Posts Tagged clergy sexual abuse

The sex abuse scandal is not over. The hierarchical culture still needs transformation. / National Catholic Reporter

What cannot be overstated at this point in the nearly 40-year public history of the scandal is the force that the hierarchical culture — that privileged, secretive, unaccountable, male-only construct — can apply against any movement toward radical truth-telling.

Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

“A 2004 story in The New York Times bore the headline, all in caps: ABUSE SCANDAL HAS BEEN ENDED, TOP BISHOP SAYS.

“That top bishop was a young Wilton Gregory who, two years earlier and as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had herded the rest of the U.S. hierarchy through the first phase of accountability for the scandal.

“The headline was based on a Gregory declaration, made following the release of two studies of the scandal. “The terrible history recorded here today is history,” he said.

“That, of course, turned out to be more wish than reality. The finality implied in the statement has yet eluded the bishops, a point made clear by the recent searing assessment by Barbara Thorp, who took on the job of directing the Boston Archdiocese’s response to victims back in 2002, when the ecclesial world there was exploding. She claims that despite the decades of rolling disclosures and revelations that emerged from investigative reporting, grand jury reports, civil cases, the courage of countless victims and grudging reforms resulting in greater transparency, there is still much we don’t know.”

By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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20 years after Spotlight investigation of Catholic sex abuse crisis, is the church a safer place? / America: The Jesuit Review

On Jan. 6, 2002, on the Feast of the Epiphany, The Boston Globe published the first in a series of reports from its Spotlight investigative team, headlined “Church allowed abuse by priest for years.” (By Kathleen McChesney, former F.B.I. executive and first executive director of the Office of Child Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Visit votf.org to read about the multitude of programs and initiatives undertaken by Voice of the Faithful in the 20 years since The Boston Globe Spotlight articles prompted the organization’s founding.

“The events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol caused shock and dismay for most Americans, many of whom feared that our political system was much weaker than we had thought. On the same date nearly two decades earlier, we witnessed a similar crisis of confidence in the Catholic Church as a protector of all children.

“On Jan. 6, 2002, on the Feast of the Epiphany, The Boston Globe published the first in a series of reports from its Spotlight investigative team, headlined “Church allowed abuse by priest for years.” While the findings were not a surprise to abuse survivors, the revelations that a previously unknown number of priests in the Boston area had sexually abused minors for decades devastated Catholics in Boston and, ultimately, the faithful around the world. The Globe had learned that instead of removing many of these offenders from the priesthood, church leaders had transferred some of the men to new assignments—where the priests continued to have unsupervised access to boys and girls and had not been provided with psychological evaluation or treatment.”

By Kathleen McChesney, former F.B.I. executive and first executive director of the Office of Child Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Read more …

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Coming abuse report to review retired Pope Benedict’s tenure as German archbishop / National Catholic Reporter

Much of the public interest is focused on the retired pope’s 1977-1981 tenure as archbishop of Munich. The case concerns the assignments of a priest accused of a particularly large number of offenses.

Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

“In mid-January, the law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl is scheduled to publish a report into the handling of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

“The potentially explosive aspect is that three of the highest-ranking officials are still alive: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now retired Pope Benedict XVI — and Cardinals Friedrich Wetter and Reinhard Marx, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.

“The investigation followed two years of research and covers the period from 1945 to 2019, centering on who knew what about sexual abuse and when, and what action they took, if any, KNA reported.

“Much of the public interest is focused on the retired pope’s 1977-1981 tenure as archbishop of Munich. The case concerns the assignments of a priest accused of a particularly large number of offenses.

“In early summer 2021, Cardinal Marx — the current archbishop of Munich — tried to resign from office to take responsibility — explicitly also for possible mistakes of his predecessors. Pope Francis rejected his request.”

By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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20 years after Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight,’ we need a national database of accused clergy / National Catholic Reporter

As the shame and anger moved from the offending cleric to the systemic cover-up by bishops, we now must face the grim reality that the most profound shame is the ongoing, real-time failure to act in a decisive manner to address the ‘abandonment of the little ones.’

By Barbara Thorp, National Catholic Reporter

“In the United States, the terrible truth that Catholic clergy have sexually violated children has been known publicly now for at least 36 years. For this truth-telling, we are indebted to journalists such as Jason Berry. In stark and unsparing detail he documented in May 1985, writing for the Times of Acadiana (and NCR), the predations of admitted serial pedophile Fr. Gilbert Gauthe in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana.

“Over the decades others followed Berry’s groundbreaking truth-telling, often against and despite enormous pressure to remain silent. Led by many courageous survivors and their families, of notable mention are the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Bishop Accountability, the Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The New York Times and several state attorneys general.

“In January 2019, ProPublica published an interactive national directory of credibly accused clergy drawing on the published disclosures of dioceses and religious orders.

“The important efforts of these entities and people notwithstanding, they are all limited by the reality that they only know what they know. They don’t know what they don’t know. The full width and breadth of the story is yet to be told and is held by the archdioceses, dioceses, eparchies and religious orders.

By Barbara Thorp, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

Swiss Catholic church orders study of past sexual abuse
“The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland have asked two academics to lead a study into the Swiss church’s history of sexual exploitation since the mid-20th century(link is external), joining other churches in other countries in Europe and beyond to undergo such a reckoning. The Swiss Conference of Bishops and two other organizations announced Monday (Dec. 6) that two University of Zurich history professors, Monika Dommann and Marietta Maier, will assemble a team in the coming weeks before formally launching the project and detailing its full ambitions in March.” By Jamey Keaten, Associated Press

Pope approves updates to norms for dealing with ‘grave crimes’
“Pope Francis has given formal approval to a series of updates and modifications that have been made over the years to the norms regarding clerical sexual abuse and other crimes reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith(link is external). The newest version of the so-called ‘Norms on the delicts reserved to the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith’ does not introduce any new crimes, but it does seek to improve the procedural norms regarding the penal process and to update those canons connected with the recently revised ‘Book VI: Penal Sanctions in the Church’ that was to go into effect Dec. 8.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

A priest ordained in 2017 is now serving a life sentence for sex abuse. How did he slip through the cracks?
“Just two years after his ordination in 2017, the Rev. Robert McWilliams was charged with a cascade of sexual assault and child pornography charges(link is external). He was sentenced to life imprisonment a few weeks ago, on Nov. 9, in a federal criminal court in Cleveland. The McWilliams case came as an unhappy shock to Catholics in the Diocese of Cleveland and all over the United States who might have hoped that years of procedural changes and an enhanced screening process for seminarians would have put an end to the ordination of priests like Father McWilliams.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Religious institutes in France determined to fight clergy sex abuse
“In the wake of a recent devastating report by a special commission in France investigating sexual abuse of minors by clergy, a new committee has been established by the religious men and women’s conference (the Conférence des Religieux et Religieuses de France or CORREF) to hear testimonials of victims of sexual abuse by religious men and women(link is external), including abuses suffered by adults and members of religious communities. Many stories of abuses against nuns have been reported without action being taken. This new committee will allow any potential victim to state their case.” By Elisabeth Auvillain, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

After two decades, abuse crisis has humbled the Catholic Church
“From when the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse crisis erupted in 2002 until his death more than three years later, St. John Paul II never met with a victim of clerical sexual abuse. In contrast, Pope Francis has met numerous times with abuse victims and their advocates since his election in 2013. He plans next year to meet with representatives of indigenous people from Canada who are protesting the historical abuse of children at church-run residential schools there. Those meetings are a sign of how the Catholic hierarchy has transformed its response to abuse scandals(link is external), which have left the church poorer and less influential in the countries where they have emerged.” By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal

ACCOUNTABILITY

Pope says he’ll meet with French sex abuse commission
“Pope Francis agreed Monday (Dec. 14) to meet with the commission that published a ground-breaking report into clergy sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church(link is external) and, separately, expressed “sadness” over the sudden downfall of the archbishop of Paris, according to French bishops who met with him. Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French Bishops Conference, told reporters that Francis had agreed “in principle” to meet with the independent commission members but that a date had to be found.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Catholic church sexual abuse must be seen in ‘historical’ context, Pope says
“Pope Francis has called for caution in the ‘interpretation’ of a damning report released in October that found as many as 330,000 children may have been sexually abused by clergy and lay members of the Catholic Church in France. The pontiff said on Monday (Dec. 6) that the ‘historical situation’ must be framed in context when conducting studies that explore incidents dating back decades … Noting that studies ‘must be attentive to the interpretation’ people will ‘make of it,’ the Pope said that historical abuse must be viewed according to the standards of the time(link is external). He gave as an example that the ‘attitude’ of the church to cases of abuse was ‘to cover it up,’ but acknowledged that this was an ‘attitude that unfortunately still exists today in a large number of families.’” By RT.com

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Largest Native American diocese takes unique approach to synod
“Unlike most dioceses in the U.S. that have turned to one or two key people to lead their synodal process, Bishop James Wall of Gallup has taken a different approach by turning to one of the diocese’s religious communities to take the helm(link is external). ‘We’re a diocese with very few and limited resources, so rather than hoisting this on one person’s shoulders I thought it would be a little more doable if we were to ask the [Sisters of Our Lady of Guadalupe] religious community,’ Wall told Crux. ‘Plus, they’re awesome and everybody loves them and they’re perfectly bilingual in English and Spanish.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Synod phase for local listening gets an uneven start in U.S. dioceses
“Kevin Beck said the only thing he has seen thus far from his diocese in Colorado Springs, Colorado, about the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops on synodality is an article in the diocesan newspaper that reported the bishop was reviewing the consultation process(link is external). ‘That was in October, and we haven’t heard anything since,’ said Beck, who is organizing his own online listening session for a group of lay Catholics in the diocese to offer their input and have their voices heard. ‘We’ve drafted a set of questions that we’re going to send out to people who said they want to participate so they can have time to think about what they want to say,’ said Beck, who told NCR that he wished his diocese was ‘more excited’ about the synod.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

An unprecedented gathering in Latin America is putting Pope Francis’ vision for the church into action
“Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh covered and participated in the Latin American ecclesial assembly in Mexico City last week. It was the first meeting of its kind, bringing together about 1,000 bishops, priests, religious and lay people to discuss the region’s pastoral needs in a synodal way.(link is external) On ‘Inside the Vatican,’ Austen joins host Colleen Dulle to discuss his experience at the meeting and what lessons the Latin American church can teach the rest of the world about synodality.” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

Encuentros: Learning from 50 years of synodal experience – if we’ve been paying attention
“Catholics in the United States have been engaged for 50 years in groundbreaking processes of synodal discernment, dialogue and decision-making. Some readers may ask: How is this possible? Isn’t synodality a novelty, a trend distinctive of Pope Francis’ pontificate? How come I never heard of this in my parish, diocese, Catholic school, seminary or college?

If you asked any of these or similar questions, chances are that you are unaware of some of the most exciting — and yes, synodal — conversations about ecclesial life, mission and evangelization among Hispanic Catholics, who constitute nearly 45% of the Catholic population in the U.S.(link is external)” By Hosffman Ospino, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope praises ‘dignity’ of French bishops in tackling abuse crisis
“During a press briefing held at the French Seminary in Rome, members of the presidency of the Bishops’ Conference of France noted that their Monday (Dec. 13) meeting with Pope Francis was an annual custom, in order to report on the work of their recent plenary assembly(link is external). This year, the bishops, who met in Lourdes from 2 to 8 November, focused in particular on the CIASE report. Its publication on 5 October caused shock in France, particularly with the survey that showed there have been 330,000 victims of sexual violence within the Catholic Church since 1950.” By Cyprien Viet, VaticanNews.va

Pope could visit Canada in 2022 as part of reconciliation process, archbishop says
“After Pope Francis voiced his intention earlier this year to travel to Canada as part of the nation’s reconciliation process with indigenous communities, one of the country’s top prelates has said the papal visit could come as early as next year(link is external). Currently in Rome for meetings between the leadership of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and Vatican officials, Bishop Raymond Poisson of Saint-Jérôme and Mont-Laurier and president of the CCCB, told Crux that ‘it’s possible’ the pope could visit Canada in 2022.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis: ‘I accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Paris not on the altar of truth but on the altar of hypocrisy’
“On the flight back from Athens to Rome, Pope Francis surprised journalists by stating that he had accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, ‘not on the altar of truth but on the altar of hypocrisy(link is external).’ He accepted the resignation (submitted on Nov. 26) during the visit to Cyprus. The pope’s answer was given in response to one of several questions from five journalists on the 90-minute flight. Francis also revealed the possibility that he could meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow for a second time and said plans for this will be discussed next week.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

PRIESTS

Fr. Donald Cozzens, who challenged clericalism in the church, dies at 82
“As an author and lecturer, Father Donald B. Cozzens, a Cleveland diocesan priest and former seminary rector, shared candid insights on the priesthood, challenging the Catholic Church to confront clericalism and renew its structure(link is external). Despite criticism privately and publicly from fellow clergy, Father Cozzens maintained that it was his love of the priesthood that prompted his outspokenness for positive change. Father Cozzens, 82, died Dec. 9 … It was Father Cozzens’ book, ‘The Changing Face of the Priesthood,” published in 2000, that set the course for much of his life after he stepped down as president-rector of St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in the Diocese of Cleveland a year later to focus on teaching and writing.” By Dennis Sadowsky, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pressure on parishes with dozens of aging priests due to retire
“The number of Catholic priests serving in Ireland is set to decline dramatically over the coming months. Priests who were due to retire over the past year but stayed on to help colleagues during the pandemic are now hoping they can step down from active ministry — but a lack of ordinations means there is no one to replace them(link is external). In the Diocese of Cork and Ross, for example, around 11 priests are due to retire over the next three years. Nine of the diocese’s 94 serving parish priests are aged over 75.” By Neil Michael, The Irish Examiner

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

Pope cites new book on nun abuse in warning to superiors
“Pope Francis on Saturday (Dec. 11) drew attention to a problem that the Vatican has long sought to downplay: the abuses of power by mother superiors against nuns who, because of their vows of obedience, have little recourse but to obey(link is external). During an audience with members of the Vatican’s congregation for religious orders, Francis cited a new investigative expose of the problem written by a reporter for the Holy See’s media, Salvatore Cernuzio. Francis noted that the book, ‘Veil of Silence: Abuse, Violence, Frustrations in Female Religious Life,’ doesn’t detail ‘striking’ cases of violence and abuse ‘but rather the everyday abuses that harm the strength of the vocation.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

WOMEN’S VOICES

Catholic women urge Vatican to sign Europe rights convention
“A consortium of Catholic women’s groups is calling on the Holy See to join the Council of Europe and to sign the European Convention on Human Rights, arguing that the Vatican should show consistency by expressing its firm commitment to protecting human rights(link is external). In a petition marking the Human Rights Day declared by the United Nations, the groups said the Holy See is recognized internationally as a sovereign state and presents itself as a firm promotor of human rights and dignity. Yet they noted the Vatican hasn’t followed up by adhering to the European Convention, regarded as the gold standard for rights protections around the world.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Barred from the priesthood, some Catholic women find other roles
“Women aspiring to leadership in the Catholic church have long come to terms with the glass ceiling that exists in the male-dominated institution, but Pope Francis’ spate of female appointments in the Vatican hierarchy suggests that change, however modest, is underway(link is external). A growing number of women hold consequential positions in the church and at the Vatican. But it’s the roles women occupy at the grassroots level — in parishes, dioceses and universities — that suggest to female Catholics that despite the institution’s slowness to change, women are taking the lead, making new demands and inspiring new perspectives.” By Claire Giangravé and David Crary, Religion News Service/Associated Press (This story is part of a series by The associated Press, Religion News Service and The Conversation on women’s roles in male-led religions)

Meet Sister Nathalie Becquart, the woman who is helping reshape the Catholic Church
“ Amid Pope Francis’ attempts to reform the hierarchical structures that have defined the Roman Catholic Church for centuries—structures that have in many ways limited the influence of lay people and especially women—few have had such a decisive say on shaping the future of the institution as Sister Nathalie Becquart(link is external). In February, the pope named the French religious sister of the Congregation of Xavières to become the undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, a summit of church leaders at the Vatican set to address the most cogent topics facing the institution.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Advent: Hearing God in a female voice
“A female voice begins the Jesus story. In Luke’s version, a woman decides all by herself — a subversive thing! — whether the Jesus story will even happen. Mary’s ‘let it be’ gets everything started. A courageous, hesitant, female voice brings God more fully into the world(link is external). Advent is a good time to honor, cherish and listen to the many strong female voices that challenge us, teach us, love us, and bring us into a deeper experience of God, if we let them. Then and now, those female voices are widely ignored, marginalized, and muted by those who think that only males should be heard. The Jesus story turns all that upside-down. It places women front and center, right from the start.” By Joe Kay, Sojourners

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Final plan to consolidate Cincinnati Catholic parishes and schools unveiled
“Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr announced Sunday he is ready to move forward with an ambitious restructuring program that will impact every Catholic parish and school across 19 Ohio counties. The reorganization, known as Beacons of Light, will consolidate the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s 208 parishes into 57 ‘families of parishes(link is external),’ which will begin sharing priests, staff, facilities and other resources early next year. Over time, church officials expect those parish families to become single parishes, eliminating more than 70% of the archdiocese’s parishes and setting the stage for the possible closure of churches and schools.” By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

CHURCH FINANCES

At five-years, financial transparency report shows progress, but improvement needed
“This year marks five years that Voice of the Faithful has reviewed annually all U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency. Over the past five years, according to VOTF reviewers, overall diocesan transparency scores have increased, and some dioceses have achieved considerable success, but much work remains to be done(link is external). The 2021 report shows that overall diocesan online financial transparency scores increased from 65% in 2020 to 69% in 2021, but that only 64% of all dioceses posted current audited financial reports, even though those dioceses posting such reports increased from 104 in 2020 to 113 in 2021.” By RNS Press Release Distribution Service

Archdiocese of Louisville files documents to intervene in lawsuit brought by parishioners against long-time Catholic priest
“The Archdiocese of Louisville has filed court documents to intervene in a lawsuit brought by parishioners against a longtime Catholic priest. A civil lawsuit alleges Father Anthony Ngo is wrongfully using church money by converting some funds donated to the parish for his own personal use(link is external). Ngo has been pastor at St. John Vianney’s in south Louisville for two decades. Those bringing the suit against Ngo said they were removed from their volunteer roles on the parish council after raising concerns about church finances.” By Rachel Droze, WHAS-TC11 News

Interrogation tapes in Vatican finance trial leaked to media
“Videotapes of interrogations with a key witness in the ongoing Vatican finance trial have been leaked to an Italian newspaper. Corriere della Sera reported in a Dec. 3 article billed as an ‘exclusive’ that journalists at the Italian newspaper had viewed the video footage of interviews between Vatican prosecutors and Msgr. Alberto Perlasca(link is external), a former official at the Secretariat of State, who was once considered a suspect in the finance investigations … The Perlasca tapes have been at the center of arguments at recent hearings in the trial to prosecute alleged crimes committed against the Secretariat of State surrounding its purchase of a 350 million euro ($404 million) investment property in London.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Vatican fraud trial sees more delay amid procedural errors
“The Vatican’s big fraud and embezzlement trial, which opened to great fanfare in July, suffered another delay Tuesday (Dec. 15) as the tribunal postponed any further decisions until prosecutors finish redoing their investigation of four of the original 10 defendants(link is external). The delay means the trial, which had already been proceeding at a snail’s pace even by Italian standards, won’t get off the ground until mid-February at the earliest. Tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone said that by then he could “finally, hopefully” unify the two branches of the trial and start in earnest.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Do you think everyone at Latin Mass is an ideologue? You might be wrong.

I’ve attended Church of the Holy Innocents, New York City’s main hub for Tridentine Latin Mass enthusiasts, on and off since my undergrad days. Many, including Pope Francis himself, have expressed concerns that parishes that celebrate the Latin Mass tend to attract reactionaries who are opposed to progress and give rise to insular communities. As much as this is often the case, and I applaud Francis for taking this step, my experience has shown me that there are other, more nuanced reasons people are drawn to the Tridentine Latin Mass(link is external). Yes, many are drawn to it for ideological reasons. But the Latin Mass is also a haven for those who feel misunderstood or outcasted for their unconventional personalities and aesthetic sensibilities.” By Stephen G. Adubato, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis is asking the U.S. bishops to listen to the people. Will they?
“Everybody likes Pope Francis. Except, it seems, U.S. Catholic bishops. On the other hand, no one seems to like the bishops(link is external) — they damaged their own credibility with their 2002 ‘Dallas Charter’ on clerical sex abuse, which sanctioned only priests and deacons but left bishops alone … Once again, today, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops seems bereft of common sense … Many American bishops are content to ignore the worldwide Synod on Synodality: Only half of the U.S. bishops have even named someone to run the synod project in their dioceses. That is, half of the U.S. bishops are not interested in what the people of God think.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

The bishops on the Eucharis and public life
“On Nov. 17, the assembled Catholic bishops of the United States overwhelmingly approved “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church(link is external)” by a vote of 222 to 8. Pope Francis’ apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, had told the bishops that in their decision making “the path forward necessarily involves unity.” To the extent possible on this earth, that is what they demonstrated. Secular news media responded by demonstrating their single-minded focus on national politics.” By Richard Doerfinger, The Pilot

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Proposed bill would remove statute of limitations for sexual assaults
“In November the Nebraska attorney general’s office unveiled a bombshell report that showed widespread sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the state. While their stories were told, the victims were not given a chance to see their abusers held responsible and now a proposed piece of legislation is hoping to change that. The investigation into clergy abuse began in 2018 but the concerns about potential abuse were known by legislators long before the Attorney General’s investigation was launched(link is external).” By Alex Whitney, FOX42-TV News

Ohio House majority leader considering reforms in light of Father Drew rape case
“The Ohio House Majority Leader tells FOX19 NOW he is considering reforms to state laws in light of the Father Geoff Drew rape case. Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township said Friday (Dec.3) he recently met with a group of activist parents asking lawmakers to reform Ohio’s child abuse laws, Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati and Voice of the Faithful(link is external). ‘I pledged to them to work with them on three things. First of all, we have a law right now in Ohio that requires teachers, priests and ministers to report to the authorities known or suspected child abuse. But it has a relatively short statute of limitations within which to prosecute people for failing to meet their mandatory reporting duties. So I’m looking at extending that statute of limitations.’” By Chris Riva and Jennifer Edwards Baker, WXIX-TV19 News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Pope Francis closes clerical sex abuse loophole
“Clerics who sexually abuse minors can be canonically prosecuted even when they say they were not aware that a person with whom they had sexual contact was a minor(link is external), according to changes to canon law announced by the Vatican on Tuesday (Dec. 7). The reform of the law, authorized by Pope Francis, follows cases in which clerics claimed they did not know the age of a minor with whom they had sexual contact, or believed them to be more than 18 years old.” By The Pillar

Catholic priest abuse survivors use drama therapy techniques to heal old wounds
“The new Netflix documentary ‘Procession’ follows six men who were sexually abused by Catholic priests from the Kansas City area(link is external). The film, made by University of Missouri Associate Professor Robert Greene, shows the survivors reclaiming power through drama therapy techniques. The men attempt to heal from decades of pain by creating short films, some set at the very location the abuse happened. The scenes aren’t graphic, but symbolic of the power priests have.” By Kayla Drake, St. Louis Public Radio

CALIFORNIA

Vatican removes former San Benito County priest from accused list
“The Diocese of Monterey announced that Rev. Cornelius (Scott) McCarthy was removed from the list of clergy accused of sexual assault(link is external) following a Vatican investigation that concluded on June 25. McCarthy appeared on the credibly accused list published in 2019. According to the 2019 report, McCarthy was accused in 2002 of an incident that occurred in 1976. The allegation was known, but was reclassified to “credible” in the 2019 report. ‘Fr. McCarthy’s name on a list of clerics credibly accused of abusing a minor is demonstrably false and his removal from ministry is declared invalid, and his name is to be removed from the list of Priests Credibly Accused of Sexually Abusing a Minor,’ the Vatican said in the press release.” By BenitoLink.com

Adult survivors of Catholic clergy abuse in Sacramento call for justice
“As Catholics around the world celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, new church laws take effect on Dec. 8 criminalizing the sexual abuse of adults by priests and other clergy members(link is external). This comes after Pope Francis announced the changes in June, aimed at addressing shortcomings in the Church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. The law recognizes that adults too may be victimized by priests who abuse their authority, while further providing accountability among Bishops who know about but don’t report sexual abuse.” By Giacomo Luca, ABC-TV10 News

LOUISIANA

Stephen Sauer, former priest who ran agency for disabled, booked with sex crimes
“The executive director of Arc of Greater New Orleans has been arrested on five counts of video voyeurism and one count of sexual battery(link is external), according to court records. Stephen Sauer, 59, remains behind bars in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center, pending a court hearing Thursday (Dec. 16). ArcGNO, with headquarters in Metairie, provides services to mentally disabled people in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes.” By Mike Perlstein, WWL-TV4 News on NOLA.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Diocese of Fall River finds allegations of sexual abuse against three priests ‘credible’
“Three Massachusetts Catholic priests are barred from returning to ministry after the diocese found them each to be ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). According to the Diocese of Fall River, Father Richard E. Degagne was suspended after allegations surfaced in 2019. He was then the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Easton. Father Edward J. Byington and Father James F. Buckley were already retired and were not assigned to a parish when allegations surfaced during 2020, diocese officials said.” By WCVB-TV5 News

NEW JERSEY

Committee for sex-abuse survivors seeks more money from Camden Diocese
“A committee for victims of clergy sex abuse has fired another salvo in a bankruptcy battle with the Diocese of Camden. The committee on Friday (Dec. 10) asked a judge to remove restrictions on more than $63 million in diocesan funds(link is external). The request, if approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jerrold Poslusny Jr. in Camden, would make the money available to claims by the diocese’s creditors, including the sex-abuse survivors.” By Jim Walsh, cherry Hill Courier-Post

OHIO

Ohio priest pleads guilty to raping altar boy
“A Roman Catholic priest in Ohio on Thursday (Dec. 2) pleaded guilty to raping an altar boy(link is external) during a three-year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Under terms of a plea agreement, Father Geoff Drew, 59, will be sentenced to seven years in prison and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He’ll receive credit for approximately 27 months he has spent in confinement.” By Associated Press

PENNSYLVANIA

Ex-priest charged with filming boy in Pittsburgh Target restroom
“A former priest was arrested for allegedly filming a 13-year-old boy in a Target store restroom(link is external) in East Liberty. Paul Spisak, 77, a former priest at St. Mary of the Mount in Pittsburgh, St. Benedict the Abbot in McMurray, St. Dominic in Donora and St. Mary, Cecil, was taken into custody as he attempted to drive away from the store. Spisak faces child pornography and invasion of privacy charges.” By Eric Heyl, Patch.com

SOUTH CAROLINA

Charleston diocese under fire after reappointing accused Catholic priest
“The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is denouncing the Diocese of Charleston after allowing a priest to resume preaching duties after being accused of sexual exploitation(link is external). Officials say that Father Wilbroad Mwape began preaching again at a Greenville church four months after being placed on temporary leave following a sexual exploitation allegation by a parishioner. The accusation led to a lawsuit filed on August 4th with complaints of the priest abusing his position beginning at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Orangeburg and his relocation to Greenville.” By Dianté Gibbs, WCXBD-TV2 News

Judge rules against priest sex abuse survivor in Lowcountry civil suit
“A Savannah priest sexual abuse survivor will ‘not’ be able to sue a South Carolina Catholic Diocese for the crimes he says happened to him 30 years ago(link is external) in the Lowcountry. Chris Templeton was abused by at least one priest in the Savannah diocese as a young man, the memory still harsh and vivid. But he says this decision by a Lowcountry judge hurts almost as much.” By Andrrew Davis, WSAV-TV3 News

VERMONT

Orphans were abused, and the bishop does nothing
“An open letter to Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, the Roman Catholic bishop of Vermont: Why are you waiting for me and other clergy abuse victims to die(link is external)? As children at St. Joseph’s Orphanage, we were physically, mentally and sexually abused. In December 2020, you said the following during an interview on the WCAX program ‘You Can Quote Me’: ‘I absolutely believe that children were abused at the orphanage. No one is contesting that at all.’ You know that there was abuse, yet you do everything you can to avoid helping the abused.” Commentary by Maura Labelle, VTDigger.com

WASHINGTON

Seattle Catholic archdiocese settles sexual abuse claim
“Seattle’s Catholic archdiocese has agreed to pay a Washington woman $725,000 as part of an early dispute resolution to her lawsuit alleging an unidentified employee sexually abused her at the Catholic school she attended(link is external) more than 40 years ago. The woman, identified by her initials, T.R., was an 8-year-old third grade student at the archdiocese’s private St. Louise Parish School in 1977 when an unidentified playground attendant started giving her candy and began sexually grooming her, the lawsuit said.” By Associated Press

CANADA

‘Historic injustices require historic reparations’: Ottawa setting aside $40 billion for Indigenous children and First Nations families
“The federal Liberal government is setting aside a whopping $40 billion to settle outstanding Indigenous child welfare lawsuits and to meet the long-term health, education and social welfare needs(link is external) of First Nations children and families. Several First Nations leaders and advocates reacted positively yet warily to Ottawa’s pledge, saying discussions to settle three massive lawsuits are still underway, with no final decisions made.” By Tonda MacCharles, Ottawa Bureau, Toronto Star

Fugitive priest could still face sex charges if more Nunavummiut testify against him
“An Oblate priest accused of sexually assaulting children in Naujaat and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, could still face charges(link is external), says Canada’s justice minister — but victims need to bring new evidence forward first. Johannes Rivoire spent time in several Nunavut communities starting in the 1960s, but returned to France in 1993 … On Monday (Dec. 13), when pressed about Rivoire in the House of Commons by Nunavut MP Lori Idlout, Justice Minister David Lametti said he can’t resurrect the stayed charges, but ‘there is always the possibility that further evidence might be brought forward by other complainants or other witnesses.’” By CBC News

Law firm seeks class action for alleged sexual assaults by priests in Diocese of Amos, Que.
“A law firm representing men who say they were sexually assaulted by at least five priests when they were children is requesting authorization for a class action lawsuit(link is external) against the entire Diocese of Amos, in Quebec’s Abitibi region. The application, being presented in the Superior Court of the District of Abitibi on Tuesday, targets the Diocese of Amos and the Bishop of Amos for alleged crimes from 1940 to the present day. The men say they were between the ages of seven and 14 at the time of the alleged assaults.” By The Canadian Press Staff on montreal.ctvnews.ca

Miller ‘puzzled’ why feds dropped appeal of Catholic Church’s residential school payments
“Newly named Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller says he wants to get to the bottom of why Ottawa abandoned its appeal of a ruling releasing the Catholic Church from its settlement obligations to residential school survivors(link is external). ‘I am as puzzled as everyone,’ he told The Canadian Press in a recent, wide-ranging interview. ‘I don’t know what there is to do yet.’” By Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press, on GlobalNews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Man wins £75,000 damages for alleged sexual abuse
“A Belfast man who says he was sexually abused at a children’s home run by a religious order(link is external) is set to receive £75,000 in damages. The payout represents settlement of the 66-year-old’s civil action against De La Salle Provincialate. No admission of liability was made in the resolution confirmed at the High Court in Belfast. The man who took the case cannot be named for legal reasons. He claimed that Christian Brothers molested him at Rubane House in Kircubbin, Co Down in the late 1960s.” By The Irish Times

New Zealand abuse report says Church hasn’t taken ‘sufficient steps’ to address problem
“A new report on sexual abuse in New Zealand says abuse in religious settings often causes ‘particular harm’ to victims(link is external). The report quoted Thomas Doyle, a former Catholic priest and a leading expert in abuse in the Catholic Church, who called it ‘soul murder.’ The report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care – titled He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu; from Redress to Puretumu — was tabled in New Zealand’s parliament on Dec. 15. The document makes recommendations on how survivors of abuse in state and faith-based care should be listened to and how they should be compensated. The three religious denominations covered in the report were the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Salvation Army.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

Portugal

Portugal urges victims of clergy sexual abuse to break the silence
“A commission investigating allegations of historical child sexual abuse by members of the Portuguese Catholic church urged victims on Thursday (Sec. 2) to speak up and help them lift a veil of silence around the issue(link is external). ‘We want (victims) to report, finally and without fear, what happened to them,’ the head of the newly-created commission, psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, told a news conference during which he announced the team conducting the investigation.” By Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereisa, Reuters

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland to follow France and investigate sexual abuse in Catholic Church
“Following in the footsteps of France the Catholic Church in Switzerland recently instructed two historians to investigate sexual abuse within the organization(link is external), reported RTS. The researchers running the investigation are from the University of Zurich. They now have the task of collecting testimony from victims which will form the basis of a report on sexual abuse within the Swiss Catholic Church. The organizations requesting the investigation include the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, KOVOS and RKZ, three Catholic associations in Switzerland. The written agreement to proceed with the investigation was signed in November 2021. The project, which is a pilot, has been designed to ensure the investigations are independent.” By LeNews.ch


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Pope approves updates to norms for dealing with ‘grave crimes’ / Cruxnow.com

“Pope Francis has given formal approval to a series of updates and modifications that have been made over the years to the norms regarding clerical sexual abuse and other crimes reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“The newest version of the so-called ‘Norms on the delicts reserved to the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith’ does not introduce any new crimes, but it does seek to improve the procedural norms regarding the penal process and to update those canons connected with the recently revised ‘Book VI: Penal Sanctions in the Church’ that was to go into effect Dec. 8.

“The document, published by the Vatican Dec. 7, changes and updates modifications St. John Paul II in 2001 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 made to the list of canonical delicts or crimes reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the procedures for handling such cases.

“Since then, many new measures have been established: Pope Francis’ document ‘As a loving mother’ in 2016 set out procedures for removing church leaders who mishandle abuse; ‘You are the light of the world’ in 2019 established new procedures for reporting abuse and violence, and sought to hold bishops and religious superiors more accountable; a document in 2019 abolished the pontifical secret in cases of sexual violence and the abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy; and another document in 2019 raised the age to 18 of what constitutes a minor in pornographic images.”

Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 6, 2021

Catholic nuns lift veil on abuse in convents
“As the Roman Catholic Church pays more attention to the closed world of convents, where women spend much of their time in prayer and household work, more episodes of psychological, emotional and physical abuse are coming to light(link is external). A new book, “Veil of Silence” by Salvatore Cernuzio, a journalist for the Vatican’s online outlet, Vatican News, is the latest expose to come from within and approved by authorities. Cernuzio recounts experiences of 11 women and their struggles with an age-old system where the Mother Superior and older nuns demand total obedience, in some cases resulting in acts of cruelty and humiliation.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Phil Saviano, clergy abuse victim who refused to stay silent dies at 69
“Phil Saviano was near death from AIDS three decades ago and thousands of dollars in debt when the Worcester Diocese tried to silence him with a settlement that would have prevented him from publicly revealing that he had been sexually abused by a priest when he was a boy(link is external). ‘I just couldn’t agree to it,’ Mr. Saviano told the Globe in 1995. ‘I knew if I did I would just be contributing to their campaign to look away and shut everybody up’ … ‘I lost my faith before I’d even gone through puberty. For over a year, I struggled with a priest who cornered me every chance he got,’ Mr. Saviano wrote in remarks he prepared for a searing, healing speech he delivered in Boston in 2002 at the first national convention of the Voice of the Faithful.” By Bryan Marquand, The Boston Globe

French Catholic Academy questions findings of child sex abuse inquiry
“Members of the French Catholic Academy have expressed doubt about a recent report on historical sex abuse in the church. Eight representatives of the 250-person academy have questioned the findings of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE).(link is external) In October, a CIASE report estimated that 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse since 1950 within the church … The inquiry sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church in Europe and led to apologies from French bishops and Pope Francis. But eight members of the Catholic Academy said CIASE used ‘flawed methodology’ and had ‘serious shortcomings.’” By Agence France Presse

Sorry isn’t enough: People and Catholic Church need to heal, says MMF president
“The president of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) says he has no doubt that Pope Francis will soon apologize for the role the Catholic Church played in Canada’s residential school system, but he believes the path to healing and moving forward requires much more than just an apology(link is external). ‘What we need to discuss is how we create healing, and not just say sorry, and walk away,’ MMF President David Chartrand said on Tuesday (Nov. 30). In late December MMF representatives including Chartrand will join several other delegations that will travel to Rome to meet with Pope Francis.” By Dave Baxter, Winnipeg Sun, in Toronto Star

U.S. Catholic bishops encourage government search for boarding school graves
“Two influential U.S. Roman Catholic Church bishops are encouraging their peers to cooperate with a federal investigation into abuses committed within the former Native American boarding school system(link is external). In a letter sent to all U.S. bishops in November, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, who heads a church committee on domestic justice, and Bishop James Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, who leads a church committee on Native American affairs, asked fellow bishops to hand over records investigators may seek and allow access to property where the unmarked remains of Native American students may lie.” By Brad Brooks, Reuters

ACCOUNTABILITY

Defrocked cardinal McCarrick named in sex abuse lawsuit
“Defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is facing another sexual abuse lawsuit(link is external), from a man who claims McCarrick abused him in the 1980s in New Jersey. In the lawsuit filed in state court and announced Tuesday (Nov. 23), Michael Reading alleged McCarrick engaged in sexual contact with him in 1986 while on a trip to the New Jersey shore, around the same time McCarrick ordained Reading as a priest. The claim comes as a two-year window nears completion in New Jersey for people to file abuse lawsuits regardless of how far back the alleged abuse occurred.” By David Porter, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope accepts resignation of Paris archbishop, who denies accusations
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, who had offered to step down to avoid ‘becoming a source of divisions,’ after an article in the Le Point weekly claimed he mismanaged his archdiocese and had an affair with a woman while he was vicar general(link is external). The pope also named retired Archbishop Georges Pontier to temporarily lead the archdiocese as the apostolic administrator; the 78-year-old archbishop had served as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Avignon from January to July after deep divisions and financial difficulties lead to the early retirement of Archbishop Jean-Pierre Marie Cattenoz.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Church cannot repair what it does not recognize, Cardinal “’Malley says on abuse
“Gathering information and statistics on the sexual abuse of minors is an important tool for assessing established responses and for crafting recommendations to fix a failed system, said U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. ‘We cannot repair what we do not recognize. We cannot restore a broken trust if we do not address the heart of the matter(link is external).’ The message, published Nov. 18, was sent to a conference marking the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse — held every Nov. 18 and promoted by the Council of Europe.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

BISHOPS

Interview: Bishop Wack ;discusses ‘anger, division’ in U.S. Catholic Church
“Christendom has come and gone, says Bishop William Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida. ‘We’ve reached the end of Christendom,’ said Wack, who told NCR in a recent interview that the church’s goal should not be to restore a supposed golden age of Christianity or rebuild a political culture where the Christian faith reigns supreme(link is external). ‘Our faith is not built on this state-sponsored or state-supported Christianity. It’s built on a person: Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,’ said Wack, explaining in the interview his vision of the Christian faith and modern society that he wrote about in his first pastoral letter.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

What the Vatican thought of the U.S. bishops’ meeting
“The U.S. bishops approved their long-awaited and much-debated document on the Eucharist at their November meeting last week. This week on ‘Inside the Vatican,’ America’s national correspondent Michael O’Loughlin, who covered the meeting in Baltimore, joins Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell and host Colleen Dulle for a conversation about what the bishops decided and what the Vatican hopes they will do next(link is external).” By Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, Inside the Vatican

Communion rules set out for U.S. Roman Catholics
“A statement on the Eucharist approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops last week urges communicants to ‘enter more deeply by faith and love’ into the Real Presence of Christ(link is external). It warns that receiving holy communion while publicly rejecting ‘defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiat[ing] her definitive teaching on moral issues’ is ‘likely to cause scandal for others.’ Its publication follows debate in the US on whether President Biden, a Roman Catholic, should receive communion, given his public support for abortion rights; some bishops have stated that they would not allow it.” By Madeleine Davies, Church Times

Bishops encourage cooperation to address church’s past in tribal schools
“Two U.S. bishops have urged their fellow prelates to cooperate with any requests they receive from the federal government for an investigation on alleged abuses at tribal schools operated by church entities in the past. In a Nov. 8 letter addressed to all U.S. bishops, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, chair of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Native American Affairs, told prelates that ‘if the government asks for any records you may possess, we encourage cooperation.’” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service

French Catholic bishops announce ‘vast program of renewal’ after abuse report
“Catholic bishops in France announced Monday (Nov. 15) that they have agreed to ‘a vast program of renewal(link is external)’ of governance practices in response to a landmark report on clerical sex abuse. Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference, said Nov. 8 that the bishops had decided to ‘initiate a path of recognition and reparation opening for the victims the possibility of mediation and compensation.’” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

PRIESTS

Catholic priests survey finds lower morale, ‘conservative shift’ among U.S. clergy
“A new survey released this month suggests a more ‘pessimistic’ view of the Catholic Church among U.S. priests today as compared to 2002, as well as an increasing perception of ‘more theologically conservative(link is external) or orthodox’ young priests as compared to their older counterparts. A Nov. 1 report summarized findings from the 2021 Survey of American Catholic Priests (SACP), which comprised 54 questions posed to 1,036 Catholic priests in the United States.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Association on EurasiaReview.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

‘The deep heart’s core’: Faith of lay people will guide Catholic Church for uncertain future
“I am torn. A rather negative starting point I must confess, but let me elaborate. On the one hand I hear the echoing voices of my now adult children expressing, rather vehemently, their incredulity that a woman they deem intelligent continues to be involved with the Catholic Church. It is an institution which has become irrelevant in their lives. They repeatedly describe it to me as misogynistic, homophobic, abusive and money-grabbing. I understand where they are coming from and find myself sadly in agreement with their analysis … So why am I still hanging in there? There is something ‘in the deep heart’s core’ (Yeats) which doesn’t allow me to walk away just yet.(link is external)” By Patricia Melvin, The Irish Times

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Pope sets up commission to monitor annulment reform in Italy
“Concerned at the slow pace of adopting his reforms of the marriage annulment process, Pope Francis has established a Vatican commission to encourage and verify progress in the dioceses of Italy. ‘Each bishop who does not yet have his own ecclesiastical tribunal must seek to erect one or at least endeavor to make this possible(link is external),’ the pope wrote in his document formally establishing a pontifical commission to monitor and assist the Italian dioceses. The document was published Nov. 26.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Louisville priest denies allegations made by parishioners suing him for misusing church conations, according to court document
“A long-time Louisville Catholic priest filed a response in Jefferson County Civil Court to a lawsuit brought against him by parishioners. A civil lawsuit filed in October alleges Father Anthony Ngo is wrongfully using church money(link is external) by converting some funds donated to the parish for his own personal use. Ngo has been pastor at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in south Louisville for more than two decades.” By Rachel Droze, WHAS-TV11 News

Former economy czar Cardinal Pell warns the Vatican is facing major deficit
“Former Vatican economy czar Cardinal George Pell warns in a new book that the Catholic institution is facing a growing deficit(link is external), but he hopes financial reform efforts have put a stop to money laundering in the small city-state. Pell’s newest book, ‘Prison Journal, Volume 3: The High Court frees an Innocent Man,’ was published in November and is the final installment detailing his experiences in prison. Pell was jailed for more than a year in 2019 after being accused of sexually abusing minors in Victoria, Australia, and was acquitted on appeal by the country’s High Court in April 2020 for lack of evidence.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Church membership declines amid changing faiths,times
“Faith is changing, at least according to some numbers. A Gallup survey shows church membership dropped below a majority for the first time(link is external). In 2020, 47% of U.S. adults were members of a church, synagogue or mosque. It’s a statistic that now has leaders in different religions taking action. ‘It’s a really big issue,’ said Rabbi David Steinhardt, a senior rabbi at B’Nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton.” By Tory Dunnan, WPTV-TV5 News

Traditionalism, American-style: a new kind of opposition to Rome
“It wasn’t hard to anticipate the reception that Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis custodies would get in the United States(link is external): hostile (from those already militantly opposed to the pope) or lukewarm (from most of the U.S. bishops). It follows a pattern that began in 2013, with the reception of Francis’s pontificate in general: a minority of U.S. bishops willing to show their communion of intent with the pope; a majority reluctant to engage with him one way or another; and a very small but very vocal sliver of bishops and lay intellectuals who charge Francis with breaking the Church apart.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

U.S. bishops lost about how to engage a culture they don’t understand
“At the first press conference during the U.S. bishops’ fall assembly, conference president Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles did his best to convince the world that the bishops’ document on the Eucharist was never about criticizing President Joe Biden or focusing on other Catholic politicians(link is external) who do not oppose legalized abortion. ‘My understanding is that the intention of the document was not that [criticizing pro-choice politicians],’ Gomez said. ‘The intention of the document since the beginning was about educating Catholics about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Clergy sexual abuse survivor: Bishop Cozzens had ‘immediate concern for my soul’
“Gina Barthel received a response the same day she emailed Bishop Andrew Cozzens, explaining she was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest in New York(link is external) and asking if he would be willing to meet with her. He called, they found a time in January 2014 and they’ve been meeting once a month ever since. Conducted in a safe environment, their discussions have guided Barthel through anger, tears and trauma to drawing ever closer to Christ, particularly in eucharistic adoration.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

Altar boy abuse is an ‘old Spanish custom’ priest told victims
“When Robert Friscic was being molested by a Catholic priest from the age of 11 until he was 18(link is external), he kept asking his abuser why he was being subjected to such intolerable behavior. The answer he got was ‘because I love you.’ Father Anthony Bongiorno, since deceased, also told him and other victims that he was simply performing: An old Spanish custom in which the altar boy sleeps with the priest. Decades on Friscic decided to lodge a civil claim against the Catholic Church for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Bongiorno, and this week ABC News reported that he had been awarded an out-of-court settlement of $3-million (£1.6) by the Archdiocese of Melbourne.” By Barry Duke, Patheos.com

Woman, 33, who was repeatedly raped by a Catholic priest at age 14 recalls first time he abuse her
“A woman who was repeatedly raped by a Catholic priest when she was 14 years old(link is external) has shared horrible details from the moment he assaulted her for the first time – and revealed that decades later, she still has PTSD from it. Megan Peterson, now 33, came forward in 2011 and said she had been sexually assaulted by Indian priest Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, now 67, for more than a year in 2004 – when she was just 14 years old. At the time, he had been transferred from Infant Jesus Church in India to Blessed Sacrament Church, in Greenbush, Minnesota.” By Lillian Gissen, Daily Mail

CONNECTICUT

Court sets deadline for sexual assault claims in Norwich diocese bankruptcy case
“A federal bankruptcy judge has set a deadline of March 15, 2022 for receipt of claim forms from people who say they were sexually assaulted by priests and employees of Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich(link is external). Victims who fail to do so will likely lose their right to obtain compensation from the diocese and possibly its parishes. The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July as it faced more than 60 lawsuits filed by young men who charge they were sexually assaulted as boys by Christian Brothers and other staff at the diocese-run Mount Saint John Academy in Deep River from 1990 to 2002.” By Joe Wojtas, The New London Day

ILLINOIS

Chicago-area priest reinstated year after abuse probe began
“A suburban Chicago priest has been reinstated as a pastor after a review board for the Archdiocese of Chicago found there was ‘insufficient reason to suspect’ he had sexually abused children 25 years ago. The Rev. David F. Ryan was first asked to step away from the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich in November 2020 when an investigation into the alleged abuse began.” By Associated Press in Beaumont Enterprise

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield Diocese adds Joseph P. Quinlan to its roster of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse
“A priest who served the Diocese of Springfield from 1971 until his death in 1989 was added Monday (Nov. 29) to the list of those credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). ‘The Review Board carefully reviewed this allegation, including a report issued by the diocesan investigative team, and found this allegation to be credible,’ a statement from the Diocese of Springfield said. The diocese listed the name of Joseph P. Quinlan on its online directory of priests and other church personnel against whom an allegation of abuse — in this instance, it was sexual abuse of a minor — has been upheld by the Review Board.’ By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

‘I’m tired of waiting for justice’: alleged clergy abuse victim wants action from diocese
“Two men who claim a local priest sexually abused them as minors(link is external) decades ago are demanding action from the diocese. ‘I’m tired of waiting for justice,’ said Richard Eldridge, who has publicly accused retired priest the Rev. Edward Byington of sexual abuse … Eldridge spoke at a press conference on Tuesday (Nov. 24) morning with attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented victims of clergy sexual abuse for several decades, and Robert Hoatson, co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, an advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse and their families.” By Audrey Cooney, The Herald News

Catholic priest convicted of taking semi-nude photographs of a boy in 1992 laicized
“Bishop Robert J. McManus announced Thursday (Nov. 18) that Ronald D. Provost has been laicized. In 1993, Provost was convicted in Worcester Superior Court of soliciting a child to pose nude and received a suspended prison sentence with probation(link is external). He was found guilty of taking semi-nude photographs of a 10-year-old boy in 1992 in the locker room of a pool in Gardner. Provost, who was pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Barre when the photographs were taken, was removed from any active ministry in the diocese when the picture-taking allegations surfaced.” By Craig S. Semon, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

MICHIGAN

Former priest with Wyandotte ties pleads guilty to sex crimes
“A former priest with ties to Downriver and Oakland County has pleaded to several sex crime charges from the 1970s involving young boys(link is external), including two brothers. During a Nov. 8 Zoom hearing before Judge Daniel O’Brien of Oakland County Circuit Court, Gary Berthiaume, 79, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and no contest to one count of gross indecency. In exchange for his pleas, Assistant Attorney General Danielle Russo Bennetts dismissed two other counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one other count of gross indecency.” By Aileen Wingblad, The News Herald

NEW JERSEY

Advocates call for removal of street sign honoring NJ priest accused of sex abuse
“Most drivers and pedestrians who travel a part of Washington Street in West New York are oblivious to what the man whose name graces the thoroughfare has been accused of doing. At least four people have said Msgr. Eugene Fanelli abused them when he was pastor(link is external) at Our Lady of Libera Roman Catholic Church and they were children in the West New York parish. ‘The fact that a street was named after him is heinous,’ said Jason Schack, who filed a lawsuit in November alleging that Fanelli abused him for seven years, beginning when he was 8.” By deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

As filing window closes, sex abuse lawsuits against NJ Catholic Church number 820
“A recent lawsuit alleging that a religious order priest sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in 2006 was among the nearly 180 sex abuse civil complaints(link is external) filed this month alone against the Catholic Church in New Jersey. The claim caught the attention of the attorney for the Diocese of Paterson, who said he routinely passes allegations of abuse to law enforcement authorities. This one warranted added urgency because of when the abuse allegedly occurred. The attorney sent information about the complaint to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office on the day he received it several weeks ago.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Another child sex abuse lawsuit filed against Delbarton School
“A lawsuit against the Delbarton School claims that a priest sexually abused a child(link is external) in the 1990s. The complaint became the latest among several lawsuits filed against the school for alleged abuse. The lawsuit alleges that Father Jude Salus sexually abused the plaintiff from 1993-94. The plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit anonymously, was a student and approximately 14 years old.” By Josh Bakan, New Jersey Patch

Thirty-four alleged child abusers publicly identified for the first time in New Jersey
“Through lawsuits filed against the Catholic Archdiocese and Dioceses in New Jersey under the Victims’ Rights Bill, 34 alleged perpetrators(link is external) have been publicly accused of sexual abuse for the first time. They are: Fr. Richard Carrington (Archdiocese of Newark) …” By AndersonAdvocates.com

NEW YORK.

86-year-old Queens priest removed from ministry following credible claims of child sexual abuse
“An 86-year-old priest has been removed from the ministry following an investigation conducted by the Brooklyn Diocese that determined that a claim of child molestation against him dating back to the 1970s was credible(link is external). Rev. Peter Mahoney–who had been ministering part-time to the Hispanic community at Saint Anne Catholic Church in Flushing and St. Nicholas of Tolentine in Jamaica, Queens—is no longer permitted to celebrate mass publicly, or exercise any public ministry.” By Christian Murray, Sunnyside Post

NORTH CAROLINA

Priest sued for sexual abuse served this summer at Washington church
“A Catholic priest who served this past summer in Washington has been named in a sexual abuse lawsuit(link is external). Father Francis Gillespie, a Jesuit priest, filled in at Mother of Mercy Church from June to August. The Diocese of Charlotte was also named in the lawsuit that was filed under the Safe Child Act. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, says the abuse involved an 8-year-old altar boy at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Charlotte. The organization says it happened over a four-year period while the victim also attended the parish school.” By WITN-TV News

OHIO

Plea negotiations underway in Father Geoff Drew rape case
“Negotiations are underway for a plea deal in the case of Father Geoff Drew, the Cincinnati Catholic priest accused of raping an altar boy(link is external) 30 years ago. Sources told WCPO 9 there are active negotiations on a plea agreement ahead of the start of Drew’s trial Friday (Dec. 3), and the victim in the case has participated in those discussions. Drew, 59, is charged with nine counts of rape and has, so far, pleaded not guilty. He faces life in prison if convicted.” By WCPO-TV9 News staff in Dayton Daily News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

D.C. priest in prison for abusing girls found guilty of groping woman
“A Catholic priest serving 15 years in prison for sexually abusing two girls at Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Northwest D.C. has now been convicted of groping an adult female parishioner(link is external). In 2019, Urbano Vazquez, now 49, was found guilty of one count of second-degree child sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl, as well as two counts of second-degree child sexual abuse and one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse of a 9-year-old girl. Both the girls were from his parish, and the crimes happened between 2015 and 2017, while he was an assistant pastor at Shrine of the Sacred Heart.” By Neal Augenstein, WTOP News

CANADA

Catholic archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth knew of sexual abuse, ‘vicariously liable’
“The alleged sexual abuse of a 10-year-old altar boy by a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) nearly 60 years ago in Halifax is at the center of a class action against the Halifax-Yarmouth archdiocese. ‘The case law from the Supreme Court of Canada … is quite clear that dioceses are vicariously liable for sexual abuse by their priests,’ said John McKiggan, the Halifax lawyer who filed the class action in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in August 2018 on behalf of Douglas Champagne, the young altar boy from the early 1960s, and other plaintiffs.” By Francis Campbell, SaltWire.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Abuse charged against Scottish priest who lived in Saskatchewan dropped
“The prosecution service in Scotland has dropped its case on historical child abuse charges(link is external) against a retired Catholic priest who used to live and serve in Saskatchewan, according to the BBC. Rev. Robert MacKenzie was extradited from Canada in 2020 to stand trial in Scotland. The now 87-year-old was accused of physical and sexual abuse during his time as a teacher at two schools in Scotland from the 1950s to the 1980s.” By CBC News

GUAM

Church offers to pay up to $34 million
“Guam’s Catholic Church has come up with a revised proposed payment of $27.96 million to $34.38 million to those who claimed they were raped or sexually molested by priests and other members of the clergy when they were minors(link is external), dating back to the 1950s. That’s more than $100,000 per clergy sex abuse survivor if the award is based on equal amounts, although the process is far from over. Clergy sex abuse survivors and other claimants would need to vote to either accept or reject the plan from the Archdiocese of Agana.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former school principal Patrick Harte loses appeal for sexually abusing boys 50 years ago
“Former school principal Patrick Harte has failed in a bid to have his convictions for sexually abusing schoolboys in classrooms over 50 years ago overturned(link is external) on appeal. In dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal rejected what was described as an ‘extraordinary’ submission by Harte that he was prejudiced after it emerged during the trial that he had not sought the blessing of a priest before entering a teacher training course. Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham had described any such risk as ‘fanciful’ during submissions.” By Paul Neilan, Sunday World

SPAIN

Why is Spain’s Catholic Church refusing an independent investigation into sex abuse claims
“Activists are calling for an independent probe into alleged sexual abuse in Spain’s Catholic Church. They insist the number of cases is on a par with neighbour France, where a recent investigation found 218,000 victims since 1950. But as the Episcopal Conference’s gathering of bishops closed in Madrid on Friday (November 19), the church denied the claims(link is external). Spokesman Luis Argüello reiterated the institution would not be ‘proactive’ in undertaking an external investigation into allegations of sexual abuse. ‘We are not prepared to carry out statistical and sociological investigations,’ he said.” By Heather Galloway, EuroNews.com

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A priest ordained in 2017 is now serving a life sentence for sex abuse. How did he slip through the cracks? / America: The Jesuit Review

“Despite it all, Father McWilliams, who has not yet been laicized, made it through to ordination and placement in a parish where he soon began a process of internet ‘catfishing’ and sexual extortion involving three teenage boys.”

America: The Jesuit Review

“Just two years after his ordination in 2017, the Rev. Robert McWilliams was charged with a cascade of sexual assault and child pornography charges. He was sentenced to life imprisonment a few weeks ago, on Nov. 9, in a federal criminal court in Cleveland.

“The McWilliams case came as an unhappy shock to Catholics in the Diocese of Cleveland and all over the United States who might have hoped that years of procedural changes and an enhanced screening process for seminarians would have put an end to the ordination of priests like Father McWilliams. The most recent report card from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, released the same day as Father McWilliams’s sentencing, offered some reason for optimism. Although 4,228 allegations of sexual abuse by clergy surfaced between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, only 22 came from individuals who are now minors; the rest reflected historical cases, most of them from decades ago.

“Father McWilliams entered the seminary system in Cleveland in 2008, six years after the abuse crisis detonated on the front pages of The Boston Globe. He could not have been unaware of the fall-out from that crisis and the greater scrutiny that candidates for the priesthood would draw because of it. Despite it all, Father McWilliams, who has not yet been laicized, made it through to ordination and placement in a parish where he soon began a process of internet ‘catfishing’ and sexual extortion involving three teenage boys.

“At the Nov. 9 sentencing, defense attorney Robert Dixon pleaded for leniency to allow Father McWilliams to ‘secure the therapy necessary to confront demons from his childhood and the addictions and heinous behavior of his adulthood.'”

By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

November 23, 2021

TOP STORIES

New report on abuse shows ‘need for continued commitment and diligence’
“The 18th annual report on U.S. diocesan and eparchial compliance with the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People found a total of 4,250 clergy sex abuse allegations for the 2019-2020 audit year, about two-thirds of which stem from lawsuits, compensation programs and bankruptcies … ‘Though the Church’s efforts are admirable, constant vigilance is still required and the commitment of the clergy and lay faithful remains necessary(link is external),’ he (Deacon Bernie Nojadera, USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection executive director) wrote. ‘The efforts of the Church will hopefully change the culture, and this will only work if everyone follows the rules.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Portugal’s Catholic bishops announce independent child sexual abuse commission
“Portugal’s Roman Catholic Church said on Thursday (Nov. 11) it would create an independent commission to investigate historical child sexual abuse allegedly committed by members of the clergy(link is external) following pressure from prominent congregants to lift a veil of silence around the issue. Portugal’s Bishops’ Conference said in a statement that it decided to create the commission to improve the way cases are handled and to ‘carry out a study to clarify the history of this serious issue.’” By Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves, Reuters

French clerical abuse report puts spotlight on confession
“The absolute secrecy of confession is central to the Roman Catholic faith. What is said in confession is between a penitent and God, the priest a mediator. Any priest who breaks that seal can face excommunication under church laws that the Vatican places above all others. But what happens when what is confessed is a violation of the laws of the state?(link is external) It is an issue that has vexed attempts to address the sexual abuse cases that have roiled the church in any number of countries, but one that has emerged as especially charged in France, where the state long ago stripped the Catholic Church of its pre-eminence.” By Norimitsu Onishi and Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times

Nebraska AG finds 258 victims of Catholic church sex abuse
“A Nebraska attorney general’s office investigation identified 258 victims who made credible allegations of sexual abuse against 57 Catholic church officials(link is external) in the state going back decades, including many that high-ranking church leaders knew about and didn’t report to the authorities, according to a report released Thursday (No. 4). Prosecutors can’t charge against any current or former church officials with a crime because the statutes of limitations have expired in the vast majority of cases, Attorney General Doug Peterson said at a news conference announcing the findings.” By Grant Schulte, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Sex abuse survivors urge bishops to denounce Church Militant’s agenda
“On the first of two days of public sessions during the U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly, a group of sex abuse survivors in a Nov. 16 news conference called on the prelates meeting in Baltimore to focus less on who can take Communion and instead do more to end sex abuse and other abuses by clergy(link is external). The survivors also demanded the bishops condemn a group that was holding a nearby protest claiming homosexuality is linked to pedophilia.” By Rhino Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Bishops agree to begin review of charter earlier than planned
“An update on the U.S. bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ will take place sooner than originally planned. On Nov. 17, the second of two days of public sessions during their fall general assembly Nov. 15-18 in Baltimore, the bishops voted to begin the process of updating the charter in 2022 rather than in 2025(link is external). The vote was 230 bishops in favor of the plan and five bishops against it. Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, chairman of the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, told the bishops that events in recent years made it necessary to start the review sooner than expected.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

ACCOUNTABILITY

French Church admits sexual abuse responsibility
“The French episcopate, shaken by a report’s estimates of widespread sexual abuse within the Church, has admitted its institutional responsibility for the scandal and called on the Vatican and outside experts asked to help it reform(link is external). The French bishops’ conference, at its autumn plenary session in Lourdes, said it will name nine lay-led working groups to formulate responses to the main proposals of the independent commission’s report. They will be staffed by lay people, clerics and victims.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

French bishops agree to compensate sex abuse victims
“France’s Catholic Church announced on Monday (Nov. 8) that it would financially compensate sex abuse victims by selling property assets or taking out a loan if needed(link is external). French bishops said in a written statement they will set up an ‘independent, national body’ tasked with addressing compensation issues. They committed to allocating money to a specific fund ‘in order to compensate victims,’ notably by selling property or through a potential loan. They also called on Pope Francis to send ‘a team of visitors’ to assess the church’s response regarding child protection.” By Associated Press

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Joint letter of Cardinals Koch and Grech to bishops responsible for ecumenism calls on bishops to listen to non-Catholic Christians during the synodal process
“In a joint letter of 28 October 2021, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, addressed the Bishops responsible for ecumenism in their Episcopal Conferences and Synods of the Oriental Catholic Churches. In the letter, the two Cardinals offer practical suggestions aimed at implementing the ecumenical dimension of the synodal process in Dioceses, Episcopal Conferences, and Synods(link is external). The Vademecum for the Synod affirms: ‘The dialogue between Christians of different confessions, united by one baptism, has a special place in the synodal journey’ (5.3.7).” By Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on ChristianUnity.va

POPE FRANCIS

Francis appoints first female secretary-general
“Pope Francis has appointed the first female secretary-general of Vatican City State(link is external), choosing Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Raffaela Petrini for the role. Sr Raffaella, 52, is the first woman to be appointed as the number two official at the Vatican City State administration, a position that has traditionally been held by a bishop. She becomes the highest-ranking woman official in the Vatican. Sr Rafaella’s role gives her a pivotal role in the governance of the city-state which includes the Vatican’s museums, police, department for health, post office and pharmacy.” By CathNews.com

BISHOPS

Catholic bishops avoid confrontation with Biden over communion
“The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States backed away from a direct conflict with President Biden on Wednesday (Nov. 17), approving a new document on the sacrament of the Eucharist that does not mention the president or any politicians by name(link is external). At issue was the question of which Catholics, under which circumstances, are properly able to receive Communion, one of the most sacred rites within Christianity. For some conservative Catholics, the real question was more pointed: Should Catholic politicians who publicly support and advance abortion rights be denied the sacrament?” By Ruth Graham, The New York Times

Opening bishops’ meeting, Vatican ambassador urges prelates to tamp down divisons
“The Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S. urged the country’s Catholic bishops on Nov. 16 to try to tamp down divisions among themselves and to embrace Pope Francis’ vision for a listening church(link is external), open to change. In an energetic half-hour address opening the first general session of the bishops’ four-day assembly, Archbishop Christophe Pierre told the prelates gathered here that the church needs ‘attentive listening more than ever if she is to overcome the polarization facing this country.’ Although Pierre did not specifically mention the bishops’ plans to release a controversial document on Communion, he appeared to touch on the intense disagreements among the prelates in recent months about the text.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

These five U.S. bishops may be in the spotlight for years to come
“‘My impression continues to be that the most important prelates in the United States have more or less given up on the USCCB,’ said (Massimo) Faggioli (church historian and professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University), who suggested that the bishops’ conference today is ‘in the hands’ of prelates who are ‘out of sync’ with Francis … Among the nominees for election (to USCCB standing committees) in Baltimore are five bishops who appear to be among ‘rising stars’ of the national conference(link is external). Some are known for prioritizing similar issues as Francis, such as immigration, economic injustice, climate change and reaching out to those on the margins. Others have not been always known for emphasizing issues favored by the pope.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Sadly, the U.S. bishops’ conference is a ghost of its former self
“Now, the bishops’ conference is like a ghost of its former self(link is external). In 2012, they failed to pass(link is external) a document on poverty. In 2018, the Vatican had to intervene at the last minute and ban voting(link is external) on a series of action items related to clergy sex abuse, a public rebuke of the conference leadership without precedent. This week, if they vote to approve this document on the Eucharist it will not be because the text is good but because its mediocrity does not offend. How sad.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Bishops’ visits to Rome unable to quell crisis in Polish church
“For the first time in seven years, nearly all Poland’s Catholic bishops went to Rome last month for formal meetings with Pope Francis and Vatican officials. Although most of the prelates expressed satisfaction with the encounters, they also hinted that there had been some frank exchanges over the pope’s handling of the country’s sex abuse crisis. An unprecedented 10 Polish bishops, mostly retired, have been sanctioned in various ways in recent months for ignoring abuse complaints(link is external). ‘The pope knows how important the Polish church is,’ said Fr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, a Polish theologian and former secretary-general of the Brussels-based Commission of European Union Bishops’ Conferences (COMECE).” By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter

Mexico bishops investigated over abuse cover-up allegations
Twelve bishops in Mexico are being investigated for covering up the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults(link is external), although no conclusions have so far been reached, the Vatican ambassador to the South America nation has revealed. Archbishop Franco Coppola, the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, said that some of the investigations, carried out on the basis of new norms established by Pope Francis, have been referred to the Vatican itself.” By Madoc Cairns, The Tablet

Bishops’ visits to Rome unable to quell crisis of Polish church
“For the first time in seven years, nearly all Poland’s Catholic bishops went to Rome last month for formal meetings with Pope Francis and Vatican officials. Although most of the prelates expressed satisfaction with the encounters, they also hinted that there had been some frank exchanges over the pope’s handling of the country’s sex abuse crisis(link is external). An unprecedented 10 Polish bishops, mostly retired, have been sanctioned in various ways in recent months for ignoring abuse complaints.” By Jonathan Luxmore, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Dear Bishops: We need to talk about the crisis of despair in Catholic priests
“The U.S. bishops are meeting this week (Nov. 15-18) in Washington. And amid all the stories about a document on the Eucharist and other matters that they will discuss, you would be forgiven if you didn’t catch word of the results of a survey of clergy released Nov. 2; it found that over half of U.S. priests are pessimistic about the state of the church(link is external). Fifty-one percent indicated the church is in ‘not so good’ shape, and another 13 percent described it as ‘poor.’” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Parishioners at Catholic church in Louisville sue longtime priest, alleged wrongful use of money
“A civil lawsuit filed in Jefferson County alleges a Louisville priest, Rev. Anthony Ngo, wrongfully used church money by converting funds donated to the parish for his personal use(link is external) … Ngo has been the pastor at St. John Vianney’s for more than two decades. He denies he did anything wrong. Members of his former parish council and the parish’s former music director filed the lawsuit.” By Rachel Droze WHAS-TV11 News

Yes, honest to God, Vatican finance stories matter
“It’s only Tuesday (Nov. 9), but I’ve already got a candidate for the Vatican soundbite of the week. It came in a piece in the Financial Times, quoting an unidentified expert on the London real estate market on news that the Vatican is selling a property in the posh Chelsea neighborhood for $270 million, representing roughly a $130 million loss on its original investment of $400 million. ‘I couldn’t quite understand how they [the Vatican] had lost money on it(link is external),’ the expert said, referring to the well-known fact that losing money on real estate in London is hard to do – unless, it turns out, you’re the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.” By John L. Allen, Cruxnow.com

Vatican to lose £100m of charitable funds in London property sale
“The Vatican City will suffer a loss of £ 100 million in donations to the poor(link is external) when it completes the pending sale of its luxurious London office building, which is now the center of international criminal investigations. According to some people familiar with the process, the Vatican City is in the final stages of selling 60 Sloane Avenue, a building in London’s Knightsbridge district, to private equity group Bain Capital for about £ 200 million. Both Bain Capital and Savills, which manages the sale, declined to comment. The Vatican City states that between 2014 and 2018, senior Holy See officials invested a total of € 350 million in donations to the London building. In short, the sale is expected to confirm a loss of approximately £ 100 million in the Catholic Church.” By California News Times

VOICES

Catholic leaders have to be defenders of children
“Shame, anguish and anger at child sexual abuse in the Church should lead to a devoted commitment to eradicate abuse everywhere. This active stance has to be the primary focus of society and of the Church and every individual member(link is external). Jesus of Nazareth said the child is the most important of all. If we continue to fail children, we fail Christ. The established institutional Church and many members — lay people and priests — have spectacularly failed to care, protect, help, support and compensate innocent vulnerable children for heinous crimes against them. Many of the bishops, priests and lay people have over the years, denied, covered up, transferred abusive priests, lied and forced child victims to shut up.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times

‘The Church must be political’: an interview with Bishop John Stowe
“Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., was ordained as the third bishop of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, in May 2015. The following interview was conducted by email. John Gehring: What would you like to see come out of the upcoming meeting of the U.S. bishops (Nov. 15-18)? Bishop John Stowe: My hopes for the USCCB meeting are probably unrealistic, but I would love to see us as a conference modeling the synodal path that the Church has embarked upon(link is external). I would like to see real discernment, serious discussion, and prayerful listening before publishing a letter as important as a teaching document on the Eucharist.” By John Gehring, Commonweal

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Italian bishops mark first day of prayer for abuse victims
“As the Catholic Church in Italy still reels from several fresh scandals involving clergy, the country’s bishops on Thursday (Nov. 18) will be hold the first-ever Day of Prayer and Awareness for victims and survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). ‘We cannot forget the suffering experienced by minors and vulnerable people due to the abuses of power, conscience, and sexuality committed by a considerable number of clerics and consecrated persons,’ said Bishop Lorenzo Ghizzoni of Ravenna-Cervia in the introduction for one of the formal prayers prepared for Thursday.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Church shores up ability to support survivors
“A capital injection from Catholic dioceses and religious orders has strengthened the ability of Catholic Church Insurance and the Church to make financial reparations for abuse carried out by priests, religious and lay people(link is external). Catholic Church Insurance (CCI), which has been supporting Catholic parishes, schools, community services and other ministries for more than 100 years, last year reported that recent and projected compensation claims for historical abuse had necessitated an increase in the company’s capital levels. Eighteen current CCI shareholders contributed to a capital injection earlier this year, which solidifies the broader insurance business, but especially the historical abuse claims that CCI covers.” By CathNews.com

CONNECTICUT

Priest abuse victims oppose diocese actions in bankruptcy case
“The committee that represents people who say they have been sexually assaulted by priests and other members of the Diocese of Norwich have filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court opposing the Catholic diocese’s attempt to prohibit victims from filing claims(link is external) after Feb. 10, 2022. The claimants’ committee, which is being represented by the Bridgeport law firm of Zeisler and Zeisler, wants a 120-day window from the date that a plan advertising the deadline, otherwise known as the bar date, is approved by Judge James Tancredi, as opposed to the 90-day window being requested by the diocese.” By Joe Wojtas, The Day

ILLINOIS

Catholic order found California abuse complaint credible, then moved priest to Chicago
“The Rev. Timothy Keppel was overseeing two parishes near San Bernardino, Calif., when a man told the diocese there that, while in his teens, he’d been repeatedly sexually abused by the priest(link is external). The abuse happened decades earlier, he said. And Keppel was never charged with a crime. But the Resurrectionist religious order of Catholic priests, brothers and deacons that Keppel belongs to determined the accusations were credible.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

MARYLAND

Former priest Robert Brennan, a Maryland resident, pleads guilty to lying to agents investigating clergy abuse
“ A defrocked priest pleaded guilty Wednesday (Nov. 10) to four counts of making false statements to FBI agents investigating clergy abuse(link is external). Former Philadelphia priest Robert Brennan, 83, changed his plea to guilty Wednesday in federal court, according to court documents. The charges stem from a federal investigation undertaken after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released an explosive 2018 grand jury report on abuse in the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses that detailed decades of abuse by more than 300 priests against nearly 1,000 victims across the state.” By Associated Press in The Baltimore Sun

MASSACHUSETTS

Boston Archdiocese settles two new lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests
“Two lawsuits filed this month alleging sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests(link is external), one of whom was based in Milton, were settled on Friday (Nov. 12) for undisclosed sums. Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian said the lawsuits each settled in the ‘high five figures.’ One of the lawsuits was filed against the Boston archdiocese and the Missionary Society of St. Columban in Milton, which hosted Irish priest Brian Gallagher, who died in 2014. The lawsuit also named the Rev. John K. Connell, who died in 2007.” By Wheeler Cowperthwaite, The Patriot Ledger

MICHIGAN

Attorney general gives update on clergy sex abuse cases
“A former priest in Oakland County has pleaded guilty to sex abuse(link is external), Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today. Gary Berthiaume, 79, was sent to trial in July by Judge James Brady in Oakland County’s 47th District Court on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, 15-year felonies. That development involved the original case against him, which was charged last year. In June, Berthiaume was charged with additional felonies in two new cases. Both cases were sent to trial by the end of September.” By Jack Hall, RadioResultsNetwork.com

MISSOURI

Kansas City man encourages others who’ve been sexually assaulted to ‘tell their story’
“‘We need to hold each other up,’ says one Kansas City man who was assaulted by his priest. Others tell their stories in a new Netflix documentary shot in Kansas City. Brian Heydon was sexually assaulted as a kid. Now a licensed counselor in Kansas City, Heydon grew up in a Catholic family. In the 1960s and ’70s, he said, the religion was a place for child predators to thrive(link is external).” By KCUR-FM National Public Radio

NEBRASKA

Nebraska investigation: Catholic clergy sexually abused hundreds of victims
“Nebraska’s attorney general conducted an investigation that found that Catholic clergy in that state sexually abused hundreds of victims, but the offenders can’t be prosecuted(link is external). And Peterson says by no means did his office find every victim or abuser. In the three-year investigation released Thursday, the office found evidence of 57 abusers, few of whom are still alive. Investigators found evidence that the church knew about the assaults and didn’t properly report them to law enforcement. Peterson had this message for church leaders. Nebraska Public Media’s Will Bauer explains why that is.” By Will Bauer, National Public Radio

NEW JERSEY

More than 850 sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed as deadline approaches for past claims
“Since it (24-month window on abuse suits) took effect, 880 cases involving individuals with claims that would have been time barred but for the new law have been filed(link is external) through Sept. 30, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts. Most of those cases, 62.2%, named a cleric and/or religious institution as a defendant. Schools accounted for 15.5% of the lawsuits and the Boy Scouts of America was named in 11.3% of the cases. State Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, who championed the legislation despite years of pushback, said those numbers should be much higher, and said the window for filing civil lawsuits should stay open.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Elderly Buffalo priest accused of abuse denies claim, prays for accuser
“At age 87, Monsignor Ronald P. Sciera might not have much time left to clear his name of the child sexual abuse allegation lodged against him(link is external) in an August lawsuit. But the priest of 60 years said his reputation is not his main concern.’ I have to answer to God,’ he said. ‘I have a hope that justice will be served, and the truth will come to light.’ An unnamed plaintiff alleges Sciera molested him nearly five decades ago at St. Aloysius Gonzaga parish in Cheektowaga.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

OHIO

‘Cunning, calculating and extremely cruel’: Sentencing nears for disgraced priest
“A disgraced Catholic priest, convicted of sex trafficking in minors and various child pornography charges, will be sentenced(link is external) next Tuesday (Nov. 9) by a federal judge. Prosecutors said Robert McWilliams led a double life. While professing his belief in Christianity at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville and St. Helen’s Church in Newbury Township, Father McWilliams was using fake identifies and technology to hide his abuse of children and secret criminal lifestyle.” By Jack Shea, FOX-TV8 News

Priest who served in North Canton placed on leave
“A Catholic Diocese of Youngstown priest has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of allegations involving a minor(link is external). The Rev. Marian Babjak serves as pastor of Christ Our Savior Catholic Church in Struthers. He previously served at St. Paul Catholic Parish in North Canton. Babjak was parochial vicar and associate pastor at St. Paul starting in 2017, where he served until 2020 when he was appointed to Christ Our Savior parish in Struthers.” By Charita Ml Goshay, The Repository, on The-Review.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Philly priest sexually abused a teen at Cardinal Dougherty High and on a shore trip decades ago
“A Philadelphia priest who was on the faculty at Cardinal Dougherty High School in the 1980s sexually abused a teen there and also took the boy on a trip to Margate, where he served him alcohol and assaulted him(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed in Atlantic County Superior Court.

The Rev. Peter Foley sexually assaulted the boy, then 16, on a trip to the Shore in 1981 and also at the school, where they worked together on student council, the suit says.” By Menasah M. Dean, The Philadelphia Inquirer

RHODE ISLAND

Former Rhode Island priest charged with sexual assaults going back to 1989
“A former Rhode Island Catholic priest has been indicted on sexual assault charges. James Silva, 81, is charged with two counts of first-degree child molestation sexual assault and nine counts of second-degree child molestation sexual assault(link is external). He was charged after an investigation by the state attorney general’s office and the Rhode Island State Police. The allegations stem from alleged assaults of a boy under the age of 14 between 1989 and 1990, while Silva was interim director and assistant director at the Office of Ministerial Formation within the Diocese of Providence, Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office said Tuesday (Nov. 9). The charges come as Neronha’s office continues its review of decades of diocesan records.” By Brian Amaral, The Boston Globe

SOUTH CAROLINA

Lawsuit claims sexual abuse from Myrtle Beach Catholic Church priest
“A lawsuit filed Wednesday (Nov. 3) claims a child was sexually abused by a priest at a Catholic church in Myrtle Beach(link is external) between 1990 and 1994. The lawsuit, filed anonymously by ‘John Doe,’ claims Father Robert Kelly at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church groomed and sexually assaulted the child while he was an altar boy in the early 1990s. Kelly died in 2004, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against The Diocese of Charleston and The Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston.” By Kevin Accettulla, WBTW-TV13News

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin’s attorney general is investigating the handling of clergy abuse claims. Six months in, here is what we know.
“As allegations of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests continue to emerge, Wisconsin hasn’t been immune to the scandal … In early 2021, Josh Kaul, the Wisconsin attorney general, announced an investigation into claims of clergy abuse and systemic cover-up(link is external) over decades. Here is the background on the Department of Justice investigation and where it stands as it reaches its sixth month …” By Laure Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

FRANCE

Trial of Lebanese priest accused of sexual abuse begins in France
“The trial of Lebanese priest Mansour Labaky started on Monday (Nov. 8) at the Criminal Court of the French city of Caen. The Maronite priest is formally accused of sexually abusing three children under his care(link is external), but there are dozens more alleged victims. Labaky, now 81, is prosecuted by three women who say they were sexually assaulted by the priest in the nineties while they were still teenagers. They were living in a French orphanage for Lebanese children founded by Labaky in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War.” By The New Arab (alaraby.co.uk)

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

A priest sits on a bed, trousers off, legs open. ‘What do you do when you think of girls?’ he asks.
“Everything in the bedroom is white, including a white crucifix on a white wall. A holy man sits on the corner of a bed, trousers off, legs open. ‘You need to confess everything(link is external),’ he says, gripping a young boy’s arm to pull him closer. ‘The Catholic church has been very good to you, to your mother, to your brother and sister. You don’t want that to all go away, do you? So tell me, what else have you done wrong.” By David Smith, The Irish Times

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Portugal’s Catholic bishops announce independent child sexual abuse commission / Reuters

“In Portugal, more than 200 Catholics sent a letter to the Bishops’ Conference earlier this month urging them to launch an investigation similar to Frances’s, arguing that child sexual abuse was a ‘systemic’ problem ‘directly related to the exercise of power’ within the church.”

Reuters

“Portugal’s Roman Catholic Church said on Thursday (Nov. 11) it would create an independent commission to investigate historical child sexual abuse allegedly committed by members of the clergy following pressure from prominent congregants to lift a veil of silence around the issue.

“Portugal’s Bishops’ Conference said in a statement that it decided to create the commission to improve the way cases are handled and to ‘carry out a study to clarify the history of this serious issue.’

“The announcement comes after a major report by an independent commission in France revealed last month that around 3,000 priests and religious officials sexually abused more than 200,000 children over the past 70 years. read more

“It was the latest blow for the Roman Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children, over the past 20 years.

“In Portugal, more than 200 Catholics sent a letter to the Bishops’ Conference earlier this month urging them to launch an investigation similar to France’s, arguing that child sexual abuse was a ‘systemic’ problem ‘directly related to the exercise of power’ within the church.”

By Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves — Read more …

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