Posts Tagged clergy sexual abuse scandal

Latest USCCB abuse audit report shows cover-up’s extent, 4,400 new allegations last year

BOSTON, Mass., Jun. 26, 2020 – The numbers tell the story. According to the USCCB’s 2020 Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, more than 4,400 allegations of Catholic clergy sexual abuse were reported over the single year ending Jun. 30, 2020, the period of the report, which was released yesterday.

The report said the actual number of child sexual abuse survivor allegations over the past year was 4,434, more than three times the 1,451 allegations in the 2017-2018 reporting period.

The numbers show like none since the 2002 revelations in the Boston Archdiocese the extent of the cover-up the Church’s hierarchy has perpetrated. This increase in allegations has brought to light thousands of concealed clergy abuse cases from victims/survivors just now coming forward as a result of recent reforms of state statutes of limitations, nationwide civil investigations prompted by the August 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, increases in lawsuits and victim compensation plans employed by several dioceses. How many abuses will remain hidden by diocesan bankruptcies may never be known, and many victim/survivors agreeing to compensation plans will never get their day in court.

The USCCB’s National Review Board chairman, Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., pointed out in a letter prefacing the report that activities and “a growing desire among the laity for greater involvement in addressing this issue has led many to question whether the audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root.”

Equally if not more troubling is the report’s reference to current rather than historical cases. Thirty-seven 37 new abuse allegations have been made since last year. Cesareo made the magnitude of the problem perfectly clear. As much at 30 percent of dioceses have recurring difficulties pointing to a “lack of diligence that puts children’s safety at risk.”

“The current year’s Annual Report” he said, “highlights concerns also noted in previous years that speak to the issue of complacency. We continue to see the failure to publish reporting procedures in the various languages in which the liturgy is celebrated; poor recordkeeping of background checks; dysfunctional Diocesan Review Boards; lack of a formal monitoring plan for priests who have been removed from ministry; failure to update policies and procedures in light of the 2011 Charter revisions.”

And, with the Charter still not requiring parish audits, the need for continued vigilance is obvious.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Jun. 26, 2020
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Abuse allegations against former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon ‘unequivocally credible,’ investigation finds / The Springfield Republican

The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious, vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking. (The Springfield Republican)

A retired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegations against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield for more than 25 years, found the accusations to be ‘unequivocally credible.’

“Meanwhile, mandatory reporters in the diocese who first heard the alleged victim’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive summary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis, who was hired a year ago to investigate the matter.

“Velis’ report concluded ‘the allegations of the Complainant of sexual molestation committed upon him by Bishop Christopher J Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ that included anal rape, indecent assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress are unequivocally credible. The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious,  vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.'”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican — Read more …

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Report on sexual abuse allegations against late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon could prove pivotal / Springfield Republican

There have been reports that those in the diocesan hierarchy with ties to (Bishop Christopher J.) Weldon — and had sexual abuse allegations made against them — destroyed files related to pedophile priests over the years. (Springfield Republican)

A soon-to-be-released report nearly a year in the making could shed light on decades of sexual abuse by clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and forever change how one of its most influential bishops is viewed.

“Last July, retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis was asked by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon dating back to the early 1960s. The report is expected to be released before Rozanski is installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25.

“The findings will impact not only the alleged victim — who reiterated to Rozanski a year ago his claim that he was sexually abused as a boy by Weldon and two diocesan priests — but also questions that continue to linger around how early in time the diocesan hierarchy may have participated in, covered up and enabled clergy sexual abuse of minors. It could either encourage or discourage other alleged survivors of clergy sex abuse to continue to come forward.”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican on MassLive.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


Jun. 8, 2020

TOP STORIES

Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolerance’
“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way. In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter(link is external) and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Secret bishops’ report calls for radical revamp of Catholic Church
“Australia’s Catholic Church could be dramatically overhauled to give lay people more power, increase the number of women in leadership roles and force parishes to open up their finances to the public(link is external). A secret 200-page report being considered by the nation’s bishops has called for unprecedented reform in a bid to make the church more inclusive and break down the structures that contributed to decades of clergy abuse and cover-ups … But in a sign of how sensitive the church is to issues of reform, the body that commissioned the report – the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference – is unlikely to publicly release or reveal how it will respond to its 86 recommendations until the end of the year.” By Farrah Tomazin, The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops
“It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops(link is external), say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR. They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions. Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi: the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Brooklyn bishop accused by 2nd man of sex abuse in the 1970s
“The Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn, already under a church investigation for alleged sex abuse, has been accused by a second man of abuse in the 1970s, when the bishop was a parish priest in New Jersey(link is external). Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio ‘repeatedly sexually abused’ Samier Tadros starting when he was about 6 years old, according to a March 9 letter that Tadros’ lawyer sent to the attorney representing the Archdiocese of Newark. The letter alleges the abuse happened in Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

Australia’s bishops seeking ‘whole-of-Church’ approach for child protection
“Plans are moving forward for the establishment of a national system for child protection within the Australian Catholic Church(link is external), according to a report following the meeting of the country’s Catholic bishops earlier this month. The ‘National Response Protocol’ will develop a comprehensive system for reporting complaints of clergy abuse or misconduct and establish new guidelines for child protection policies.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

ACOUNTABILITY

Pope makes anti-corruption spending rules mandatory in Vatican
“Pope Francis has approved sweeping new rules for procurement and spending in the Vatican meant to cut costs, ensure transparent competition and reduce the risk of corruption(link is external) in awarding contracts. An Apostolic Letter and 30 pages of new norms released on Monday (Jun. 1) are the culmination of a four-year process to rationalize spending procedures and tackle nepotism and cronyism. They come as the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the Vatican’s finances, forcing it to implement some of the toughest cost-control measures ever.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

New suit alleging sexual abuse by an Allentown priest uses a loophole in hopes of getting around statute of limitations
“Relying on a loophole that could open the floodgates for other victims years, or even decades, after the statute of limitation on such claims has expired(link is external), Berks County state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Tuesday (May 26) filed a lawsuit against the Allentown Diocese and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading, saying he was sexually abused by a priest in the 1980s, when he was 13 years old. Rozzi’s attorneys say they are relying on an August state Superior Court ruling that allowed a similar lawsuit, based on new information from the 2016 grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, to move forward.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call

POPE FRANCIS

Criticizing a pope: a dialogue between Massimo Faggioli and Bill McCormick, S.J.
“The driving thesis of Mr. McCormick’s article is that ‘the papacy does not have an agenda: the papacy is an agenda in itself.’ This is hard to reconcile with an ecclesiology of the papacy as an ecclesial ministry in the framework of a sacramental ecclesiology. But this approach has also far-reaching consequences(link is external). The first is that Mr. McCormick’s argument seems to be not about the style or content of my critique of Pope Francis’ approach to two particular issues, but about the very possibility of criticizing the bishop of Rome at all.” By Massimo Faggioli and Bill McCormick, S.J.

CARDINAL PELL

Inside stories: lawyers on the trials of the Pell case
“In a sexual abuse case that has polarized opinion, for the solicitors working on both sides it has been business as usual(link is external). When the High Court announced on 7 April that it would uphold Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his County Court conviction for sexual abuse of two choirboys in the 1990s, it drew a line, for now, under years of work for the solicitors who have been intimately involved in the case. It has been a case that has polarized opinion, has had international notoriety and involved controversy on a number of levels.” By Karin Derkley, Law Institute Victoria

PRIESTS

Priesthood and the renewal of the Church
Debates about celibacy have recently been in the forefront of conversations regarding the Church(link is external), given the ongoing fallout of the abuse crisis and the meeting of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region in the fall of 2019. Although the synod sought to confront the general pastoral difficulties of the Amazon region, stretched over many South American nations, European prelates focused excessively on changes to the priesthood and ecological problems.” By Jared Staudt, Denver Catholic

CHURCH FINANCES

Opening salvos in Pope Francis’s financial ‘Reform 2.0’
“Facing both a looming economic crisis and reminders that the anti-financial scandal measures adopted to date haven’t been fully effective, Pope Francis and his Vatican team this week (May 27) have moved to try to defuse the bomb(link is external) before it goes off, closing several Swiss holding companies responsible for portions of its assets and reallocating internal control over financial data collection.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Vatican Finances, what is going on? The Vatican City State Administration
“Plans for a ‘Vatican Asset Management’ outfit were laid out almost as soon as Pope Francis created the new Secretariat for the Economy. The VAM was supposed to be a centralized office that managed all Vatican investments(link is external). The proposed management outfit would have responded to two needs: that of generating revenues to support the expenses of the Holy See / Vatican City State; and, that of keeping investments under better control (because each dicastery had some funds that it managed independently).” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

CHILD PROTECTION

Reporting abuse – the church’s blind spot
“When in doubt, REPORT. If every allegation of child sexual abuse was simply reported by church leaders to appropriate authorities, the resulting positive impact would be immeasurable(link is external). Survivors of abuse would feel validated — by itself a significant positive outcome — pathways to healing would open, future victims would be spared and abusers would be revealed. Criminal behavior would be investigated and prosecuted, and elements of  realaccountability put in place. When ministry leaders simply report suspicions and allegations of sexual abuse, the church is perceived as a sanctuary where God’s love and justice are demonstrated.” By Gregory Love & Kimberlee Norris, Church Executive

International Safeguarding Conference announces new webinar series
“In a new series of webinars beginning on 29 May, the International Safeguarding Conference (ISC) will be encouraging ‘the Catholic Church and other faith-based organizations’ to ‘continue with safeguarding programs, despite the expected Covid-19 recession(link is external).’ ICS annually brings together Church representatives, professionals and scientific specialists to share knowledge and good practices on the subject of child protection. ISC writes that the upcoming webinar is ‘the first in a series of webinars’ … which aim to enable safeguarding professionals to share good practice in safeguarding, both in the current pandemic circumstances ‘and in ‘normal’ times.’” By Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Record numbers leave Church in Munich archdiocese
“A record number of people left the Church in the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising last year, a local statistical office said Tuesday (May 26). The Munich statistical office told CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, May 26 that 10,744 Catholics formally withdrew from the Church in 2019(link is external). It noted that this was a fifth higher than in 2018, when 8,995 people left. Statisticians said this was the first time that annual departures had surpassed the 10,000 mark since records began. Previously, the highest figure was 9,010, set in 1992.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic World Report

VOICES

New bishop says Catholic Church has learned from the past
“Minnesota priest selected to be the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City comes from a diocese that concluded bankruptcy proceedings last year agreeing to pay tens of millions of dollars to victims of child sexual abuse. Father Peter Muhich, 59, said addressing the abuse of victims was ‘obviously a very difficult process’ for the church(link is external) and especially for the victims themselves.” By Kevin Woster, Rapid City Journal

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child Victims Act gets 1-year extension
“The Child Victims Act received a second extension, bringing the filing deadline for child sexual abuse cases past the statute of limitations to Aug. 14, 2021(link is external). Championed for years by New Baltimore activist and attorney Gary Greenberg, who is a survivor of child sexual abuse, the law initially opened a one-year window of opportunity for claimants of child sexual abuse to bring their case to civil court, regardless of the statute of limitations and when the alleged abuse took place.” By Melanie Lekocevic, Columbia-Greene Media

Texas Statutes of Limitations for sexual crimes against children
“For many years, the Catholic Church has come under fire for the widespread occurrence of child molestation. While the majority of the media attention has fallen on U.S. priests, clergy members in many other countries have been identified as abusers. ‘Sexual Assault, commonly referred to as ‘rape,’ is perhaps the most stressful allegation with which to be faced, particularly if the sexual assault involves a child.” By Broden Mickelsen, Dallas Sex Crimes Lawyers, News.TopWireNews.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Documentary Prompts Polish Archbishop To Refer Case To Vatican
“Poland’s most senior Archbishop referred a child sex abuse case to the Vatican(link is external) on May 17th. Following the release of a Youtube documentary from Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, Archbishop Wojciech Polak has called on the Vatican to launch proceedings against Bishop Edward Janiak. The film alleges that Janiak knew about the allegations for years, but failed to take any action.” By Maria Kuuiper, Current Events, The Organization for World Peace

Revictimizing the victims of sexual abuse
“Victims of sexual abuse by clergy frequently have told me that the way they were treated by bishops has hurt them more than the abuse did(link is external). Virtually every bishop has made the announcement that he is dedicated to helping victims who have been sexually abused by priests and that he has put considerable resources toward that effort. Unfortunately, from what I have heard from too many victims, some bishops are quite adept at virtue-signaling and at making empty promises.” By Janet E. Smith, National Catholic Register

CALIFORNIA

Catholic priest sexual abuse survivor suing Oakland Diocese and East Bay churches
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland and two East Bay churches are the target of a lawsuit by a young man who was sexually abused by a priest when he was a child(link is external), his attorney said Tuesday (May 26). In a complaint recently filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the victim seeks unspecified damages against the the Diocese, St. John’s Catholic Church in San Lorenzo, and Corpus Christi Church in Fremont, accusing them of negligence in not protecting children like him from ‘predator priests.’” By Joseph Geha, Bay Area News Group

LOUISIANA

Alleged victim of nuns’ sex abuse fears Archdiocese bankruptcy will silence him
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans has filed for bankruptcy, and survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy say it’s just a maneuver meant to silence them. They include one man who says he was molested by nuns at a West Bank youth home in the 1970s(link is external), and he’s now urging other victims to speak out. Jeff, whose real name isn’t being used, says his parents sent him to Madonna Manor in Marrero in 1976 for help with dyslexia. He was 11 years old at the time.” By Greg LaRose, WDSU-TV6 News

SNAP asks governor to order state investigation of church
“The Louisiana chapter of SNAP has asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to direct State Police to investigate the Catholic Church(link is external). The organization, which represents and speaks for survivors of sexual abuse by priests, believes that the recent declaration of bankruptcy(link is external) by the Archdiocese is an effort to seal evidence in sex abuse cases.” By KATC-TV3 News

Clergy abuse survivors, Hancock Bank on Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy creditors’ committee
“A committee representing the unsecured creditors in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case will include clergy abuse claimants and Hancock Whitney Bank(link is external), which has managed more than $38 million in state facilities bonds that helped the local Catholic Church rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Federal court records Wednesday only identified one representative on the seven-member committee: Beth Zeigler of Hancock Whitney. The rest of the names were redacted, suggesting that the committee’s balance might be comprised of people who claim they were sexually molested by New Orleans-area clergymen and religious personnel.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield forms independent task force to advise Bishop Mitchell Rozanski on confronting reported clergy sex abuse
“Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski announced on Wednesday (May 27) the creation of an independent task force to advise the Diocese of Springfield on the ongoing issue of sexual misconduct and abuse by clergy(link is external) within the diocese. The 10-member Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield will have retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford as chairman and Irene Woods, founding executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin, as vice chairwoman.” By Patrick Johnson, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Former priest bound over on criminal sexual conduct charges
“A former Upper Peninsula priest accused of molesting children(link is external) was bound over to Ontonagon County Circuit Court. Gary Jacobs, 74, had a preliminary hearing on Tuesday (May 26) and Wednesday in 98th District Court in Ontonagon. No date has been set for his circuit court arraignment. Jacobs was also arraigned in Dickinson County’s district court Monday for similar charges there. He will be arraigned in circuit court next month.” By Garrett Neese, The Daily Mining Gazette

MINNESOTA

St. Cloud Diocese reaches settlement framework for clergy abuse survivors
“The Diocese of St. Cloud says they have reached framework for a settlement for survivors of clergy abuse(link is external). In a news release from the diocese, it says, ‘the resolution will include the diocese filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the near future. In the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the framework for resolution will include a consensual plan of reorganization that will provide for a $22.5 million trust to compensate survivors of clergy sexual abuse.” By Jenifer Lewerenz, KNSI Radio News

NEW JERSEY

Judge denies Delbarton School’s request to find new sex abuse law unconstitutional
“A judge has denied a challenge to a law that loosened restrictions on civil sex abuse complaints — allowing a lawsuit to continue(link is external) against the order that runs the Delbarton School and clearing the way for dozens of similar cases against the Catholic Church and other institutions to go forward in state courts. The lawsuit against Delbarton was filed more than two years before New Jersey extended the civil statute of limitations for sex abuse cases. Dozens of sex abuse lawsuits have been filed since the law took effect on Dec. 1, 2019, many of them against the Catholic Church for alleged abuse from decades ago.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK

LI priest molested me, now church is trying to keep me quiet, lawsuit says
“A man says a Long Island priest sexually abused him when he was a teen(link is external) — and that church investigators are now trying to intimidate him into silence, new court papers show. Greg Hein, 52, says in a Nassau County lawsuit that Father Gregory Cappuccino repeatedly molested him in the sacristy and rectory of St. Anthony of Padua in Rockville Centre in 1984. Hein was 17 at the time, while the priest oversaw the parish’s youth programs, the suit says.” By Rebecca Rosenberg, New York Post

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie diocese priest reinstated after abuse probe ends
“A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Erie is returning to active ministry after Bishop Lawrence Persico said the diocese could not substantiate allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external) made against the priest a year ago. The priest, Monsignor Charles Kaza, has been reinstated as pastor of St. Tobias Parish, in Brockway, Jefferson County, Persico announced on Monday (Jun. 1).” By Times-News staff on GoErie.com

Attorneys: Abuse victims getting low offers from Diocese of Pittsburgh’s fund
“Many people filing claims of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are being offered compensation amounting to only a ‘fraction’ of what victims have received in other dioceses(link is external), according to attorneys representing many of them before an out-of-court compensation fund. Attorney Alan Perer, who said he represents about 75 clients who applied to the fund, is accusing Bishop David Zubik and the diocese of breaking a promise to compensate victims fairly.” By Perter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Erie Diocese wants out of New York lawsuit against Trautman
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit in New York that tries to connect the diocese to claims that retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman(link is external) covered up clergy sex abuse of a minor when he was a top official in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in the 1980s. The suit also names Trautman as a defendant, though the claims against him mostly pertain to his tenure in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The suit alleges the abuse took place there about six years before Trautman was named the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Erie, in 1990.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

TEXAS

Catholic Archdiocese asks to have child abuse lawsuit dismissed, contends case filed too late
“The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, claiming the church covered up allegations of abuse(link is external), and continued to allow La Rosa-Lopez access to children. Lawyers for the Archdiocese filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit contending it was filed years after the statute of limitations ran out in 2011. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says the archdiocese is trying to escape responsibility by relying on a legal technicality.” By KPRC-TV2 News

A year later, most documents seized in Dallas police raid of diocese ordered returned as sexual assault investigation continues
“A year after police searched Dallas Catholic Diocese offices for records related to allegations of sexual abuse by priests, most of the documents seized in the raid were returned to the church as beyond the scope of the police investigation(link is external). And charges have been filed against only one of the five former priests, who are targets of the investigation. Dallas Bishop Edward Burns condemned the May 15, 2019 raid, which involved dozens of law enforcement officers, as ‘unnecessary and sensational,’’ in a statement released by the diocese Thursday (May 28).” By David Tarrant, The Dallas Morning News

AFRICA

My catholic priest uncle molested me when I was 11 – DJ Switch
“Nigerian rapper and disc jockey, Obianuju Catherine Udeh, popularly known as DJ Switch, has opened up on how her uncle, who’s a catholic priest, molested her at the age of 11(link is external). The songwriter who was the winner of the Glo X-Factor revealed this on his Instagram page on Monday, adding that her revelation may shock her family. DJ Switch’s post is coming after the brutal killing of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) who was raped and murdered in a church in Benin where she went to study.” By Taiwo Okanlawon, pmnewsnigeria.com

AUSTRALIA

Former principal who warned of dangerous priest to sue Catholic Church
Mr (Graeme) Sleeman now plans to sue the Catholic Church over the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s catastrophic inaction in the 1980s on his complaints about (pedophile priest Peter)Searson(link is external). He estimates his lost education career cost him $3 million. Searson’s infamy was known at the top: the then archbishop of Melbourne, Frank Little, knew of an allegation Searson raped a young woman in 1974, and his conduct around parishioners and children was discussed at archdiocese meetings in the early 1980s.” By Adam Cooper, The Sydney Morning Herald

Bishop backs mother’s plea to release report
“A 94-year-old Newcastle woman calling for the release of royal commission findings on sexual abuse her son endured and his subsequent suicide is being backed by the local bishop. Audrey Nash fears she will die before the findings of the 2016 royal commission probe into her son Andrew Nash’s suicide are made public. Andrew Nash died in 1974 when he was just 13.” By Giselle Wakatama, ABC News, on CathNews.com

Report Suggests High-Ranking Australian Priest Covered Up Decades of Abuse Within Catholic Church
“Weeks after Cardinal George Pell was released from jail, a newly release report suggests that he knew of child sex abuse by Australian priests as early as the 1970s(link is external) but failed to take action to stop it. Pell, an ex-Vatican treasurer, is the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

CANADA

London Catholic Diocese loses appeal in child sexual abuse case
“An Ontario appeals court has dismissed a bid by the Diocese of London to fight a lower court’s decision to throw out a settlement involving a victim of child sexual abuse(link is external). Justice David Aston ruled in 2018 that London-area resident Irene Deschenes would not have settled with the church for the abuse she suffered at the hands of a priest had the church disclosed key information about previous sexual assault allegations.” By CBC News

FRANCE

Church orders French pedophile priest Preynat to compensate victims
“The Ecclesiastical Court of Lyon has paved the way for the compensation of victims of French ex-priest Bernard Preynat(link is external), convicted in March for the sexual assault of minors. In a sentence handed down on Thursday but made public two days later, 21 people assaulted by Preynat between 1971 and 1991 are to receive an unspecified amount of compensation.” By rfi.fr

GUAM

‘Look what he’s taken from me’: the deadly toll of Catholic church sex abuse on Guam
“Roosters crow in the distance as Walter Denton gestures toward a white one-story concrete building behind a church in Agat, a village in southern Guam. ‘You know, just standing here, right behind you, that is where I was raped,’ says Denton, 56. It has been more than three years since Denton first went public with accusations that Guam’s former archbishop Anthony Apuron assaulted him(link is external), and even though he has told the story many times his voice is still heavy with emotion.” By Anita Hofschneider, The Guardian

PHILIPPINES

Priest slams crimes against, and abuse of, children
“A Catholic priest said the sins and crimes committed against children are crimes that cry out to heavens for justice(link is external). Father Melvin Castro of the Diocese of Tarlac said this on the heels of a study by the International Justice Mission stating that the Philippines has become the world’s largest known source of online child sexual exploitation with parents and relatives the ones responsible for facilitating the abuse in nearly all cases.” By Leslie Ann Aquino, Manila Bulletin

POLAND

Polish priests defy bishops and pedophilia scandal
“The documentary ‘Hide and Seek’ by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, which was watched by almost 7 million people on YouTube within a week, continues to make waves in Poland. The film tells the story of two brothers who were sexually abused by a priest in the diocese of Kalisz in central Poland in the 1990s(link is external). They were 7 and 13 years old at the time. The documentary makes it clear that the local bishop, Edward Janiak, knew about the abuse and swept the scandal under the carpet. The filmmakers uncovered dozens of other cases in the diocese as well.” By Deutsche Welle

SOUTH KOREA

Bishop apologizes for priest’s sex abuse after 23 years
“Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Incheon, issued a statement apologizing for a priest’s sexual abuse(link is external) of students of a Catholic university about 23 years ago. The sexual abuse cases were made public recently through an investigative TV program. In a statement uploaded on the website of the Diocese of Incheon, the bishop said he was deeply sorry for letting such an inappropriate incident happen, confirming the media report was true.” By Park Ji-won, The Korea Times

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Australian bishops’ report advocates major changes to church governance / National Catholic Reporter

Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed “the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion” and “give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.” (National Catholic Reporter)

 A new report commissioned by Australia’s bishops and religious orders recommends a series of radical changes to the way the Catholic Church operates across the country, tackling issues as far-ranging as women’s inclusion in decision-making roles and the Vatican’s opaque process for making episcopal appointments.

“The overarching theme for the report — written as part of the local church’s response to a five-year government inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse — is how governance in the church can be more ‘co-responsible,’ or better shared among bishops, clergy and laypeople.

“Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed ‘the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion’ and ‘give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.’

“The report, which encompasses seven chapters, four indices and a bibliography over its 208 pages, had originally been delivered to the Australian bishops in early May and kept confidential to allow the prelates time to digest its contents.”

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

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Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolearance’ / Cruxnow.com

“To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” (cruxnow.com)

“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way.

“In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

“In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.

In part, such perceptions are rooted in memory. When the abuse scandals broke out in the United States in 2002, several Vatican officials initially dismissed them as a uniquely ‘American problem’ and described the ‘zero tolerance’ policy as a legalistic and Puritanical American overreaction.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops / National Catholic Reporter

“You would think by now the church would have learned the lesson that secrecy in these matters does not work,” said (civil and canon lawyer Nicholas) Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. “What is done in the darkness will be seen in the light. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” (National Catholic Reporter)

It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.

“They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.

“Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are The Light Of The World’): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.

“Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point …”

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 22, 2020

TOP STORIES

Cincinnati bishop resigns after failing to report local priest later accused of rape
“A Cincinnati bishop has resigned for his role in handling alleged inappropriate conduct by a priesthttps://local12.com/news/local/cincinnati-bishop-resigns-after-failing-to-report-local-priest-charged-with-rape(link is external). Bishop Joseph Binzer offered his resignation from his office as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in late April. Pope Francis accepted the resignation, which is effective Thursday (May 7). Binzer was previously removed as the Director of Priests’ Personnel after he failed to bring past concerns about Father Geoffrey Drew’s conduct to the attention of Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and the Priests’ Personnel Board.” By WKRC-tV12 News

Will the Royal Commission’s investigation bring any consequences for Cardinal Pell?
“On this week’s episode of the ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast, Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell and I discuss the Australian Royal Commission’s findings that Cardinal George Pell knew about priests abusing children(link is external) in the Ballarat diocese as early as 1973, a year after he began working in that diocese, and that Cardinal Pell was involved in transferring pedophile priests between parishes.” By Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

NY judge upholds Child Victims Act after challenge by Rockville Centre diocese
“A judge ruled Wednesday (May 13) that New York’s Child Victims Act is constitutional, rejecting a suit filed by the Diocese of Rockville Centre(link is external) that claimed the law is barred by the due process clause in the state constitution. ‘The court finds the Child Victims Act is a reasonable response to remedy the injustice of past child sexual abuse,’ Justice Steven Jaeger of the New York Supreme Court in Nassau County wrote in his May 13 decision. ‘Accordingly, it does not violate defendant diocese’s right to due process under the New York State Constitution.’” By Catholic News Agency

How central is Catholic church in New Orleans? Many federal judges recuse themselves from abuse cases
“One served as the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ in-house attorney. Another was on the board of the archdiocese’s seminary and earned an award for organizing monthly Masses for special-needs parishioners. A third is married to an attorney who is representing the archdiocese as it seeks bankruptcy protection. Yet another serves on an archdiocesan charity’s board. Respectively, U.S. District Judges Wendy Vitter, Jay Zainey, Sarah Vance and Ivan Lemelle are four members of the federal bench in New Orleans who have recused themselves from clergy abuse lawsuits(link is external) that were transferred to their courthouse after the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 1.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

Victims of clerical sex abuse suffer from P.T.S.D. They deserve better treatment.
“Oceans of ink have been spilled about the church’s sexual abuse crisis, mostly focusing on the perpetrators and cover-ups. The magnitude of the crimes deserves attention and condemnation, but the victims should not be ignored(link is external). Their pain and long-term psychological damage cannot be undone by simply identifying and punishing the offenders, many of whom are already dead. Prayer, fasting, penance, forgiveness—some of the tools in the Catholic arsenal—are not enough to heal the wounded.” By Edwin T. Collins, America: The Jesuit Review

New Australian report may help church find its way out of abuse crisis
“There are signs that the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis is now getting at deeper, institutional questions(link is external). In particular, how local churches — parishes and dioceses — are governed. In the last few years, a unique example that could bring encouraging news has come from the Australian church. Since 2017-18, the abuse crisis has taken on a new dimension, thanks to the unveiling of cases (such as disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and of extensive cover-ups identified and published in the reports of nationwide and regional investigations (such as in Australia, Chile and Pennsylvania).” By Massimo Fggioli, National Catholic Reporter

ACOUNTABILITY

Assessment of Vos Estis Lux Mundi on Its First Anniversary
“Last Thursday, on May 7, one year to the day since Vos Estis Lux Mundi was promulgated, we learned of what appears to be its first removal of a complicit bishop(link is external). A two-line announcement in the Vatican’s daily bulletin noted that the Pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph R. Binzer from the office of the auxiliary of the Cincinnati archdiocese. Lay Catholic media are reporting that Bishop Binzer was found guilty under Vos Estis, meaning that he was found guilty of intentionally interfering with or avoiding an investigation of an abusive cleric. We don’t know this for sure, however; neither the Pope nor his proxies have made any comment. Some might point to Binzer’s resignation as a sign that Vos Estis is working. Seen differently, it reveals serious flaws in the Pope’s plan.” By Anne Barrett Doyle, BishopAccountability.org

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal Pell ‘knew of’ clergy abuse, says Australian Royal Commission
“Cardinal George Pell knew of child sexual abuse by priests in Australia as early as the 1970s but failed to take action(link is external), a landmark inquiry found. The findings on Cardinal Pell – an ex-Vatican treasurer – come from Australia’s royal commission into child sexual abuse, which ended in 2017. Details were only revealed on Thursday. A court had previously redacted the report because the cleric was facing child abuse charges at the time. The cardinal has denied the findings.” By BBC News

Clergy abuse survivor draws support for petition to defrock Pell
“A petition started by a clergy abuse survivor has received more than 30,000 signatures supporting his call for Cardinal George Pell to be defrocked. Paul Levey, who was abused by convicted pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, began the Change.org petition on Friday and said he was surprised by the response.” By Matt Neal, ABC South West Victoria

BISHOPS

Coleridge re-elected as head of Australian Bishops’ Conference
“On Friday (May 8), the Bishops of Australia re-elected Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane as President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference(link is external). Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP, also won re-election as Vice-President of the Conference. Both will be serving a second two-year term. The elections were held at the beginning of the Conference’s biannual plenary meeting, which runs from 7-14 May. The meeting is being held using videoconferencing on account of the coronavirus pandemic.” By Vatican News

Pope accepts resignation of Cincinnati auxiliary bishop accused of negligence in priest’s case
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of 65-year-old Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer of Cincinnati, less than nine months after it was revealed he had failed to inform the archbishop and priest personnel board of a priest’s inappropriate conduct with minors(link is external). Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr removed Binzer as director of priest personnel for the archdiocese in August after his failure to report the incidents became known; Binzer also resigned from the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Priest who had controversial blog has been suspended
“A Catholic priest in Virginia has been suspended of all priestly duties(link is external) from the two parishes he leads in southwestern Virginia. The suspension is the latest development in the ongoing dispute between Father Mark White and the Bishop of Richmond. White had maintained a well-known blog that was critical of the church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

New Jersey parishioners protest priests’ ouster
“About 150 parishioners from St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Elizabeth, N.J., traveled by caravan Jan. 6 to Sacred Heart Cathedral here in an effort to reverse an order by Archbishop John Myers that the four priests living in their parish rectory vacate this month(link is external). The archbishop’s order — which parishioners view as an eviction notice and a summary dismissal of hard-working clergy without recognition of their longtime contribution to the church and the people of Elizabeth — was delivered to three of the priests by telephone the week before Christmas.” By Patricia LeFevere, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Female theologians back Ouellet: Seminaries need women involved in formation
“Several women theologians who teach in Catholic seminaries have applauded Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who argued in a recent interview that to foster a healthy relationship between the sexes, more women should be involved in priestly formation(link is external). “When women are not present in influential roles within all areas of seminarians’ formation … seminarians are at risk of gaining a distorted view of women,” author and speaker Dawn Eden Goldstein told Crux.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY& THE CHURCH

The role of laity in covering up abuse
“If we are going to do real soul-searching about clergy sexual abuse, it’s time we turned the spotlight on to the laity and their role in enabling abusers(link is external). This is a difficult conversation to begin. We are used to seeing ourselves as the good guys, and the solution, not the problem: that if we had lay-led parishes or diocesan offices, this would rid us of clergy abuse for good. Unfortunately, history is not on our side. Cases of clergy sexual abuse in the English-speaking world reveal any number of compromised lay people who have helped with covering up and explaining away, either directly or indirectly.” By Dr. Phillippa Martyr, Catholic Weekly

CHURCH FINANCES

Podcast: The Vatican’s $200 million London real estate scandal, explained
“Last week, an Italian newspaper reported that Pope Francis had fired five employees who were under investigation(link is external) for their involvement in the $200 million purchase of minority stake in a luxury apartment development in London’s upscale Chelsea neighborhood … The Vatican’s judicial system is now investigating staffers who were involved in the deal for possible financial improprieties. Last year, Vatican police raided several offices in the Secretariat of State and the Vatican’s financial watchdog office and suspended the staff members.” By Coleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

With COVID-19 Hurting Church Finances, Catholic Parishes In Boston May Consider Merging
“As many as two-thirds of the 280 Catholic parishes in Boston are working with the archdiocese to find a solution for their financial difficulties(link is external), according to church officials. Houses of worship across the commonwealth have been closed for close to two months since Gov. Charlie Baker issued a stay-at-home advisory and closed non-essential businesses in mid-March. The lack of weekly collections has made it difficult for some parishes to cover their expenses.” By Marilyn Schairer, WGBH News

CHILD PROTECTION

Child protection policies in Twin Cities ‘good in comparison to other archdioceses’
“Nearly five years after the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis entered settlement with civil authorities over its mishandling of child sex abuse cases, an independent review of its protection policies finds the archdiocese new policies ‘are good in comparison to other archdioceses in the U.S.(link is external)’ The final report was released on May 15 and conducted by CHILD USA, a research-based think tank that promotes child protection policy improvements, and compared the archdiocese’s policies to that of the other 31 archdiocesan policies around the country.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Plenary Council assemblies set for 2021 and 2022
“The two assemblies for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will now take place in October 2021 and April 2022, following the disruption of the original schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference last week decided to postpone the opening assembly by 12 months(link is external), with it now to be held in October 2021. Adelaide remains the venue for the first assembly. The second assembly will be in Sydney in April 2022.” By CathNews.com

How will the Catholic Church change after the coronavirus pandemic?
“A 25-minute conversation between President Trump and hundreds of bishops and other Catholic leaders sparked an intense debate about the right way for Catholic leaders to engage in politics. While the conference call got a lot of attention, it is just one story among many affecting the church in the United States(link is external), and as the national correspondent for Crux, Chris White has to try to cover them all.” By Jesuitical Podcast, America: The Jesuit Review

Sex, women, power – the three challenges Germany is issuing to the church
“The coronavirus pandemic has made the ‘synodal path’ of the Church of Germany disappear from the news. But meanwhile it continues forward. And on it not only the German Church, but the universal Catholic Church is staking its future: The synod held its first session in Frankfurt from January 30 to February 1. And the inaugural Mass, officiated by Munich cardinal Reinhard Marx, provided the portrait of it, with bishops, priests, and lay people, men and women, mixed together in the nave and arranged in alphabetical order, exactly as in the synodal assembly where each of the 230 delegates votes on an equal footing with the rest and the bishops are in the minority(link is external).” By Settimo Cielo, di Magister Blog

VOICES

Pell findings show extent of Catholic Church’s cover-up
“The cases of child abuse by Catholic clergy that have come to light over the past few decades have been damaging to the church, not just because of the horror of the individual crimes but because of what they said about the church’s higher echelons. Senior clergy were prepared to turn a blind eye to the crimes and even protect the perpetrators(link is external) in the interests of avoiding scandal and sometimes even saving cash by avoiding paying compensation to victims.” By The Sydney Morning Herald Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

New York extends civil ‘look back’ for child sexual assault victims
“New Yorkers who were sexually assaulted as children will have a little more time to take legal action against their alleged abusershttps://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-cuomo-extending-child-victims-act-20200508-jbpl4tbbc5cg7bx6w7g3ckq3he-story.html(link is external). Gov. Cuomo on Friday extended a “look back window” created as part of the Child Victims Act last year that allows survivors abused as kids, to file civil suits beyond the normal statute of limitations.” By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Abuse survivor’s spiritual growth shows the church can heal, too
“This past February I sent a ‘welcome back to Philadelphia’ letter addressed to Archbishop Nelson Perez. This was written in the capacity of a survivor of clergy sex abuse at the hands of two parish priests(link is external) dating back to 1981 and as the SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) leader for Philadelphia. So imagine my surprise when I was asked to have a Zoom call with the Victim Assistance Coordinator assigned along with the Director for Children and Youth Protection. It was during our conversation that I was informed that the archbishop had received my letter and would welcome a meeting. What do I want to share with him? What will he share with me?” By Michael McDonnell, CatholicPhilly.com

‘Why didn’t he help these little boys?’: how George Pell failed the children of Ballarat
“‘Why isn’t all of Australia talking about what happened here in Ballarat?” That’s the question Clare Linane remembers asking her husband, Peter Blenkiron, 12 years ago as they were sitting in the kitchen talking about his abuse. Linane’s husband, brother and cousin had all been abused when they were children between 1973 and 1974 by Christian Brother and now convicted pedophile(link is external) Edward ‘Ted’ Dowlan. They knew they were among thousands of people living in and around Ballarat – Victoria’s largest inland city – who had been affected by child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

When should clergy report child abuse?
“Even though some mandatory social distancing measures are being lifted, the vast majority of young children will not be going back to school or participating in sports until fall. However, as soon as restrictions are lifted, many of these children and their families will attend religious observances where they will be seen by and talk to clergy members. Some of those returning have committed acts of child abuse and may confess these acts to members of the clergy(link is external). This raises the question: can a clergy member testify in court that an abuser confessed? It depends on whether the clergy-penitent privilege applies.” By Blake R. Hills, Real Clear Religion

Minors accounting for unprecedented amount of calls to National Sexual Assault Hotline
“For the first time, minors are making up half of the victims receiving help(link is external) from the National Sexual Assault Hotline. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), this is directly related to COVID-19. The Sexual Assault Center in Nashville said it expects Middle Tennessee to see a similar trend. Right now, SAC said kids make up 35 percent of the population it serves.” By Rachael Tiede, FOX17 News

KANSAS

KBI is investigating priests in Kansas town that draws parishioners from across U.S.
“For four decades, the Society of St. Pius X has made its home in this northeast Kansas town, its followers coming from across the country to raise their children according to traditional Catholic values. Now, with attendance at Latin Mass topping 4,000, plans are underway for the breakaway Catholic society to build a $30 million church high on its campus overlooking St. Marys. The Immaculata, the SSPX says, will become the biggest traditional Catholic church in the world. But something else is underway that threatens to overshadow the jubilation over a new house of worship with enough room to accommodate the ever-expanding flock: A criminal investigation by the state’s top law enforcement agency into allegations of priest sexual abuse(link is external).” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

Retired New Orleans priest invokes rights against self-incrimination in molestation lawsuit
“In a clear sign of concern about potential criminal charges, a retired New Orleans priest who is accused in a lawsuit of sexually molesting ‘countless’ children(link is external) invoked his constitutional rights against self-incrimination shortly before his deposition. Lawrence Hecker, through his attorney, served notice March 13 that he would essentially exercise his right to remain silent ‘from this point forward’ in a lawsuit filed against him and the Archdiocese of New Orleans in April 2019, according to court records.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

Leader of New Orleans archdiocese ministry’s board resigns after filing clergy sex abuse lawsuit
“The leader of the board of directors for one of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ various ministries resigned his post recently after claiming in a lawsuit against the church that he was molested by one of its priests decades ago(link is external). The plaintiff spoke out about his case after an April 30 letter from the ministry to his fellow board members said he had agreed to resign to avoid ‘at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.’” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

A New Orleans priest was accused of molestation; he still collected $2,500 monthly in retirement
“Accused of sexually molesting a boy he taught before he become a priest, Paul Calamari walked into New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes’ office on Feb. 5, 2004, to discuss what might be ahead. The Catholic church had only recently been rocked by the sexual-abuse scandal in Boston. Bishops across the U.S. were dealing with allegations in their dioceses, and New Orleans was no different. Calamari ultimately chose to retire, and he began receiving a monthly pension of $1,566 from the archdiocese — which later rose to more than $2,500 a month(link is external), according to court records.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield agrees to report all clergy sexual abuse allegations to law enforcement
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield says from now on it will notify area law enforcement once it learns of any allegations of clergy sexually assaulting minors(link is external) or any other “vulnerable persons” at Western Massachusetts parishes. In a statement issued Wednesday (May 6) by the diocese’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski has entered into what is called “Memo of Understanding” with the district attorneys for Hampden, Hampden and Franklin, and Berkshire counties.” By Patrick Johnson, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Employee sues Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, claiming retaliation for reporting sex-abuse complaint
“A man who says his job with the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw was impacted after he reported a sex-abuse complaint against a priest has filed a lawsuit against the diocese. In the suit, Gabriel Villarreal alleges he was retaliated against by the diocese(link is external) and its agents for reporting a relative had been assaulted by the Rev. Robert J. DeLand. A jury acquitted DeLand of charges related to the relative, but DeLand was convicted of sexual assaulting a different person in a separate case.” By Cole Waterman, Saginaw and Bay City News

MISSOURI

Chaminade clergy abuse case challenges First Amendment protection for church officials accused of negligence
“The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday (May 13) heard arguments in a sex abuse case that asks the court to break with a previous ruling protecting church officials from negligent supervision claims(link is external) because courts deciding such claims could violate separation of church and state. The lawsuit before the state’s top court claims now-deceased Marianist Brother John Woulfe sexually abused a Chaminade College Preparatory School student in 1971 while working as a guidance counselor at the school.” By Nassim Benchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW MEXICO

St. Jude’s, Immaculate Conception named in lawsuit for 1970s child sexual abuse
“A lawsuit centered on child molestation by Fr. David Holley named two Alamogordo Catholic parishes and several dioceses as defendants. The suit, filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County, alleged the Servants of Paraclete, the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Diocese of Worcester, Diocese of Las Cruces, the Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Jude Parish allowed Holley to prey on boys within the Alamogordo parishes(link is external) during his time in New Mexico in the 1970s.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

NEW YORK

Court denies Diocese of Rockville Centre’s attempt to dismiss 44 lawsuits filed by sexual abuse survivors under New York’s Child Victim’s Act
“A Nassau County Court has denied the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s callous attempt to throw out 44 lawsuits filed by sexual abuse survivors(link is external) under New York’s Child Victims Act. Yesterday (May 12), Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Steven M. Jaeger issued an order denying the dozens of motions to dismiss filed by the diocese. Judge Jaeger rejected the diocese’s argument that the Child Victims Act was unconstitutional and violated its right to due process.” By Jeff Anderson & Associates Staff Writer

Child sexual abuse deadline extended – but not for claims against Rochester priests”
“The one-year window for filing lawsuits over past acts of child sexual abuse has been extended by five months — except for claims against the Rochester diocese for misconduct by its priests(link is external). New York’s Child Victims Act, approved by the state Legislature in early 2019, carved out a one-year period for reviving old child sexual abuse claims that had been barred the statute of limitations. That one-year window was to close Aug. 13.” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Buffalo Diocese facing backlash for seeking federal funds, relief in CVA cases
“Advocates for survivors of sexual abuse are denouncing the Buffalo Diocese this week after the institution, temporarily headed by Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, moved forward with two legal filings that activists say diminish victims’ experiences and could allow the diocese to dodge consequences for decades of alleged abuse and cover-up(link is external).” By Cayla Harris, Albany Times Union

OHIO

Diocese of Youngstown removes clergy member from abuse list
“The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown announced today that William Smaltz’s name has been removed from the list of clergy in the diocese against whom credible, substantiated allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) of a minor have been made. After further inquiry and consideration of additional and new information, the allegations are not deemed credible and substantiated, the diocese said in a news release.” By Mahoning Matters Staff

PENNSYLVANIA

Lawsuit: Man alleges Allentown Diocese priests sexually abused, tortured him in church basement in the 1970s
“A Texas man is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown and one of its churches, St. Catharine of Siena in Reading, claiming he was sexually abused and tortured by several priests in a church basement(link is external) in the 1970s. Timothy Paul McGettigan’s attorneys say their client learned that he was not alone in being abused by Allentown Diocese priests from the scathing 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on unchecked sexual abuse by clergy across the state, and decided to come forward. He is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, Morning Call

Judge Sets Deadline for Abuse Claims Vs. Harrisburg Diocese
“A federal judge is giving most claimants until Nov. 13 to seek compensation over child sexual abuse from the Harrisburg Roman Catholic Diocese(link is external), which sought bankruptcy protection earlier this year. The order signed last week by Chief Bankruptcy Judge Henry Van Eck also gave governmental entities until Dec. 11 to file proofs of claims for debts.” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

TEXAS

San Antonio Archdiocese removes Helotes priest following 2 sexual misconduct allegations
“The San Antonio Archdiocese has removed the pastor of a Catholic church in Helotes after two people accused him of sexual misconduct(link is external). According to a letter dated April 30 from the archdiocese that was sent to parishioners, Monsignor Carlos Davalos sent two sexually inappropriate text messages to an adult parishioner earlier this year.” By KSAT-TV12 News

AUSTRALIA

Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale sentenced to 10 years’ jail for sexual abuse of boys in 1970s
“Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale will spend at least another three years in jail after pleading guilty to 14 new offenses(link is external) committed against young boys under his care. Some of the offenses happened during Confession while reading the Bible. ‘Your sexual abuse, at times when the child was seeking comfort, reveals your utter hypocrisy,’ the sentencing Judge Gerard Mullaly said.” By Iskhandar Razak, ABC News

Broome Bishop bows out of national conference as police and Vatican investigations continue
“The Catholic Church is maintaining its silence on the status of its ongoing investigation into the leadership and financial practices(link is external) in its Broome diocese in West Australia’s Kimberley region. Catholic Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders voluntarily stood aside in March after the Vatican took the unusual step of ordering an investigation into the running of the remote northern diocese … The Vatican inquiry came in the wake of a series of complaints to catholic authorities and the public revelation of a WA Police investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley

National protocols to replace Melbourne Response
“The Melbourne Response scheme set up in 1996 to compensate victims of clergy abuse in Melbourne is set to be replaced as Australia’s bishops develop new national protocols for survivors(link is external). Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli is keen to retain some of the more-positive elements of the scheme – such as ongoing care for victims – but is working towards a state-wide approach, based on nationally consistent guidelines, rather than having the Melbourne archdiocese ‘go it alone’ with its own separate process.” By CathNews.com

POLAND

Polish archbishop refers sex abuse case to Vatican
“The head of Poland’s Roman Catholic Church has said he is asking the Vatican to investigate the cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests(link is external). Archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Church hierarchy to ‘launch proceedings’ following the release of a documentary on the subject on Saturday (May 17). The film tells the story of two brothers who seek to confront a priest who allegedly abused them as children. The Vatican is expected to assign an investigator to the case.” By BBC News

SPAIN

Cartagena Diocese to investigate child abuse from 1950
“The Diocese of Cartagena intends to investigate the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people that has been committed within the Catholic Church(link is external) between 1950 and 2010. To do this, a special episcopal delegation has been created, detail of which were announced on Thursday by the bishop of Cartagena, José Manuel Lorca Planes, and his episcopal delegate, Gil José Sáez Martínez.” By The Leader

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New Australian report may help church find its way out of abuse crisis / National Catholic Reporter

The new phase in the abuse crisis has shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance. (Massimo Faggioli in National Catholic Reporter)

There are signs that the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis is now getting at deeper, institutional questions. In particular, how local churches — parishes and dioceses — are governed.

“In the last few years, a unique example that could bring encouraging news has come from the Australian church.

“Since 2017-18, the abuse crisis has taken on a new dimension, thanks to the unveiling of cases (such as disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and of extensive cover-ups identified and published in the reports of nationwide and regional investigations (such as in Australia, Chile and Pennsylvania).

“The new phase of the crisis has focused on the direct involvement of bishops, cardinals and the Vatican. It has also identified that the crisis is not restricted to children and also involves women religious and other vulnerable persons — and has become a global crisis with huge repercussions on the relations between church and state in various countries.

“The new phase in the abuse crisis has also shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance.”

By Massimo Faggiolo, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest
“Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children(link is external), and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded. A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.” By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com

The acquittal of Cardinal Pell
“In setting aside the guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell on sexual-assault charges, Australia’s High Court effectively concluded the criminal-justice aspect of a case that has consumed the nation and the Catholic Church for years. But the April 7 ruling doesn’t really settle anything in the relationship between the church and the Australian state, nor is it likely to resolve the clash between the different ‘kinds’ of Catholicism in Australia and elsewhere. In fact, the decision will probably keep the contentious debates alive(link is external), perhaps for a long time to come.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Archdiocese of New Orleans to file bankruptcy; Aymond meets with area priests
The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to file for bankruptcy, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday (Apr. 30) evening, as the mounting cost of unresolved clergy-abuse lawsuits and the shutdown of church services due to the coronavirus deliver crushing blows to church finances. The 227-year-old local institution serving half a million New Orleans-area Catholics will join 26 other American dioceses and Catholic religious orders that have sought financial protection(link is external) from creditors and claimants since the clergy-abuse scandal reached a fever pitch in 2002.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

German Catholic Church agrees to rules for investigating abuse cases
“The Catholic Church has become Germany’s first institution to agree to fixed and binding rules for investigating sexual abuse cases(link is external). The agreement, described as historic by the German government’s abuse commissioner, could become a blueprint for other institutions in the fight against abuse. The Protestant Church in Germany and churches in many other countries have yet to take that step, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service on AngelusNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Sooner or later, Pope Francis will have to face the perplexities of reform
“Granted, right now Pope Francis has bigger fish to fry. Among other things he’s trying to hold the nation of Italy together, appealing on Saturday (May 2) for political unity at a time when regional governors from the political opposition are threatening to sabotage Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s plan for gradually easing coronavirus restrictions by issuing their own ad hoc decrees. Yet at some point when this is over, Francis will have to face the fact that his own house needs some work too(link is external).” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

On a call with President Trump, Cardinal Dolan reveals his true colors
“The ongoing collusion between certain U.S. bishops and President Donald Trump hit its nadir point this weekend (Apr.25). Or at least we have to pray it did. Crux’s Christopher White obtained a recording of a phone call that took place on Saturday between Trump and an estimated 600 Catholics, among whom were bishops and Catholic school superintendents. Leading the pack was New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who seems to like to boast about his relationship with Trump almost as much as Trump likes to boast about himself(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

Victorian government clears release of Pell royal commission findings
“Unpublished findings about Cardinal George Pell’s handling of child sexual abuse complaints(link is external) have been cleared for release by the Victorian government. Attorney general Jill Hennessy has advised her federal counterpart, Christian Porter, that blacked-out sections of two reports from the institutional child abuse royal commission can be released, after the high court overturned the cardinal’s convictions for child sexual abuse earlier this month.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

BISHOPS

Nigerian bishop, rejected by former diocese, installed at new diocese
“Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke was installed April 29 as the bishop of the new Ekwulobia Diocese, after having been rejected in the Ahiara Diocese by priests and parishioners in a prolonged crisis that engulfed the Catholic Church in the region for about eight years(link is external). ‘It’s one of the greatest news of the decade in this part of the church in Nigeria because the creation of the new diocese has long been overdue,’ Fr. Martin Anusi, the director of communications at the Awka Diocese, told NCR. ‘People have dreamt and made appeals for a new diocese over the years.’” By Patrick Egwu, National Catholic Reporter

An Australian bishop speaks about a national church ‘fraught with division’
“Like many Catholics in Australia, Bishop Vincent Long speaks about the upcoming plenary council(link is external) as something of a final chance for the national church to show it has both reformed on clergy sexual abuse and can still be culturally relevant in the 21st century. In an emailed NCR interview focused on how the quashing of Cardinal George Pell’s convictions might affect the gathering, which has been in preparation for two years, Long called the assembly ‘the last throw of the dice.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Church members show support for priest in legal battle
“Congregation members of two Catholic churches are showing their support for a priest who was removed by Richmond Diocese Bishop(link is external). The priest has appealed his removal and is still in place at both churches while the process unfolds. Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount … Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount. Originally Father Mark White was told to stop his blog, which at times was critical of the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. He shut the blog down for some time, but once the pandemic hit and he wasn’t able to meet with his members face to face, he started it up again and he was removed shortly after.” By Eric Pointer, WFXR-TV News

CARA study on new ordinands spots trends worth watching
“The annual survey of seminarians scheduled for priestly ordination(link is external) this year reveals continuing trends and suggests potential trends in the making. ‘We’ve been consistent over the last 20 years in terms of the age of men being ordained to the priesthood. It continues to hover into the low to mid-30s,” said Father Luke Ballman, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in Rhode Island Catholic

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Peter’s Field Hospital: Interview with Dr. Phyllis Zagano on women in the Church
“This week on Peter’s Field Hospital, Dan Amiri and I had the privilege of interviewing the Catholic author and theologian Phyllis Zagano. Phyllis Zagano is an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the church(link is external). In 2016, Phyllis was named by Pope Francis to serve on the Papal Commission on women in the diaconate. Her new book, Women: Icons of Christ traces the history of ministry by women in the Church, especially women deacons. In this book, she shows how women were removed from leadership, prevented from using their voices, and eliminated from official ministries in the history of the Church. This book also argues in favor of the restoration of women to the ordained diaconate, while refuting the arguments against it.” By Mike Lewis, WherePeterIs.com

Seminaries must hire, involve more women, Cardinal Ouellet says
“For some priests and seminarians, ‘women represent danger, but in reality, the true danger are those men who do not have a balanced relationship with women(link is external),’ said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The cardinal was interviewed about the role of women in seminaries and seminary formation for the May issue of the women’s supplement to the Vatican newspaper; the interview was published April 24 by Vatican News.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Your thoughts on women’s roles in the church
“On April 8, Pope Francis announced he had created a new commission to study the ordaining of women as deacons in the Catholic Church. This is the second commission on the topic under Francis, however several members of this new commission seem to be opposed to women deacons. This revelation sparked a response from NCR columnist Jamie Manson, who writes: ‘By selecting these members for the commission, Francis has effectively killed the possibility of any real progress for women in the church(link is external).’ Relatedly, St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk wrote a column entitled ‘Women demonstrate what the priesthood of Jesus truly means,’ of which NCR executive editor Tom Roberts mentions in his last NCR Connections column.” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

CHURCH FINANCES

Fraudster jailed for stealing $340,000 from Catholic Church to fund ‘indulgent’ lifestyle
“Adelaide mother Kerry Ann Keen used more than $340,000 that she stole from the Catholic Church(link is external) to pay for expensive overseas holidays and indulgent consumer goods. Now, the 57-year-old will spend at least three years in jail for her crimes. ‘In short, this was protracted, calculated dishonestly over a prolonged period [and involved] a large sum of money to fund an indulgent lifestyle,’ SA District Court Judge Stephen McEwen said during sentencing.” By Meagan Dillon, ABC News

Clergy Abuse Costs Drive New Orleans Archdiocese to File for Bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans announced on May 1 that it is seeking federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection(link is external) amid growing legal costs related to sexual abuse by priests. The filing for reorganization could free the archdiocese from the threat of creditors’ lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances. The New Orleans archdiocese is the latest of more than 20 dioceses nationwide to take such action.” By Kevin McGill, Insurance Journal

Seychelles: Police Investigating Nigerian Priest’s ‘Suspicious’ Bank Transactions
“The police in Seychelles are investigating a Nigerian priest based in the island nation following suspicious bank account transactions(link is external), the authorities said Wednesday (Apr. 29). The police statement came a day after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Victoria announced in a communique that ‘a member of its clergy, Father Fidelis Mbanefo has been suspended from his ministerial duties as a priest in the Diocese of Port-Victoria, as of the 17 April 2020.’” By Patsy Athanase, Seychelles News Agency, in Eurasia Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Will the pandemic force the Catholic Church to transform
“While the church has a vast body of members, the pandemic is leaving one of the oldest religious institutions in financial limbo(link is external). The Catholic Church has survived many things, including the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, capitalism and secularism. As the world’s oldest religious institution, with nearly 1.3 billion followers, the Catholic Church is the largest continuously operating international organization, and the faithful would also like it to survive this deadly pandemic. But no one can deny that the Vatican’s finances are in disarray.” By TRTWorld.com

VOICES

Cardinal Pell: A decision with little certainty
George Pell is a cardinal in the Catholic Church. And that is where the problem lies(link is external). It lies as well in the institution. The two are inextricably intertwined so that the fate of one informs the other. Some, like Pope Francis, say, ‘I would like to pray today for all those persons who suffer an unjust sentence because someone had it in for them.’ The Vatican News reported that the pope made this statement at his morning Mass in Santa Marta, shortly after the news broke that the High Court of Australia had quashed the convictions against Pell.” By Gail Grossman Freyne, National Catholic Reporter

COLORADO

Colorado’s priest abuse reparations program has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims so far
“The Catholic Church so far has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims of priest abuse in Colorado(link is external) as part of a review of claims by an independent committee. The work of the oversight committee is ongoing, but its leaders announced Wednesday (Apr. 22) that they have received claims from 91 victims of abuse by priests who worked in one of Colorado’s three dioceses.” By Jennifer Brown, Colorado Sun

FLORIDA

Sexual abuse lawsuit filed in Polk County against retired priest
“On Monday, April 27, 2020 sex abuse attorney Adam Horowitz filed a Complaint in Polk County Circuit Court against Catholic priest Father Fred Ruse, who in 2018, suddenly retired from the active ministry. The suit, filed on behalf of a Sarasota County man, alleges that in 2001 and 2002, he was sexually abused multiple times by Father Ruse(link is external) in a classroom and in the chaplain’s office at the Demilly Correctional Institution in Polk City, Florida, when the plaintiff was approximately 14 and 15 years old.” By Horowitz Law

HAWAII

Hawaii courts filling with sex abuse cases
“Fallout from a slew of recently filed sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external) has a trustee from Punahou Schools stepping down. According to the school, Monica McLaren voluntarily stepped down from the Board, after her husband Christopher McLaren was named in one of several civil cases against Punahou. Hawaii courts have filled with last minute filings for sexual abuse cases.” By Paul Drewes, KITV-TV4 News

IDAHO

Idaho court upholds ex-priest’s prison sentence
“A former Boise priest convicted of possessing violent and extreme child pornography(link is external) will be sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, an appellate court ruled. William “Tom” Faucher, 74, was sentenced in December 2018 without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to distribution of sexually exploitative material, possession of sexually exploitative materials and drug possession, the Idaho Statesman reported.” By Associated Press in Lewiston Tribune

LOUISIANA

Louisiana priest convicted of molestation released on bond
“A former Louisiana priest convicted of molesting an altar boy was released from jail on bond(link is external) over coronavirus safety concerns. Michael Guidry, 77, was released Friday (APR. 24) nearly a year after he pleaded guilty to molesting a 16-year old boy after giving him alcohol in Guidry’s home. The victim said in a civil lawsuit that he woke up one day in 2015 after doing chores in Guidry’s home and found the former priest molesting him. The victim told authorities about the molestation when he was an adult, four years after it happened.” By Associated Press on WBRZ-TV2 News

Survivors of clergy sex abuse want accountability following priest released on house arrest
“The release of a priest convicted of molesting a teenage boy is raising questions for the judicial system and the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Guidry is out on bail tonight (Apr. 27). One-year-ago this week, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with three years suspended, after pleading guilty to molestation of a juvenile(link is external). According to court records, Guidry’s defense counsel, Jane Hogan, requested an emergency appeal hearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” By Chris Welty, KATC-TV3 News

MAINE

Maine high court upholds sex crime convictions of defrocked priest
“The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday (Apr. 23) upheld all but one of the 11 convictions of a former priest who is serving 16 years in prison for sexually assaulting a boy(link is external) during multiple vacations to Maine in the 1980s. Ronald Paquin, now 77, was found guilty in 2018 of 11 counts of gross sexual misconduct. A York County jury acquitted him of similar charges related to a second boy. A judge sentenced him last year to 20 years in prison with all but 16 years suspended.” By Matt Byrne, Portland Press Herald

MISSOURI

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese releases investigation into priest with many ties to the Ozarks
“The Springfield-Cape-Girardeau Diocese reports a review board determined inappropriate physical/sexual misconduct involving a priest(link is external). Father Gary Carr became an ordained priest in 1982. He then served at several churches and schools in the diocese, including in Springfield, Monett and West Plains. The allegations involve a male student between the ages of 10-13. The report has been forwarded to the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in southeast Missouri. This is only a report from the diocese. Police have not arrested Father Carr.” By KY3-TV News

MONTANA

Montana sees flurry of child sex abuse lawsuits as deadline approaches
“The one-year window Montana lawmakers opened to give child sex abuse survivors a chance to bring old claims is closing soon(link is external), and a flurry of lawsuits is hitting the courts. Adults who were abused as children have until May 6 to bring claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. The Montana Legislature created the window in 2019,” By Phoebe Tollefson, Helena Independent Record

NEW JERSEY

‘Prolific pedophile’ priest dies in News Jersey nursing home
“A pedophile priest who was defrocked in New Jersey after admitting abusing a dozen children(link is external) has died in a nursing home, the diocese confirmed to The Post. James Hanley — who abused young parishioners in Mendham and Pompton Plains over the course of 14 years — died last week, the diocese’s attorney, Kenneth Mullaney, confirmed.” By Lee Brown, New York Post

NEW YORK

Buffalo seeks halt to outstanding sex abuse lawsuits
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has taken legal action seeking to stop all outstanding clergy sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external) while it navigates bankruptcy proceedings in federal court. The diocese filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court on Saturday (May 2) seeking an injunction on lawsuits filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. About 250 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese since August, when the act gave victims one year to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse.” By Associated Press

23 suspended Catholic priests to lose their pay and health insurance
“In the last few days, 23 suspended priests have been contacted by senior leadership of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese and told they lose their pay and health insurance on Friday (Apr. 24). These are men who have ‘substantiated’ allegations of sexual abuse(link is external). They remain priests, but can’t hold themselves out as priests, are not allowed to say Mass publicly or wear clerical garb.” By Mike Desmond, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

Accused priests cannot be left ‘destitute’
“The Diocese of Buffalo clarified on Friday (May 1) that priests accused of sexual abuse cannot be left ‘destitute(link is external),’ even as the diocese acts to withdraw financial support payments. The diocese had announced earlier this week that 23 priests “with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse” would no longer receive financial assistance or health benefits from the Diocese of Buffalo as of May 1. However, the diocese said that pension plans would not be affected by the decision.” By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency

OHIO

Diocese of Toledo names seven deceased priests accused of sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Toledo on Wednesday (Apr. 29) released the names of seven deceased clerics who are credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). In each case an accuser had come forward after the cleric had died. The Diocesan Review Board considered their cases this year and last year. The diocese for years declined to name or consider allegations against clerics in such cases ‘as they can neither defend themselves against the accusation nor possibly be a future threat to anyone if the allegation were true,’ according to an explanation the diocese provided for years on its website.” By Nicki Gorny, The Blade

PENNSYLVANIA

Philadelphia Archdiocese committed to paying $130 million to sex abuse victims
“In a profound letter to parishioners, the newly installed Archbishop of Philadelphia, Nelson Perez, addressed claims of prior priest sex abuse of children head-on(link is external), saying the archdiocese is committed to paying about $130 million in reparations. When new Archbishop Perez came to Philadelphia from Cleveland a few months ago, he inherited a mess stemming from the priest sex abuse scandal. But on Tuesday (May 5), he says in a letter that he deeply regrets the pain and suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them.” By Dann Cuellar, WPVI-TV6 News

TEXAS

Dallas priest accused of abuse removed from ministry
“The Diocese of Dallas has removed a priest from the ministry after sexual abuse allegations(link is external) arose in the Colombian archdiocese where he formerly served. Father Oscar Mora was among 19 priests suspended last month by the Catholic Archdiocese of Villavicencio after the allegation arose earlier this year, The Dallas Morning News reported Monday (Apr. 27).” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

WISCONSIN

Waukesha County DA will not pursue new charges against priest accused of sex assault
“The Waukesha County District Attorney will not pursue new charges against a priest accused of sexual assault of a teenage girl(link is external). Father Charles Hanel was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in December 2017 during confession at Queen of Apostles Church.” By FOX6 News

AUSTRALIA

On the right track, work still to be done for Christian Brothers
“The audit, by the Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, found that the Christian Brothers had either implemented or was substantially progressed in the implementation of 91 (89 per cent) out of the 102 indicators(link is external) relevant to the province under the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. CPSL chief executive Sheree Limbrick said that on the back of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, CPSL is auditing Church organizations across Australia to make sure they have sound and robust processes in place to keep children safe.” By CathNews.com

Notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is almost certain to die in jail
“Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is likely to die in jail as he faces more sexual abuse charges(link is external). The 85-year-old will be heard on May 14 for 10 indecent assault charges and four buggery charges in Victoria between 1973 and 1979 to further his time behind bars. The charges will likely extend his time behind bars beyond 2022, his earliest release date. Ridsdale is suffering chronic health problems including heart conditions, arthritis, bowel problems and high blood pressure.” By Australian Associated Press and Jackson Barron for Daily Mail Australia

After 26 years, Eileen Piper has finally won an apology from the Catholic Church for her daughter’s abuse
“It’s taken 26 years, reams of legal documents and many tears, but Eileen Piper has done what she set out to do — cleared the name of her daughter, Stephanie, who was abused by a Catholic priest in the 1970s(link is external). In December, Mrs Piper, 95, received a written apology from Melbourne’s Archbishop, Peter Comensoli, and the Pallotine order of priests which, for years, had denied the crimes of Father Gerard Mulvale.” By Karen Percy, ABC News

‘The Catholic Church should close the Christian Brothers down’
“A McGowan Government minister and former student of CBC Fremantle has publicly criticized the Christian Brothers for a lack of care towards the victims of child sexual abuse(link is external). Dave Kelly, the MLA for Bassendean, attended CBC Fremantle in the 1970s from grade 4 to grade 12. Today on Mornings with Gareth Parker he has revealed his disgust with the Christian Brothers for failing to reckon with their shameful past in dealing with the legacy of child sexual abuse.” By Gareth Parker, 6PRNews

CANADA

Supreme Court says Basilian Fathers responsible for $2.5M in damages to sexual abuse victim Rod MacLeod
“Rod MacLeod, the victim of a pedophile priest in the 1960s at a Sudbury high school, said he hopes his latest legal victory will inspire other sexual abuse victims to come forward(link is external) and ‘seek justice through the court.’ MacLeod made the comments on April 30 when the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the Basilian Fathers of Toronto’s bid for a further appeal after they were held responsible when one of their priests was convicted in 2011 of abusing 17 students at schools over a 38-year period.” By SooToday.com

Supreme Court rejects Catholic Church appeal to reduce damages in sex abuse case
“The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a Catholic teaching order concerning damages awarded to a former Sudbury high school student. Lawyer Rob Talach says Father Hodgson Marshall was convicted of sexually abusing his client(link is external), Rod MacLeod, who was a student at St. Charles College from 1963-1967. In 2011, Marshall was ultimately convicted of abusing 17 young people over his 38-year career. He served two years in federal prison and died in 2014.” By CBC News

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