Posts Tagged clergy sexual abuse

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

October 20, 2021

TOP STORIES

Probe: Catholic Church in France had 3,000 child abusers
“An independent commission examining sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in France believes 3,000 child abusers — two-thirds of them priests — have worked in the church over the past 70 years(link is external). The estimate was given by the commission president, Jean-Marc Sauvé, in an interview published Sunday (Oct. 3) in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche. The commission has been investigating for 2 1/2 years. Its full findings are scheduled to be released on Tuesday. In the interview, Sauvé did not give a figure on the number of sex abuse victims but said the report does include a new estimate.” By Associated Press in The Boston Globe

The Catholic Church’s prayers for victims of sexual abuse are beginning to ring hollow.
“Early Tuesday (Oct. 5) morning, I opened my laptop to work. But first, I meandered over to Twitter, expecting to read a few comments on Krysten Sinema before diving into my Persian presentation. Instead, I started crying. I don’t cry easily. And these were not tears borne of sadness but of frustration(link is external). On Tuesday morning, an independent commission reported that priests and church workers in France have abused over 330,000 children over the past seven decades. As usual, the church too often turned a blind eye to the molestation.” By Valerie Pavilonis, America: The Jesuit Review

Australia’s grand experiment in synodality opens amid hopes, challenges
“Long before ‘synodality’ became the buzzword of this pontificate, and long before a world-wide summit on the topic was called for by Pope Francis that’s being described as his legacy, the Catholic Church in Australia was getting ready to launch its own major synodal moment. Called a ‘Plenary Council(link is external),’ it’s the first such gathering in Australia since 1937, and it will be celebrated across nine months, bookended by assemblies from October 3-10 and in July 2022.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

The Guardian view on sexual abuse and the Catholic church: contrition is not enough
“An investigation into pedophile priests in France reveals an institution in desperate need of reform – The findings of an inquiry into sexual abuse and pedophilia in the French Catholic church, published last week, are difficult to read and painful to contemplate. Over the past 70 years, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church found that at least 216,000 children were subjected to abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and members of religious orders. Sexual exploitation within the church and associated institutions, the commission stated, had been a ‘massive phenomenon.’ Beyond immediate family and friends, the prevalence of sexual violence in the church outstripped that in any other social environment(link is external).” By The Guardian Editorial Board

Catholic priests in France ‘must report abuse allegations heard in confession
Catholic priests must report all child sexual abuse allegations to police, including if they hear about it in the secrecy of the confession box, the French interior minister has said after reprimanding France’s top bishop for claiming that the secrecy of the Catholic confessional was ‘above the laws of the Republic.’ France is reeling from the publication last week of a devastating independent report which found that at least 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and lay members of church institutions over the past 70 years, and that the crimes were covered up in a ‘systemic way’ by the church.” By Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian

ACCOUNTABILITY

Philippine clerical child abusers must face civil courts
“The most important legislation needed worldwide is to cancel and revoke the legislation on the statute of limitations for crimes against children(link is external) and actively pursue legal action to bring the abusers to justice. The accused abusers can then hear the testimony of their victims and confess, repent, atone and accept penance in jail for abusing children.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, CathNews.com

As Catholic order fought sex abuse claims, secret trusts devoted to it poured millions into American rental properties
“Leaked files reveal nearly $300 million stashed overseas for the Legion of Christ in wake of Vatican investigation. Millions were invested with a corporate landlord that evicted struggling U.S. tenants during pandemic. – Soon after the Vatican announced in 2010 that it would seize the operations of the troubled order and launch a new investigation, high-profile Legion of Christ operatives began quietly setting up one of a trio of New Zealand trusts designed to hold money for the Legion. … These two trusts would come to hold nearly $300 million in assets devoted to the Legion of Christ at a time when victims of sexual abuse by its priests were seeking financial compensation(link is external) from the order through lawsuits and through a commission overseen by the Vatican.” By Spencer Woodman, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Judge: Newark Archdiocese can be held liable for McCarrick’s misconduct
“A New Jersey federal judge ruled this week that the Archdiocese of Newark can be held financially responsible for the abuse committed by Theodore McCarrick(link is external), a disgraced former cardinal. According to a report from the New York Post, District Court Judge Madeline Arleo found that the Newark archdiocese is ‘vicariously liable’ for McCarrick’s actions. According to the Legal Information Institute, ‘vicarious liability’ refers to liability that a supervisory party, such as an employer, bears for the actionable conduct of a subordinate or associate, such as an employee, based on the relationship between the two parties.” By Jonah McKeown, The Catholic Herald

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Explainer: So, what exactly is a synod?
“The global synodal process on ‘Communion, Participation, and Mission’ that the Catholic Church is undertaking over the next two years will formally kick off on Sunday, Oct. 10, with a Mass at the Vatican. It has been nicknamed the ‘synod on synodality’—a term that, despite Pope Francis’ efforts to popularize it, may still leave some scratching their heads. So what is ‘synodality,’ and why does the pope think it’s such a big deal?(link is external)” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Experts see synod as ‘biggest consultation exercise in human history’
“Though probably unbeknownst to most Catholics around the world, on Saturday (Oct. 9) Pope Francis officially opened a two-year global consultation process, all part of a Synod of Bishops on Synodality, which participants hope will help radically change the way the Catholic Church takes decisions. ‘My expectation is that a new way of doing things, which will allow us to see synodality being lived at every level of the Church, is now underway(link is external),’ Spaniard Carmen Peña Garcia, a synod participant, told Crux.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

In union with Pope Francis, Rochester Diocese opens Synod
“In union with Pope Francis, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano opened the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops Oct. 10(link is external) during the regularly scheduled 11:15 a.m. Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Pope Francis is convening the worldwide Synod under the theme ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ At the beginning of his homily, Bishop Matano explained that the Synod, which has three phases — diocesan, continental and universal — will conclude with the assembly of the Synod Bishops in Rome in October 2023.” By Gina Capellazzi, Catholic Courier

Pope Francis opens synod, encouraging church to master the ‘art of encounter’
Pope Francis on Oct. 10 officially launched the Vatican’s high-stakes, two-year synod process(link is external) in an opening Mass where he urged the global Catholic Church to master the ‘art of encounter’ … The Synod of Bishops, which emerged out of the Second Vatican Council, was designed in part to provide a mechanism for global church leaders to come to Rome to confront certain challenges in church life. Now its newly retooled model adds another component that begins with a listening stage with local churches at the diocesan level.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Utah Catholics ready to answer ‘revolutionary’ survey that will include church members on the fringes
Pope Francis wants to know what you think about the Catholic Church(link is external) — what it’s doing well, how it’s falling down, and where it should go in the future. By ‘you,’ the pontiff means people in the pews, people not in the pews, Christmas and Easter Catholics, former Catholics, priests, nuns, the laity, younger members, older members, non-Catholics and outside observers. Starting next week, the Vatican is launching a three-year synod on ‘communion, participation and mission’ — a program of ‘listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular churches.’” By Peggy fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune

How do we prepare for a synodal process? Start with the documents of Vatican II
“Nine days from now, Pope Francis will officially open a synodal process. As my colleague Brian Fraga reported on Wednesday (Sept. 29), you wouldn’t know much about it if you relied on the U.S. bishops’ conference(link is external). They have sent no directives to the nation’s bishops, no historical or theological reflections, no guidance, nada, niente. They have not amended their strategic priorities to reflect the start of this synodal process. And their last meeting was dedicated to figuring out how to justify a document on eucharistic coherence that no one needs and that Rome has indicated it does not want.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope to begin synodal process with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica
“The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will formally launch the process of the Synod of Bishops with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica(link is external). The Oct. 10 Mass, which officially open the synodal process, will be preceded by a day of reflection in the synod hall, the Vatican said in a statement published Oct. 1. The Oct. 9 day of reflection, the statement said, will include ‘representatives of the people God, including delegates of the bishops’ conferences and related bodies, members of the Roman Curia, fraternal delegates, delegates of consecrated life and ecclesial lay movements, the youth council, etc.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Italian cardinal becomes first red hat to stand trial at Vatican
“When the Vatican’s megatrial for financial crimes begins next week, one of the star figures will be Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former power-player in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State who is the first cardinal to be indicted by the small city-state(link is external). Set to open Oct. 5 after being postponed during an initial hearing over the summer, the trial involves a list of 10 people facing a variety of charges ranging from abuse of office to embezzlement, fraud, and corruption, among other things.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

High hopes for Synod of Bishops
“Participants in the two-year global consultation process for the Synod of Bishops on synodality hope the process will help radically change the way the Church takes decisions(link is external). ‘My expectation is that a new way of doing things, which will allow us to see synodality being lived at every level of the Church, is now underway,’ Spaniard Carmen Peña Garcia, a synod participant, said. ‘The Synod should not be reduced to this moment, these two years, because synodality is a call for co-responsibility and co-participation of the entire people of God in the life and mission of the Church, with baptism being the entry card,’ she said.” By CathNews.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Vatican: Theological Commission welcomes first-ever African woman
“Pope Francis has appointed 61-yesr-old Sister Dr. Josée Ngalula of the Democratic Republic of Congo as the first-ever African woman to be a member of the International Theological Commission(link is external). She is a member of the Sisters of Saint Andrew. Sister Ngalula will be part of a 28-member theological Commission that comprises theologians from all over the world.” By Muando Babualo and Vatican News English Africa Service

The Vatican still has a ‘patriarchal mindset’ — but women are challenging it.
“Women are rising to new heights in the Vatican, but there is still a long way to go before women’s voices and leadership are satisfactorily integrated in the Vatican(link is external). In this deep dive episode based on Colleen Dulle’s cover story in America Magazine’s October issue, Colleen and producer Maggi Van Dorn take a look inside the corporate culture of the Vatican to examine how things have been changing for women—and why it’s difficult to have conversations about women’s empowerment there.” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

VATICAN

Vatican-backed sex abuse research institute expands mandate
“The Catholic Church’s foremost research institute studying sexual abuse of minors is expanding its mandate to also include the sexual and spiritual abuse of adults(link is external), evidence of the Vatican’s increasing awareness that children aren’t the only victims of clergy who abuse their power and authority. The Rev. Hans Zollner, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers on abuse, said the institute’s broader scope reflects lessons from the #MeToo movement, the pope’s own recognition that nuns and seminarians can be abused by their superiors, and evidence that systemic and structural problems in the church have allowed abuse to fester.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Religion News Service

Europe court rejects case seeking to blame Vatican for abuse
“A European court agreed Tuesday (Oct. 12) that the Vatican couldn’t be sued in a local court for sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests, affirming that it enjoys sovereign immunity and that the misconduct of priests and their superiors can’t be attributed to the Holy See(link is external). The European Court of Human Rights dismissed a case brought by two dozen people who said they were victims of abusive priests in Belgium. The 24 had argued the Holy See was liable because of the ‘structurally deficient’ way the Catholic hierarchy had handled cases of priests who raped and molested children, covering up the crimes rather than reporting them.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Vatican Issues Acquittals in Sexual Abuse Case Involving Former Altar Boys
“A Vatican court on Wednesday (Oct. 6) acquitted a priest on sexual abuse charges(link is external) dating to when he and his accuser were teenage altar boys at a seminary within the Vatican walls. A second priest, the rector of the seminary at the time, was cleared of charges that he covered up the alleged abuses. Prosecutors claimed that the abuse began when the priest, the Rev. Gabriele Martinelli, now 29, and his accuser, who was identified only by his initials, L.G., were young teenagers, less than a year apart, living at a seminary and that it continued for five years. Father Martinelli was not a priest at the time, but he was ordained years later.” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

CHURCH REFORM

The quiet revolution of German Catholics
“Marcus Wolf is the pastor St. Gangolf Parish in the small, northern Bavarian city of Bamberg. The priest takes out the parish registry and turns to the section marked ‘Kirchenaustritt,’ a procedure to have one’s name struck from the baptismal rolls. It indicates that 32 parishioners left the Church in 2019. And it shows that 21 others have already done so this year. ‘I myself thought of leaving the Church(link is external),’ Wolf says, nonchalantly. ‘But I stayed. Partly to look after my parishioners.’” By Youna Rivallain, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

First Australian Catholic Church plenary council opens
“The first Australian Catholic Church Plenary Council since 1937 opened on Sunday (Oct. 3), with COVID-19 restrictions forcing the original Adelaide meeting – delayed by 12 months – largely online. The national meeting, involving 278 members across the country – including bishops, members of religious congregations and laypeople – is discussing a range of issues, including matters relating to the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse, euthanasia laws and women’s roles within the church.” By Peta McCartney, Sight Magazine

‘Change is difficult’: Cincinnati Archdiocese launches shakeup that reaches almost every parish
“The Archdiocese of Cincinnati on Friday launched one of the most ambitious reorganizations in its 200-year history, potentially changing when and where almost a half-million Catholics attend Mass, school and other activities connected to their faith(link is external). Known as Beacons of Light, the restructuring process will combine the archdiocese’s 208 parishes into 60 ‘families of parishes,’ which will begin sharing priests and resources as early as next year.” By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

VOICES

The hard truth of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is demoralizing. But we must confront it
“When Pope Francis met with the Archbishop of Paris and other French bishops at the end of September, he observed on the matter of the then-forthcoming report on sex abuse in the church of France: ‘Look the truth in the face.’ It is not only the hierarchy that is now doing so, but all of France, Catholic and otherwise(link is external). Indeed, the world has taken shocked notice. The Sauvé Report, an investigation commissioned by the French bishops in 2018 in the wake of a series of clerical sex abuse scandals, was issued on Oct. 5. The tremors of disbelief, outrage and horror continue to reverberate.” By Michael W. Higgins, The Globe and Mail

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

How does NC’s lookback window for child sex abuse compare to measures in other states?
“In 2019, North Carolina legislators unanimously passed the SAFE Child Act. The law included provisions intended to prevent child sexual abuse and to increase consequences for perpetrators and the institutions that shield them when children are harmed(link is external). One element of the legislation was a ‘lookback window,’ a two-year period where time-related restrictions on civil lawsuits brought by child sex abuse survivors would be lifted.” By Carli Brosseau, The News & Observer

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

CALIFORNIA

Diocese reveals more accusations of sexual abuse by former Northstate Catholic priests
“The Sacramento Diocese has revealed new allegations of sexual abuse by priests(link is external). The list includes six new allegations against five former priests, some of whom were assigned to churches in the Northstate in the past. These latest claims name five priests who had been previously accused of sexual misconduct against minors. Since the diocese revealed a list of accused priests in 2019, new victims have come forward alleging six additional instances of abuse involving five former priests.” By Kelli Saam, KRCR-TV7 News

COLORADO

Former Aspen priest accused of sexual abuse; archdiocese, local police open investigation
“Parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church were notified Saturday (Sept. 25) that a former priest has been accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) between 2004 and 2008, according to the Archdiocese of Denver. Rev. Michael O’Brien — who left St. Mary in mid-2011 — was immediately placed on administrative leave from his duties as pastor in the eastern Colorado towns of Julesburg and Crook, according to a letter to St. Mary’s parishioners dated Saturday, and an archdiocese spokesman said Wednesday (Sept. 29).” By Jason Auslander, The Aspen Times

INDIANA

Former Columbia City pastor charged
“A criminal investigation into charges of sexual misconduct with a minor by Father David Huneck(link is external), pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Columbia City, has resulted in the following charges being filed by the Whitley County Prosecuting Attorney Friday, Oct. 8 … Father Huneck, a priest of the diocese for three years, resigned from his position at the parish and from his role as co-chaplain of Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne after the allegation of misconduct received Sept. 19.” By Todays Catholic, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

KANSAS

Catholic Clergy Task Force continues investigation into Topeka priest child sexual abuse allegations
“A task force created in 2019 to fight reports of alleged abuse in the Kansas Catholic Clergy is continuing the investigation into a Topeka priest for allegations of the sexual abuse of a child(link is external). The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says its Catholic Clergy Task Force is currently investigating the allegations against the Topeka priest. Father John Pilcher, of Topeka’s Mater Dei Parish, has been accused of sexual abuse against a minor. The KBI said it formed the task force in 2019 after Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked it to investigate reports of abuse in the Kansas Catholic Clergy.” By Sarah Motter, WIBW-TV13 News

KENTUCKY

Louisville priest convicted of child abuse released from prison
“A Louisville priest convicted of abusing children(link is external) has been released from prison. Father Joseph Hemmerle was sentenced to nine years in prison for sexual abuse that happened in the 1970s. The Louisville priest was denied parole several times but Friday (Oct. 1), became eligible to be released into mandatory re-entry supervision. He will be monitored by a parole officer but he isn’t required to register as a sex offender. Hemmerle remains a priest.” By WDRB.com

LOUISIANA

Victim of alleged sexual abuse by a priest speaks out
“Three Acadiana men are speaking publicly for the first time about being repeatedly sexually abused, allegedly, by a local priest(link is external) when they were only 10 and 11 years old. And now in their 50’s, the men are coming forward with the allegations, hoping to find closure through a new law that went into effect earlier this summer, allowing adults who were victims as minors up to three years to file suit against accused offenders.” By Darla Montgomery, KLFY-TV10 News

NEW JERSEY

Camden diocese plan would offer $26 million for clergy sex abuse survivors
“The Diocese of Camden wants a federal bankruptcy judge to approve a plan that offers at least $26 million to about 300 victims of alleged clergy sex abuse(link is external). But attorneys for sex-abuse survivors say they’ll fight the proposal, arguing the diocese and a committee representing sex-abuse claimants remain far apart on financial and other issues.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

TENNESSEE

Lawsuit Alleges Catholic Diocese Of Nashville Missed Signs Of Sexual Abuse At Murfreesboro Church
“A lawsuit filed this week alleges the Catholic Diocese of Nashville and St. Rose of Lima Church failed to protect a child from a staff member’s sexual abuse(link is external). The suit claims that concerns about sexual misconduct were raised to the bishop of the diocese, the pastor of St. Rose and other officials for years, but no meaningful action was taken. The alleged perpetrator, Michael D. Lewis, was indicted in June 2020 on felony sex crime charges. He will be facing trial for those charges in February. Lewis had been the church’s director of religions education.” By Juliana Kim, WPLN-FM Nashville National Public Radio News

CANADA

Sask. court file reveals new details of Catholic Church compensation for residential school survivors
“A Saskatchewan judge has released files detailing the Roman Catholic Church’s controversial $79-million compensation deal for residential school survivors following a successful court application by CBC News and the Globe and Mail. This cache of documents, along with other internal papers obtained by CBC News in recent weeks, illustrates how Catholic officials, aided by a team of veteran lawyers, successfully fought years of federal government efforts to make them pay(link is external) the full amounts promised in the landmark 2005 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

FRANCE

An inquiry exposed sexual abuse within French Catholic Church — now what?
“‘The father took me to his tent and closed it,’ said the victim. ‘He kissed me on the lips, with his tongue. It was disgusting. He caressed me. I was petrified,’ the victim continued. ‘He taught me words I didn’t know — like masturbation and fellatio. I thought I need to respect him, he’s a priest. Plus, my parents really appreciate him.’ This was just one experience of many shared in a recent report that revealed the scale of abuse within the French Catholic Church(link is external). At least 216,000 children were abused by Catholic clerics in France since the 1950s, according to the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (CIASE).” By Deutsche Welle

GERMANY

German Catholic Bishop Suggests ‘Synodal Way’ is Using Abuse Crisis to Reshape Church
“A German Catholic bishop suggested this week that the country’s ‘Synodal Way’ is using the abuse crisis to reshape the Church on Protestant lines(link is external). Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg questioned why the German Catholic Church’s progress in tackling abuse was seldom acknowledged, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. He said: ‘The fact that interested parties now continue to pretend that nothing has actually happened so far … the peculiarities of the Catholic Church are systemically blamed for it, feeds my suspicion that the sexual abuse is being instrumentalized here in an attempt to reshape the Catholic Church along the lines of Protestant church orders, where ‘synod’ means something different than in the Catholic Church, namely a kind of church parliament.’” By Catholic News Agency Staff

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Sheffield bishop Ralph Heskett ‘failed to report priest who sexually abused altar boys’
“Bishop of Hallam Ralph Heskett is claimed to have known about a priest who preyed on altar boys in Liverpool but failed to report him to the police(link is external), with the culprit instead sent away to Scotland. It is alleged that Bishop Heskett, formerly parish priest at Bishop Eton in Childwall, Liverpool, was told about sex abuse by a priest at a Liverpool monastery but did not report him to the police.” By Neil Docking, The Star

Catholic Church in Scotland sets up abuse watchdog
“The Catholic Church in Scotland is setting up an independent watchdog to deal with abuse complaints against members of the clergy(link is external). The move follows a number of sex scandals where the church was accused of failing to respond to concerns. The church said the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (SCSSA) would produce ‘consistency, transparency and accountability.’ It will operate as an independent private company.” By BBC News

Scots priest abused boys in Liverpool but was sent home after parent spoke out
“A Scots priest abused young altar boys in Liverpool – but was simply sent back home to Scotland after a parent made a complaint about him(link is external). Father Thomas MacCarte allowed the boys to smoke cannabis and drink alcohol so he could sexually abuse them. One of MaCarte’s victims thought the priest was ‘cool’ for letting them hang out in his room, reports Liverpool Echo. However, there was ‘another side’ to MacCarte, from Glasgow, who preyed on children at Bishop Eton Monastery in Woolton Road, Liverpool. Liverpool Crown Court heard how the pervert made one teenage boy watch gay porn, before performing a sex act on him twice.” By Neil Docking and Chloe Burrell, Daily Record

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Irish diocese’s plan to redress abuse criticized for payment caps
“Clerical abuse survivors and their advocates are criticizing a new redress scheme in a Northern Irish diocese that has placed a cap on payments for victims(link is external). They say that while the scheme offers to pay about $106,000 to individual survivors, from a total purse of some $3.4 million, limiting the compensation was insensitive and unjust. Some suggest the scheme from the Dromore Diocese would likely suit victims of potential grooming, but are advising other survivors to avoid using it.” By Sahm Venter, National Catholic Reporter

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church knew of previous complaint against teen-grooming priest
“A priest convicted of grooming a teenage girl to send him nude photos(link is external) was the subject of a previous complaint that was covered up by the Tongan Catholic Church. The victim’s aunt and an abuse survivors’ group said it showed the church should have prevented Sosefo Sateki Raass’ offending. The Tongan church gave Raass a good character reference before he moved to Auckland, where he was convicted in 2019 of indecent communication with a person under 16 and subsequently quit the priesthood.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff.co.nz

PHILIPPINES

No more impunity for child rapists in the Philippines
“The historic bill providing for a life sentence for a convicted child abuser will serve as a powerful deterrent(link is external). The Philippine Senate has finally approved the final draft of a law that is vital to the protection of children and the prosecution of child rapists who were committing the crime with impunity.” By UCANews.com

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French report: 330,000 children victims of church sex abuse / Associated Press

“Victims of abuse within France’s Catholic Church welcomed a historic turning point Tuesday (Oct. 5) after a new report estimated that 330,000 children in France were sexually abused over the past 70 years, providing the country’s first accounting of the worldwide phenomenon.

“The figure includes abuses committed by some 3,000 priests and an unknown number of other people involved in the church — wrongdoing that Catholic authorities covered up over decades in a ‘systemic manner,’ according to the president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé.

“The 2,500-page document was issued as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up. Victims welcomed the report as long overdue and the head of the French bishops’ conference asked for forgiveness from them.”

By Sylvie Corbet, Associated Press — Read more …

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‘They knew and they let it happen’: Uncovering child abuse in the Catholic Church / The Boston Globe

The Spotlight Team revealed the church’s secret protection of pedophile priests in a series with global repercussions.

The Boston Globe

“On his first day on the job in July 2001, Globe editor Martin Baron stopped by the desk of Eileen McNamara, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. A week earlier, McNamara had published a column about the Boston Archdiocese’s silence on three priests accused of sexually abusing children. One line, in particular, had irked Baron. McNamara had wondered whether an accused priest’s superiors had known about his crimes. Court documents were sealed. ‘The public,’ she concluded, ‘has no way of knowing.’

“McNamara recalls Baron standing over her desk: ‘Why don’t we find out,’ he said.

“Spotlight’s investigation of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church did not begin with a tip or newly obtained document, as so many investigations do. Instead, it started when a new Globe editor spurred his newsroom to action. After telling the Globe’s senior leaders he intended to pursue the story, Baron asked Spotlight editor Walter V. Robinson to make sexual abuse by priests his team’s next project.

“Robinson, a three-decade newsroom veteran, was taken aback. ‘Editors never told the Spotlight Team what to do,’ Robinson says. ‘The Spotlight Team told the editor what it was going to do.’ But it was clear that this wasn’t a debate. Robinson returned to Spotlight’s office and instructed his team — Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Matthew Carroll — to get to work.

“The story wasn’t new to them. The Globe had been covering the abuse cases for a decade, and other outlets had been on the story for even longer. ‘I always remind people we didn’t reveal the existence of priest sex abuse,’ Rezendes says. Rather, Spotlight set out to do what it does best: reveal the systemic problem behind the individual stories. ‘What we did that was new,’ Rezendes continues, ‘was show the scale of the issue and the coverup.'”

By Joseph P. Kahn and Mike Damiano, The Boston Globe — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful “Voice Matters”

Read the Fall 2021 “Voice Matters” newsletter from Voice of the Faithful by clicking here.

http://www.votf.org/VoiceMattersNewsletter/VoiceMattersNewsletterFall2021.pdf

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 6, 2021

TOP STORIES

Women deacons’ commission to hold first meeting
“Almost two years since Pope Francis announced he would be re-forming a commission on the female diaconate, The Tablet can report it is due to hold its first meeting in Rome in the middle of next month(link is external). The gathering of the commission comes just ahead of the launch of a global synod process which will bring lay people, priests and bishops in local churches together to discern new pastoral priorities. Women deacons are sure to be on the agenda … Pandemic permitting, members are expected in Rome for a week of discussions beginning on 13 September.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

He blew the whistle on the Catholic Church in 1985. Why didn’t we listen?
“In May 1985, Jason Berry, a Catholic journalist in Louisiana, wrote his first piece on child sexual abuse in the church, for the National Catholic Reporter and the Times of Acadiana. Mr. Berry called himself a ‘reluctant muckraker,’ but his exposé on the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe would prove to be only the first in a series of exhaustive investigations over the years, including his 1992 book, ‘Lead Us Not Into Temptation.’ Mr. Berry appeared on national television programs … so why did it take another decade or more for this scandal to truly break?(link is external)” By Ben Proudfoot, The New York Times

A paradigm-shifting lectionary for the whole church
“Reviewing the Rev. Wil Gafney’s new A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church (Church Publishing) has filled me with gratitude and delight. This long-awaited resource is a rare combination of impeccable scholarship and pastoral usability. A Hebrew and rabbinic scholar and professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School, Gafney also happens to be an Episcopal priest who preaches regularly. In the introduction to the new Lectionary she asks: What does it look like to tell the Good News through the stories of women(link is external) who are often on the margins of scripture and often set up to represent bad news? How would a lectionary centering women’s stories, chosen with womanist and feminist commitments in mind, frame the presentation of the scriptures for proclamation and teaching?” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

Catholics aren’t disappointed—they’re exasperated
“My ministry focuses on speaking and writing about race and sexuality. Lately, in discussions after online lectures or webinars, I hear the following questions and comments with increasing frequency: “How can I remain a member of the church?”(link is external) “I don’t know how long I can stay.” “Why should I stay in the church?” “My kids/friends/relatives have left, and I don’t know what to tell them.” “Why would a gay or lesbian person stay Catholic?” “If the church doesn’t value or care about Black Catholics, why stay?” By Father Bryan Massingale, U.S. Catholic

Vatican exonerates Brooklyn Bishop accused of sexual abuse
“The Vatican has concluded that allegations of sexual abuse dating back a half century against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn do ‘not have the semblance of truth(link is external),’ but an attorney for the accusers said they will continue to pursue their civil cases. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said Wednesday that the Vatican has closed its investigation into allegations made separately by two men, who accused the Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of abusing them a half century ago when he was a priest in New Jersey.” By Bobby Caina Calvan, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Expert says Poland experiencing a sea change on clerical abuse
“In the past year, 10 bishops in Poland have been removed from their positions and sanctioned by the Vatican(link is external), with the papal representative in the country openly acknowledging the reason – in most cases, cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. This quick succession of sanctions comes after decades of denying any wrongdoing on the part of Polish priests and religious regarding clerical sexual abuse, and it reflects a change in mentality among at least some within the bishops’ conference, who requested the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to organize a conference for Church leadership in Central and Eastern Europe in Warsaw.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Pope replaces Australian bishop in alleged misconduct probe
“Pope Francis on Saturday (Aug. 29) replaced an Australian bishop who stepped down amid a Vatican investigation into what Australian media have described as allegations of sexual misconduct(link is external). The Vatican said Francis accepted Bishop Christopher Alan Saunders’ resignation as head of the Broome diocese in Western Australia state. Francis appointed another prelate, Bishop Michael Henry Morrissey of the Geraldton diocese, to temporarily administer the sprawling Catholic diocese in Broome.” By Associated Press

Vatican punishes Polish archbishop for sex abuse negligence
“Catholic Church authorities in Poland say the Vatican is punishing a retired Polish archbishop for his alleged negligent response to cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergymen under his authority(link is external). The Archdiocese of Wroclaw said the Vatican had reviewed reports of alleged negligence by the diocese former head, the retired archbishop Marian Golebiewski. The probe covered the years from 1996 to 2004, when Golebiewski was head of the Koszalin diocese, and 2004 to 2013, when he led the Wroclaw archdiocese. As a result, the Vatican has banned Golebiewski, 83, from appearing at any public religious or lay ceremonies and has ordered him to donate from his own pocket to a foundation preventing sexual abuse and supporting its victims. He is also to pray and repent.” By Associated Press

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

A radical shift away from a church with inflexible laws
“With the culmination of the Root and Branch Inclusive Synod in Bristol less than a month away, Sept. 5-12, there are early indications that the so-called ‘Bristol Text’ will be both deeply reflective and challenging to the current bishops’ position. The text will include brief, accessible statements on liturgical ministry, diversity, moral theology, and authority, backed by papers giving it historical and theological depth. Four international teams of distinguished theologians, jurists and thinkers, both lay and religious, have been meeting to consider the results of the synod’s year-long ‘journey of discernment(link is external).’” By Jon Rosebank, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

If US church is to become synodal, we have a lot of work to do
“On Monday (Aug. 23), NCR published an interview with theologian Rafael Luciani, conducted by his Boston College colleague Hosffman Ospino. The two discussed synodality, which has emerged as one of the most important reform efforts that Pope Francis is trying to bring to the universal church. Luciani, who is a theological adviser to the Synod of Bishops, did a fine job explaining what synodality is and why we should all be excited about it. Now for the bad news. There is very nearly nothing about the Catholic Church in the United States that prepares us to engage synodality with the kind of fulsome embrace it requires(link is external). We — the bishops, the clergy, religious, theologians and the lay faithful — all have a lot of work to do.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CLAR assembly was expression of synodality for thousands of religious from the Americas
“The virtual assembly for the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious was a three-day study in what it means for a modern religious life to be intercongregational, intercultural and itinerant(link is external). It was also a demonstration of those three values in real time. If done in person, the triennial gathering would have included dozens of religious leaders from each country’s religious conference traveling to a Central or South American city to meet in person and share side conversations and laughs between presentations, with a late-night cultural celebration as the weekend’s intermission.” By Soli Salgado, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

A closer look at synodality and its promise for a more inclusive church
“My colleague Rafael Luciani is one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of synodality, the experience of ‘walking together’ rooted in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council(link is external) that Pope Francis has called on the Catholic Church to embrace. Luciani, a native of Venezuela, serves as a theological expert for the regional Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and the Confederation of Latin American Religious (CLAR). He is also one of three Latin American theologians invited as expert advisers for the theological commission of the secretariat for the next Synod of Bishops.” By Hosffman Ospino, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope addresses Vatican reforms aimed at curbing corruption, abuse
“While financial reforms in the Vatican are progressing steadily, cases involving corruption and malfeasance in the Eternal City are ‘a disease that we relapse into,’ Pope Francis said. In a wide-ranging interview broadcast Sept. 1 by COPE, the Spanish radio station owned by the Spanish bishops’ conference, Pope Francis said changes made in the Vatican’s financial laws have allowed prosecutors to ‘become more independent’ in their investigations(link is external). ‘Let’s hope that these steps we are taking … will help to make these events happen less and less,’ he said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis is tearing the Catholic Church apart
“In the summer of 2001, I drove up to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to find what we called ‘the traditional Latin Mass,’ the form of Roman Catholic worship that stretched back centuries and was last authorized in 1962(link is external), before the Second Vatican Council changed everything. Back then, conservative Catholics called people who sought it out ‘schismatics’ and ‘Rad Trads.’ The Mass-goers there weren’t exactly a community; we were a clandestine network of romantics, haters of Pope John Paul II, people who had been jilted by the mainstream church and — I believe — some saints.” By Michael Brendan Dougherty, Pittsburgh Gazette

BISHOPS

Church investigation into Libasci allegations underway
“The Boston archbishop has launched a church investigation into allegations that New Hampshire Bishop Peter Libasci groped an altar boy(link is external) decades ago, the archdiocese signaled last week. In an email, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston said the matter has been referred to the Washington-based apostolic nuncio, which is the point of contact between American dioceses and the Vatican. The referral follows a 2019 change in church law that governs how claims of abuse against bishops are handled, according to Terrance Dillon, a spokesman for the archdiocese.” By Mark Hayward, New Hampshire Union Leader

Vatican orders retired Polish archbishop to life of prayer, penance
“A retired Polish archbishop has been ordered to lead a life of prayer and penance, which includes a ban on taking part in any public celebrations(link is external) — both secular and religious, according to Vatican News and international media. The sanctions against Archbishop Marian Golebiewski, 83, the retired archbishop of Wroclaw and a former bishop of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, came after a Vatican investigation looked into alleged negligence in handling allegations of abuse against minors by priests under his authority. The official announcement was published on the archdiocese’s website Aug. 21.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Seminarian immersion program yields a harvest of pastoral experience
“When his alarm buzzes at 3 a.m., Daniel Sanchez prepares for a day in the fields alongside migrants who pick cherries and apples in Yakima, Washington, a central valley community known as the nation’s fruit basket. The 25-year-old isn’t one of the thousands of mostly Mexican workers who labor under an unforgiving sun that earlier this summer scorched this region with temperatures rising above 100 degrees. Sanchez is a seminarian in the Yakima Diocese, where all men studying to be priests are not only expected to study theology, philosophy and biblical exegesis, but also spend part of their summer learning from and ministering to migrants(link is external). Sanchez has done work as varied as pruning grape vines, sorting cherries and helping the migrants’ children learn to read English.” By John Gehring, National Catholic Reporter

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

Pope Francis appoints Italian Sister Alessandra Smerilli as interim secretary to the Vatican dicastery for human development
“Pope Francis has made some surprising decisions that could be the prelude to a major shake-up of the Vatican dicastery for integral human development. He has appointed Sister Alessandra Smerilli, 46, an Italian woman religious and economist, as ‘interim secretary’ of this important dicastery, the Vatican announced today (Aug. 26). The appointment makes Sister Smerilli the highest ranking woman in the Roman Curia and the first woman to hold such a senior-level post in the Roman Curia(link is external). The dicastery has been headed by the Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson since Jan. 1, 2016, when it was first established through the merger of four pontifical councils.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Former priest sentenced to 33 months in prison for stealing nearly $250,000 from Northeast Ohio parishes
“A former priest was sentenced Tuesday (Aug. 31) to 33 months in prison for looting nearly $250,000 from the accounts of three Northeast Ohio parishes(link is external), one of which closed soon after his thefts. Andrey Kovalenko, 53, pleaded guilty in May to 10 counts of mail fraud. Federal investigators said he stole from the churches’ accounts from May 2014 through July 2018, and pocketed the money for himself.” By John Caniglia, Cleveland.com

Court orders Catholic cardinal to face trial for land sales
“Catholic officials in Asia and beyond should pay attention to the court case against Cardinal George Alencherry in Kerala, a tiny state in southern India. Early in August, while upholding the verdicts of two lower courts, the Kerala High Court ordered Cardinal Alencherry to face trial for the sale of various holdings of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese(link is external) four years ago.” By Christopher Joseph, Catholic News Service, in The Tablet

Vatican’s former finance guru resigns from post at Swiss bank
“Just weeks after being indicted by the Vatican on charges of abuse of office over a shady London real estate deal(link is external), Swiss lawyer René Brülhart has resigned from his post on the board of a Swiss bank. However, Brülhart has insisted that his decision has nothing to do with the Vatican trial, but was made for other reasons.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

German bishop is skeptical about exempting priests from celibacy
“A German bishop who co-chairs the Synodal Path’s forum on priests said he is ‘skeptical’ about exempting Catholic priests from celibacy(link is external). Bishop Felix Genn of Münster said he accepted that people were deciding not to become priests because they did not feel called to celibacy, adding: ‘Perhaps they will then choose another profession in the church.’” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Breaking the Spell: What the Church’s critics miss
“Earlier this month, the New York Times devoted the entire Letters to the Editor section of its ‘Sunday Review’ to current controversies in the Catholic Church(link is external) (‘Where Does the Catholic Church Go From Here?’). The letters were all written in response to two columns, one by the Times’s conservative Catholic columnist Ross Douthat (‘The Ungovernable Catholic Church’) and the other by Matthew Walther (This is Why America Needs Catholicism’). Walther is the editor of the Lamp, a new Catholic bimonthly journal, and a contributing editor at the American Conservative.” By Paul Baumann, Commonweal

VOICES

Catholics deserve better homilies. Here are my top 5 tips for fellow preachers.
“‘This semester I’m taking a class on preaching. Out of curiosity, what are some of your pet peeves when hearing someone preach?’ (Tweet from Brother Vince Mary, O.F.M.) … The fact is, Catholics have lots of great advice for their priests. Here, with all the humility you might expect of a Jesuit, is my own list of top five suggestions for Catholic preachers today(link is external), as collated from the online responses to Brother Vince Mary’s tweet and my own life.” By Jim McDermott, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

We’ve come a long way
“Just as many Catholic traditionalists were lamenting Rome’s new restrictions on the Tridentine Mass, I came across a prescient cri de Coeur written by a Catholic priest and published anonymously in the pages of the Atlantic back in 1928. To read it is to be reminded that some things never seem to change in the Catholic Church, while other things have changed a great deal, thanks be to God … As bleak as things looked to the good father back in 1928, I find his words now inspiring, precisely because they come from an era that today’s reactionaries yearn to return to,(link is external) blind as they are to the deficiencies of the religious formalism they idolize. This contemporaneous account of that era reminds us just how important the reforms of the past hundred years have been to ordinary Catholics.” By John W. Farrell, Commonweal

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Gwen Moore Announce Legislation to Encourage States to End Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse
“Last week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) announced the No Time Limit for Justice Act, a bill that incentivizes states to eliminate their statute of limitations for criminal prosecution and civil suits involving child sexual abuse(link is external). According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every nine minutes a child is sexually abused in the United States, but only twelve percent of these cases are reported to authorities each year. Studies have shown that the discrepancies in underreporting of minor sexual abuse can be largely attributed to the fact that a majority of child victims do not reveal their abuse until later in life, if at all.” By Sierra Sun Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

The challenge of sexual abuse: What has happened since the February 2019 Summit
“In February 2019, Pope Francis invited the presidents of every episcopal conference to the Vatican for a Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church to address the issue of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. A similar meeting focusing on the region of Central and Eastern Europe will take place in Warsaw from September 19-22(link is external). In this article, Fr Federico Lombardi puts this regional meeting into the context of the Church journey thus far.” By Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican News

‘No recourse’: Abuse survivors have fewer legal options after Child Victims Act expires
“With the deadline to file lawsuits under New York’s Child Victims Act expiring last Saturday (Aug. 14), attorneys representing some of the survivors of sexual abuse say victims now have fewer paths for their stories to be heard in court(link is external). The Child Victims Act temporarily suspended the state’s time limit on civil lawsuits filed for sexual abuse claims when it was signed into law in 2019. Its deadline was extended by a year in August 2020, largely because of the pandemic.” By Fernando Alb, Press-Republican

CALIFORNIA

Other case against priest charged with sex crimes heads to circuit court
“A former priest accused of sexually abusing boys more than 40 years ago waived his right to a preliminary exam in Southfield’s 50th District Court on Thursday (Aug. 26), which sends the case to Oakland County Court for possible trial. Gary Berthiaume, 80, who served at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Parish in Farmington and elsewhere, is charged with two counts of gross indecency between males – committing/procuring(link is external). He also faces charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct that allegedly happened in Farmington. Berthiaume waived his right to a preliminary exam for those charges last month.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press

HAWAII

Audit finds diocese in full compliance with sex abuse Charter
“An audit conducted in July found the Diocese of Honolulu in full compliance with the U.S. bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,’ the set of procedures the bishops established in 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. A letter dated Aug. 11 to Bishop Larry Silva from StoneBridge Business Partners Inc., the independent third-party organization contracted by the U.S. bishops to conduct diocesan audits, stated that ‘the Diocese has been found compliant with all audited Articles within the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ for the audit period of July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2021(link is external).’” By Patrick Downes, Hawaii Catholic Herald

LOUISIANA

Christian Brothers order sued by George Brignac victim; says it could have saved kids from sex abuse
“Though serial child molester and former Catholic deacon George Brignac has been dead for more than a year, the legal fallout from how local church officials handled one of the area’s most notorious clerical predators continued to unfold last week(link is external). A man who alleged he was raped as a boy by Brignac decades ago filed a lawsuit for damages against the Christian Brothers order, arguing that the organization should have stopped Brignac from ever becoming a deacon.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas and David Hammer, NOLA.com

MICHIGAN

Three men face multiple felony charges for child trafficking in Sault Ste. Marie
“Three men face multiple felony charges in Sault Ste. Marie in connection to child trafficking. According to the Chippewa County Sheriff’s department, among the three arrested on Sunday (Aug. 22) during a ‘ghost’ operation was 37-year-old Aaron Nowicki who is a non-practicing catholic priest. Nowicki is from Cheboygan but works in Sault Ste. Marie. According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette, Nowicki resigned and was removed from ministry in 2019 because of allegations of serious, but not criminal, sexual misconduct with a vulnerable adult(link is external).” By Jacqueline Agahigian, WLUC-TV6 News

NEW JERSEY

Camden diocese faces wave of clergy sex-abuse claims
“The Diocese of Camden faces 345 new claims of alleged clergy sex abuse as part of its ongoing bankruptcy case(link is external), according to attorneys involved in the dispute. The claims are currently in the early stage of a mediation process while the two sides also battle in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said lawyers for clergy accusers. ‘An accurate accounting and inventory of all cases will be required before any meaningful settlement discussions can be undertaken,’ said John Baldante, a Haddonfield attorney who filed 70 of the claims.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

NEW MEXICO

Seeking accountability: Las Cruces woman says she was raped by priest as a child
“Rose Wiseman grew up in the Roman Catholic Church. She’d attend Mass at Our Lady of Health Parish on Mesquite Street with her grandmother, and her mother would take her to bingo night there. The church served as the hub of her community. She no longer believes in God, and no longer trusts those in authority. ‘I was forced to keep a secret for a long time,’ she told the Sun-News last week. ‘And I’m just not going to do it anymore(link is external).’” By Damien D. Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News

NEW YORK.

Bishop Salvatore Matano issues a Letter to the Faithful
“My dear brothers and sisters in Christ: On September 12th of this year it will be two years since the Diocese filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in order to address in the best and fairest manner possible the now approximately 475 claims(link is external) (this is the number of claims, not the number of persons accused) brought against the Diocese by the survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy, religious and laity.” By Bishop Salvatore Matano in Diocese of Rochester Catholic Courier

Father Varno withdraws from public ministry
“In light of allegations of sexual abuse that were first reported in a Child Victims Act (CVA) case(link is external), Father John ‘Jack’ Varno, a retired priest in the Diocese of Albany who serves as a sacramental minister in several parishes, has voluntarily withdrawn from public ministry while the case moves forward. The decision is effective immediately. While on leave, Father Varno will not publicly officiate at sacraments, wear clerical garb, or present himself as a priest. Father Varno maintains his innocence but has made the decision for the good of the parishes he serves and the Diocese.” By The Evangelist, the official publication of the Diocese of Albany

Former pastor, assistant pastor of St. Thomas accused of sexual abuse of children
“Rev. James Daley, a longtime pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle parish and who oversaw the renovations of the church that stands in the middle of town, was named in a summons of complaint filed in state Supreme Court in Albany County for alleged sexual abuse(link is external). Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger announced today that he has asked the independent Diocesan Review Board to offer advisement on the following clergy, each of whom has an allegation of child sexual abuse filed against him through the Child Victims Act.” By Michael Hallisey, SpotlightNews.com

Priest accused of sex abuse worked in Coxsackie
“A priest accused of sexual abuse under the Child Victims Act(link is external) formerly was assigned to a Coxsackie church, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany said. The diocese released a statement Aug. 21 announcing that the Rev. Gregory Weider, 84, is on administrative leave following an allegation of sexual abuse. Weider had retired from full-time ministry in 2010 but had been working as Sacramental Minister at Sacred Heart in Margaretville and its mission, St. Anne’s in Andes. Weider had worked at St. Mary’s in Coxsackie from October 1977 to March 1982, the diocese said.” By Sam Raudins, Columbia-Greene Media

Another retired priest on leave; served in Schenectady, Amsterdam
“Retired Roman Catholic priest Father Gregory Weider was temporarily removed from public ministry, effective Aug. 14, by Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, prelate of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, according to a statement issued by the diocese Saturday (Aug. 21). Weider, 84, was put on leave due to the filing of a sexual abuse-related allegation against him under the Child Victims Act(link is external), according to the release. The law included a one-year look-back window that allowed victims from 1970 and prior to sue, and was extended through Aug. 14 of this year due to the pandemic. The clergyman has been serving as a sacramental minister at Sacred Heart in Margaretville and its mission church, St. Anne’s in Andes, both in Delaware County.” By The Daily Gazette Staff Report

Buffalo Catholic Diocese substantiates abuse allegations against 7 priests, 1 unsubstantiated
“A Buffalo Catholic priest has been assigned to ‘permanent administrative leave’ and is restricted from practicing priestly duties after the diocese’s Independent Review Board ‘substantiated’ an allegation of abuse(link is external). Fr. Donald J. Lutz was ordained in 1970 and has served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Buffalo and St. Leo the Great in Amherst, according to Horowitz Law, which is representing sexual abuse victims. ‘Reverend Lutz will also be subject to the monitoring program recently implemented by Bishop Fisher for clergy with substantiated abuse claims,’ according to the diocese.” By Marian Hetherly, WBFO-FM 88.7 National Public Radio

OHIO

Northeast Ohio man says Catholic diocese apathetic to his sexual abuse claims
“To a 13-year-old Catholic boy, it was a high honor. Especially for the wide-eyed boy named Jim Shackleton. Standing at the St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Parish altar alongside the priest, Jim finally felt special — chest out, chin up, and dressed in his black robe and white smock … ‘He would always have me go downstairs to the bottom part of the church and that’s where the sexual acts would happen(link is external),’ he said. ‘That’s how Father Rupp was able to get his hands on me…because I was working as an altar boy.’” By Phil Trexler and Rachel Polansky, WKYC-TV3 News

Father Drew case returns to court Monday
“The case of a Cincinnati-area priest accused of raping a 10-year-old altar boy(link is external) three decades ago returns court Monday (Aug. 23). This is expected to be the final hearing before Father Geoff Drew’s trial starts Oct. 25. Drew, 59, has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape. He remains at the Hamilton County jail in lieu of $5 million bond and faces life in prison if convicted.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX-TV19 News

RHODE ISLAND

Sex abuse case against Portsmouth Abbey, former teacher can move forward, judge rules
“A judge ruled a lawsuit levied by a 24-year-old New Mexico woman against Portsmouth Abbey School and a former teacher there may continue(link is external), despite a motion by the defendants last week to have the case dismissed. The woman, identified in the lawsuit as ‘Jane Doe,’ was a 15-year-old student at the Abbey in 2012 when Michael Bowen Smith, a humanities instructor then in his 40s, began a sexual relationship with her, according to the complaint. She said the school was negligent in failing to protect her ‘from the known or suspected abuse by Bowen Smith.” By Laura Damon and Sean Flynn, The Newport Daily News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Report recommends actions for Gonzaga to move past Catholic Church sexual abuse crisis
“Formalizing protocol to ensure sexually abusive Jesuits are prohibited from missioning at Gonzaga University(link is external) is one of around two dozen formal actions a commission has recommended for the university to move past the Catholic Church’s abuse crisis. The recommendations, outlined in a report released Wednesday, were made to Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh, who formed the 12-member commission in April 2019 as the university faced criticism for allowing sexually abusive priests to live on campus.” By Greg Mason, The Spokesman-Review

AUSTRALIA

Survivors abused by ‘sadistic’ priest win compensation battle, but money ‘won’t change’ impact
“Two men who were abused by a pedophile priest in regional Victoria(link is external) in the 1960s have reached landmark settlement agreements with the Catholic Church. The two abuse survivors were abused by Father Bryan Coffey between 1965 and 1968 while he served as assistant priest in Port Fairy, in south-west Victoria. The ABC understands the settlements are the first to be made in relation to Coffey, but about a dozen other victims have begun legal proceedings to seek compensation for his actions.” By Matt Neal, ABC South West Vic

Book affirms ‘every child needs a fair go’
“A new book designed to teach children about protective behaviours(link is external) will be launched at Perth Archdiocese’s annual safeguarding breakfast next month. Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB will launch I am God’s Marvellous Creation, written for children aged 3 to 8 at the September 9 breakfast, which will coincide with National Child Protection Week, September 1-7. Andrea Musulin Perth Archdiocese’s safeguarding program director and author of the book, said this year’s Child Protection Week theme, ‘Every child in every community needs a fair go,’ was relevant ‘because not all children are receiving equal care and this is making child protection and the mission of safeguarding even more relevant in 2021.’ By CathNews.com

CANADA

Saskatchewan priest committed to stand trial on sex charges
“A Saskatchewan Catholic priest charged with sexual offences against a minor(link is external) was committed to stand trial after a preliminary hearing in Humboldt last week. The Crown and defence consented to Father Anthony Tei Atter’s committal after the complainant testified on Aug. 9, defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle confirmed. Testimony heard during preliminary hearings is banned from publication to preserve an accused’s right to a fair trial. A trial date will eventually be set in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench.” By Bre McAdam, Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Former Prince George Catholic high school student alleges sexual abuse by teacher in ’90s
“A former student at O’Grady Catholic High School in Prince George has filed a civil suit alleging sexual abuse(link is external) in the early 1990s by a teacher who was a Christian brother. The student, now in his mid-40s and a medical technologist in Victoria, is named only as John Doe in the suit filed Aug. 16 in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George. The student’s alleged abuser is named in the court filing but Postmedia News is choosing not to publish his name as there has been no response in court to the allegations.” By Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun

EAST TIMOR

Ex-Priest Who Operated East Timor Children’s Shelter Indicted for Sexual Abuse of Minors
“A former Catholic priest was indicted this week by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., for the alleged sexual abuse of children at a ‘shelter home’ he founded abroad(link is external). Richard Daschbach, 84, was on Thursday (Aug. 26) charged with seven counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor. Daschbach, a U.S. citizen, was originally from Pennsylvania but has resided in what is now known as Timor-Leste for more than 50 years. He founded the Topu Honis shelter in 1992. Since 2018, at least 15 of his alleged victims have accused him of sexually abusing them while they were children residing at the shelter.” By Aila Slisco, Newsweek

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Tested in the fire – the whistleblower in the case of disgraced Cardinal O’Brien tells his story
“‘My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal.’ The quotation from Ecclesiasticus, which was read out at my ordination, has followed me my entire life. Its shadowy presence never leaves me. It never will. I know that now. And I do. I do aspire to serve the Lord. I might not be very good at it at times – but if ‘serving the Lord’ means living an authentic life and doing my very best then, Yes. That is what I try to do(link is external).” By Brian Devlin, The Tablet

INDIA

Indian priest charged with rape, murder of nine-year-old girl
“A priest and three other men have been charged with the gang rape and murder of a low-caste nine-year-old girl(link is external), Indian police said, in a case that sparked days of protests in New Delhi. The girl was allegedly assaulted by the priest, 53, and three workers on August 1 after she had gone to a crematorium to fetch water. The four men, who have been in custody since they were detained in early August, face the death penalty.” By Agence France Press

Police chargesheet priest over minor’s molestation
“In a major development to the molestation of a minor allegedly by a priest in East Garo Hills last month(link is external), the district police has now filed a charge sheet against the accused following the completion of the investigation. The priest, Fr. James Parathanathu, had allegedly molested a 14-year-old girl at the latter’s residence while her parents had gone to work in their paddy fields. The parents of the girl had then they filed a police complaint after they came to know about the incident.” By The Shillong Times

ITALY

Priest in Perugia arrested on charges of child porn, prostitution
“A Sicilian priest who has been serving in the Archdiocese of Perugia for nearly 10 years has been arrested on charges of child pornography and child prostitution(link is external) after allegedly paying for explicit images of minors sent via online chats. A native of Caltavuturo, near Palermo, Father Vincenzo Esposito, 63, has overseen a parish in the San Feliciano neighborhood of Magione, in the regional province of Perugia, since his appointment there in 2013.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

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Ex-Cardinal McCarrick, 91, due in court in sex assault case / AP on Cruxnow.com

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the once-powerful prelate who was expelled from the priesthood for sexual abuse, is due in court Friday to face accusations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception in Massachusetts nearly 50 years ago.

McCarrick, 91, is scheduled to be arraigned and is expected to enter a plea in suburban Boston’s Dedham District Court more than a month after he was charged. McCarrick is the only U.S. Catholic cardinal, current or former, ever to be criminally charged with child sex crimes.

McCarrick’s attorney, Barry Coburn, said after the charges were filed in July that they “look forward to addressing the case in the courtroom.”

McCarrick, who now lives in Dittmer, Missouri, faces three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, according to court documents. He can still face charges because he wasn’t a Massachusetts resident and had left the state, stopping the clock on the statute of limitations.

By Associate Press on Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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The challenge of sexual abuse: What has happened since the February 2019 Summit / Vatican News

In February 2019, Pope Francis invited the presidents of every episcopal conference to the Vatican for a Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church to address the issue of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. A similar meeting focusing on the region of Central and Eastern Europe will take place in Warsaw from September 19-22. In this article, Fr Federico Lombardi puts this regional meeting into the context of the Church journey thus far —

“The Church must confront the challenges present in today’s world, the most fundamental being the faith and the proclamation of the God of Jesus Christ, with all the grandiose cultural and anthropological transformations present. There are also specific challenges, however, that profoundly influence the life of the Church and its evangelizing mission. One of the most critical challenges that has emerged in the last few decades, is that of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. This has undermined the Church’s credibility and, therefore, its authority and its capacity of proclaiming the Gospel credibly. It has cast the shadow of inconsistency and insincerity over the Church as an institution, and on the entire community of the Church as a whole. This is indeed extremely serious.

“Over time and with experience, beginning with the sexual abuse of minors – which is the most serious – we have learned to broaden the perspective to include various aspects. Thus, today, we often speak of abuse suffered by ‘vulnerable’ persons. And we know the abuses sustained are not only sexual, but also abuse of power and conscience, as Pope Francis has often stated.”

By Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., Vatican News — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

August 23, 2021

TOP STORIES

Overdue Justice for Sexual Abuse Survivors: States Repeal Statutes of Limitations Throughout the Country
“For the first time in history, one in five victims of child sexual abuse victims in the U.S. have a chance to file civil lawsuits to seek justice and publicly expose those who committed or concealed the crimes against them(link is external). ‘Never before have so many suffering survivors had an opportunity to protect others by naming child molesters and uncovering cover ups of these horrors in court,’ said survivor and advocate Joelle Casteix of Orange County, Calif. For decades, what advocates call ‘archaic, arbitrary and predator-friendly’ statutes of limitations have prevented such litigation, because victims have been required to step forward usually in their 20s—far sooner than most are capable of, according to most research.” By David Clohessy, MsMagazine.com

More Clergy Abuse Is Finally Being Prosecuted, No Thanks To The Church, A Lawyer Says
“At the height of his career, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was one of the most influential leaders of the Catholic Church in the U.S., heading the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. Last week, he became the first U.S. Cardinal to be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, making the 91-year-old the highest-ranking Catholic Church official in the country to face criminal charges for clergy sexual abuse … Mitchell Garabedian spoke to All Things Considered’s Mary Louise Kelly about whether he’s seen progress in the way the U.S. justice system has prosecuted these cases, if there’s difficulty in building a defense against allegations that may be decades old and if the Church itself has begun to take meaningful action to end systemic abuse(link is external).” By Mary Louise Kelly, National Public Radio

Report shows that Catholic Church Spent Millions Meant For Residential School Survivors
“The Roman Catholic Church has spent millions of dollars intended to compensate residential school survivors on lawyers(link is external), administration and private fundraising, according to documents obtained by CBC News. The other churches involved in the landmark 2005 residential schools compensation agreement — Anglican, United and Presbyterian — paid the full amount of compensation owed without any issues.” By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News

NY let childhood sex abuse victims sue; 9,000 went to court
“For two years, New York temporarily set aside its usual time limit on civil lawsuits in order to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue churches, hospitals, schools, camps, scout groups and other institutions and people they hold responsible for enabling pedophiles or turning a blind eye to wrongdoing. That window closes Saturday (Aug. 14), after more than 9,000 lawsuits were filed, a deluge whose impact may be felt for many years(link is external). Four of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy partly as a result of litigation unleashed by the state’s Child Victims Act. Thousands of new allegations against priests, teachers, scout leaders and other authorities have intensified the already harsh light on institutions entrusted with caring for children.” By Michael Hill, Religion News Service

Church Meets World from America: The Jesuit Review
This is where the Catholic Church meets the most interesting and consequential issues of our time. Each episode explores a different topic through immersive stories told by America’s editors. “Church Meets World” is the best of our award-winning magazine content reimagined in podcast form. It’s not only what you read in our pages but how you hear it. Presented by Maggi Van Dorn and Sebastian Gomes. In this episode: What Catholics still don’t understand about the clergy sexual abuse crisis(link is external).

  • Deliver Us(link is external) – The ‘Deliver Us’ podcast asks: Will the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis ever end? By America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Brazilian bishop resigns after inappropriate video goes viral
“Bishop Tomé Ferreira da Silva of São José do Rio Preto resigned after a video of him exposing himself on an internet call went viral on social media Aug. 13. The resignation was accepted by Pope Francis and the Brazilian bishops’ conference Aug. 18. Archbishop Moacir Silva of Ribeirão Preto was appointed apostolic administrator of the diocese. A local paper, Diário da Região, reported that the bishop confirmed that he was the one who appears on the video but declined to comment on the case.” By Lise Alves, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania still looking for justice 3 years after report
“Saturday (Aug. 140 marks the third anniversary of a landmark grand jury report that found Catholic church leaders in Pennsylvania covered up rampant sexual abuse involving hundreds of priests and at least 1,000 victims. Thirteen states and Washington D.C. have since made it easier for victims to file civil suits. But in Pennsylvania, many are still waiting for their day in court(link is external) … In a statement to CBS News, Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said the state’s constitution differs from others, and that legal experts suggest a statutory window there may be unconstitutional.” By Nikki Battiste, CBS News

Detention in church houses proposed for abuser priests
Voluntary lifelong detention in church-run houses could be the best way of dealing with priest abusers(link is external), according to Fr Hans Zollner SJ, president of the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) at the Gregorian University. It was all-important to control and guide sex abusers and “to define exactly what they may and may not do, whom they may and may not meet and how they use the internet”, Zollner explained in an interview with ORF religion, the religious affairs program of the Austrian state broadcasting corporation on 31 July.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

New Mexico diocese to sell off properties in online auction
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe will be auctioning nearly 140 parcels of property next month as it seeks to settle a raft of sex abuse claims(link is external). Church officials announced Tuesday (Aug. 10) that an online auction will begin Sept. 21. Opening bids will start as low as $500 for vacant pieces of property that are spread throughout three counties in central New Mexico. Another auction is planned for November.” By Associated Press

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis called for unity: Will we hear him?
“Pope Francis’ motu proprio was promulgated after consultation with bishops throughout the world. Granting that the reformed rites are often celebrated without appropriate reverence, Pope Francis nonetheless determined that the experiment of Pope Benedict XVI did not work. Rather than lead to unity in the church, the presence of the two forms has only led to a fracturing of communion(link is external). Communities that celebrate the extraordinary form, according to Pope Francis, are likely to deny the validity of Vatican II, including the reformed rites. The solution of two forms of the Roman liturgy was not working.” By Timothy P. O’Malley, U.S. Catholic

BISHOPS

Argentine prelate, friend of Pope Francis faces trial for sexual abuse
“Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a veteran prelate who once boasted of his friendship with the pope, will be tried criminally in October in his former diocese on allegations of sexual abuse against seminarians(link is external). A hearing in the case against the former bishop of Oran, in Argentina’s northern Salta region, will take place Oct. 12-15 of this year, as announced by the local public ministry, for what are known as ‘family and gender violence and crimes against sexual integrity.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

Franciscan Sister Appointed to General Secretariat of Synod of Bishops
“Cardinal Mario Grech has appointed Sr. Marie Kolbe Zamora, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, to serve as an official for the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops(link is external). Zamora’s appointment commences at the Vatican on Sept. 1, 2021. Zamora will work with Cardinal Grech (General Secretary for the Synod of Bishops), Bishop Luis Marín de San Martín and Sister Nathalie Becquart (Undersecretaries for the General Secretariat), and the other members of the Secretariat team in its preparation for and implementation of Synod Assemblies.” By Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity

Editorial: On racism, the chasm between Catholic sisters and bishops is vast
“While creating space for the future, it is heartening that congregations are also reckoning with their past. As a recent Global Sisters Report article pointed out, congregations such as the Adrian Dominicans, Religious of the Sacred Heart, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, the Sisters of Loretto and others are examining their complicity in excluding Blacks from their membership, participating in the enslavement of people and perpetuating systemic racism(link is external). This painful but necessary process is an implementation of the resolution adopted during the 2020 assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, in which members were invited to participate in a ‘five-year commitment to work on dismantling racism.’” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

CLERICALISM

New official at Vatican’s Latin America office warns against clericalism
“(Gustavo) Guerra López will soon take up his role as the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and could potentially help shape the continental Church for years to come. Crux spoke with Guerra López at length, discussing what Latin America can offer to the global  Church, the role of the laity, the synodality experienced in the mystery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and his fears of becoming ‘clericalized’(link is external) by the machinery that is the central government of the Catholic Church.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Catholic belief has ‘vanished’ in Ireland and church is in ‘crisis’, Dublin Archbishop admits
“The archbishop of Dublin has warned that Catholicism has ‘vanished’ in Ireland and the church is in the midst of a crisis(link is external). Archbishop Dermot Farrell was interviewed by Maynooth seminary for their journal Síolta, where he warned that an ‘aging clergy’ and ‘a major decline in the number of people who actively practice and live their faith’ could spell the end for Catholicism in Ireland if major changes are not implemented within the church. The child sex abuse revelations had irreparably damaged the church’s reputation in Ireland, he said, and the visibility of the Catholic faith has ‘vanished.’” By Rachael O’Connor, The Irish Post

My how the Irish Catholic Church has changed
“No week passes that I don’t drop into a quiet chapel here in Killaloe in Clare and elsewhere on my journeys through the west. I always select a late afternoon for my visits. At that time the chapels are virtually deserted and one does not encounter any clergy at all. That situation is a nearly incredible change from the past realities for the Irish people(link is external) when the Catholic hierarchy ruled about every aspect of our lives far more totally and harshly indeed than whatever government we’d established in Leinster House in Dublin at the last election.” Cormac MacConnell, Irish Central

Global liturgy commission director criticizes Francis over Latin Mass restrictions
“The priest who heads a Catholic Church commission that prepares English translations of liturgical texts has attacked Pope Francis’ recent decision to reimpose restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass(link is external) ‘as full of errors and generalizations’ in a series of new social media posts. Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, has shared articles, essays and videos critical of Francis on his Facebook page and has ‘liked’ comments from people angry about Traditionis Custodes, the apostolic letter the pope issued on July 16 that curtails use of the pre-Vatican II liturgy.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Our Opinion: Springfield Diocese’s failures underscore retraumatizing effects of clergy abuse scandal
“When institutions like the Catholic Church try to reckon with histories of systemic abuse, survivors often relate how the difficult but necessary process of unearthing the truth is deeply retraumatizing for them. They must relive horrors no one should endure(link is external). Their most vulnerable personal history is exposed. Character, motives, credibility are questioned — all of this not because they’ve done something, but because a powerful person did something to them when they were powerless.” By The Berkshire Eagle Editorial Board

A Tale of Two States and the Roads Taken and Blocked to Child Protection
“New York is striding into the future of child protection while Pennsylvania is mired in toxic politics that endanger children … Two years ago, to the day, the New York Child Victims Act window opened. Within days, over 4,000 cases had been filed. Then, when the pandemic shut courthouses, New York added a second year to the window, and by the time it closed nearly 10,000 complaints had been filed … While Pennsylvania lawmakers have tortured survivors with dashed hopes, Pennsylvania’s perpetrators and institutions have been given ample time to prey on more children and avoid truly effective child protection policies … As New York’s two-year window confirms, when victims get access to justice, the public and the state receive information that can only improve child protection in the future(link is external).” By Marci A. Hamilton, Verdict.Justia.com

Opinion: NY Must Overhaul Statute of Limitations Laws for Childhood Sexual Abuse
“The opportunity to hold child sexual abuse perpetrators—and the institutions that enabled them—accountable is about to expire for many suffering survivors who were assaulted in New York. On Aug. 14, the New York Child Victims Act’s two-year civil sexual abuse statute of limitations ‘window’ will close, and older victims whose claims had previously been time-barred will be foreclosed from seeking justice(link is external). This legislation also extends the statute of limitations to age 55 for child sex abuse survivors whose claims have not previously been time-barred. We urge our leaders to take immediate action to reform the current law to ensure that victims, no matter their age, have continuing access to the courts.” By Andrew Shubin and Debra Greenberger, CityLimits.org

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child safety advocates launch billboard campaign against Sen. Kim Ward
“Child sexual abuse prevention advocates are making good on their promise to keep the heat on state Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward for her refusal to advance a bill giving adult survivors of child sexual abuse their day in court(link is external). This week, they took their battle to the Hempfield Republican’s backyard. Child USAdvocacy placed two full-size highway billboards — one on Route 119 in Hempfield and a second on Route 30.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

New York’s Child Victims Act helps bring justice and peace for victims of abuse in Rochester
“With the deadline for the New York’s Child Victims Act coming up Friday (Aug. 13), one local man has said the ability to file a lawsuit has changed his life for the better(link is external). Brian Delafranier filed his lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester two years ago claiming he was sexually abused for over a year by his parish priest, Reverend Robert Gaudio. Delafranier even inspired another person struggling with the abuse from the same priest to step forward and file a claim before the deadline.” By FingerLakes1.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Survivors’ Voices: What Has Helped Me Heal, Part 2
“I returned yesterday from a beautiful weekend retreat with a group of five dear friends who are survivors of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). We talked, laughed, cried, prayed, and experienced so much love and healing together. Thank you to all who covered us in prayer over these last few days – We certainly felt God’s grace surrounding us.” By Sara Larson, InSpiritAndTruth.subscript.com

Tired of the drip, drip, drip of Catholic sexual abuse reports? Let’s try this.
“Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of a then-secret crime: Fr. Gilbert Gauthe molested a boy in Louisiana in 1972. Over a decade later, that crime — and dozens of others Gauthe committed — became national news. Thus began an unprecedented and at times overwhelming deluge of abuse and cover up reports which eventually led to over 7,000 U.S. priests being publicly accused of sexually violating children(link is external). If you’re a Catholic, chances are you’re tired of this seemingly endless stream of allegations of clerical corruption (though the flow of abuse reports has slowed in recent years). And at least a few times over the past two decades, you have likely worried, ‘I wonder if kids in my parish are safe?’” By David Clohessy, National Catholic Reporter

CALIFORNIA

Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno ‘credible’ list of abusers includes late Visalia priest
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno on Friday (Aug. 6) posted a list of priests who it says have faced ‘a credible accusation of sexual abuse.’ The list included Rev. Eric Swearingen, a Tulare County native who rose through the church’s hierarchy to lead Visalia’s Catholics despite an allegation of sexual abuse(link is external). He died in 2020 after a long illness.” By James Ward, Visalia Times-Delta

Fresno Catholic leaders list credible claims of sex assault by clergy
“The Diocese of Fresno has finished a lengthy investigation reviewing claims of sexual assault involving clergy members within the Diocese(link is external). The investigation began in May of 2019, reviewing more than 2,800 files to identify any priest, deacon, or other member of the church facing allegations of sexual abuse involving a minor within the Diocese. The files listed accusations that went back as early as the 1900s to the present. By KFSN-TV30 News

LOUISIANA

Parole unanimously denied for priest
“The state parole board today unanimously rejected Fr. Michael Guidry’s request for early release. Guidry, 78, who was pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Morrow, pleaded guilty to the molestation of a 16-year-old boy(link is external). He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released for appeals because of COVID. After his sentencing appeals were denied he was sent back to prison. His victim was an altar server, as his brothers had been.” By KATC-TV3 News

MAINE

His Old Town priest abused him as a child. Soon, he’ll be able to sue over it.
“Robert Dupuis was part of a group of five boys who did chores around St. Joseph Catholic Church in Old Town in 1961, when he was 12. The boys mowed the lawn, shoveled snow and helped out at church banquets and suppers, working under the supervision of the Rev. John J. Curran. But when Dupuis was alone with Curran, the priest sexually abused him(link is external), he said. It began with hugs, then progressed to fondling.” By Judy Harrison, The Bangor Daily News

MASSACHUSETTS

How a Pittsfield parishioner exposed a molester, 25 years before another survivor reported her clergy abuse
“This is the story of a girl’s courage and a parishioner’s resolve. The details all came back to Russell G. Powell last weekend, 44 years after his confrontation with a priest in a Pittsfield basement. ‘I’m willing to say we were the first ones to discover [and report] he was a molester(link is external). I believe nothing was done except to transfer him to Springfield.’ — Russell G. Powell, speaking of his efforts, in 1977, to remove the Rev. Daniel L. Gill from service in a Pittsfield church.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

‘Like it was yesterday.’ Sheri Biasin recalls priest’s abuse, in her own words
“I grew up in a really strict Catholic family. I mean, we did rosary before we went to bed — that sort of whole deal. That was very prominent in our life, and to go against it was like, ‘You’re going to burn in hell’ and ‘Wait to see what’s going to happen to you.’ The people in my family basically bowed to this man, Father Daniel Gill. When I look back now, I think, ‘Oh, my God, good thing I’m not there now, because I wouldn’t have been able to take it(link is external).’” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MICHIGAN

Former Jackson Catholic school teacher sentenced in abuse case
“A former Catholic school music teacher in Jackson will serve more than a decade in prison as the fourth person convicted in the Michigan attorney general’s ongoing clergy abuse investigation(link is external).

Joseph Comperchio, 67, of Fort Myers, Florida, was charged last September for sexually abusing two children. In those cases, he faced two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.” By Chris Lewis, FOX-TV47 News

NEW YORK.

Message from Cardinal Dolan: Updates on COVID-19 and Child Victims Act
“Dear Family of the Archdiocese of New York; I apologize for intruding during these final weeks of what I hope has been a blessed and relaxing Summer, but allow me to update you on two important items that continue to affect the Archdiocese of New York: the coronavirus pandemic, particularly as it relates to our schools, and the Child Victims Act(link is external).” By Communications Department, Archdiocese of New York

Buffalo Diocese hit with 900 abuse claims in bankruptcy court, more than any diocese
More than 900 child sex abuse claims were filed against the Buffalo Diocese in federal bankruptcy court by Saturday (Aug. 14), the deadline for abuse victims to come forward if they want part of a potential settlement that could cost the diocese tens of millions of dollars. The number of claims was double the largest number ever filed in the more than 20 prior diocese bankruptcies in the U.S. since 2004.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

As NY Child Victims Act window closes, what was revealed in Binghamton sex abuse lawsuits?
“The boy was 6 years old when his family began attending church at St. Vincent de Paul in 1980. That’s where he met Fr. Robert Ours, who served at the parish during a four-year stretch of his two-decades-long career in the priesthood. Inside a confessional booth at the Vestal church, Ours allegedly fondled the boy multiple times over the course of a year, until 1983(link is external) … The nearly 40-year-old sex abuse accusations were revealed for the first time in an Aug. 2 lawsuit against Ours and the Vestal church, part of a wave of lawsuits that flowed into Broome County’s Supreme Court during the final months of New York state’s Child Victims Act.” By Anthony Borrelli, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Rotterdam pastor under investigation for child sex abuse allegations
“A Rotterdam pastor is voluntarily stepping back from public ministry as he is investigated for allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). ‘In light of a single allegation of sexual abuse that was first reported in a Child Victims Act case, Father Vincent Ciotoli, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Schenectady and St. Margaret of Cortona in Rotterdam, has voluntarily withdrawn from public ministry while the independent Diocesan Review Board investigates the claim,’ states a Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany release issued Saturday.” By Shenandoah Briere, The Rotterdam Daily Gazette

Sex abuse victims’ lawsuits continue to pour in as NY’s Child Victims Act nears its deadline to file
“The window to file lawsuits under New York State’s Child Victims Act will come to a close later this month, but until a few weeks ago, David Ferrick didn’t know that the law enabling victims of sexual assault to sue even existed. Ferrick, 52, learned about it last month in Fresno, California — thousands of miles away from his childhood home in Brooklyn, where he attended St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church in Greenpoint and where he says in a newly filed lawsuit that a priest there molested him when he was just a 10-year-old altar boy(link is external)By Michael Gartland and Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

Man admits he sent death threats to Buffalo reporter who covered Catholic Church sex scandals
“A Western New York man pleaded guilty this week after being accused of sending death threats to a Buffalo television reporter who covered Catholic Church sex scandals(link is external), federal prosecutors said. Paul E. Lubienecki, 63, of Hamburg, admitted Tuesday to leaving as many as six threatening voicemails for the reporter between Aug. 20, 2019 and Feb. 4, 2020, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.” By James McClendon, Syracuse.com

NY cathedral rector denies ‘without reservation’ 50-year-old abuse claim
“Msgr. Robert T. Richie, rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, told cathedral parishioners in an Aug. 3 letter he has been named in a civil lawsuit alleging he ‘sexually abused a child on one occasion’ nearly 50 years ago. ‘I completely and without reservation deny this allegation(link is external),’ he wrote. ‘Nothing like this has ever occurred during my 50 years as a priest, or at any other time in my life. I am confident that once this matter is litigated in court, the allegation will be found to be absolutely false.’” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

PENNSYLVANIA

Victims of child sex abuse continue to be denied justice in Pennsylvania
“With each passing day, Pennsylvania kids become more at risk of abuse while just across the state line, kids in New Jersey and New York are becoming dramatically safer. This may sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. A recent state Supreme Court ruling illustrates the problem and shows why. In July, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit from a woman seeking to recover damages from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown for allegedly facilitating sexual abuse she said she experienced at the hands of a priest in the late 1970s. The court’s ruling that her claim was too late under the state’s statute of limitations illustrates the problem with Pennsylvania law(link is external).” By David Clohessy and Jillian Ruck, The Philadelphia Inquirer

SOUTH CAROLINA

Pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church on leave after lawsuit is filed
“A Greenville pastor is on temporary leave while the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston reviews a lawsuit filed against him that alleges he had a sexual relationship with a married parishioner(link is external). The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston said they are reviewing the lawsuit filed which names the Diocese of Charleston and Father Wilbroad Mwape, pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Greenville. ‘We have received a copy of the lawsuit and are currently reviewing it. We will respond to the pleading in due time,’ Maria Aselage, spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, said.” By WYFF-TV4 News

WISCONSIN

With two cases in Brown County and 100 statewide, Wisconsin clergy abuse review shows power of independent inquiry
“Four months into an independent investigation launched by the state’s top attorney, two cases of alleged clergy abuse have been reported and turned over to the Brown County district attorney’s office(link is external). The two cases are among more than 100 reports statewide alleging abuse by faith leaders made possible by Attorney General Josh Kaul’s independent review, which began in April. One of the Brown County cases is ‘current,’ said Holli Fisher, program manager of the Sexual Assault Center of Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, who was unable to disclose further details. The other one was from decades ago.” By Natalie Eilbert, Green Bay Press-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Students who reported abuse by pedophile priest Anthony Caruana labelled liars, court hears
“The victims of a pedophile priest have told a court they were called liars when they told their parents about being abused by their teacher(link is external) 30 years ago. Last month, Anthony Peter William Caruana was convicted of sexually abusing 12 students at a Catholic college for boys in the NSW Southern Highlands in the 1980s. A District Court jury found the 79-year-old guilty of 26 offences including 22 counts of indecent assault and four counts of sexual intercourse with a pupil.” By Tim Fernandez, ABC Illawarra

Adults face jail for not reporting sexual abuse
“New laws in Queensland that could jail adults for not telling police about the sexual abuse of a child(link is external) have raised criticism from legal and academic circles about potential ethical dilemmas and how they will be enforced. The laws, introduced last month, require all adults to report known or suspected sexual offences against a person under the age of 16, or a person with an impairment. The laws were designed to force Catholic priests to break the seal of confession and implement recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Concerns have been raised as to how they could be applied to other professions.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Judge hearing details of sex assault allegations against rural priest at prelim in Humboldt
“A provincial court judge in Humboldt, Sask., will hear the evidence today (Aug. 9) against a local Catholic priest charged with sexual assault(link is external). The preliminary hearing will determine whether Father Anthony Atter will stand trial on the allegations. The 45-year-old faces charges of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and sexual interference. The assaults allegedly took place from September to November 2020 and involved one complainant.” By Dan Zakreski, CBC News

Catholic Priest Accuses Residential School Survivors of Lying About Abuse
“A Catholic priest has been banned from preaching following a series of inflammatory comments about Indigenous residential school survivors(link is external) during sermons at St. Emile Catholic Church, according to CBC News. The priest, Father Rhéal Forest, claimed residential school survivors lied about sexual abuse to get more money from court settlements in comments that were livestreamed on Facebook for weeks before being taken down after they were flagged by CBC Manitoba, according to CBC News.” By Andrew Kennard, Native News Online

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Fort Augustus Abbey school was ‘haven for pedophiles’
“A Catholic boarding school in the Highlands was a ‘haven for pedophiles’, a report from the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has said(link is external). It said that sexual abuse by monks at Fort Augustus Abbey, which closed in 1993, was a ‘desecration of their vows.’ The report came after the inquiry heard evidence of physical, emotional and sexual abuse over many years. It praised the BBC for bringing the issue into the public domain. It was a BBC Scotland documentary in 2013 that first raised the issues of abuse perpetrated by Benedictine monks in Scotland.” By Mark Daly, BBC News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Irish Jesuits admit failure on abuser fueled trauma
“The head of the Jesuits in Ireland has said the order must take full responsibility for the wrongdoing of Fr Joseph Marmion, whom a number of former students say sexually, physically and psychologically abused them(link is external) in the 1970s when he taught at Belvedere College in Dublin. In a 50-page report, Joseph Marmion – The Jesuit Response, Fr Leonard Moloney SJ says that while Marmion’s actions inflicted severe trauma on individual pupils, this was ‘magnified by the failure of the Jesuits to recognize the danger he posed to schoolboys in our care and in later ministries or to understand and respond to your needs as his victims.’ He said that the Jesuits did not grasp the destructive effects of his abuse.” By Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet

Two Donegal sisters abused by same priest reveal they had no idea the other was also suffering as they speak out
“Two sisters abused by the same priest have said it was ‘heartbreaking’ to discover the other had gone through the same thing(link is external). Former priest Con Cunningham pleaded guilty to eight counts of indecent assaults between 1971 and 1975. Now 86, he abused sisters Paula and Margaret Martin, who were between nine and 12, and 11 and 13 years old when it happened. The abuse took place at a number of locations in Donegal, including at the girls’ home, at the parochial house in Fanavolty in Fanad and also at the Loreto College buildings in Letterkenny.” By Nicola Bardon, The Irish Sun

NEW ZEALAND

Pasifika abuse survivor calls for change in Catholic church
“A survivor of abuse in a faith-based institution is appalled at what she calls the Catholic church’s mishandling of victims’ stories of abuse(link is external). Frances Tagaloa has called out the Catholic church to change their processes when dealing with survivors, following the recent Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Pacific investigation hearing. This comes after a couple of Pacific survivors gave their testimony at the recent Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Pacific investigation hearing in South Auckland, including from a spokesperson named Ms CU.” By Sela Jane Hopgood, RNZ Pacific Journalist

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Former Roman Catholic cardinal criminally charged

BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 10, 2021 – Former Roman Catholic cardinal Theodore McCarrick had already become the poster child for the now two-decade-old Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal when he was charged July 28 in Massachusetts for three counts of indecent assault and battery. The 91-year-old former prelate is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 3.

McCarrick’s charges show like nothing before how the states must repeal statutes of limitations to provide justice for clergy abuse survivors. McCarrick had eluded prosecution for decades, despite multiple allegations of abuse. He was finally defrocked in 2019 and is now criminally charged with abusing a 16-year-old boy in 1974 in Massachusetts. The statute of limitations clock had stopped when he left the state, demonstrating how important the details of the statutes are. He is the most senior member of the Catholic clergy in modern times to have been defrocked and criminally charged due to allegations of sexual abuse.

Many states, but not all, have undertaken SOL reform in recent years, spurred on especially by the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report and the Vatican’s McCarrick report on his activities prior to his recent charges. Here is an SOL reform rundown as of 2020, according to the ChildUSA 2020 SOL Tracker, where much additional information about SOLs is located (statutes can be complex and confusing):

  • SOL reform laws were passed and went into effect in these eight states in 2020: Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.
  • SOL reform laws were introduced in these 30 states and the federal government in 2020: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

The tide may be turning regarding the number of states having passed or considering SOL reform, but VOTF and like-minded Catholics have always found getting such legislation passed challenging. Even though SOL reform does not target the Church and helps all survivors of sexual abuse, the Church and other large organizations continually attempt to limit their exposure to lawsuits from abuse survivors.

Perhaps greater transparency and a more pastoral approach toward clergy abuse victims by the Church may have curtailed the scope of the present scandal and spared many ruined lives, but the circumstances today leave survivors with few avenues for justice except civil courts so that progress toward additional reform of all statutes of limitations cannot proceed quickly enough. Forty-two states, the federal government and Washington, D.C., may have eliminated criminal SOLs, but reforming remaining criminal and much civil SOL legislation requires diligent effort.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 10, 2021, Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 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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Tired of the drip, drip, drip of Catholic sexual abuse reports? Let’s try this. / National Catholic Reporter

I hope you’ve also asked yourself, several times, “What might I do to help prevent abuse in the church?”

David Clohessy, National Catholic Reporter

“Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of a then-secret crime: Fr. Gilbert Gauthe molested a boy in Louisiana in 1972.

“Over a decade later, that crime — and dozens of others Gauthe committed — became national news. (Thanks, in part, to NCR). Thus began an unprecedented and at times overwhelming deluge of abuse and cover up reports which eventually led to over 7,000 U.S. priests being publicly accused of sexually violating children.

“If you’re a Catholic, chances are you’re tired of this seemingly endless stream of allegations of clerical corruption (though the flow of abuse reports has slowed in recent years). And at least a few times over the past two decades, you have likely worried, “I wonder if kids in my parish are safe?”

“I hope you’ve also asked yourself, several times, “What might I do to help prevent abuse in the church?”

“Well, if you’re able to remain open-minded, and not recoil in horror or laugh at a very counterintuitive proposal, keep reading. I have a suggestion that might address all three of these legitimate concerns.”

By David Clohessy, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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