International Union of Superiors General advocates for women, sees influence grow
“In the three years since Pope Francis announced he would create a commission to study the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church(link is external), signaling a possible openness to ending the global institution’s practice of an all-male clergy, there has been little news about the group’s work … Now, that looks set to change. Approximately 850 leaders of the world’s congregations of Catholic women religious are preparing to come to Rome May 6-10 for their triennial weeklong meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), an umbrella organization that represents more than 450,000 sisters and nuns around the world.” By Joshua J. McElwee, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Vatican relaunches women’s magazine team after resignations
“The Vatican announced a new editorial leadership team for its women’s magazine(link is external)Tuesday (Apr. 30), following the clamorous exit of its previous editor who alleged a campaign of delegitimization by the Holy See’s communications operation. Three of the members of the editorial team of Women Church World previously worked for the magazine and stayed on following the resignation of founder Lucetta Scaraffia and other editorial committee members in March.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Speakers address role of laity as church moves forward from abuse scandal
“In introductory remarks during a conference examining the laity’s role in helping the Church move forward from the clergy abuse crisis(link is external), a speaker pointed out that what has happened impacts, and continues to affect, the whole Church. ‘We can’t fix the Church by our own efforts,’ but Catholics, like Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry the cross, ‘can carry some of the weight,’ said Stephen White, executive director of The Catholic Project, a group sponsored by The Catholic University of America in response to the Church abuse crisis.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Rome conference ponders the rise of ‘everyday’ lay saints
“Since the beginning of his pontificate, one of the things Pope Francis has advocated most vocally is a less clerical church with a greater involvement of laypeople at every level(link is external), including the Roman Curia. At a time when the push for lay leadership is growing in the wake of further scandals related to Catholicism’s global sexual abuse crisis, with many arguing lay intervention would help break a systemic cycle of cover-up among bishops and priests, a Rome conference has highlighted the lives of seven lay individuals whose causes for sainthood are underway …” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

MILLENNIAL CATHOLICS

Young progressive Catholics really do care about the church
“Almost every conversation I listen to about the future of the Catholic Church in the United States makes two assumptions(link is external). First, that the only young adults still interested in the Catholic Church are very conservative. Second, that all of the other young adults have either rejected the church or are utterly indifferent to it. If that is the case, why do campus ministry programs at progressive Catholic universities have their liturgies packed with students, and why are there waiting lists for their retreat programs and immersion trips?” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

The hopes and challenges of priestly celibacy today
“Celibacy in the priesthood is once again up for discussion. The diminished number of candidates for ordination and the abuse crisis have prodded the discussion, which seems mainly focused on the elimination of celibacy as a mandatory discipline for priests(link is external)in the Western church. But a more foundational concern, in my estimation, needs our reflection before we consider any change. That concern has to do with formation for celibacy and formation in celibacy.” By Louis J. Carroll, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH REFORM

Call to Action – the ‘loyal left opposition’ – reorganizes amid an uncertain future
“About a mile west of Wrigley Field, in Chicago’s trendy Roscoe Village neighborhood, sits a three-story, yellow-brick building, where those who can’t afford the nearby million-dollar, single-family homes can get a three-bedroom condo for half that. The building’s first-floor commercial occupants are a spiritual gift shop and bookstore run by volunteers and open only on the weekends, and Call to Action, the 40-year-old Catholic church reform organization(link is external).” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Secretariat of State looks to become even stronger in Vatican reforms
“After nearly 6 years of work, it looks like the new governing constitution of the Vatican should be published by the end of the summer(link is external). On Saturday (Apr. 20), the Spanish publication Nueva Vida will publish an article outlining some of the changes in the document, called Praedicate Evangelium, which Crux reported on earlier this week. The big news is that the once-dominant Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is being effectively demoted. A new ‘super-dicastery’ for evangelization will be given pride of place in the new order, with another ‘super-dicastery’ for charity also superseding the CDF in the new Vatican hierarchy.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Plenary Council changing how faithful communicate
“The Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council 2020 process has changed the way people within the Church communicate with one another(link is external), three key figures have explained. Source, according to ACBC Media Blog … Plenary Council coordinators from the Diocese of Sale, Archdiocese of Brisbane and Diocese of Darwin – part of a network of more than 40 local coordinators across the nation – told Media Blog the Listening and Dialogue process has had a profound and nourishing impact on people in their communities.” By CathNews.com

Vermont synod yields proposals on communications, evangelizing, parish life
“Recommendations on evangelization, vibrant parishes and communications emerged from the Diocese of Burlington’s first synod to be held since before the Second Vatican Council(link is external) took place. On April 16, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne promulgated the documents of the synod at the annual chrism Mass April 16 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington. Recommendations on evangelization, vibrant parishes and communications emerged from the Diocese of Burlington’s first synod to be held since before the Second Vatican Council took place.” By Cori Fugere Urban, Cruxnow.com

Number of ‘nones’ in the U.S. ties with Catholics
“Americans who do not identify with any religion are now as big a part of the country’s population as Catholics and evangelical Christians(link is external), according to a new survey, according to “Our Sunday Visitor.” The General Social Survey, which interviewed more than 2,000 people in 2018, indicates that the religiously unaffiliated, if the present trend continues, will comprise the largest segment of the United States’ population within four to six years.” By CathNews.com

Catholics on Delmarva: Holding firm or struggling with faith
“Jackie Conner is a self-identified ‘cradle Catholic.’ Growing up in the faith, she attended mass every Sunday with her family in Troy, New York, and has continued the tradition each week with her husband, Ernie, since moving to Salisbury in the late 1970s. But it wasn’t always like that. In the early weeks of their 1954 marriage, Jackie said she resisted the Sunday ritual(link is external) because her mother wasn’t there to make her go.” By Rose Velazquez, DelmarvaNow.com

Michigan residents leaving the Catholic Church as many turn away from religion
“The Catholic Church has loomed large over Gloria Emmons’ life.

Growing up in metro Detroit in the 1950s and ’60s, her devout Catholic family was surrounded by other devout Catholics. Everybody went to church on Sundays. Nobody ate meat on Fridays. Almost every home had a statue of Mary … But today, Emmons describes herself as an ‘ambivalent’ Catholic(link is external).” By Julie Mack and Scott Levin, MLive.com

VOICES

The Heat: Catholic Church sexual abuse
“Pope Francis, the leader of over 1 billion Roman Catholics across the world, is visiting Eastern Europe this week with stops in Bulgaria and North Macedonia. He has been talking about issues like wealth inequality and he’s defended migrants. But, an issue that still dominates the pontiff’s attention is the decades-old child sexual abuse crisis involving Catholic clergy. Earlier this year he brought together leaders of the Catholic Church from around the globe to the Vatican as he tried to address it. CGTN’s John Gilmore filed this report, and discussions included(link is external) Tim Lennon, sexual abuse survivor and President of SNAP; Ray Flynn, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican; Matthias Katsch, German activist who was sexually abused; and Donna Doucette, executive director of a Voice of the Faithful.” By Nathan King, CGTN-TV

Why I stayed, and why I’m leaving: The Church Must Comfort, not Judge
“My daughter Moy Moy died suddenly and unexpectedly in July 2018. My first Commonweal column—written in 1999 when she was ten years old—was about her. Our pediatrician had told us then that Moy probably only had months left to live. My column was about our anguish and grief; about what we had learned from her brief life(link is external) and how much we still didn’t understand. Longtime Commonweal readers may remember that our pediatrician got it wrong. Moy Moy didn’t die.” By Jo McGowan, Commonweal

Here’s how the Catholic Church can mopve from vague promises to bold action, former federal official says
“While in some ways a hopeful step, a four-day meeting in Rome earlier this year called by Pope Francis to respond to the sexual abuse crisis that has impacted the lives of countless victims(link is external) and undermined the moral authority of the Catholic Church was sadly bereft of concrete reform. There is still ample opportunity for the Church to recover from the decades-old scandal and regain the trust of the public, but it will require fundamental reforms in two critical areas that permitted and then covered up those abuses: bishop accountability and Church governance.” By Tom Healey, Star-Ledger

Ideological bias cannot taint our approach to sexual abuse
“Since last summer I have taken part in about a dozen panels and programs across this country that were organized to discuss the causes and consequences of the crisis of sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by members of the Catholic clergy. I have visited several cities and met people from every walk of life—victims, survivors, bishops, priests and religious, lay leaders, moms and dads, young and old. It has been humbling, enlightening and inspiring to take part in these important conversations—the most important conversation we could ever have.” By Mat Malone, America: The Jesuit Review

Confronting the specters
“Paul Elie, a friend and valued contributor to Commonweal for nearly three decades, has written a long article for the New Yorker on the renewed upheaval over clergy sexual abuse(link is external). It is a confusing and ultimately disappointing piece, which conflates older crimes and contemporary revelations while providing little explanation for the varying patterns of priestly sexual abuse and the church’s different responses over the past fifty years.” By Paul Baumann, Commonweal

Your thoughts on Pope Francis’ sixth year, clericalism, unbelief and more
“NCR readers are welcome to join the conversation and send us a letter to the editor. Below is a sampling of letters received in the month of March 2019(link is external). If you want to respond to an article published in NCR, follow the steps listed at the end of this post ― When Francis was elected pope, I didn’t pay much attention (and I’m a priest). Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI’s episcopal nominees had already left me cold. Not as cold and abandoned as I felt in the presence of the schismatic Roman Curia, which has long since abandoned the people of God, but frozen enough to feel that in matters of faith I’d just have to weather through on my own …” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholics want church to invest in ethical funds, survey says

“More than 90% of Catholics said they believe that Catholic organizations should invest church funds in ways that are consistent with church teaching and values(link is external), according to results of a new survey. In addition, about 31% of respondents to the survey conducted by Boston-based Catholic Investment Services said that news of clergy sexual abuse and the church’s handling of such allegations has caused them to give less to their parish. Still, 7% of respondents said they have given more to their parish. However, 41% of respondents said they either plan to donate less to their parish or are considering giving less in the future.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Fatal flaw: Drafting error sinks child sex crime bill
“New Mexico was poised this year to join a wave of states nationwide that are allowing victims of child sex crimes more time to report their perpetrators for possible criminal prosecution(link is external). A last-minute clerical error derailed that effort – at least for this year. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she was forced to veto the legislation last month, because her legal team found a fatal flaw that would have given some victims even less time to report the crime than they have under current law.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic priest sex abuse scandal hits home, with more pain sure to come
“‘What’s next?” Roman Catholics worldwide are asking as their church reels amid explosive revelations of sexual assault and abuse of minors by priests(link is external). It certainly has hit home for me. During Mass in January, a representative of the Archdiocese of Chicago announced that the beloved pastor of my church had been accused of sexual abusing a minor in 1979, while serving in a south suburban parish.” By Laura Washington, Chicago Sun Times

My priest was an accused abuser: the Catholic sex abuse story gets personal
“In the photograph, I am smiling brightly, and so are the two men I am standing next to. One is the future father of my children. The other is currently accused of sexual abuse involving ‘multiple’ victims(link is external): his name is Robert Chabak. That’s how he signed my marriage certificate. We called him Father Bob. I’ve wondered over the last several years, of course, about the priests of my youth. As revelation upon revelation of sexual abuse in the Catholic church has emerged, I asked myself if I had known any of the men involved, if the cash I’d faithfully tucked into my collection plate envelopes had gone toward settlements with victims.” By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro says clergy abuse shadows Catholics’ Notre Dame response
“Pennsylvania Attorney General Joshua Shapiro was impressed with the response of the Catholic Church and Catholics around the world when Notre Dame went up in flames last week in Paris. But he’s disappointed in what he sees as the church’s lackluster response to protecting clergy abuse victims(link is external). In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Shapiro took the church to task for spending millions to influence lawmakers to block his recommendation that they open a window of opportunity for abuse survivors with old claims to sue the church.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

CALIFORNIA

Victim shares story of clergy sexual abuse at Jesuit high school
“A man who says he was sexually abused by a Jesuit brother(link is external) his freshman year of Catholic School is speaking out. Kurt Hoffmann says he was assaulted by his swim coach Brother William Farrington. Now he’s sharing his story and hoping other victims feel inspired to do the same.” By Marissa Perlman, CBS-TV13 News

San Francisco among last Catholic dioceses in state to withhold names of accused clergy
“A lawsuit that would force the Archdiocese of San Francisco to release the names of clergy accused of sexual misconduct(link is external) was allowed to proceed last week. The Archdiocese of San Francisco is among 11 diocese across the state that, along with the California Catholic Conference (CCC), are named in the lawsuit that could force church officials to release the names of alleged abusers and provide documents on clerical offenders. The lawsuit alleges that these documents are kept in the dioceses possession, concealed from the public.” By Laura Waxmann, San Francisco Examiner

Man vows to proceed with California clergy abuse lawsuit
“A man who says he was molested by his parish priest(link is external) decades ago vows to proceed with a lawsuit targeting all Catholic bishops in California after a judge dismissed part of the suit. The so-called ‘nuisance’ lawsuit filed in October by Thomas Emens claims a civil conspiracy among church officials to cover up clergy assault and move offending priests to other parishes.” By Associated Press on SFGate.com

Credible sex abuse claims levied against three former Winters priests, one deacon, diocese says
“Three Catholic priests and one deacon who previously served at churches in Winters had credible claims of sexual abuse and other misconduct levied against them(link is external) across a span of several decades, according to a list published early Tuesday (Apr. 29) morning by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. Those names were among nearly four dozen priests and other clergy members identified by church officials as having been ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors and young people in the Diocese of Sacramento,’ a statement released by church officials said on Tuesday.” By Matthew Keys, Winters Express

‘Necessary reckoning’ – Sacramento Catholic diocese to publish list of accused clergy, bishop says
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento will release a list this week naming priests and deacons determined to have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors(link is external), Bishop Jaime Soto said in a letter Sunday (Apr. 28). ‘The list will account for our history of sexual abuse over the last seven decades and is a necessary reckoning for our local Church,’ Soto wrote. ‘I am repulsed and heartbroken by the evil acts that were perpetrated upon the innocent by those entrusted with their care. When you read the list you will experience your own feelings of shock, anger and disgust. This undoubtedly will reopen wounds for some.’” By Michael McGough, The Sacramento Bee

Sexual misconduct allegation levied against Fresno Catholic Diocese priest
“A 59-year-old priest with the Diocese of Fresno is on leave after being accused of sexual misconduct in Firebaugh(link is external). Rev. Monsignor Craig Francis Harrison is being investigated after the allegation was made this month by an adult male, who was a minor when the alleged offense happened, according to a statement from the diocese.” By Yesenia Amaro, Sacramento Bee

GEORGIA

Statewide investigation launched into sex abuse allegations in Catholic Church
“Georgia has become the latest state to launch an investigation into past sexual abuse claims within the Catholic Church(link is external), Attorney General Chris Carr said Tuesday (Apr. 30). The repercussions could be widespread. In Pennsylvania, a grand jury report identified hundreds of priests accused of molesting at least 1,000 minors over the past seven decades in that state.” By Shelia M. Poole and Christian Boone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ILLINOIS

Swansea Roman Catholic clergyman charged with sexual assault
“A clergyman with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville was charged Friday (Apr. 26) with sexually assaulting an adult woman on March 1. Deacon Robert J. Lanter, 68, of Swansea, was charged with felony criminal sexual assault, and is accused of assaulting a 29-year-old woman who was unable to give consent(link is external).” By Erin Heffernan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

KENTUCKY

Allegations against Fr. Bradley turned over to Vatican
“When Mark Lyon heard that the allegations made against Father Bradley were substantiated(link is external), he broke down. He would have never dreamed that the man he has known and respected could ever be involved in something like this. ‘When all of these other allegations went on with the other priests, I would have said… Father Bradley? I would have bet everything that I have to say that this would never have happened,’ said Lyon. Lyon tells 14 News that he does not want to believe it’s true. But he is not sure what to believe.” By Joseph Payton, WFIE-TV14 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Former Massachusetts priest John Sweeney sexually abused teens, performed exorcisms on them, according to new allegation
“Nadine Tifft’s faith has been tested. The 37-year-old publicly accused a priest on Tuesday (May 7) of sexually molesting her as a teenager growing up in New England(link is external). ‘I’m still Catholic,’ she said, but adding, ‘It makes it hard to go to church.’ Two decades ago, Tifft and several friends attended leadership retreats organized through her church for young members. The retreats were held around New England, designed to connect Catholics throughout New England with leaders in the church.” By Michelle Williams, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Lawmakers: State must open courtrooms to priest-abuse survivors
“Two Grand Rapids state lawmakers said the timing could be right this year for legislation that would open courtroom doors for survivors of child sexual abuse(link is external) at the hands of Catholic priests and others. The so-called “window” legislation, which would temporarily eliminate the statute of limitations, could have a huge impact on the Catholic Church in the state.” By Ken Kolker, WOOD-TV8 News

For many abused by priests, no window for justice
“A Barry County man said he was looking for justice when he recently called Target 8, along with the church and the Michigan Attorney General, to report a Roman Catholic priest had molested him when he was 12(link is external). He thought his case was recent enough, just 20 years ago, that he could send his molester to jail or make him and the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids pay by suing them. But while a growing number of states have passed laws allowing survivors in years-old cases to file civil lawsuits, there’s nothing he can legally do in Michigan.” By Ken Kolker, WOOD-TV8 News

Sentencing of ‘Father Bob’ follows year of scandal for Catholic Church and Saginaw Diocese
“A longtime Catholic Diocese of Saginaw priest who pleaded no contest to sex crimes faced sentencing on Thursday, April 25. The Rev. Robert J. ‘Father Bob’ DeLand in March pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct(link is external), gross indecency between two males, and manufacturing or distributing an imitation controlled substance. The most serious charge is second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony.” By Heather Jordan, MLive.com

MISSOURI

Missouri bishop urges broader approach to help survivors, parishes heal
“Missouri Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City came face to face with a victim of sexual abuse long before he was a bishop(link is external), when a friend in college confided in him about a rape. That experience, as a friend of a person who has suffered similar trauma, seems to have shaped his approach as a vocal bishop denouncing the clergy sex abuse scandal, even if, at 50, he’s one of the youngest and most junior members of the U.S. Catholic bishops.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

NEW JERSEY

Law firm says it will name 300 New Jersey priests accused of sex abuse, including those not named by the Church
“A New Jersey attorney says he has a list of more than 300 priests accused of sexual misconduct(link is external) in New Jersey — far more than the 188 priests the Catholic Church has said were ‘credibly accused’ in the state’s dioceses. Attorney Greg Gianforcaro said he will release the list Monday (May 6) at an afternoon press conference where he will announce that an unnamed victim of sexual abuse is filing a lawsuit against New Jersey’s five Catholic dioceses alleging they created a “public hazard” by not naming all accused priests.” By Kelly Heyboer, New Jersey Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK

Syracuse Catholic diocese pays $11 million to 79 sex abuse victims
“The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has paid nearly $11 million to settle claims with 79 sex abuse victims(link is external), according to a report released today. The Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program was administered by New York City lawyers Camille Biros and Kenneth Feinberg, who have handled victims’ funds after tragedies including 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing.” By Julie McMahon, Syracuse.com

Long Island diocese declines to release list of priests accused of sexually abusing children
“The Diocese of Rockville Centre will not release a list of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children(link is external) although it may do so in the future, church officials said Monday (Apr. 28). The decision is in contrast with those of the Archdiocese of New York and other dioceses around the country which have published such lists.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

New York archdiocese names 120 Catholic clergy members accused of sex abuse
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York on Friday (Apr. 26) identified 115 priests and five deacons who have been accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in what is one of the largest disclosures that has been made by the church. The list of clergy members joins a flood of names that have poured from dioceses and religious orders across the country in recent months as the church grapples with a scandal over its handling of abuse.” By Rick Rojas, The New York Times

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie’s Persico: ‘We really need to clean this up’
“In April 2018, Erie Catholic Bishop Lawrence Persico released the first version of the Catholic Diocese of Erie’s list of clergy and laypeople credibly accused of sexual abuse and other misconduct with minors. A year later, the list continues to grow(link is external) — it started with 51 names and is now at 81 — and so has the diocese’s financial exposure. As state lawmakers extended their debate about whether to adjust the statute of limitations to allow abuse victims to sue over old cases, Persico joined other dioceses statewide and created a compensation fund to pay claims to victims outside of court.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Trial for York-area defrocked priest accused of molesting two altar boys
“A 74-year-old defrocked Catholic priest who lives in West Manchester Township is now facing trial for allegedly sexually assaulting two altar boys(link is external) when he served at a Harrisburg church. John G. Allen, of the 1600 block of Kenneth Road, had his preliminary hearing at the office of Harrisburg-area District Judge Joseph Lindsey on Wednesday, April 24, according to court records.” By Liz Evans Scolforo, York Dispatch

Alleged predator priest accused of sexually abusing boys faces multiple counts in PA court
“Their stories are strikingly similar, recorded three months apart by a Dauphin County detective. They have names, but they’re known now as Victim 1 and Victim 2. Both men say John G. Allen sexually abused them(link is external) from 1997 to 2002 while they were altar boys at St. Margaret Mary’s Alacoque Church in Harrisburg.” By Candy Woodhall, York Daily Chronicle

SOUTH CAROLINA

After list of SC Catholic priests accused of abuse, no simple path to healing
“For victims of abuse by Catholic priests in South Carolina, the past month has opened old wounds but also fostered new hope(link is external). Since the 1990s, reports have surfaced implicating priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston in the abuse of minors dating back to at least the 1950s— cases that for years were treated in isolation.” By Gergory Yee and Rickey Dennis, the Post and Courier

UTAH

Grand jury indicts former Conroe priest on child sex abuse charges
“A grand jury on Thursday (May 2) indicted a former Conroe priest on charges stemming from child sex abuse allegations(link is external), according to court records. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez was indicted on two of the four counts of indecency with a child that led to his Sept. 11 arrest, records show. The two charges stem from incidents alleged to have happened to a female parishioner on April 9, 2000, while the cleric was assigned to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Montgomery County.” By Nicole Hensley, Houston Chronicle

WEST VIRGINIA

Catholic community needs Archbishop Lori to listen
“Almost a year before Michael Bransfield’s resignation as bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (DWC), the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA) wrote a letter to Pope Francis and other Vatican officials to express concerns about our diocese(link is external) and to share thoughts on the kind of bishop we would like to see follow Bransfield. Drawing from the Appalachian Catholic pastoral letters and the example of Pope Francis, both of which challenge people of faith to respond to the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth, our letter requested a bishop who …” By Michael Iafrate

ARGENTINA

Demand for trial against clergy accused of abusing kids
“International and Argentine activists on Monday (May 6) called on Pope Francis to ensure that his ‘zero tolerance’ pledge against sexual abuses by clergy is enforced in his homeland and demanded a trial for those accused of raping deaf and mute children at a Catholic school(link is external). Prosecutors say that members of the clergy abused at least 20 children at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza province. The case has caused a worldwide uproar and more than a dozen people face charges.” By Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press, on Madison.com

AUSTRALIA

Expert panel to conduct Church governance review
“A panel of experts has been convened to conduct a national review of the governance and management structures of Catholic dioceses and parishes. This will include issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and lay participation(link is external). The review was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse after the commission concluded that the governance and management of some dioceses and parishes contributed to the child sexual abuse crisis.” By CathNews.com

CHILE

Abuse survivors in Chile blast deal between Church and prosecutor
“A recently signed agreement between the Catholic Church in Chile and the local prosecutor’s office has caused uproar, with critics charging that it unduly provides protections and privileges to the Church(link is external). The agreement was signed on Tuesday (Apr. 30) by the national prosecutor, Jorge Abbott, and the secretary general of the Chilean bishops’ conference, Bishop Fernando Ramos, who’s one of ten bishops called to testify facing allegations of having covered up cases of abuse.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Chilean bishops fear new measure would enforce breaking confession seal
“Chilean bishops said that while they support legislation requiring priests and religious authorities to report crimes, they also fear that an update to the country’s current law would force clergy to break the sacramental seal of confession(link is external). The 155-member Chilean House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure April 23 that would add clergy and religious men and women to the list of police, members of the armed forces, teachers and civil servants who are obliged to report all crimes under article 175 of Chile’s penal code.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Child sexual abuse inquiry to be held into religious organizations
“Child sexual abuse in a wide range of religious organizations and settings, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Buddhists, is to be scrutinized in an official inquiry. The investigation by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA)(link is external) will review child protection and policies in organizations belonging to nonconformist Christian denominations, Baptists, Methodists, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Hinduism.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

GUAM

Guam priests’ child sexual abuses would have remained a dark secret were it not for one man
“Back when no one dared to publicly accuse any Guam priest, much less the archbishop, of sexually abusing a child(link is external), former Agat resident John Toves did so in 2014. It was about 12 years after the Archdiocese of Boston’s sex abuse scandal exposed widespread wrongdoing in the American Roman Catholic Church. ‘My aunt referred to my brother as the David who slew Goliath,’ Noreen Toves-Phillips, of California, said about her brother John.’” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

INDIA

In India, charges against a Catholic bishop a victory for abused nuns
“In the dirt courtyard of St. Teresa’s Women’s College, in this port city in the southern Indian state of Kerala, a group of nuns cast curious glances toward a knot of chatty first-year students huddled together. The young women are mindful not to speak too loud, lest the sisters overhear the topic of their conversation — the alleged rape of a nun by the bishop who oversees a local religious order(link is external). Bishop Franco Mulakkal, a native of Kerala, an enclave of Christians in predominantly Hindu India, is accused of attacking the nun nine times between 2014 and 2016.” By Brooke Thames, Religion News Service

ITALY

Sicilian priest wages decade-long crusade against ‘pedophilia pride’
“Incredibly enough, on April 25th, self-professed pedophiles online celebrate ‘Alice Day’ to promote the normalization of the sexual abuse of minors. For the past 23 years, a priest from a small southern Italian diocese has launched a global initiative on the same day to raise awareness for the protection of minors(link is external). ‘The strength of an initiative is given by its continuity,’ said Father Fortunato Di Noto, founder of Meter Onlus dedicated to protecting children from abuse.” By Claire Giangravè, Cruxnow.com

SPAIN

Former Catholic school teacher gets 21 years in jail for sex abuse in Spain
“A Barcelona court sentenced Monday (A[pr. 29) a former gym teacher at a Catholic school to over 20 years in jail for sexually assaulting students(link is external), in the latest abuse scandal rocking the church in Spain. Joaquin Benitez, who taught for nearly three decades at a Barcelona school run by the Marist community, a Roman Catholic order at the centre of a clerical abuse scandal in Chile, got a jail term of 21 years and nine months for assaulting four students.” By Agence France-Press on NewIndianExpress.com

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Francis mandates clergy abuse reporting worldwide, empowers archbishops to do investigations / National Catholic Reporter

Under the scope of the new laws, such disclosure (of abuse or coverup) could be rather wide-ranging, even retroactively. Article six of the apostolic letter makes clear that anyone who is serving or has served as a bishop can be investigated for acts committed during the time of their ministry. (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis issued sweeping new laws for the Catholic Church on the investigation of clergy sexual abuse May 9, mandating for the first time that all priests and members of religious orders worldwide are obligated to report any suspicions of abuse or its cover-up.

“The pontiff has also established a new global system for the evaluation of reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops, which foresees the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates in their local regions with the help of Vatican authorities.

“The new norms, contained in a brief apostolic letter titled Vos estis lux mundi (‘You are the light of the world’), are exhaustive in scope, applying in some way to every ordained or vowed member of the 1.3 billion-person church. They also encourage lay people to make reports of abuse, and provide for involvement of lay experts in investigations.

“In his introduction to the document, which goes into effect June 1, Francis says he has created the new laws so the church will ‘continue to learn from the bitter lessons of the past, looking with hope towards the future.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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