Posts Tagged clergy sexual abuse

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 23, 2022

TOP STORIES

Statement of USCCB president on twenty years since passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
“This June marks twenty years since the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered in Dallas, Texas to draft and pass the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in their commitment to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse. Marking this moment, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement: ‘This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This is not a time of celebration, but a time of continued vigilance and determination.’” By United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Experts debate meaning of ‘synodality’ for global Church
“Throughout July, some 100,000 people will be able to participate in a free, online seminar about synodality, curated by three theologians from Latin America and including witnesses from all around the world. ‘Common Discernment and Decision Making in the Church’ is the theme of the first in a series of courses that will be hosted by Boston College’s School of Theology and ministry, sponsored by the bishops’ conferences of Latin America, Europe, and Asia, as well as the Jesuits in Latin America and the organizations of superiors general of male and female religious congregations.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Vatican cardinal: Subordination of women to men is ‘fruit of sin’
“‘The subordination of women to men is the fruit of sin,’ a top Vatican cardinal said on Tuesday (Jun. 14). ‘How much damage we have done, as men, by endorsing a status of superiority,’ said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. ‘There is no complete image of what is human when only the masculine is considered predominant and the only thing relevant. For centuries, we have suffocated the feminine peculiarity.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis’ synodality could be key to reaching young Catholics
“With an abundance of Catholic colleges and universities in Philadelphia, a planning team of educators worked together to envision a way for all of Philadelphia’s Catholic colleges and universities to encounter synodality, which means journeying together, specifically tailored for young people. Inspired by Pope Francis’ call for greater listening, presence and curiosity among the global church, nearly 400 students from more than 40 campuses across the Philadelphia metropolitan region joined a multipart listening process that culminated in an all-campus listening session at La Salle University. Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Perez participated in the listening session and delivered some thoughts at the end.” By Ernest J. Miller, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

How to evaluate Catholic journalism as CNS shuts down
“The recent decision by the U.S. hierarchy to shut down Catholic News Service operations in this country, shortsighted and insulting to the Catholic community, also bares tensions inherent in a setup where agencies are tightly aligned with or dependent upon the institutional church for their existence or credibility. The move is regrettable. While bishops might claim financing as the cause for the shutdown, if they wanted the service to survive, they’d certainly find a way.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican discloses uses of pope’s fund, hoping to reverse sagging trust
“The Vatican, in an apparent attempt to boost the confidence of the faithful in how their charitable contributions to the pope are used, on Thursday (Jun. 16) issued the first detailed disclosure of his main fund. The Peter’s Pence fund, whose aim is to help the pope run the Church, is made up income from a collection taken up in Roman Catholic dioceses around the world once a year, individual contribution and inheritances and bequests.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, on EuroNews.com

Pope cracks down on new Catholic religious start-ups
“Pope Francis has taken another step to reign in new religious groups in the Catholic Church after their unregulated proliferation in recent decades led to abuses in governance that allowed spiritual and sexual misconduct to go unchecked. Francis issued a new decree published Wednesday (Jun. 15) that requires prior Vatican approval for bishops to erect new associations of the faithful, often the first step in the creation of a new apostolic society or institute of consecrate life.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Lay Group give Baltimore Archdiocese high marks for accountability, transparency
“Although it was not the first time the media had reported on sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, when the Boston Globe reported extensively on the topic in 2002, it focused the attention of the U.S. bishops and many laypeople on the crisis. When the USCCB met in Dallas in June 2002, the main agenda item was discussion and approval of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People … That same year, a small, grassroots, lay organization formed in the basement of a church in Wellesley, Mass., in the Archdiocese of Boston, the epicenter of the crisis. Voice of the Faithful has since expanded worldwide and now claims more than 30,000 members.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review

Abuse expert: ‘voice of Jesus’ speaks through victims
“According to one of the Catholic Church’s foremost experts on clerical sexual abuse prevention, by ignoring the voice of the victims ‘we are excluding the voice of Jesus who speaks to us through them.’ German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, President of the Institute of Anthropology-Interdisciplinary Studies on Protection and Human Dignity (IADC) of the Pontifical Gregorian University, was speaking at a daylong ‘conversation’ held on Thursday (Jun. 9) in Madrid, Spain, organized by the publishing house PPC.” By Inés San Martin

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Towards a spirituality for synodality
One of the most significant aspects of the 2021-2023 Synod is the recognition that it is informed and shaped by a spirituality. In developing a ‘spirituality for synodality,’ we find that it assists us in integrating our theological reflection and expanding our experience of the Church as we engage more deeply in the synodal process. Indeed, as the features of a synodal spirituality unfold for us, we can come to see in it the ways in which the Holy Spirit graces the life of the Church, drawing each one into a deeper love of Christ and moving us to desire an ever greater communion, participation, and mission.” By Commission on Spirituality Sub-Group – Spirituality for synodality on Synod.va

Synodality gives voice to people on the periphery
“Lalita Beero, an unlettered and homebound homemaker from Mohana, a rural village of the Gajapati district of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, is a member of the diocesan synodal team of the Diocese of Berhampur. ‘I used to be very fearful,’ she said. ‘Today, I can stand before the crowd and speak a few words. I can mingle with all. I am happy to be part of this team. I am learning about some rules and norms of the Catholic Church which I never knew.’ Lalita has traveled to different parishes with the bishop and with the synodal team for meetings. ‘It is beyond my belief I could tour with Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak and other esteemed members of the DST in and outside the diocese,’ she said.” By Sujata Jena, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Spain Catholics want Church to mull optional celibacy, women priests
“Spanish Catholics want Rome to consider talks on the future of the priesthood, including optional celibacy, the ordination of women and also of married men, a key document showed Saturday (Sunday in Manila). The document was unveiled by the CEE Episcopal Conference that groups Spain’s leading bishops at a 600-strong gathering in Madrid. It was drawn up after months of consultation with more than 215,000 people, mostly lay people but also priests and bishops, with the proposals to be condensed into a final document that will be presented to next year’s Bishops in Synod assembly at the Vatican.” By Agence France-Presse in Manila Times

Among national synod, Italian Church faces challenges on multiple fronts
“Church leaders in Italy are currently conducting a national synod process, at the behest of Pope Francis, in tandem with the pope’s universal Synod of Bishops on Synodality. Among other things, the Italian bishops’ national synod, set to conclude in 2025, is aimed at assessing the challenges the country faces in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and providing an up-to-date evaluation of the general state of the church in Italy. Pope Francis had been pushing the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) to launch the national synod ever since a 2015 visit to Florence for a major CEI conference.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis: Theologians must find new and relevant ways to share the Catholic faith
“The Catholic Church needs theologians who know how to transmit the truths of faith in a way that will speak to people today, help them live the faith in their daily lives and inspire them to share the Gospel with others, Pope Francis wrote. ‘The community needs the work of those who attempt to interpret the faith, to translate and retranslate it, to make it understandable, to expound it in new words; it is a work that must be always done again, in every generation,’ the pope told staff from Milan’s archdiocesan seminary in a text given to them June 17.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Intentional or not, Pope offers valuable conclave tip on abuse baggage
“Even before Pope Francis stages his latest consistory on Aug. 27, inducting 20 new members into the Catholic Church’s most exclusive club, the event has managed to make news – in this case, not so much for the new cardinals who’ll be there, but the one erstwhile cardinal-designate who won’t … The reason for the withdrawal is that (former Bishop of Ghent Lucas) Van Looy’s record on the clerical abuse scandals has come under fire, and, inevitably, making him a cardinal therefore would be seen as insensitive and offensive to abuse survivors.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

‘God may be calling us’: Meet the women aspiring to become deacons
“I recently attended a listening session for the synod in which the global church is now participating. The priest taking notes for the bishop began the session by saying something along the lines of: ‘Don’t waste your time coming up here and making a comment that asks the church not to be Catholic. Women cannot receive holy orders. This is an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church. No generation in the church will ever see a woman at the altar.’ It was an odd way to begin a listening session, both because no topic is meant to be off the table at the sessions, and because the statement is false. While the Catholic Church is not considering ordaining women to the priesthood, the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate is a real possibility.” By Anna Keating, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH REFORM

Pope Francis: ‘Significant’ number of U.S. Catholics want to ‘gag’ Vatican II reforms
“The United States contains a ‘significant’ number of groups seeking to ‘gag’ the reforms of the Catholic Church initiated by the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis said in a new interview. “’In the European Church I see more renewal in the spontaneous things that are emerging: movements, groups, new bishops who remember that there is a Council behind them,’ said Francis in a conversation with the editors of Jesuit journals of Europe. ‘Restorationism has come to gag the Council,’ he continued. ‘The number of groups of ‘restorers’ — for example, in the United States there are many — is significant.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

200 witnesses to testify in ‘Vatican trial of a century’ on financial scandals
“Earlier this month, Giuseppe Pignatone, one of the judges overseeing the Vatican’s ‘trial of a century,’ concerning corruption and money laundering by Catholic Church officials, joked that he hoped the proceedings would end by 2050. At least, it was thought to be a joke: At Wednesday’s (Jun. 22) session, the judges announced that the prosecution and defendants plan to call more than 200 witnesses in a trial that has already taken nearly a year to get through 10 defendants.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Former church finance director arrested for taking money as reimbursement for classes she didn’t take
“The former finance director at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church was charged Friday (Jun. 10) for fraudulently obtaining $27,930.03 from the church while she worked there between 2018 and 2020, Winston-Salem police said. Marilyn Bertelsen has been arrested on three felony counts of obtaining property under false pretense. The warrants claim she obtained the money for tuition — and, on one count, materials — as a reimbursement for college courses she never took.” By Winston-Salem Journal

Vatican’s financial watchdog sees rise in suspicious activity reports in 2021
“The Vatican’s financial watchdog authority reported on Monday (Jun. 13) that it received 104 suspicious activity reports in 2021, an increase from the previous year. In a 35-page annual report, released on June 13, the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF) said that it submitted 21 reports to the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice (prosecutor), the highest number in the past five years.” By Catholic News Agency

Vatican Bank’s 2021 discal year nets $19 million, down from 2020
“In a context of great instability on the financial markets linked to the pandemic crisis, the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), the Vatican’s private bank, presents results that are still positive but down sharply in a report made public on 7 June 2022. In 2021, the Vatican entity posted a profit of EUR 18.1 million euros [$19 million]. Figures clearly down from 2020 – EUR 36.4 million [$39 million] net equity – but equivalent to those of 2018 – EUR 17.5 million [$18.7 million].” By Aleteia

VOICES

Understanding the pope’s reforms: making the church Christocentric
“Last week, Pope Francis issued a rescript requiring local bishops to get approval from Rome before giving their blessing to a diocesan religious order. Some critics of the pope saw the new rule as draconian … The need for the edict is rooted in the lack of accountability that sometimes occurs when a new religious order is begun in one diocese, but later moves or expands beyond its original location and confusion sets in about who is conducting oversight. The recent problems in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon in France indicate how granting canonical status in an irresponsible manner to questionable groups can create a big mess.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Maine diocese sued for first time since abuse suit barrier end
“The first lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland since Maine took away a limitation on claims of child sexual abuse were filed on Thursday (Jun. 16). Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed a law last year that allowed victims to bring civil lawsuits about older abuse cases. Abuse survivors previously could not bring lawsuits if they experienced the abuse prior to the late 1980s. Attorneys who represent three people with claims of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and a lay educator filed the complaints seeking monetary damages.” By Patrick whittle, Associated Press

Louisiana legislature passes ‘fix to make it easier for sex abuse victims to sue
“The Louisiana Legislature approved Tuesday (Jun. 7) an update to a law it passed just last year that was supposed to make it easier for adult victims of childhood sex abuse to sue institutions such as the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America. The Louisiana House and Senate voted without objection to pass House Bill 402, by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, which clarifies that victims of childhood abuse – no matter their current age – should have a chance to sue over their alleged mistreatment until 2024.” By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Priest abuse survivor says church still needs ‘lamentation’ for abuse
“As the Catholic Church in the United States marks two decades since the U.S. bishops adopted a document establishing policies to deal with allegations of sexual abuse of children by clergy, Jesuit Father Jerry McGlone worries about the psychological responses the event could trigger. And he knows from experience because he’s not solely a priest who works with survivors but also a survivor of abuse by a priest.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, on CatholicReview.org

Abuse victim seeks damages from retired Pope Benedict XVI
“A victim of sexual abuse is reported to be suing retired Pope Benedict XVI in connection with the Munich abuse scandal. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the victim has accused Pope Benedict — who, as Joseph Ratzinger served as archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982 — of having ‘responsibly approved’ the appointment of a priest as a pastoral minister in a Bavarian parish some 40 years ago, even though the man was known to be an abuser. The legal action is aimed at establishing that the retired pope was partly to blame for the abuse scandal through a so-called ‘declaratory action,’ public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reported June 22.” By Catholic News Service

Archdiocese follows detailed process to respond to allegations of abuse
“When the Archdiocese of Baltimore receives any allegation of child sexual abuse by clergy, employees or volunteers in the church, archdiocesan officials take very seriously the person who has come forward, according to Bishop Adam J. Parker, moderator of the curia and vicar general. ‘That is where we begin. The investigation will try to examine every facet that we can possibly examine to get to the truth,’ he said in April 2022.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review

CALIFORNIA

Santa Barbara Franciscans hit with new sexual assault complaint
“With the statute of limitations on such cases soon set to expire, a 40-year-old Santa Barbara County resident identified only as John Doe filed legal papers in court alleging he’d been sexually assaulted at the hands of the Franciscan Friars of California, the Old Mission Santa Barbara, the Roman Catholic Diocese, and the San Roque Catholic Church. Specifically, the complaint charges that Father Robert Van Handel and Monsignor Vincent McCabe sexually abused the plaintiff in 1989 when he was a 5th grader singing in the St. Anthony’s choir under the direction of Van Handel and serving as an altar boy at the San Roque parish under the guidance of Monsignor McCabe.” By Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara Independent

MAINE

Three men sue Maine Catholic bishop over alleged sex abuse decades ago following law change
“Three men have sued the head of Maine’s Roman Catholic diocese in three different counties, saying that four priests and a lay teacher abused them years ago in a variety of venues, including at churches. The men have filed the lawsuits against Bishop Robert Deeley, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, following a law change that took effect last October lifting the statute of limitations on such legal claims.” By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News

MICHIGAN

Former Shelby township priest convicted for sexual abuse could face more than a decade in prison
“A former priest in Shelby Township is facing more than a decade in prison after being convicted of sexual abuse, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Monday (Jun. 13). Neil Kalina, 66, was convicted of two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct by a jury in Macomb County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon. The charges, in this case, are 15-year felonies.” By CBS-TV62 News

AUSTRALIA

Catholic church uses pedophile priest’s death as shield against new allegations in NSW
“The Catholic church has used the death of a known pedophile priest to shield itself from being sued over new complaints of child sexual abuse. Earlier this month, the Lismore diocese won its argument for a permanent stay of civil proceedings brought by a woman who was 14 years old when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Father Clarence Anderson in 1968 inside her family home.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Long-awaited Joan Chittister tour excites Australian Catholic reformers
“‘It’s time for prophetic voices everywhere to get into the conversation, study the issues, stay with the problem, to speak out. The question now is whether there’ll be prophets enough among you, here, in this group, in this generation to help the world and the church sort and sift ideas that others want to suppress. Prophets of real faith must go on raising their cries!’ Challenging words from Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister to an audience of Catholic activists in Sydney. The ‘troublesome’ American nun is in Australia for a major speaking tour at a crucial time for the Catholic Church in this country.” By Peter Kirkwood, National Catholic Reporter

Priest sex abuse victim awarded nearly $2m
“A former altar boy sexually abused by Victorian priest Desmond Gannon has been awarded nearly $2 million in damages in a civil case against Melbourne’s archbishop. The sex abuse survivor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, brought the case against Peter Comensoli, claiming the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne was vicariously liable for his abuse.” By Cassandra Morgan, The Advertiser

CANADA

Victims of sexual abuse upset convicted clerics cared for in Catholic retirement home
“When James and Tony Charlie first arrived at Kuper Island Residential School in British Columbia, they were given identification numbers that would be stitched into their clothes and put on lists for chore duties. ‘Sometimes it wasn’t even our names, it was just the number,’ Tony said. The brothers, born just 14 months apart, started attending the school in 1964 when Tony was 13 and James was 12. They’re now counted among the many children abused by Catholic clergy at residential schools across Canada.” By Julie Ireton, CBC News

Former priest Arthur Masse busted in alleged Manitoba school sex assault
“A retired priest was busted Thursday (Jun. 16) for allegedly sexually assaulting a girl at an indigenous residential school in Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Arthur Masse, 92, was arrested at his home in Winnipeg and charged with the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl who was a student at the Manitoba school in Fort Alexander, according to the CBC.” By Isabel Vincent, New York Post

St. John’s basilica sold for more than $3 million to pay survivors of church abuse
“The bells at the historic basilica overlooking St. John’s rang out Tuesday (Jun. 14) after a committee intent on preserving the cathedral announced it was chosen as the building’s new owners. The 167-year-old Basilica of St. John’s the Baptist was put up for sale along with two other church properties as part of bankruptcy proceedings undertaken by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s, as it scrambles to pay survivors of sexual and physical abuse at the former Mount Cashel Orphanage.” By Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press

Ex-priest who abused Inuit children ‘should rot in jail,’ says federal minister
“The statutory release of a defrocked priest who sexually abused children in Igloolik, Nunavut, received a sharp response from the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. On Thursday (Jun. 9), Minister Marc Miller told reporters he believes people like Eric Dejaeger ‘should rot in jail.’ Dejaeger, now 75, was convicted in 2015 of 32 counts of sexually abusing people in Igloolik, many of them children.” By April Hudson, CBC

Audit of several Quebec dioceses’ records identifies 87 abusers in the church
“An independent audit of more than 80 years of files involving nine Quebec Catholic dioceses found at least 87 abusers among church personnel, according to a summary of findings released Wednesday (Jun. 8). Retired Superior Court justice André Denis reviewed archived files of 6,809 people employed between 1940 and 2021 and uncovered 87 employees who were the subjects of confirmed or well-founded sex abuse allegations involving minors or vulnerable adults.” By Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press, on CBC.ca

CHILE

Former Chilean priest found guilty of sex abuse and rape
“A former priest and top aide to Santiago’s archbishop was found guilty on Wednesday (Jun. 8) of repeated sexual abuse and rape, the result of 2018 scandal that ensnared multiple high-ranking members of the Chilean Catholic Church. The prosecutor’s office said on Twitter that it had secured the conviction of former priest Oscar Munoz, ‘for crimes of repeated rape, sexual abuse and repeated sexual abuse of those who were minor victims.’” By Reuters

GERMANY

Münster bishop refuses to quit after sexual abuse report
“Bishop of Münster Felix Genn on Friday (Jun. 17) said he would not resign after a report that claimed he was too lax in dealing with priests who had committed abuse. While he admitted mistakes in dealing with the cases, Genn said he had not put the interests of the institution ahead of concern for the victims by covering up cases of sexual abuse. However, he did blame his predecessors for more ‘serious mistakes,’ saying that they had done so.” By Deutshe Welle

Study finds German Catholic priests sexually abused over 600 victims
At least 610 children were documented as having been sexually abused by Catholic priests between 1945 and 2020 in the diocese of the west German city of Münster, according to a study released Monday (Jun. 13). The new report from the University of Münster found nearly 200 members of the clergy committed nearly 6,000 instances of abuse. Researchers believe the true number of victims could be much higher — up to between 5,000 and 6,000 more victims — due to unreported cases, the report’s authors said at a press conference outlining their findings on Monday.” By Inke Kappeler and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Catholic priest jailed for ten years for child rape
“A Catholic priest has been sentenced to ten years in jail for raping a child. Fr Anthony White was sentenced to ten and half years imprisonment by Hove Crown Court last week for sexual assault and two offences of indecent assault of a 15-year-old boy. The incidents took place between 1992 and 1993 when White, now 64, was an assistant priest at St John’s Church, Horsham, West Sussex.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

INDIA

Future of Indian bishop acquitted of rape in Vatican’s hands, nuncio says
“The Vatican has accepted the verdict of an Indian court declaring the innocence of a bishop accused of raping a nun, according to the papal representative to the country, who added the bishop’s future ‘is not in my hands, but with Rome.’ Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli was speaking about Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar during a visit to the diocese, located in Punjab state.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

£150K payout for victim abused by pedophile priest Fr. Malachy Finnegan
“The payout forms part of a settlement reached at the High Court in his claim for historic physical and sexual assaults inflicted by the late Fr Malachy Finnegan. He is also to meet the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland to be given an apology in person, and have the costs of his ongoing counselling covered under the terms of the resolution.” By Alan Erwin, Newsletter.co.uk

A Roman Catholic priest who plied a teenage boy with drink before raping him has been jailed
“Father Anthony White, 64, now of Cross-In-Hand, Heathfield, Sussex, committed the offences during 1992 and 1983 when the boy was 15. The offences took place at an address in Horsham where White was living while serving as an Assistant Priest at St John the Evangelist Church in the town. A detective working on the investigation revealed how White carried out his crimes after winning the trust of the boy’s family.” By The Irish Post

TRINIDAD

Survivor haunted by abuse at St. Dominic’s Children’s Home
“A survivor of abuse at the St Dominic’s Children’s Home in Belmont, who left there in 1997, said his ability to relate and interact with people has been irrevocably altered by the abuse he suffered while growing up at the home. He now lives in the Netherlands where, as a gay man, he has been granted asylum status. “’ can’t form friendships. I get real irritated with people fast, I have a low span for stupidity. I don’t keep many friends, and who I keep as friends, if they cross me, I behave really badly. All of this is because of my background, what I’ve been through. I still rock myself to sleep at night, at the age of 42, because I can’t sleep normally.” By Paula Lindo, Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Jun. 10, 2022

TOP STORIES

AP-NORC pool details rift between lay Catholics and bishops
The stances of many conservative Catholic bishops in the U.S. are not shared by a majority of lay Catholics. Most of them say abortion should be legal, favor greater inclusion of LGBT people, and oppose the denial of Communion for pro-choice politicians, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll, conducted in mid-May, shows a clear gap between the prevalent views of American Catholics, and some recent high-profile actions taken by the church’s leaders.” By David Cray, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

U.S. cardinal urges Italian bishops to track, share information about abuse
“As Italian bishops debated how to respond to calls for a nationwide investigation into clerical sexual abuse and the way accusations have been handled, U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, encouraged them to move forward. ‘You have a unique opportunity to develop an honest and nondefensive dialogue with all those involved, at the national and local levels, who are willing to undertake a constructive process of review, of reform and of reconciliation,’ the cardinal said in a video message played May 25 at the spring meeting of the Italian bishops’ conference.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter

RIP Catholic News Service – gone too soon and when we needed you most
“The U.S. Catholic bishops are killing off Catholic News Service, one of their most successful national programs. Founded in 1921, CNS is the AP of Catholic news, providing copy to Catholic publications across the country and around the world. In a 2021 meeting with CNS reporters in Rome, Pope Francis told them that ‘over these past hundred years, Catholic News Service has provided an invaluable contribution to the English-speaking world through its coverage of the church’s mission of proclaiming the gospel and witnessing to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ.’” By Thomas Reese, Relgion News Service

Pope Francis to create 21 new cardinals
“Pope Francis will create 21 new cardinals at the next Consistory, which will take place on Saturday, 27 August. The announcement was made by the Holy Father himself after he recited the Regina Caeli with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, 29 May. ‘On Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 August, a meeting will be held of all the Cardinals to reflect on the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, and on Saturday 27 August, I will hold a Consistory for the creation of new cardinals.’” By L’Osservatore Romano

Survivors praised for 20 years of exposing Catholic abuse scandals
“More than 20 years since the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative team exposed the scope of Catholic clergy sexual abuse and institutional cover-up in the Archdiocese of Boston, attorney Mitchell Garabedian said abuse survivors are still teaching the church ‘how to be moral.’ ‘None of this could be done without your strength,’ Garabedian said during a June 4 conference in Quincy, sponsored by several nonprofits that advocate for abuse survivors and accountability in the church.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

The Dallas Charter, 20 years later – Part 1: Widespread abuse comes to light, and bishops respond
“The first six months of 2002 marked a watershed in how sexual abuse of children and the Catholic Church were seen in the United States, as well as an inflection point for how the Church responded to allegations of abuse against priests. With the passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June of that year, the bishops established national norms to hold dioceses accountable for protecting children and ministering to people who had been harmed.” By Michelle Martin, Our Sunday Visitor

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Bishop McElroy: Pope Francis and Vatican II give us a road map for the synodal process
“Can synodality become a deeper element of Catholic life in the United States? Our current process may prove this to be so. One of the central sentiments expressed in our diocesan synodal consultations has been that the people of God have at times not been meaningfully heard and responded to in the institutional life of the church, and they fear that the synodal process might be another in a series of moments when hopes are raised only to be frustrated. But the current synod process offers a glimpse of a church yet to come. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics have engaged with the church on their joys, their sorrows and their hopes for what the church can be today and tomorrow.” By Robert W. McElrory, America: The Jesuit Review

Synod team reviews data from listening sessions, online participants
“As the June 11 diocesan pre-synodal gathering nears, the diocesan synod team is reviewing the data collected during in-person listening sessions and by online participants. Parishes and other entities in the eight-county Diocese of Cleveland were invited to send a group of delegates to the daylong June 11 event. At the gathering, they will pray, reflect on their experience with the diocesan synodal process, listen to feedback from the listening sessions, engage in dialogue about the current reality of the Church and discern the Holy Spirit’s call for the diocese on the path of synodality.” By Diocese of Cleveland

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis fuels new speculation on future on pontificate
“Pope Francis added fuel to rumors about the future of his pontificate by announcing he would visit the central Italian city of L’Aquila in August for a feast initiated by Pope Celestine V, one of the few pontiffs who resigned before Pope Benedict XVI stepped down in 2013. Italian and Catholic media have been rife with unsourced speculation that the 85-year-old Francis might be planning to follow in Benedict’s footsteps, given his increased mobility problems that have forced him to use a wheelchair for the last month. Those rumors gained steam last week when Francis announced a consistory to create 21 new cardinals scheduled for Aug. 27. Sixteen of those cardinals are under age 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect Francis’ successor.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CARDINALS

What message is Pope Francis sending with his choice of new cardinals?
“The consistory for the creation of cardinals on Aug. 27 is a ceremony that seems to mark the end of a pontificate — though that end might be long in coming. After praying the Regina Coeli May 29, Pope Francis announced the creation of 16 new cardinals eligible to vote in a future conclave and five over the age of 80. He also summoned all cardinals to take part in another consistory, on Aug. 29-30, to discuss the new Vatican constitution Praedicate evangelium. Such a broad discussion among cardinals hasn’t taken place for seven years.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency, in The Pilot

Claim: Cardinal didn’t prioritize sex abuse survivors”

“Two years before long-standing rumors about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick leapt into headlines worldwide, America’s most outspoken activist on clergy sexual abuse, Richard Sipe, met with his local bishop — San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy. ‘It was clear to me during our last meeting in your office, although cordial, that you had no interest in any further personal contact,’ wrote the now-late Sipe, a former Benedictine priest who then worked for the Seton Psychiatric Institute in Baltimore. While church officials asked him to report to McElroy, ‘your office made it clear that you have no time in your schedule either now or ‘in the foreseeable future’ to have the meeting that they suggested.’” By Terry Mattringly, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

BISHOPS

Archbishop Nienstedt: an example of how the pope’s abuse law is not working
“Anne Barrett Doyle of the group BishopAccountability.org recently wrote a thoughtful article on how Pope Francis’ major law to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse they commit or cover-up, Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), is not working. That article caused me to reflect on the long-standing, unsuccessful efforts in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to hold its former archbishop, John Nienstedt, accountable for alleged personal sexual misconduct and a failed cover-up involving abuse by another priest under his supervision.” By Hank Shea, National Catholic Reporter

Here’s hoping Bishop Barron settles in to new job leading a Minnesota diocese
“Last week, my NCR colleague Brian Fraga and freelancer Jenn Morson published an in-depth report about a series of recent resignations at Word on Fire, the Catholic multimedia platform created by Bishop Robert Barron. In a strange coincidence, the next day Pope Francis appointed Barron, formerly an auxiliary bishop for Los Angeles, as the Bishop of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota. It is always difficult to know what is really going on inside any organization, but when you witness a series of resignations, that is usually not a good sign.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

50 years after a group of Catholic sisters formed Network, the activist group pledges to focus on racial justice
“Two years ago, when George Floyd was murdered by a police officer who knelt on his neck for almost 10 minutes, we were confronted with the persistence of racism in our country. Now, we find ourselves there once more as we mourn the shooting that targeted Black Americans inside a Buffalo grocery store. This most recent attack again raises the urgency of ending white supremacy and racist violence once and for all in the United States. The past few years have been a time of tremendous upheaval, but it would be inaccurate to say that any of these realities are new.” By Joan F. Neal and Mary J. Novak, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN’S VOICES

Pelosi vs. Cordileone isn’t only about abortion. It’s about women and bishops.
“In October 2021, Pope Francis initiated a two-year ‘Synod on Synodality,’ aimed at finding out what Catholics and others think about the church. He may get more than he asked for. Preliminary results indicate one thing: Women are fed up. They like Francis well enough, but they are not much interested in what bishops and priests have to say. Why? The latest kerfuffle between San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is at the tip of a very big iceberg.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

Archdiocesan Review Board continues to monitor safe environments for young people
“Reports from the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection and the Independent Review Board indicate that the archdiocese continues its efforts to educate about safe environments for young people and to screen clergy, employees and volunteers to determine suitability for ministry … Voice of the Faithful, an independent lay watchdog organization that monitors governance in the church, placed the Archdiocese of Baltimore in the top four dioceses in the country in its recent report that measured abuse prevention and safe environment programs as reported online in diocesan policies and practices. By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review (Click here to read VOTF’s “2022 Report: Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices”)

CHURCH REFORM

Pope Francis’ reforms make the heresy-hunting Vatican of John Paul II barely recognizable
“In November 2003, during the high noon of Cardinal Angelo Sodano’s iron-fisted rule as John Paul II’s secretary of state, a Mexican friar wrote for a Chilean journal an article that was passed across the world’s Catholic networks in open-mouthed amazement … ‘To speak of violence in the Church might seem nonsensical,’ began Fr. Camilo Maccise, a Discalced Carmelite who had only recently ended his term as head of the Union of Superiors General, or USG, in Rome … ‘I have had had intimate knowledge of this violence, above all as exercised by a number of Roman dicasteries,’ he wrote … Sodano died in Rome on May 27 at age 94, just days before the implementation on June 5 of Pope Francis’ new constitution for the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium (‘Preach the Gospel’). The constitution consolidates and deepens the reform that Francis has been carrying out these past nine years. It is a reform aimed at nothing less than a conversion of the way power is exercised in and from Rome, and by extension in the global Catholic Church.” By Austen Ivereigh, National Catholic Reporter

New HR office could be real revolution at heart of Pope’s reform
“In March 2020, the Vatican chose a Friday to announce the creation of a new ‘General Directorate for Personnel,’ essentially an HR office, within the Secretariat of State, which was touted as ‘a step of great importance in the path of reform initiated by Pope Francis.’ The next day the Vatican was compelled to issue a correction, saying that, whoops, the new directorate wasn’t actually happening after all, it was just an idea the pope would act upon ‘at the right time.’ This past Sunday (Jun. 5), it would appear the ‘right time’ finally came.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Catholic Church closures spread in the Northeast and Midwest. Not all are upset.
“COVID has changed the way people worship. A recent study showed even though many churches are now offering in-person services, people aren’t returning to pre-pandemic attendance. Among Catholic churches in Chicago, this is compounding a problem they already had. They’re losing people. Many parishes there have been forced to close or merge. Members are coming to terms with this new normal. From member station WBEZ, Adora Namigadde reports.” By Adora Namigadde, National Public Radio

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican bank displays financial decline, moral gains after papal reforms
“Pope Francis has been clear about his vision for Catholicism as a ‘poor church for the poor’ and the 2021 annual report of the Vatican bank shows that the pope’s wish is closer than ever to becoming a reality. In the report published on Tuesday (June 7), the bank, officially the Institute for Religious Works, announced that it made a net profit of 18.1 million euros (about $19.3 million) last year, a significant decrease from the 36.4 million euros it netted in 2020, but which Vatican officials defended as an able effort in difficult times.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Vatican official describes frenzy to turn London deal around
“A former Vatican official testified May 31 that he was under intense ‘psychological pressure’ to finalize a deal over the Holy See’s troubled investment in a London property, but entered into the negotiations without a lawyer and didn’t realize the deal got the Vatican nothing in return. Fabrizio Tirabassi testified for some seven hours about the frenzied meetings he attended in London Nov. 20-22, 2018 that the Holy See had thought would salvage its 350-million-euro investment in the former Harrod’s warehouse and stem its losses.” By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Pope Francis is remaking the College of Cardinal – and setting the stage for the eventual election of his successor
“With the appointment of 16 new cardinal electors, Pope Francis continues remaking the College of Cardinals with an emphasis on the person rather than the location of the bishop. Nowhere has that emphasis been more evident than in the United States, where he chose to elevate Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, while once again skipping over more senior bishops in traditionally cardinatial cities such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia. He has also made the electors less Italian and less Eastern European but more Asian and African than they were when he was elected in 2013.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

‘Don’t invite the theologians’: Is Tom Reese right about what ails the Church?
“Tom Reese, SJ, the former editor of America, writes a column for Religion News Service that regularly appears in the National Catholic Reporter. He recently tackled the vexing, if well-worn, question of ‘Why Is the Church Failing in the West?’ He made some shrewd observations but came to dubious conclusions. Reese is a distinguished social scientist … In his column, Reese rehearses the explanations offered by both conservatives and liberals for the Church’s current troubles. ‘The theories can be collected in two major baskets’ he writes, ‘those that blame culture and those that blame the Church itself.’ That dichotomy is familiar enough.” By Paul Baumann, Commonweal

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Employers face new litigation exposure under Adult Survivors Act
“On May 24, 2022, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act, which creates a one-year lookback window, beginning on November 24, 2022, for the revival of otherwise time-barred civil claims arising out of alleged sexual offenses committed against people who were 18-years-old or older at the time of the conduct. More specifically, the ASA establishes a new section in the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules that permits adult victims of sexual abuse to file a lawsuit against their alleged abusers regardless of when the offenses occurred or if the former statute of limitations period has run.” By JDSupra.com, Lippes Mathias Attorneys

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Survivors blast limited effort by Italian bishops to document abuse cases
“Barely had Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, the new head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) and key Pope Francis ally, wrapped up a Friday (Jun.3) press conference announcing a new study of clerical sexual abuse cases, when survivors of abuse proclaimed they were ‘very unhappy’ and declared the bishops’ initiative ‘useless.’ ‘It’s rather sad. It’s not good; we are very unhappy,’ said Francesco Zanardi, an abuse survivor and head of Rete L’Abuso (‘The Abuse Network’), Italy’s lone survivors’ group.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CALIFORNIA

Female janitor describes alleged abuse by priest at Maywood church
“LOS ANGELES – A former janitor at a Catholic church in Maywood who is suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, alleging she was forced to quit in 2019 after an associate pastor groped her in the rectory and tried to coerce her into his bed, describes the incident in detail in new court papers. The Long Beach woman worked as a custodian at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, the grounds of which include a school and a rectory that housed the living areas and offices of Pastor Dario Miranda and Associate Pastor Primitivo Gonzalez, the suit filed in December of 2020 states.” By City News Service on 2urbangirls.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Diocese of Springfield bans New Spirit Inc. leadership after allegations of inappropriate behavior with children
“The Diocese of Springfield released its findings after allegations of inappropriate behavior with minors by a co-founder of New Spirit Inc. According to Springfield Diocese spokesperson Mark Dupont, in July of 2021 the Diocese of Springfield first learned about a 2018 complaint against Barry Kingston alleging he engaged in inappropriate behavior with minors at New Spirit Inc.’s summer camp weeks at Camp Holy Cross in 2007.” By Ashley Shook, WWLP-TV22 News

Lawsuit: Haverhill priest sexually abused girl in 1990s, 2000s
“An unnamed 28-year-old woman is suing two former Boston Archdiocesan Auxiliary bishops, claiming they neglected to supervise one of All Saints Roman Catholic Church’s now-defrocked priests — the Rev. Kelvin Iguabita-Rodriguez — and allowed him to sexually abuse her for years. The complaint was formally filed last month by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents the woman who claims she was sexually abused by Iguabita-Rodriguez when she was between 5 and 7 years old.” By Angelina Berube, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune

The Worcester Diocese sex abuse investigation into Billy Riley has taken three months. Advocates want Boston involved
“William ‘Billy’ Riley, the director of the St. John’s Food for the Poor program, has been on paid administrative leave for nearly three months following claims of sexual abuse and a survivors’ group is calling on the Archdiocese of Boston to get involved. Living in Freedom Together (LIFT), a nonprofit founded by survivors working to end the sex trade, sent a communication to the Archdiocese of Boston about how the Diocese of Worcester is handling the investigation, according to Terrence Donilon, a spokesperson for the archdiocese.” By Kiernan Dunlop, MassLive.com

MISSOURI

News 4 Investigation into priests accused of child sex abuse leads to new police inquiry
“A recent News 4 Investigation into a Jefferson County center where Catholic priests and clergy accused of sexually abusing children are living under the radar has led to a new police inquiry. The center is located in Dittmer, Missouri. It’s called the Vianney Renewal Center and is run by the Servants of the Paraclete, a Catholic religious order founded in 1947. The Servants of the Paraclete’s website claims to “provide care for priests and brothers in need.” Nothing mentions sexual abuse.” By Susan El Khoury, KMOV-TV4 News

OHIO

‘I want accountability’: Father Drew sex abuse survivor says he’s not done with Archdiocese of Cincinnati
“A Greater Cincinnati man who was repeatedly raped as a young altar boy by the music minister at his private Catholic grade school before he became a priest has achieved what many sex abuse victims are still hoping for: some closure when his abuser was convicted. Now, after decades of struggling to deal with being sexually assaulted between the ages of 8 and 10, Paul Neyer is a married father with four children who says he wants to use his experience to try to help other victims. He took his first big step toward that Tuesday (Jun. 7) by going before an Ohio Senate committee, urging lawmakers to reform the state’s child sex abuse laws to extend the statute of limitation for victims to seek the justice he says they deserve.” By WXIX-TV19 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Report: $78 million paid to sex abuse victims in Philadelphia Archdiocese
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid close to $78.5 million of a total of more than $81 million awarded to 438 victims of sexual abuse by archdiocesan clergy under the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, which released its final report June 2. The program was begun by the archdiocese three and a half years ago as a way of offering monetary compensation to victims of past abuse but which would be run independent of archdiocesan influence.” By Matthew Gambino, Our Sunday Visitor

RHODE ISLAND

Former Catholic Diocese of Providence priest indicted for sexual assault
“Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha and Colonel Darnell S. Weaver announced that the Statewide Grand Jury returned an indictment charging a former priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence with sexually assaulting a juvenile male victim between 1981 and 1982. 

On May 25, 2022, the Statewide Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Kevin Fisette (age 66) of Dayville, Connecticut with one count of first-degree sexual assault.” By GoLocalProv.com

TENNESSEE

Standing for Survivors supports Knoxville clergy sexual abuse victims
“East Tennesseans gathered to stand with survivors of reported clergy abuse outside of St. Mary’s Church in Gatlinburg and at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Sunday (Jun. 5). A priest at St. Mary’s, Father Antony Punnackal, was accused of and admitted to sexual battery by one of the Spanish-speaking congregators, according to court documents obtained by WVLT News. One of the victims, Michael Boyd, said he was abused while serving as an altar boy and hoped that sharing his story would help others know what went on behind closed doors and encourage other victims to come forward.” By Kelly Ann Krueger, WVLT-TV8 News

WISCONSIN

‘They’ve failed us,’ clergy abuse survivors accuse AG of lack of commitment to investigating allegations
“One year after the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office announced a new initiative to investigate clergy abuse, a group of survivors says Attorney General Josh Kaul has failed them. But the AG’s office says they are making progress on prosecuting church leaders. Hope is what Peter Isely, an abuse survivor and Director of Nate’s Mission, felt one year ago as he stood alongside AG Kaul as he announced the new initiative to investigate clergy abuse crimes. ‘I know how difficult it’s going to be for many of you to come forward again. I want you to know this time its different,’ said Isely back in April 2021 as he encouraged survivors to come forward and report abuse to the AG’s office.” By Elizabeth Wadas, WMTV-TV15 News

AUSTRALIA

Abuse victims start Loud Fences campaign in Townsville Diocese
“A former Mount Isa victim of sexual abuse has started a new awareness campaign called ‘Loud Fences’ in the Catholic Diocese of Townsville. Kathleen Walsh said she started the first loud ribbon fence started at the Cathedral Catholic Church in Townsville with similar plans for Mount Isa. ‘Mount Isa was ravaged by child sex abuse especially by pedophile priest Neville Creen with 22 criminal convictions,’ Ms Walsh said.” By Derek Barry, The North West Star

CANADA

Vancouver Island residential school survivor publishes account of abuse and recovery
Six decades after enduring unthinkable abuse at the hands of priests at Kuper Island Residential School, Raymond Tony Charlie is telling his story. His recently released book, ‘In the Shadow of the Red Brick Building,’ exposes the physical, emotional and sexual abuse, but also carries a message of resilience and recovery. ‘It took me a long time to write this book,’ Charlie explains of his more than eight-year journey to get the book published. ‘There were a lot of stops and starts and sometimes it was very difficult to write.’” By Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News

Indigenous leaders meet with Catholic bishops in Winnipeg to discuss papal apology in Canada
“The wording of a papal apology is top of mind for Indigenous leaders, with less than two months to go before Pope Francis arrives in Canada to apologize to residential school survivors. On Wednesday (Jun. 1), following two days of talks, the National Indian Residential School Circle of Survivors met with Catholic Bishops in Winnipeg. ‘We have a working relationship with the bishops,’ said Ted Quewezance, the appointed interim chair of the group, adding the Pope tasked the Bishops of Canada to work with the survivors in their specific regions.” By Canton Unger, CTV News Winnipeg

CHILE

Former Chilean priest found guilty of sex abuse and rape
“A former priest and top aide to Santiago’s archbishop was found guilty on Wednesday (Jun. 8) of repeated sexual abuse and rape, the result of 2018 scandal that ensnared multiple high-ranking members of the Chilean Catholic Church. The prosecutor’s office said on Twitter that it had secured the conviction of former priest Oscar Munoz, ‘for crimes of repeated rape, sexual abuse and repeated sexual abuse of those who were minor victims.’” By Reuters

GERMANY

Church convicts Catholic ex-priest of abusing boy for years
“A Catholic diocese in Germany said Tuesday (Jun. 7) that a former priest has been convicted in a church trial of sexually abusing a minor over several years almost three decades ago. The man, who wasn’t identified, was ordered to pay 10% of his income to a charitable organization that helps victims of abuse, the diocese of Limburg said. While financial payouts have been included in confidential settlements between the church and victims of abuse, the announcement of a financial penalty against a priest as a result of a canonical investigation is unusual.” By Associated Press

NEW ZEALAND

Church in New Zealand releases new information on reported abuse
“Continuing research has produced further details of where and by whom much of the reported abuse in the Catholic Church in New Zealand was committed. The research is being undertaken by Te Rōpū Tautoko, the group that coordinates the Church’s engagement with New Zealand’s Royal Commission on Abuse in Care. Te Rōpū Tautoko yesterday (Jun. 6) published information expanding on research published in February as part of its ongoing Information Gathering Project.” By CathNews.com

SINGAPORE

Sexual abuse by prominent Catholic figure: Superior did not make police report as victims insisted on keeping matters private
“The two teenage boys who were sexually abused by a prominent member of the local Catholic community ‘refused’ to make police reports after the incidents came to light in 2009, the Catholic Religious Order said in a statement on Sunday (Jun 5). The boys were repeatedly told that they could make a police report and would be accompanied to the police station to do so, but they were insistent in wanting to keep the matter private.” By ChannelNewsAsia.com

THAILAND

Thai Catholic youth discuss clerical sexual abuse
“An online event to inform and raise awareness about protecting minors and vulnerable people from sexual abuse was organized by MAGIS Thailand, a Catholic youth group committed to applying Ignatian spirituality in their daily lives … The focus was the sexual abuse and abuse of power within the Catholic Church, with several participants from Singapore and the Philippines joining their counterparts from Thailand during the Zoom conference. Kittiya Wu, a programmer in her thirties from Bangkok, said: ‘We bear the same cross. Therefore, we must care for and help restore the Church’s credibility among Catholics as well as non-believers.’” By Tanya Leekamnerdthai, UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 26, 2022

TOP STORIES

Federal bankruptcy judge rejects Catholic diocese’s bid to stop state litigation on child sex abuse, excoriates ‘heavy-handed threat’ to survivors
“On Monday (May23), a federal bankruptcy judge granted survivors to resume their previously paused actions against hundreds of independent Catholic corporations that did not seek bankruptcy protection. His scathing ruling slammed what the judge perceived as the Diocese’s hardball tactics. ‘Portraying itself as a victim, trying to do right by the Abuse Survivors, the Diocese predicts that if state court litigation is permitted to move forward against any of the Catholic Corporations, ‘the Diocese may be forced to pursue a non-consensual plan of reorganization,’’ U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren wrote in a 16-page decision and order. ‘That is a pretty heavy-handed threat to be leveled at the people who are the real victims here—the Abuse Survivors.’” By Adam Klasfeld, LawandCrime.com

New Italian church head faces demands for abuse inquiry
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (May 24) named a bishop in his own image, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, as the new head of the Italian bishops conference, as the Italian Catholic Church comes under mounting pressure to confront its legacy of clerical sexual abuse with an independent inquiry. Zuppi, 66, is currently the archbishop of Bologna and has long been affiliated with the Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic charity particularly close to Francis. The Italian Catholic Church is one of the few in western Europe that has not opened its archives to independent researchers to establish the scope of abuse and cover-up in recent decades.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

New head of Italian bishops tasked with handling clergy sex abuse, By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Spanish Catholic Church’s internal child abuse investigation of little use, prosecutor says
“An internal investigation by the Spanish Catholic Church into alleged child sexual abuse by members of the clergy is ‘partial’ and ‘of little use,’ the office of Spain’s national prosecutor wrote in a letter to the country’s ombudsman that was made available to Reuters. The Spanish Catholic Church in January launched diocesan-level inquiries after Spanish newspaper El Pais reported in December more than 1,200 cases of alleged abuse between 1943 and 2018.  The revelations came years after sexual abuse scandals had rocked the Church in countries such as the United States, Ireland and France.” By Reuters

Francis’ clergy abuse law, ‘Vos Estis,’ isn’t working. Here’s how to fix it.
“Three years ago, as the Catholic Church faced an unprecedented reckoning with clergy sexual abuse, Pope Francis introduced a church law that promised to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse that they commit or cover up. Entitled Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), the law was touted by papal spokesmen as a turning point in the fight to end child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It’s ‘revolutionary,’ said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich. ‘The silence, omertà and cover-ups can now become a thing of the past,’ said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope’s trusted abuse investigator.” By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Fordham conference on abuse highlights way the church can foster healthier culture of sexuality
“Last month, scholars from all over the world met to discuss projects related to the clergy sexual abuse as part of Fordham University’s ‘Taking Responsibility’ initiative. Some attendees disclosed their abuse by Jesuit priests, adding a palpable solemnity to the larger, systemic issues that make up the Catholic sexual abuse crisis. These stories also laid the backdrop for how important it was to research and answer exactly how Jesuit institutions can ‘take responsibility.’” By Mark A. Levand, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Catholics with disabilities share their vision of a synodal church
“Catholics with disabilities can be and want to be active members of the church and missionary disciples, but that will require fighting discrimination, exclusion and paternalism, participants told an online listening session for the Synod of Bishops. The Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, sponsored a two-hour session May 19 with representatives of bishops’ conferences and international Catholic associations to hear directly from Catholic with disabilities, ‘who are often on the margins of our churches,’ according to a media statement.” By Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Listening & Discernmnet
“Listening and discernment are perhaps the two words that have been most used in this first phase of the synod process. Those who were able to participate in listening sessions, in spiritual conversations, were able to rediscover the meaning of these words that have often lost the force of their meaning in our daily vocabulary. But how does one listen and discern correctly? Apparently, listening and discernment belong to two distinct moments: first listening and then discerning, but on closer inspection they are perhaps two sides of the same coin. In short, there can be no true listening without discernment, just as there can be no side of a coin without the back.” By SynodRources.org Editorial Staff

Towards Pentecost 2022
“The Scottish Laity Network has organized a program ‘Towards Pentecost 2022,’ focusing on listening and responding to the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth. From 28 April to 2 June there will be six sessions with different speakers. In a world brutally divided between rich and poor, suffering wars and violence, and failing to take radical action to prevent climate devastation, they seek to discern how the Spirit is calling for a response.” By SynodResources.org

Justice and peace in the Synod process
“The Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries and the Preparatory Commission of the Holy Land for Synod 2021-2023 encourage us, during the synod process, to be more aware of the lives of those in our ecclesial communities, neighborhoods, and society who are affected by the lack of justice, inequality and permanent violence in all its forms. That is why it is necessary to listen with these keys: to know people’s lives better, to promote community solidarity, to understand justice-inequality-peace as a right for all, and to promote integration and participation in society.” By SynodResources.org

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

New head of umbrella group for women’s religious sets sights on synodality
“Sister Nadia Coppa, the newly-elected president of one of the largest international conglomerates of women religious, is set on creating a global network of collaboration among congregations based on Pope Francis’s much-touted spirit of synodality. Speaking to Crux, Coppa said she believes synodality ‘is a horizon of the church, so it’s also a path for us.’ ‘We want to continue to promote the style of synodality,’ she said. ‘We want to be really open, to listen to one another, because listening is demanding, and it calls us to be really open, to make space for others. It also means letting go, letting go of my own desires, my own interests.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

The Catholic Church lacks an imagination for lay agency
“Some two years ago, I attended the Called and Co-Responsible conference at the University of Notre Dame. It was a conference about the role of the laity in the Church. One of the speakers, Fr. Michael Sweeny, O.P. made two insightful statements in his talk that resonated deeply with my experience working with parishes all over the country. He said, ‘Formation in the Church has always been for the sake of a mission;’ and ‘as a Church, we have no imagination for lay agency.’” By Peter Andrastek, Church Life Journal

Cardinals, theologians discuss decision-making role of laity in church
“As the Catholic Church continues to reflect on synodality through a two-year process of listening and dialogue, a panel of six notable theologians and canonists discussed the nature of consultation and decision-making in a synodal church. The discussion took place May 20 at the Vatican’s Palazzo Pio during the presentation of a new book released by the Vatican publishing house and written by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the office charged with interpreting canon law.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Arlington Catholic Herald

CHILD PROTECTION

The eerie parallels between the Southern Baptist and Catholic sexual abuse crises
“When news broke that Southern Baptist leaders had covered up sex abuse for decades I felt a numb sense of familiarity. I came of age as a Catholic against the backdrop of our own ongoing sex abuse crisis. It would be years before I would truly understand how sexual violence and the criminal conspiracies that perpetuated it had defined contemporary U.S. Catholicism. One thing was clear quite quickly, however. The sex abuse scandal cast doubt on the moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church itself. A similar crisis of moral authority is underway for arguably the most significant white evangelical institution in the country. I say this both as a U.S. religious historian and as a Catholic who grew up in Alabama surrounded by Southern Baptists.” By Matthew J. Cressier, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Rome conference revisits ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and church’s call to welcome marginalized Catholics
“Although Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ landmark 2016 document on marriage and family life, has been widely praised for its call for greater integration of divorced, remarried and LGBTQ Catholics into church life, theologians have long said the text’s implementation on the ground has been mixed. A major May 11-15 conference at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, however, brought together nearly 200 bishops, priests, religious women and theologians from 25 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, South America and Europe with an aim of firmly cementing the pope’s magisterial teaching on these matters into pastoral practice around the world.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican airs dirty laundry in trial over London property
“The Vatican’s sprawling financial trial may not have produced any convictions yet or any new smoking guns as prosecutors work through a first round of questioning of the 10 suspects accused of fleecing the Holy See of tens of millions of euros. But testimony so far has provided plenty of insights into how the Vatican operates, with a cast of characters worthy of a Dan Brown thriller or a Shakespearean tragicomedy. Recent hearings showed a church bureaucracy that used espionage, allowed outsiders with unverified qualifications to gain access to the Apostolic Palace and relied on a pervasive mantra of sparing the pope responsibility — until someone’s neck was on the line.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Adult Survivors Act for abuse victims on track to pass in New York
“A long-sought bill that would allow adult survivors of sexual abuse to hold their alleged abusers accountable is on track for approval. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) announced Thursday (May 19) that there are enough votes in her chamber to pass the Adult Survivors Act before the end of the legislative session early next month. ‘Today is a watershed moment for survivors of sexual assault in New York and across the country,’ Rosenthal said. ‘Today, New York State recognizes that ensuring justice for survivors of sexual assault is more important than maintaining arbitrary statutes of limitations that have for years shielded predators from justice.’ By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Haaland seeks healing for Native American boarding school survivors
The Interior Department found that the U.S. operated or actively supported more than 400 American Indian boarding schools between 1819 and 1969 – a history that affects the agency’s own leader. Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary, tells NPR’s All Things Considered that she had grandparents who were taken from their homes and placed in these schools.” By Michel Martin, National Public Radio

Catholic Church to investigate abuse claims at children’s homes
“The Roman Catholic Church will investigate allegations of child abuse in the December 2021 Judith Jones Report on children’s homes. In a press release on Wednesday (May 18), Archbishop Jason Gordon said the investigative team would include independent and qualified experts in the fields of psychology, childcare/social work, law and human resource management. The investigation was launched in response to the 139-page report entitled Safeguarding Children in Community Residences and Child Support Centres in TT which was laid in Parliament on April 29 by Minister in the Office of the PM, Ayanna Webster-Roy.” By Janelle De Souza, Newsday

CALIFORNIA

Sex abuse suits pouring in as state’s Catholic leaders seek relief from highest court
“Now, facing hundreds of lawsuits, a group of Catholic bishops is taking those challenges to the nation’s highest court. Saying they faced ‘potentially ruinous liability,’ the bishops last month asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the California lookback window unconstitutional.” By Nigel Duara, LostCoastOutpost.com

IOWA

Catholic priest, once suspended for inappropriate conduct, resigns from central Iowa parish
“A Catholic priest who was suspended by the Diocese of Des Moines in 2020 after allegations of inappropriate conduct resigned from a parish he was recently assigned to in Elkhart. Rev. Jim Kirby resigned from the St. Mary/Holy Cross Parish in Elkhart, according to the parish newsletter. The dioceses hopes to fill the position, the newsletter said, but no other priests are available at this time.” By Philip Joens, Des Moines Register

NEW YORK.

Rochester diocese offers $147.75 million to abuse victims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has put forward a $147.75 million offer to settle claims filed by 475 sexual-abuse survivors in the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Whether the nine-figure offer will bring a quick end to the long-stalled bankruptcy at this point seems far from certain. The offer was outlined in a filing posted with the Rochester Bankruptcy Court late Friday afternoon … Despite its size, the offer—tendered nearly two and a half years into a bankruptcy whose slow-moving pace survivors have seen as frustrating—is being met with disdain by the abuse survivors it is meant to placate.” By Will Astor, Rochester Beacon

OKLAHOMA

Sex abuse suit filed against Oklahoma City Catholic school
“Ten current and former students of Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City and six parents or guardians are suing the private school, alleging it fostered ‘a rape culture’ for more than 10 years. School officials have known since 2011 that female students have been victims of rape and sexual assault by students, teachers and coaches and done nothing to stop the attacks, according to the lawsuit filed Monday (May 16).” By Ken Miller, Associated Press

RHODE ISLAND

Lawsuit accuses Providence Diocese of ‘victim blaming’ in clergy sex-abuse complaints
“A newly filed lawsuit by one of the alleged child molestation victims of recently suspended Smithfield priest Francis C. Santilli accuses the leaders of the Rhode Island Catholic Church of ‘victim blaming’ while disregarding multiple accounts of sexual misconduct by ‘Father Frank.’ The lawsuit was filed Thursday (May 19) against current and former Bishops Thomas Tobin and Louis Gelineau of the Catholic Diocese of Providence, and the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Atwells Avenue in Providence.” By Katherine Gregg, The Providence Journal

GERMANY

Insurers suddenly raise stakes on German churches’ sex abuse response
“Germany’s Catholic and Protestant churches have been criticized for their handling of clergy sexual abuse for years now by victims, believers and the media. Now they face new pressure from an unexpected corner: the insurance industry. VBG, a national association of accident insurance providers, recently complained to the two predominant church bodies in the country that they had not been notified of the thousands of sexual abuse cases that have been found in the church groups’ ranks.” By Tom Heneghan, Religion News Service

GUAM

Vatican uses NY decision to seek dismissal of a Guam abuse case
“The Vatican is using a New York court’s recent decision to bolster its push for the dismissal of a Guam case that seeks to hold the Holy See responsible for former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s alleged sexual assault of a child. California-based attorney Jeffrey Lena said the New York court ‘supports dismissal with prejudice of all claims against the Holy See.’” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

ITALY

Survivors, advocates push Italian bishops for national abuse inquiry
“A collective of abuse survivors and advocacy groups have published an open letter to the Italian bishops, who are meeting to elect new leadership, calling for the adoption of several measures aimed at acknowledging the problem and prevention. ‘Abuses perpetrated within the Church affects people in their bodies, in their lives, in their conscience: they are violations of human rights. If the Church does not respect human rights, it cannot preach the Gospel,’ the letter said.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

POLAND

Catholic diocese in Poland to pay compensation to victim of child sex abuse by priest
“The Catholic diocese of Kalisz has been ordered by a court to pay 300,000 zloty (€65,000) to a man who was abused as a child by one of its priests. The case is one of a number relating to sexual abuse in Poland’s Catholic church that have come to light in recent years. It has drawn particular attention because the victim, Bartłomiej Pankowiak, and his brother Jakub, who was also abused, confronted the priest in a documentary film broadcast in 2020.” By NotesFromPoland.com

PORTUGAL

Portugal’s clergy abuse commission wants more help from church officials
“After four months of activity, an independent commission created by the Portuguese bishops to investigate child abuse has received at least 326 allegations of abuse. The fact that 214 of them were collected within the first month of operation demonstrates that there has been a significant decline in the rhythm of testimonies over the past few months. Some of the group’s members are now calling on the country’s bishops to better publicize their work and encourage abuse victims to come forward. It was the initiative of the Portuguese bishops’ conference to create the commission, a decision taken in November 2021 after the release of a report on abuse and cover-up in the French church shocked many across Europe.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, National Catholic Reporter

TIMOR-LESTE

Carmelite fathers show strong commitment to child safety
“A safeguarding audit report of the Carmelite Fathers Australia and Timor-Leste published today by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd has found a strong commitment to child safety across the religious institute’s operations. The audit assessed the Carmelite Fathers’ progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, a framework for the safety and protection of children in Catholic organizations. The Carmelite Fathers’ work in Australia serves communities across a variety of operations, including administering three parishes in partnership with local dioceses, working as chaplains in hospitals and schools, and running a spirituality and retreat centre. Since 2001, the Carmelite Fathers have also provided ministries in Timor-Leste focused on forming young men as seminarians.” By CathNews.com

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Francis’ clergy abuse law, ‘Vos Estis’ isn’t working. Here’s how to fix it.

Our assessment so far of Vos Estis, based on the cases we’ve tracked in Poland, the United States, and elsewhere: Too few bishops have been found guilty, they’ve been punished too lightly, and next to no information about their misdeeds has been disclosed.

By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

“Three years ago, as the Catholic Church faced an unprecedented reckoning with clergy sexual abuse, Pope Francis introduced a church law that promised to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse that they commit or cover up.

“Entitled Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), the law was touted by papal spokesmen as a turning point in the fight to end child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

“It’s ‘revolutionary,’ said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.

“‘The silence, omertà and cover-ups can now become a thing of the past,’ said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope’s trusted abuse investigator.

Vos Estis, a motu proprio that was signed on May 9, 2019, was originally enacted for a three-year trial period that ends this June 1. As we wait to see if Francis will now make the law permanent, it is a good time to assess what will likely be this pope’s most significant response to the Catholic abuse crisis.

So far, the Vatican has released no information about the number or names of bishops investigated under Vos Estis. BishopAccountability.org has been able to identify 28 cases where it has been used to process allegations of cover-up or abuse by bishops. We hope it is being used more widely than this — there are 5,600 living Catholic bishops! — but we can’t be sure.

By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 11, 2022

TOP STORIES

Pope mandates annual audit on protection of children from abuse
“Pope Francis on Friday (Apr. 29) asked for an annual audit evaluating how national Catholic Churches are implementing measures to protect children from clergy sexual abuse, saying that without more transparency the faithful will continue to lose trust. ‘Abuse in any form is unacceptable,’ Francis told members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was established in 2014 to promote best practices and a culture of safeguarding worldwide.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Women religious blaze new trails in roles of authority at the Vatican
“When Pope Francis met more than 850 religious sisters attending the International Union of Superiors General plenary meeting in Rome in 2019, the pope insisted that the chair for the body’s then-president, Sr. Carmen Sammut, be seated right next to him. At the time, both Sammut, a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, and those in the room were touched by the pope’s deeply symbolic gesture to level the playing field. Now, as delegates from around the globe prepare to travel again to Rome for this year’s May 2-6 plenary, a wave of new appointments of sisters inside the Vatican has made it clear that Francis is backing that symbolism up with substantive changes and making room for more women religious to have a permanent seat at the table.” By Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican clears Polish Cardinal Dziwisz of abuse cover-up
“The Vatican has wrapped up its own investigation and dismissed allegations that Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz had covered up cases of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in his archdiocese. In a written statement released April 22, the Apostolic Nunciature in Poland said the Vatican found the cardinal had been ‘correct’ in his actions after it examined the findings of an investigation led by Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Expert says too many laity ignore abuse crisis because ‘it doesn’t affect them’
“When it comes to addressing the clerical sexual abuse, the role of the laity is central, according to experts. However, according to one of the Colombian lay women at the center of the country’s bishops’ response, too many people avoid addressing it, because they don’t think it is a problem that affects them. Ilva Myriam Hoyos, former Colombian attorney general for children, adolescents and family, is the head of the bishops’ working group for the protection of minors.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope warns of lost trust without more abuse accountability
Pope Francis gave a new mandate to his sex abuse advisory commission Friday (Apr. 29), telling its members to work with bishops around the world to establish special welcome centers for victims and to audit the church’s progress on fighting abuse from its new perch within the Vatican. Francis warned that without more transparency and accountability from the church, the faithful would continue to lose trust in the Catholic hierarchy after decades of revelations about priests who raped and molested children and bishops and religious superiors who covered up those crimes.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

ACCOUNTABILITY

Voice of the Faithful puts children first with new study of dioceses’ child protection efforts
“Voice of the Faithful has published the first independent, online review of all U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses’ level of compliance with child protection and safe environment guidelines. The average overall score was 67%, with the most frequently achieved score 63.5%. Although some dioceses did well, no diocese achieved 100%, and three dioceses scored in the 20s. Click here to read the entire report. The study is the first independent analysis of child protection and safe environment policies in all U.S. dioceses.” By Voice of the Faithful on Religion News Service Press Service

Cologne paid a million euros for priest’s gambling
“After several reports in the German secular media during Holy Week that the archdiocese of Cologne had paid more than €1m to settle a priest’s debts, including his gambling debts, the archdiocese confirmed the reports on Maundy Thursday. The money … was taken out of the special ‘bishop’s chair’ fund which is also used to pay the damages of clerical sexual abuse victims and to finance Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki’s favourite project, the Cologne University for Catholic Theology (KHKT).” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synod on synodality to be ‘process of spiritual discernment,’ participants say
“The Vatican office organizing a major 2023 Vatican summit on synodality held a preparation meeting last week, saying the synod of bishops has already begun. ‘This synod was conceived not as an event that will take place in a moment, meaning October 2023: It has already begun, and this awareness has been assumed by all of us taking part in this assembly,’ said Colombian layman Oscar Elizalde, spokesman for CELAM, the Latin American bishops’ conference. ‘We are not preparing for the synod, it has already begun.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Church seeks Synod insights from Anglican, Uniting events
“To help better understand the place of synodality in the Catholic Church, ecumenical leaders will attend national Uniting and Anglican gatherings this month to see how synodality works in those communities. The global Synod on Synodality has encouraged engagement with ecumenical and interfaith groups as part of the process leading towards the gathering in Rome in October 2023. The Australian Synod of Bishops committee reached out to the National Council of Churches Australia to see how the Catholic Church and other Christian communities could walk together in their synodal journeys.” By CathNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis vows new start in fight against clerical sex abuse
“Pope Francis said Friday (Apr. 29) changes to an advisory body on preventing sexual abuse represented a fresh start in the fight against pedophile priests, but conceded ‘much remains to be done.’ The pope in March moved the Commission for the Protection of Minors into the Vatican’s powerful doctrine office, which oversees the church’s investigations of abuse cases, in a bid to give it the institutional power critics said it was lacking. The reform ‘marks a new beginning,’ the 85-year-old told commission members at the conclusion of their plenary meeting Friday.” By Agence France-Presse on Phillipines.Lics.News

Pope Francis updates canon law on dismissal from religious institutes
“Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter on Tuesday (Apr. 26) bringing Church law up to date on the rules for dismissal from religious institutes, in light of the updated penal law on sanctions related to clerical sexual abuse and other crimes. The letter, known as Recognitum librum VI and issued motu proprio (on the pope’s ‘own impulse’) on April 26, modifies one sentence from canon 695 of the Code of Canon Law.” By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

CARDINALS

Are lay cardinals next?
“Pope Francis is reorganizing the Vatican Curia — the church’s administrators and his senior staff — and may name new cardinals in June. Francis’ new apostolic constitution, ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (‘Preach the Gospel’), issued last month, noted that the heads of dicasteries and other offices that manage the church need not be ordained. This highlighted Francis’ stated aim to give ‘more space’ to women in the church. Most of the important dicasteries are as a matter of fact headed by cardinals. But if any Catholic can head a curial office, the question becomes, does the title come with the job? More importantly, is the title needed to do the job?” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

Spanish bishops say they won’t participate in national clerical abuse inquiry
“Spain’s bishops announced Friday (Apr. 29) that they will not take part in an independent commission into clerical sexual abuse created by the national legislature, alleging, among other things, that the commission won’t look into all sexual abuse of minors but only those committed by members of the Catholic Church. ‘We want to state that to carry out an investigation of abuses only in the church, when it is clear that out of 15,000 open cases in Spain, only 69 refer to the church, is a surprising decision,’ said Bishop Luis Argüello, spokesman of the Spanish bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

After tense year of debates, U.S. bishops to gather for retreat in June
“The U.S. Catholic bishops will gather for a retreatlike special assembly this summer in San Diego to focus on episcopal unity after a tense year and a half in which deep divisions surfaced among prelates over the issue of denying Communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians — including President Joe Biden. There will be no public session for the June 2022 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops because the normal assembly business of committee reports and presentations are being set aside for prayer, reflection and episcopal fraternity, a spokeswoman for the conference told NCR.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Irish priest appointed to senior Vatican role investigating abuse
“An Irish priest, Msgr John Kennedy has been put in charge by Pope Francis of leading investigations into child abuse allegations against the Catholic clergy worldwide. The 53-year-old monsignor is the new secretary of the disciplinary section at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which has responsibility for dealing with credible allegations against clergy. He had been serving at the office since being appointed there by Pope Francis in 2017 and his appointment is part of a major shake-up of the Vatican curia being undertaken by Pope Francis.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Argentine nuns accuse archbishop, others of gender violence
“Several feminist groups are calling for protests May 3 in support of a community of cloistered nuns who have caused shockwaves by accusing the archbishop of a northern Argentine province and other church officials of gender-based psychological and physical violence. The pairing of feminists and Carmelite nuns is unusual in a country at the forefront of Latin America’s women’s movement where activists are often at odds with the Roman Catholic Church. The support illustrates how rare it is for this type of dispute to make it to the courts.” By Almudena Calatrava, The Associated Press, in Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: Thanks to Network for 50 years of lobbying for the common good
“It is not an overstatement to say that some 17.5 million formerly uninsured Americans now have health insurance thanks, in large part, to a group of Catholic sisters. Network, a Catholic social justice lobby of religious women, was instrumental in the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, which dramatically reduced the number of uninsured Americans. That is just one of the group’s many accomplishments over the past five decades. Network, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, has tirelessly worked for the common good, and the country is a better place for its having done so.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

WOMEN’S VOICES

Should women be ordained Catholic deacons?
“In 2020, Pope Francis created a second Vatican commission to consider ordaining women as deacons—clergy who may read the gospel and preach at Mass, baptize, witness marriages, preside at funerals, and work with the needy. (A prior commission had ended two years earlier with no action taken by the Vatican.) One media report said the move signified that ‘women deacons in the Catholic Church are closer to reality than ever before.’ Correction: women deacons were reality in the early church.” By Rich Barlow, Bostonia, Boston University Alumni Magazine

VATICAN

Vatican backs Cardinal Woelki over abuse study contracts
“The Vatican has ruled that the German Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki did not breach canon law when awarding contracts connected to a landmark report on clerical abuse. The Archdiocese of Cologne announced the Vatican’s decision on May 3, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. During a seven-month ‘period of spiritual leave’ taken by the cardinal, the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese commissioned two independent canon lawyers to study the contracts awarded by Woelki and vicar general Msgr. Markus Hofmann.” By Catholic News Agency Staff

CHURCH REFORM

Rome on a Mission: Pope Francis’ reform of the Curia
“This, at last, is the reform ‘strongly wished for by most of the cardinals gathered in the pre-conclave general congregations’ in 2013, as Praedicate recalls at the end of its preamble. The date of the constitution’s release—March 19, the ninth anniversary of Pope Francis’s inaugural Mass—is a reminder of those days, when cardinals in the wake of Benedict’s resignation stood up, one after another, to urge the next pope to turn a dysfunctional, inward-looking court of self-aggrandizing cronies into an effective, outward-looking organism of service to the whole Church.” By Austen Ivereigh, Commmonweal

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican trial places pope, top aides at center of London deal
“The former director of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency testified Wednesday (Apr. 27) that Pope Francis asked him to help the Vatican secretariat of state get full control of a London property, once again putting the pope and his top deputies in the spotlight for their roles in the problematic deal. Tommaso Di Ruzza is one of 10 people accused in the Vatican’s sprawling financial trial, which is centered on the secretariat of state’s 350 million euro investment in a luxury London property. Vatican prosecutors have accused brokers and Vatican officials of fleecing the Holy See of millions of euros in fees, much of it donations from the faithful, and then extorting the Vatican of 15 million euros to get full control of the property.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

VOICES

Stephen Mills: Don’t tell us it’s too late to get justice
“Take it from me, the aftershocks of child sexual abuse last a lifetime. I’m 66, and the sexual violence I experienced at age 13 — a near-death experience, really — can still grip my body and mind when I least expect it. I thought I’d be released when my abuser died. But that happened 30 years ago. Then I was sure I just needed to find the right meds, the right therapy, the right spiritual practice. No, no and no.” By Stephen Mills, Trib Live

What kind of Catholics are we?
What does it mean to be a vowed Dominican Sister, a member of the Order of Preachers within a church that largely rejects women preaching in liturgical settings? Lucky for me, I am blessed with a high tolerance for perceived contradictions. In fact, it was my penchant for incongruities that, after 25 years as a non-practicing Catholic, drew me back into the fold. For me, the endurance, scope and coherence of the Catholic tradition belie a profound underlying Truth that enables me to live with the inherent, sometimes painful, contradictions of the church.” By Quincy Howard, Globe Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Troubling past: the Church’s role in America’s Indian boarding school era
“The doll is about 6 inches tall, handcrafted of red leather, with a tan belt and headband around its long black hair. It’s a male warrior, holding a bow. ‘This is actually me,’ D. Richard Wright said of the doll. The parishioner of Gichitwaa Kateri in south Minneapolis made it as part of an effort to process recent findings in Canada of what are believed to be hundreds of graves of children on the sites of former indigenous residential schools. Some Twin Cities American Indians — mostly women — gathered together to make ‘spirit dolls’ representing the children in some of those graves, resulting in an exhibit called ‘215+’ that was on view from November to January at Indigenous Roots in St. Paul.” By Maria Wiering, The Catholic Spirit

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

California Catholic dioceses ask Supreme Court to hear statute of limitations extension case
“California Catholic bishops are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a case challenging the state for permitting victims of childhood sexual abuse to file claims again, after the timeframe for them to pursue legal action has expired twice. Nine California Catholic dioceses and archdioceses filed a petition for writ of certiorari, or a petition to review a lower court’s decision, in the case — Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland v. Superior Court of California for Los Angeles — on April 15.” By Katie Yoder, Catholic News Agency, on AngelusNews.com

Iowa’s dangerous safe base for abusers
“The game of tag is one of the most classic outdoor childhood games. Although it has many versions, traditionally speaking, one player is ‘it’ and must tag other players to eliminate them. Generally, players cannot be tagged out if they are on the ‘safe base.’ Kids often complain and holler that the safe base is unfair. They have a point. There is ‘safe base’ in Iowa, but it is a dangerous one. You see, Iowa law creates a safe zone for the absolute worst – sexual predators. A sexual predator may be out and held accountable in one jurisdiction but cross the state line into Iowa and they are safe. Why?” By Kathryn Robb and Kylie DeWees, The Gazette

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

A wounded healer speaks about the sexual abuse crisis
“In this new episode of Field Hospital, Jeannie Gaffigan and I had the privilege of speaking to Mark Joseph Williams, a survivor of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest who has undergone a long journey of healing and recovery. He now advocates for and accompanies other survivors as they seek the healing and justice they need after suffering the trauma and injustice they have endured. Professionally, Mark is a management consultant and a forensic social worker from New Jersey. He also serves as special advisor in the Archdiocese of Newark for Cardinal Joseph Tobin.” By Mark Lewis, The Field Hospital Podcate, on WherePeterIs.com

Navarre will recognize the victims of abuses in Church already prescribed
“Navarre will enact a law to recognize as such the victims of pederasty in the Catholic Church, clarify the crimes committed by the members of this institution in the community and ‘contribute to a collective, democratic and critical memory’ about the problem. The draft of the law, to which this newspaper has had access, contemplates the creation of a ‘recognition commission’ composed of experts who will assess, during six years of work, the requests of people who claim to have suffered abuses by the clergy and want to benefit from the law.” By Julio Núñez, El Pais

ILLINOIS

Archdiocese of Chicago settles sex abuse claim against the Rev. George Clements: lawyer
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has reached an $800,000 settlement over claims of sexual abuse by the late Rev. George Clements, the famed Holy Angels pastor, and four other Chicago-area religious figures, according to lawyers representing the alleged abuse victims. An attorney for Clements’ now 54-year-old alleged victim called Tuesday (Apr. 26) for Cardinal Blase Cupich to place Clements on the archdiocese’s public list of ‘credibly accused priests.’ ‘The hiding has to stop. The secrecy has to stop,’ Boston-based attorney Mitch Garabedian told reporters.” By Stefano Esposito, C

Chicago Sun-Times

INDIANA

Judge rejects sex abuse plea deal for suspended Indy priest
“A judge rejected a proposed plea agreement for a suspended Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in 2016 and instead set a trial date for the cleric Thursday (Apr. 21). Hamilton County Superior Court Judge Michael Casati threw out the deal that would have allowed David Marcotte to plead guilty to one count of dissemination of matter harmful to minor in exchange for the state dismissing charges of child solicitation and vicarious sexual gratification. Casati scheduled a jury trial for Oct. 10 on the three felony counts, WRTV-TV reported.” By Associated Press in The Goshen News

KANSAS

Lawrence priest suspended after child sex abuse allegation
“A former pastor at Catholic parishes in Lawrence and Eudora and on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus has been suspended from ministry following an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. According to March 25 issue of The Leaven, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, the archdiocese learned on Feb. 28 that Father Michael Scully had been accused of sexual abuse. Upon notification, the archdiocese ‘relieved Father Scully from public exercise of priestly ministry’ until an investigation is complete.” By Andrea Albright, The Lawrence Times

Topeka man’s status as a priest now to be decided after DA opts not to file charges in abuse claim
“Now it knows a Topeka Roman Catholic priest accused last year of child sexual abuse won’t be charged criminally, his archdiocese says it will proceed with evaluating his status as a priest. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay has decided not to file charges against the Rev. John Pilcher after reviewing the results of an investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, he told The Capital-Journal on Monday (Apr. 25).” By Tim Hrenchir, Topeka Capital-Journal

MISSOURI

Priests accused of sexual abuse living at Jefferson County treatment center
Catholic priests and clergy accused of sexually abusing children are living under the radar at a Missouri treatment center. Tucked behind trees in a quiet neighborhood off Eime Road in Dittmer, MO, is a Catholic community shrouded in secrecy. ‘There’s some sick people over there,’ said Michael Stenzhorn, who lives just across the street. Signs outside the Vianney Renewal Center don’t say who lives there. ‘I believe there are hundreds if not thousands sex offender clergy who have been through that place,’ said David Clohessy, the Missouri Volunteer Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).” Stenzhorn says for years his family was in the dark.” By KFVS-TV12 News

NEW YORK.

Abuse survivors and Catholic Diocese of Rochester face off in bankruptcy court
“The Rochester Catholic Diocese is being accused of acting in bad faith. Sex abuse survivors are frustrated the diocese bankruptcy case is still not settled. When they joined the case, their civil lawsuits against individual parishes and priests were frozen. After three years without a settlement, they now want to be able to proceed with those lawsuits. Brian Delafranier, a survivor of the abuse, said him and other victims deserve to be compensated for the abuse they suffered.” By Ginny Ryan, WHAM-TV13 News

Court: Albany diocese must release priest treatment files
“A recent court ruling has opened the door to the release of psychological treatment records of priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany accused of child sexual abuse. The Albany Times-Union reported the ruling came in a lawsuit by an alleged abuse victim from the 1980s who sought records detailing the treatment received by the Rev. Edward Pratt and other priests. The diocese had argued that the records were subject to patient-physician privilege, but the appeals court wrote last Thursday that the privilege was waived because the priests’ records had been shared with then-Bishop Howard J. Hubbard.” By Associated Press

NORTH CAROLINA

Archdiocesan priest accused of inappropriately touching minor in 2018
“A report to the Archdiocese of Denver states that an archdiocesan priest inappropriately touched a minor a single time back in 2018. The inappropriate touching occurred in a public space when the young girl was exiting church immediately after Mass had ended. According to the Archdiocese of Denver, the church followed its Code of Conduct and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and immediately reported the allegation to authorities.” By Morgan Whitley, FOX-TV31 News

OHIO

Diocese of Toledo Announces Final Decision Regarding Reverend Nelson Beaver
“The Diocese of Toledo is announcing the final decision regarding Rev. Nelson Beaver, who was placed on administrative leave in October 2018 having received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor dating back over 25 years. Three other allegations of sexual abuse of a minor from a similar time period were subsequently made against Beaver … In October, 2019, the diocese announced that the investigation had been completed, the Diocesan Review Board found all four allegations to be substantiated and voted unanimously that Beaver is not suitable for priestly ministry. Bishop Daniel E. Thomas accepted the Review Board’s recommendation …” By Diocese of Toledo

TENNESSEE

Lawsuit: Knoxville diocese mishandled sex abuse claim
“A lawsuit says the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville mishandled a report about allegations that a priest sexually abused a parishioner. The lawsuit filed in Sevier County says Father Antony D. Punnackal locked an adult female plaintiff in a room on Feb. 17, 2020, and fondled her, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. Police allegedly informed the diocese about the allegations against Punnackal before he was indicted by a grand jury, but no action was taken until the indictment, the complaint states.” By Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Archdiocese of Seattle settles two sex abuse claims for $375,000
“The Archdiocese of Seattle said Thursday (Apr. 28) it will pay $375,000 to settle two separate claims of sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. The Roman Catholic archdiocese said in a news release that it settled a case involving allegations of childhood sexual abuse in the early to mid-1970s by David Pearson, a volunteer at St. Joseph Parish in Issaquah. Pearson has died. The archdiocese also said it settled a case involving an allegation of sexual abuse by Father Paul Conn in about 1987 when he served at Queen of Angels Parish in Port Angeles.” By Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

New portal will assess, improve safeguarding
“A new portal launched today by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited will help Catholic organizations measure their progress in applying the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. Marking the launch of the portal, ACSL CEO Ursula Stephens described it as a crucial resource for entities wanting to understand where their current safeguarding standards are in relation to best practice. ‘It is intuitive, easy to navigate and use and will be invaluable to safeguarding personnel everywhere. The portal we have developed will help Catholic entities to meet their own legislative safeguarding requirements in a timely way,’ Dr Stephens said.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Sex abuse case sparks Ottawa to assert papal ambassador’s diplomatic immunity
“Three weeks after Pope Francis apologized for Catholic residential school abuses, Ottawa issued a diplomatic immunity certificate for the pope’s ambassador who faced a lawyer’s demand for records in other Catholic school sexual and physical abuse allegations. ‘Clearly, that consent is not forthcoming, because the certificate was issued,’ Sandra Kovacs, lawyer for complainant Mark O’Neill said. ‘This position is not surprising, particularly in light of the frustration also expressed by residential school survivors, who have asked Pope Francis for unfettered access to records with the Vatican’s missionary department, too,’ Kovacs said.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique Newsmagazine

PHILIPPINES

Brooklyn diocese settles sex abuse lawsuit vs. Filipino bishop
“The Diocese of Brooklyn has settled a lawsuit against the late Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, accused of sexual abuse of a minor when he was a visiting clergy in St. Francis de Sales Church in Belle Harbor in New York in the early 1970s. According to Road to Recovery, Inc., a non-profit in New Jersey that assists victims of sexual abuse, Father Gutierrez sexually abused a minor child parishioner of St. Francis de Sales Parish on approximately six occasions from around 1970 until 1971 when the boy was about 11 to 12 years old.” By Cristina D.C. Pastor, The FilAm Magazine

SINGAPORE

Member of Catholic order in Singapore who committed sex acts on two teenage boys jailed 5 years
“A man who was part of a Catholic religious order that established a school in Singapore, was sentenced to five years’ jail on Thursday (May 5) for committing unlawful sexual acts with two teenage boys. The Singaporean, who The Straits Times understands is not a priest, pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily having carnal intercourse against the order of nature and one charge under the Children and Young Persons Act. Two other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.” By Samuel Devaraj, Straits Times

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Pope mandates annual audit on protection of children from abuse / Reuters

Francis said he wanted a yearly “reliable account on what is presently being done and what needs to change” to protect children and vulnerable adults from predator clergy.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters

“Pope Francis on Friday asked for an annual audit evaluating how national Catholic Churches are implementing measures to protect children from clergy sexual abuse, saying that without more transparency the faithful will continue to lose trust.

“‘Abuse in any form is unacceptable,’ Francis told members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was established in 2014 to promote best practices and a culture of safeguarding worldwide.

“The commission had a rocky start, with several members resigning in frustration, complaining that it had no teeth and that they had met internal resistance.

“It was given a new lease on life in March, when the Vatican’s updated constitution placed it in the doctrinal department, which rules on abuse cases.

“Francis said he wanted a yearly “reliable account on what is presently being done and what needs to change” to protect children and vulnerable adults from predator clergy.”

By Philip Pullella, Reuters — Read more …


Click hear to read Voice of the Faithfuls recently released “2022 Report: Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices,” which studied the level of diocesan compliance with child protection guidelines.

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Voice of the Faithful puts children first with new study of dioceses’ child protection efforts

Voice of the Faithful has published the first independent, online review of all U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses’ level of compliance with child protection and safe environment guidelines. The average overall score was 67%, with the most frequently achieved score 63.5%. Although some dioceses did well, no diocese achieved 100%, and three dioceses scored in the 20s.

Click here to read the entire report

The study is the first independent analysis of child protection and safe environment policies in all U.S. dioceses. VOTF operates independently of the Church’s institutional structure, and the study is not an audit like those conducted by the U.S. Bishop’s National Review Board. Called “2022 Report: Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices,” the report is being released in April because the month is designated in the United States as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The report’s conclusions include:

The breadth of clergy sexual abuse cases within the Church indicates that historical responses to accusations of abuse by the hierarchy were inadequate; those responses protected the reputation of the institution over supporting victims and preventing further child abuse within the Church. The hierarchical construct of privileged, secretive, unaccountable, male-only institution provides the backdrop that foments a culture of leaders who enabled the protection of the abusers and church leadership above the victims’ best interests and suffering of children. Unchanging defense of this already damaged institution ignores the need to remedy faulty structures, such as bishops’ deficient adherence to their own standards, as well as a lack of urgency and decisive actions that would demonstrate their professed resolve to protect and heal.

2022 Report: Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices

A few recent examples illustrating the report’s conclusions include: former Albany Diocese leader Bishop Howard Hubbard’s admission the diocese regularly moved priests accused of sexually abusing minors among parishes without informing police, victims’ families or parishioners; Portugal’s investigation that received 290 church sex abuse claims within 90 days with many more expected; and similar recent investigations in Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain; the Pennsylvania grand jury report in 2018; and other investigations dating back to The Boston Globe’s report on clergy abuse in the Boston Archdiocese in 2002, which brought about VOTF.

“The Church most often claims such investigations reveal just historic abuse,” said Patricia T. Gomez, VOTF trustee and Protection of Children Working Group co-chair. “But our report, as an indication of commitment to child protection, does not show that widespread cultural change toward safer environments for children has taken place, and we won’t know the extent of present abuse for some time because victims typically don’t report it for decades.”

To conduct this study, VOTF reviewers studied 177 websites, those of 176 U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses and the Archdiocese for the Military, USA. Reviewers used a worksheet that included 33 questions in the following 10 categories: policy; code of conduct; reporting abuse; background checks; prevention, education, and training; contact information; annual audit reporting; diocesan review boards; list of accused clergy; and victim assistance. The study used diocesan websites because the internet is so widely used for information, and the extent to which a diocese’s website provides safe environment policies and procedures is an indication of the bishop’s commitment to protecting children and preventing further sexual abuse by clergy.

“This (report) will surely promote a constructive conversation about how to monitor and improve child safety in the church environment,” said David Finkelhor, Ph.D., who is professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory. “The report is sensible, systematic and well-conceived.”

The five highest scoring dioceses were Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 95.5%; Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, 93.5%; Venice, Florida, 92.5%; Baltimore, Maryland, 92.5%; and Richmond, Virginia, 89.5%. The five lowest scoring dioceses were Shreveport, Louisiana, 22.5%; Lubbock, Texas, 23.5%; Corpus Christi, Texas, 27%; Military Services, 38.5%; and Colorado Springs, Colorado, 41.5%.

The VOTF report made the following points:

  • Diocesan safe environment webpage content must align with dioceses’ child protection policies. Any lack of consistency calls into question the diligence afforded to safe environment and child protection efforts and diocesan commitment to transparency.
  • Comprehensive abuse prevention efforts must include criminal background checks of all employees, clergy, and volunteers, as well as mandatory abuse prevention education and training for all groups.
  • Dioceses must fully disclose credibly accused offenders’ information, such as name, current status, past assignments, etc.
  • Diocesan review boards must ensure that Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People-related policies and procedures are current and clearly stated.
  • Mandatory participation in annual audits and a time-limited period for correction of deficiencies must be enforced.

The report concluded on the particularly important role of parishioners in child protection: “There is a key role for parishioners to ensure the protection of children in our parishes. Parishioners should work with diocesan and parish safe environment personnel to bolster safety guidelines at the diocesan level and ensure that safety measures are carried out in their faith communities. Alive in the life of Jesus, the entire People of God can transform into a sacramental community where children, youth, and the vulnerable are nurtured and protected in safe environments.”


Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 25, 2022

TOP STORIES

N.J. Catholic diocese agrees to $87.5M deal to settle clergy sex abuse suits
“A New Jersey Catholic diocese has agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle claims involving clergy sex abuse with some 300 alleged victims in one of the largest cash settlements involving the Catholic church in the United States(link is external). The agreement between the Diocese of Camden, which encompasses six counties in southern New Jersey on the outskirts of Philadelphia, and plaintiffs was filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden on Tuesday (Apr. 19).” By Mike Catalini, Associated Press

Spanish bishops brief pope on abuse commission
“Pope Francis met with the leaders of the Spanish bishops’ conference and was briefed on the independent commission established by the bishops to investigate clerical sexual abuse in the country(link is external). Speaking with journalists outside the Vatican press office April 7, Cardinal Juan José Omella of Barcelona, president of the conference, said the pope encouraged the bishops to continue supporting survivors of abuse. Pope Francis ‘encouraged us to walk along that path of accompanying victims because they are at the center of everything, to collaborate in everything and, above all, to prevent these things from happening again,’ Omella said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Portugal probe: 290 church sex abuse claims in 90 days work
“A lay committee looking into historic child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church said Tuesday (Apr. 12) it received witness statements from 290 alleged victims in its first three months of work, with cases involving children as young as two years old(link is external). More than half the reported cases suggest many more victims were involved, said Pedro Strecht, a psychiatrist who heads the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church. The six-person committee, which includes psychiatrists, a former Supreme Court judge and a social worker, began its work in January at the behest of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press

Is Pope Francis prepping for doomsday in the church? I hope so.
“If you’re not a Vaticanista, the announcement of the proposed reform of the Roman Curia on March 17 might have seemed like some pretty standard Catholic gobbledygook … But in the midst of the release of the reform document, Vatican experts recognized something that actually could change things for you and me in a potentially massive way(link is external). As one theological expert who worked on the constitution put it, the Vatican seems to be saying that the ‘power of governance in the church does not come from the sacrament of [Holy] Orders’ but from one’s mission in the church. That is, being in positions of leadership in the church should not require a collar, ordination or being a man.” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

74 bishops sign open letter warning of German Synodal Path’s potential for schism
“In an open letter, 74 bishops from North America, Africa, Italy and Australia have expressed their ‘growing concern’ about the German Synodal Path process and content(link is external), warning about its ‘potential for schism.’ Joining recent letters of concern by the Nordic and Polish bishops, the ‘fraternal open letter to our brother bishops in Germany’ said ‘the Synodal Path’s actions undermine the credibility of church authority, including that of Pope Francis.’” By Greg Erlandson, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

An island retreat: sin, secrecy, and the offshoring of sexually abuse priests
“[This is] an historical account that encourages scholars and activists alike to rethink the geography of clerical sexual abuse: though there is a generally agreed upon history that bishops throughout the United States transferred priests between parishes to evade suspicion and at times prosecution, this provides a previously untold account of how the U.S. Church leveraged developments in moral theology, pastoral psychology, and free market capitalism to secure transnational lines of flight for some of its most incorrigible abusers(link is external).” By Kevin Lewis O’Neill, John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Frustration with German Synodal Path should not derail path of synodality
“Last week, 74 bishops signed a letter to the German bishops expressing concern about that country’s ‘Synodal Path,’ which voted on a series of reforms in February. The letter warns the German synodal consultations hold the ‘potential for schism’(link is external) and identifies seven specific criticisms, such as the charge the German process relied more on ‘sociological analysis and contemporary political, and gender, ideologies’ … The German Synodal Path is part of a universal process. The German bishops have made clear that they understand certain doctrinal matters can only be developed by the universal church.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Grace of priesthood is given for service, not priests’ glory, pope says
“In the life of every Christian, but especially of priests, God’s love and forgiveness are the greatest rewards, and any attempt to seek one’s own glory plays into the hands of the devil(link is external), Pope Francis said. With some 1,800 priests concelebrating and renewing the promises made at their ordinations, Pope Francis celebrated the chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica April 14. ‘There is no recompense greater than friendship with Jesus,’ the pope told them. ‘There is no peace greater than his forgiveness. There is no greater price than his precious blood, and we must not allow it to be devalued by unworthy conduct.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Vatican approves norms to reshape U.S. priestly formation
“The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has approved new norms for the formation of seminarians(link is external), which were drafted by the U.S. bishops’ conference in 2019, and have been under discussion between Rome and the USCCB since that time. The sixth edition of the Program for Priestly Formation, which governs seminary education for priests, will require seminaries and dioceses to reshape their formation programs, in order to accommodate new stages of formation at both the start and conclusion of seminary studies.” By The Pillar

VOICES

On the power of Resurrection and healing from abuse
“Early on in my healing work, a friend suggested that I think back to who I was before I was sexually abused(link is external). They wondered if I might find power in remembering characteristics or aspects of myself before the abuse that are still a part of me today. When I first attempted to recall who I was before the abuse, I could not remember specific traits or memories. I was so young when the abuse started, no older than 5, and it felt like trying to recall the memories of someone who wasn’t yet a person. The abuse occurred during my formative years, when a child’s brain develops into who they will become later in life, from our social lives to our emotions to how we show up relationally.” By Meredith McKay, National Catholic Reporter

 ‘Good Policy’
“Since 2002, numerous bills have been introduced in the New York State Legislature to add clergy to the list of mandated reporters for child sexual abuse. The bills — which have respected the sanctity of the confessional — long have been supported by the New York State Catholic Conference (NYSCC), which represents the state’s bishops in matters of public policy, and by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany, who has been a national leader in responding to the clergy abuse crisis. But 20 years since the first bills were introduced — which were spurred on by the sexual abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston that was exposed by the Boston Globe — clergy still are not included in the expansive state list of mandated reporters(link is external) that includes doctors, social workers, police officers, social service workers and most school officials.” By Mike Matvey, The Evangelist, The Official Publication of the Diocese of Albany

Reclaiming the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition form the culture wars
“When Michael Murphy, director of Loyola’s Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage, first invited me to join this conversation, he asked me to give a few remarks as part of a panel on how the culture wars have distorted Catholic bioethics. But then I was relocated to a keynote address on the topic ‘Reclaiming the Catholic Moral and Intellectual Tradition from the Culture Wars(link is external).’ If the first topic was big, the second is, colossal. So I am going to take the original starting point that he gave me — the culture wars and bioethics — as a way into the larger question.” By M. Therese Lysaught, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

If Pennsylvania senators don’t extend time limits for sexual abuse cases, Wolf will call special session
“Gov. Tom Wolf says if state lawmakers don’t temporarily extend the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse this year, he’ll call a special session on the matter(link is external). A 2018 grand jury recommended the state temporarily lift legal time limits for survivors with decades-old cases to allow them to sue their alleged abusers. Pennsylvania now lets anyone who says they were abused as a child come to court with a civil lawsuit before age 55, but some survivors missed their opportunity when the time window was smaller. Research shows social and psychological pressures can keep survivors from coming forward for far longer.” By Sam Dynkjlau, WESA-FM Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Legionaries’ updated abuse report reveals four new allegations
“The Legionaries of Christ received four new allegations of sexual abuse against members of the congregation between March 2021 and March 2022(link is external), and new allegations also have been made against priests already undergoing canonical procedures after being named in previous reports. The Legionaries’ 2021 ‘Annual Report: Truth, Justice and Healing’ was released April 6 with updates to their ongoing effort to ‘give an account of their commitments to the victims of sexual abuse since the publication three years ago (December 2019) of all cases from their history.’ Since releasing its previous annual report in March 2021, the congregation received four new allegations, it said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Agency

CONNECTICUT

New Haven priest accused of sexual abuse in 1990s
“The Rev. Joseph M. Elko, administrator of St. Martin de Porres Roman Catholic Church, has been placed on administrative leave because of a claim of sexual abuse that allegedly occurred in the 1990s(link is external). In an email Monday (Apr. 11), David Elliott, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hartford, said the news was announced at Masses this weekend. The church is located at 136 Dixwell Ave. ‘As a result of the receipt of that claim, pursuant to the Archdiocese’s protocol, Fr. Elko has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation of the claim,’ Elliott said in the statement.” By Ed Stannard, New Haven Register

ILLINOIS

Trial set for priest charged in 2017 sexual assault case
“The trial of a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a Shapiro Developmental Center resident(link is external) in 2017 is set to begin Monday (Apr. 18) in Kankakee County Circuit Court. Formerly a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Goodrich and longtime assistant at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Kankakee, Richard E. Jacklin, 70, is facing three felony charges that could carry a prison term of 12 to 50 years. He is charged with aggravated sexual assault, six to 30 years; criminal sexual assault, four to 15 years; and sexual misconduct, two to five years.” By Jeff Bonty, Daily Journal

INDIANA

Carmel priest files lawsuit in response to allegations of inappropriate conduct
“A Carmel priest filed a lawsuit in response to allegations of inappropriate conduct(link is external). In March, the Diocese of Lafayette suspended Father James DeOreo after receiving allegations of inappropriate conduct with a minor. DeOreo was suspended from public ministry. The diocese said at the time that the allegation violates the Diocesan Code of Conduct for Clergy. The diocese said the allegation was reported to Indiana Child Protective Services.” By WTHR-TV13 News

Evansville priest on leave after allegations of sexual misconduct
“A Evansville priest has been removed from the public ministry after an allegation of sexual misconduct from 20 years ago(link is external) was reported to the Diocese of Evansville. According to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Father Bernie Etienne served at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church and is currently placed on administrative leave. The Diocese did not clarify the nature of the allegations against Father Etienne, regarding the age, gender of the victim and where the sexual misconduct took place.” By Shwetha Sundarrajan, WANE-TV15 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Diocese asks state’s top court to halt suit by Bishop Weldon sexual abuse survivor
“A lawyer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield asked the state’s top court Monday (Apr. 4) to halt a civil lawsuit brought by the former Chicopee altar boy who suffered sexual assaults decades ago at the hands of former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon(link is external). The high-profile case was elevated from the Appeals Court to the Supreme Judicial Court in December because the high court wanted to consider issues it raises. They include whether the diocese, which includes all of Berkshire County, is protected by what’s known as charitable immunity, a legal protection that existed under certain circumstances at the time of the assaults in the 1960s.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MISSISSIPPI

Ex-friar found guilty of sexual abuse of former student at Catholic school
“A former Franciscan friar has been found guilty of sexually abusing a student(link is external) during the 1990s at a Greenwood Catholic school. A Leflore County jury deliberated less than an hour Wednesday (Apr. 13) before finding Paul West guilty of one count of sexual battery and one count of gratification of lust. West, 62, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Ashley Hines to 30 years on the first count and 15 years on the second, to be served consecutively.” By Kevin Edwards, McComb Enterprise-Journal

NEW YORK.

Diocese moves to reinstate freeze on cases
“In a bid to keep parishes and officials, including Bishop Salvatore Matano, from answering scores of sexual-abuse allegations against church officials in state court(link is external), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has asked for a Bankruptcy Court trial. Known as adversarial proceedings or APs for short, such trials look to have a bankruptcy judge resolve differences between parties in a case. Parties not satisfied with a bankruptcy judge’s ruling can appeal the ruling to a federal district court.” By Will Astor, Rochester Beacon

Two accused priests sue Buffalo Diocese after their pensions are cut
“Two retired Buffalo priests accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external) are suing the Buffalo Diocese to restore their pensions, which were reduced or eliminated after the priests refused to submit to a monitoring program pushed by the State Attorney General’s Office. The Rev. Arthur J. Smith and the Rev. Pascal D. Ipolito maintain that they are not child molesters and haven’t had a fair hearing to defend themselves against the accusations. They also said they earned the pensions that were promised to them when they became priests decades ago and when they retired a few years ago.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

PENNSYLVANIA

Sexual assault survivor shares story, what he is doing to help victims
“In 2016, a Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed widespread sexual assault by Catholic priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. One of the accounts in that report came from Shaun Dougherty who is from Johnstown, PA and survived sexual abuse by his priest when he was 10 years old(link is external). ‘I’m here to share my story so it is not repeated again,’ Dougherty said to an small audience in the HUB’s Ohio Room. Dougherty came to IUP as part of the University’s Six O’clock Series which are a series of guest lectures open to the public. He does not want his story to be ‘heavy.’ Instead, he wants his story to be an inspiration for others to speak up and act.” By Samuel Bigham, ThePenn.org

Preventing child abuse – ‘Fight for that kid’: Law enforcement, court professionals work to seek justice
“Chris Swartz is a tall, barrel-chested police officer. He’s not exactly the kind of guy who, at first appearance, would be envisioned spending countless hours comforting children in their times of most desperate need. But as a member of the Johnstown Police Department, he has been providing compassion and justice for young victims of sexual and physical abuse for years(link is external). ‘With me, I took this position as a juvenile detective because I care about kids,’ Swartz said during an interview on April 1, just hours after a 14-month-old Johnstown girl died at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, the victim of a homicide.” By Dave Sutor, Tribune-Democrat

WISCONSIN

Details lacking in Kaul clergy sex probe
“Wisconsin’s attorney general said his investigation into clergy sex abuse across the state has resulted in 1,000 calls to his tipline, 204 reports, and one criminal case. But there are some questions the AG is not answering. Kaul launched his investigation into the Catholic Church in Wisconsin one year ago. On Tuesday (Apr. 19), he provided an update on his progress. ‘As of April 18, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Clergy and Faith Leader Initiative has received a total of 204 completed reports to the toll-free tip line and the online reporting tool accusing more than 150 individuals of abuse …’ Kaul said in a statement.” By Benjamin Yount, The Center Square, on apg-wi.com

AFRICA

Priest urges Rmaphosa to establish inquiry into historical sexual abuse
“Activist and Anglican priest, Reverend June Major, has taken her fight for justice for sexual assault victims to the president’s office(link is external). On Wednesday (Apr. 12), Major handed a memorandum to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office in Tuynhuys, Cape Town, calling for a commission of inquiry into historic child sexual offences within churches and other faith-based institutions.” By Bulelwa Payl, iol.co.za

CANADA

Montreal Catholic Church ombudswoman details delays, resistance to complaint process
“An independent ombudswoman hired by the Catholic Church of Montreal said Tuesday (Apr. 19) she’s encountering delays and resistance to her efforts to address complaints, warning that the process to tackle abuse and misconduct risks becoming a ‘smokescreen(link is external).’ The third quarterly report published Tuesday by Marie Christine Kirouack said that in recent months she’s faced a number of problems, including non-compliance with deadlines, delays and a failure by church officials to follow up with people who are subject to complaints.” By Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press, in Toronto Star

EAST TIMOR

Convicted UK pedophile priest visited Timor-Leste
“A Catholic priest convicted in the UK last week of sexually abusing boys in his care also came into contact with children in Timor-Leste and took them to his hotel room(link is external) during visits to the country that spanned a decade, it has emerged. Father Patrick Smythe, 79, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison by Leeds Crown Court on April 7, told police during an interview that he had visited Timor-Leste over a period of 10 years ‘sponsoring people of the country.’ He is also said to have been in contact with children of a similar age to the victims he has been convicted of abusing.” By UCANews.com

FRANCE

French Catholic Church in crisis: Trainee priests grapple with aftermath of abuse scandal
“Six months after the publication of the Sauvé report, which revealed the scale of sexual abuse over decades in the French Catholic Church, what effect has the crisis had on aspiring priests? Despite the atmosphere of mistrust currently enveloping the Church, some forty students at the diocese in Orléans are training to join the priesthood while attempting to learn from the errors of those before them(link is external). Our France 2 colleagues report, with FRANCE 24’s Emerald Maxwell.” By Emerald Maxwell, France24.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Catholic priest who preyed on schoolboys branded a ‘beast’ as he is jailed for historic sex offenses in Leeds
“Father Patrick Smythe was locked up for seven and a half years after a jury reached unanimous guilty verdicts after a trial at Leeds Crown Court(link is external). Jurors heard how Smythe, 79, preyed on three of his victims during swimming trips to the former Leeds International Pool. Smythe also targeted boys in his care while on a retreat at a hostel in North Yorkshire. A judge who sentenced Smythe told the pensioner he had told a ‘pack of lies’ to the court during the trial. Judge Simon Batiste said: ‘The offenses involved six different complainants who were at the time of the offences aged between 12 and 16.” By Tony Gardner, Yorkshire Evening Post

SWITZERLAND

Swiss Catholic Church to open secret files to sexual abuse investigators
“In late 2021, the Catholic Church in Switzerland instructed two historians to investigate sexual abuse within the organization. The move followed evidence of sexual abuse on a staggering scale within the organization in France(link is external). On 4 April 2022, a date was announced for the opening of the secret episcopal archives, reported RTS. Work will start on 1 May 2022. The researchers running the investigation are from the University of Zurich. The organizations requesting the investigation include the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, KOVOS and RKZ, three Catholic associations in Switzerland.” By LeNews.ch

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In shockingly frank deposition, former bishop admits moving alleged abusers from treatment to ministry / America: The Jesuit Review

In similarly straightforward testimony, Bishop Hubbard said that in instances when priests admitted to him that they had committed abuse, he did not report this to Albany police.

Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

“In testimony conducted over four days in April 2021, Bishop Howard Hubbard, the former leader of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., described in unusually frank terms how he moved diocesan priests who had been accused of molesting children in and out of treatment centers and back into ministry. He admitted that the transfers were consistently made without informing local police, families of abuse victims or Catholics in Albany’s parishes, where the men were reassigned.

“Bishop Hubbard testified that parishioners were told that their pastors had been removed for ‘treatment’ with no further explanation.

“‘My perspective is we did not reveal the reason for his treatment,’ Bishop Hubbard told Jeff Anderson, the lead attorney for one of the survivors suing the diocese, in reference to one priest.

“‘And the reason for his treatment was he had been accused of sexually abusing a minor, correct?’ Mr. Anderson asked.

“‘That is correct,’ answered the bishop, who led the diocese from 1977 until 2014, answered.

“Mr. Anderson pressed further. ‘As a matter of practice and protocol, you as the bishop were required to keep that secret to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the church, of the diocese, correct?’ he asked.

“‘I think both were reasons for not disclosing fully the reason for his treatment,’ Bishop Hubbard responded, after clarifying objections from his attorney.”

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

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Ex-Albany bishop acknowledges covering up abuse allegations / Associated Press

Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.

Associated Press

“The former bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has acknowledged covering up allegations of sexual abuse against children by priests in part to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the diocese.

“Howard J. Hubbard made the admission during a deposition taken last year as part of a response to dozens of claims filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. A judge ordered the deposition released on Friday.

“Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.

“During the four-day deposition, Hubbard named several priests who had been accused of sexual abuse who were referred to treatment and later returned to ministry, without notification to the public. One, David Bentley, admitted to Hubbard that he had engaged in the behavior alleged.”

By Associated Press — Read more …

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