Posts Tagged clergy sexual abuse scandal

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


January 31, 2020

TOP STORIES

New database of abusive clergy will ‘put pressure’ on bishops to improve transparency
“A new, independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse was launched this week(link is external), marking what some observers say is a sign of a new era of transparency in the Catholic Church and others labeling it the “privatization of justice” after years of church leaders blocking such efforts. The database, which was activated on Monday (Jan. 27), was a yearlong effort by ProPublica, ‘a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.’ The launch comes after the 2018 release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which sent shock waves through the U.S. Church as it chronicled seven decades of abuse of more than 1,000 victims at the hands of 300 priests.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Vatican orders sex abuse investigation of Brooklyn bishop
“The Vatican has ordered an investigation of a sexual abuse allegation against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio(link is external), who was previously named by Pope Francis to investigate the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York received instructions on Jan. 7 to begin an investigation of allegations that DiMarzio molested a child while he was a parish priest in New Jersey in the mid-1970s, according to a statement released over the weekend (Jan. 18) by Dolan’s spokesman Joseph Zwilling.” By Associated Press

10 years after Vatican reform, Legion in new abuse crisis
“The administrator of the elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, used to take the girls out of class and send them to the chapel, where the priest from the Legion of Christ religious order would sexually abuse them(link is external). ‘As some were reading the Bible, he would rape the others in front of them, little girls aged 6 to 8 or 9,’ said one of his victims, Ana Lucia Salazar, now a 36-year-old Mexican television host and mother of three. ‘Afterward, nothing was the same, nothing went back to the way it was,’ she said through tears at her home in Mexico City.” By Maria Verza and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Rome summit to examine clerical sex abuse
“Rome is to host a summit examining how the clerical sexual abuse crisis is forcing the Church to go back to its core mission and re-think its model of the priesthood(link is external). The gathering of around 90 theologians from across the world, hosted by the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, will look at the ecclesiological impact of abuse, in a way that is not simply legal, or procedural. The 11-14 March meeting is to look clericalism, ecclesial reform and rediscovering the mission of Jesus in Church structures.” By Christopher Lamb, The tablet

Appeals court acquits French cardinal of sex abuse cover-up
“A French appeals court on Thursday (Jan. 30) acquitted a French cardinal of covering up the sexual abuse of minors in his flock(link is external). The appeals court in the southeastern French city of Lyon gave no explanation on Thursday for its ruling. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, had been convicted in March and given a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report a predator priest to police. But Pope Francis refused to accept the cardinal’s decision to resign until the appeals process is complete.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Catholic leaders promised transparency about child abuse. They haven’t delivered
“Over the last year and a half, the majority of U.S. dioceses, as well as nearly two dozen religious orders, have released lists of abusers currently or formerly in their ranks. The revelations were no coincidence: They were spurred by a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, which named hundreds of priests as part of a statewide clergy abuse investigation. Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests. But even as bishops have dedicated these lists to abuse victims and depicted the disclosures as a public acknowledgement of victims’ suffering, it has become clear that numerous alleged abusers have been omitted and that there is no standard for determining who each diocese considers credibly accused(link is external).” By Lexi Churchill, Ellis Simani and Topher Sanders, Pro Publica

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis remakes the American hierarchy, one bishop at a time
“As archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput was not afraid to take a different line from the pope on issues facing the church. In 2016, after Pope Francis opened the possibility of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, Chaput added a stipulation: In his diocese, such couples who wanted to receive the Eucharist would have to abstain from sex … A Catholic bishop, even one who disagrees with a new pope, cannot just be fired and replaced. The pope must wait until the bishop reaches retirement at 75 years of age before appointing a successor. But if change is slow, the direction is clear, and Francis, like popes before him, is slowly filling the American hierarchy with bishops who reflect his values and priorities(link is external).” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

Pope Francis replaces conservative archbishop of Philadelphia
“Pope Francis sought to shift the ideological balance of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States on Thursday, replacing one of his most prominent conservative critics as the archbishop of Philadelphia(link is external). Pope Francis announced in a statement that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia was retiring, and that Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Cleveland, a former Philadelphian and relative newcomer to the national scene, would assume the role.” By Jason Horowitz and Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times

CARA study finds bishops are satisfied with their life and ministry
“Catholics may be surprised to learn that many U.S. bishops describe their lives as both all-consuming and satisfying, a priest-researcher said(link is external). ‘These are guys who generally get up very, very early in the morning, pray about two hours every day and work about 10 hours a day,’ Father Stephen Fichter, a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in Washington, which conducted the survey. ‘(They) just really do some interesting things and there are a lot of difficulties that they’re dealing with all the time.’” By Susan Klemond, Catholic News Service, The Pilot

PRIESTS

Priests in group shut down by Vatican accused of sex abuse
“Nine priests and brothers of a Catholic group recently shut down by the Vatican are under investigation by Italian authorities for allegedly sexually abusing two brothers(link is external), officials and news reports said Wednesday (Jan. 29). Prato Bishop Giovanni Nerbini confirmed that Prato criminal prosecutors had opened an investigation after he reported the case to police against members of the Disciples of the Annunciation community. He pledged the church’s cooperation with the investigation.” By Associated Press in The New York Times

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Vatican women’s magazine blames drip in nuns on abuses
“The Vatican women’s magazine is blaming the drastic drop in the number of nuns worldwide in part on their wretched working conditions and the sexual abuse and abuses of power(link is external) they suffer at the hands of priests and their own superiors. Women Church World dedicated its February issue to the burnout, trauma and exploitation experienced by religious sisters and how the church is realizing it must change its ways if it wants to attract new vocations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Salt Lake Tribune

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Woman’s place at Pope Francis’ right hand
“Pope Francis opened 2020 with a strong call to acknowledge the dignity of women, end violence against them and stop the exploitation of women’s bodies(link is external). His homily on January 1 was not generic: it referenced prostitution, rape, coerced abortion, pornography and even advertising. The Pope called for the involvement of women in decision-making processes in civil society, specifically when it comes to promoting peace.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in Scottish Catholic Observer

CHURCH FINANCES

Priest sued over church’s missing $500,000
“The Church has launched legal action against a priest accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish(link is external) as it seeks to recoup the missing money. Fr Joe Walsh, who led the parish of Subiaco in Perth’s western suburbs, was charged by police last year with stealing and is due to appear in court tomorrow to determine a date for his criminal trial. Documents filed in the West Australian Supreme Court show the Perth Archdiocese was seeking details of amounts held by Fr Walsh in four NAB accounts and a term deposit, as well as money tied up in Perth-based property investment group Primewest.” Paul Garvey, The Australian, on CathNews.com

Dioceses come under scrutiny as they change legal structures
“As dioceses across the country continue to face multi-million dollar payouts related to clerical sex abuse, some bishops have relied on advice from lawyers to reconfigure the property of their dioceses into charitable trusts(link is external). The practice – which has been implemented by several dioceses after the clerical sex abuse revelations of the early 2000s – creates significantly different outcomes for dioceses and abuse victims in the case of bankruptcies.” By Jack Lyons, Cruxnow.com

Vatican rejoins financial intelligence network after raid
“A global network of financial intelligence units has readmitted the Holy See after a two-month suspension(link is external) sparked by a Vatican police raid on the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency. The Holy See said Thursday (Jan. 23) that the Egmont Group had revoked its suspension after Vatican prosecutors signed a memorandum of understanding about the treatment of confidential documents that were seized in the raid.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Sex and the (Vatican) City: a brief history of clerical celibacy
“In a scene that wouldn’t be amiss in Netflix’s The Two Popes, a standoff between the current Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, is playing out across the world. The pontifical sticking point is the sexual relations of priests(link is external) – or, lack thereof. In his forthcoming book, From the Depths of Our Hearts, the Pope Emeritus and his co-author, Cardinal Robert Sarah, issue a warning against relaxing the rules on Catholic priesthood as the rainforest runs dry of priests in some remote South American areas.” By History Extra

Cardinal at center of two popes storm doubles down on celibacy
“A Vatican cardinal at the center of a storm over a book about celibacy and the Catholic priesthood is denouncing the ‘brutality’ of criticism directed at him and hiSs collaborator, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio published Saturday (Jan. 25), Cardinal Robert Sarah doubled down on his argument in the book, ‘From the Depths of Our Hearts,’ that the Catholic priesthood is incompatible with marriage(link is external).” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Roman Catholic priests have been celibate for a thousand years – but this could change
“For almost a thousand years, Roman Catholic priests have been required to be celibate. But this age-old practice is now under fire(link is external), with the suggestion that the rules should be relaxed for the Latin American Catholic church. In response to such rumblings, a new book sets out a vigorous defense of priestly celibacy against the ‘fashionable errors’ of its detractors. The book is particularly notable for being described as co-authored by Cardinal Robert Sarah and the former pope, Benedict XVI, who since his resignation in 2013 has avoided public intervention in the time of his successor, Pope Francis.” By Helen Parish, The Conversation

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Germany’s synodal assembly a step to rebuilding church’s credibility
“Catholic leaders in Germany have compiled responses from lay Catholics in areas related to who holds power in the church, sexual morals, the role of priests and the place of women in church offices in preparation for an upcoming synodal assembly(link is external) to debate church reforms. More than 940 suggestions and questions had been submitted by early January in advance of the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 assembly in Frankfurt, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service

As Dutch parishes close, some Catholics just quit going to church
“A Dutch Catholic newspaper warned churches will continue to close in the Netherlands, where half of all Catholic parishes have already been dissolved amid plummeting church participation(link is external). ‘It’s never good to panic, but there are grave concerns about the way things are going here,’ said Peter Doorakkers, an editor at the Katholiek Nieuwsblad weekly. ‘It’s been hoped people would draw the obvious conclusion — that if you want your church to stay open, you don’t just need to support it financially, you also have to attend it more. But if you look at the numbers at Mass now and average ages, it’s obvious more churches will close in the near future.’” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

VOICES

Editorial: Dolan investigating DiMarzio points up flaws in ‘Vos Estis’
“We have long held unabashed admiration for Pope Francis. But events keep raising issues about the shortcomings of Vos Estis Lux Mundi, his signature intervention to address the church’s sex abuse crisis(link is external). Latest case in point: According to press reports and statements from the dioceses involved, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, under Vos Estis provisions, is investigating Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, his neighbor across the East River. DiMarzio has been publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor dating back 45 years to a parish in Jersey City, when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey … Our problem is with making Dolan responsible for leading an inquiry.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Pope Francis put a woman in a top Vatican role. It shows how little power Catholic women hold.
“Recently, the Catholic Church took two small steps for womankind: This month, Pope Francis named the first woman to a managerial position in the Vatican’s most important office, the Secretariat of State. And in October, the world’s bishops suggested that Francis reconvene a commission he had created, at the urging of nuns, to study the ordination of women as permanent deacons … Yet these reforms only make clear how little power women hold in the church(link is external), where they constitute about half of Catholicism’s 1.2 billion adherents.” By Celia Viggo Wexler, NBC News

Requiring clergy to report abuse is a thorny issue, but protecting kids makes it worth it
“Rep. Angela Romero’s inbox has been a busy, hostile place for a few weeks. Since the Catholic League issued a call to action to its members about a week ago, Romero estimates she has received somewhere between 400 and 600 emails. A sampling: ‘You are doing the work of Satan and will not prevail.’ ‘Disgusting anti-Christian politicians like you … attack Christianity relentlessly.’ It goes on from there. She incurred the unholy wrath by sponsoring legislation that would require members of the clergy to notify law enforcement when they receive information about child abuse or neglect— even if it happens in a religious confession(link is external).” By Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune

Why do child sex abuse victims in Missouri have only 10 years to file civil lawsuits?
“An outdated Missouri law limits civil claims arising from sexual abuse offenses committed against children to a 10-year window(link is external). House Bill 1411 would finally lift the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in child sexual abuse cases. The measure, which is sponsored by state Rep. Sheila Solon, a St. Joseph Republican, is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday (Jan. 21). In 2018, Missouri lawmakers removed the statute of limitations for criminal child sex abuse offenses. Just as a time limit for criminal charges was misguided, so, too, is imposing an expiration date limiting survivors’ ability to seek justice through civil lawsuits.” By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Theologians to examine Church response to abuse
“The Center for Child Protection at Gregorian University in Rome and Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church, an international network of moral theologians, will host the March 11-14 theological ‘laboratory.’ The organizers, including professors James Keenan SJ from Boston College and Hans Zollner SJ from the Centre for Child Protection, have invited more than 70 ecclesiologists and ethicists. The meeting has been called a ‘laboratory’ to emphasize active engagement of all participants in advancing theological thought, reflection and leadership in response to the crisis(link is external), with a view to supporting the global Church in its response.” By CathNews.com

ALASKA

Archdiocese commission accuses 14 Southcentral Alaska clergy and church employees of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Anchorage for the first time has named 14 Southcentral Catholic clergy members accused by church investigators of sexually abusing children and vulnerable adults(link is external). The report released Thursday (Jan. 23) is the result of a 15-month investigation by an independent church commission into allegations of sexual abuse by clergy, church employees and volunteers over a 54-year period.” By Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News

CALIFORNIA

Anaheim priest named in lawsuit alleging sexual abuse
“A judge today (Jan. 29) cleared the way for the public identification of a Roman Catholic priest named in a lawsuit alleging he molested a 6-year-old boy(link is external) at a Catholic school in Stanton in 1994. Father Edward Poettgen had previously been listed anonymously in the lawsuit filed in June. An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled today that the plaintiff could publicly identify the priest.” By KFIAM640.com

First Catholic diocese child sex abuse case settled since passing of new law
“A California Catholic Diocese on Tuesday (Jan. 28) settled the first child sexual abuse case since the passing of the Child Victims Act(link is external) back in September 2019. Attorneys representing Richard Barrios, 47, allegedly abused as a child by convicted pedophile priest Lawrence Lovell, announced a $1.9 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Lawrence Lovell and the Claretian Missionaries. In the lawsuit, Barrios alleged that he was sexually abused by Father Lawrence Lovell throughout a two-year period from 1982 through 1984 when the victim was 9 to 11 years old.” By 23ABC Digital Staff

COLORADO

Even if Colorado gives child sex assault victims unlimited time to sue, it may be too late for those already abused
“Colorado lawmakers plan to bring legislation this year that would give child sexual assault victims unlimited time to sue their abusers and the institutions that protect the predators(link is external). But for people abused in the past—including the more than 150 victims of Catholic priests identified in a recently released report on sexual misconduct in Colorado — the change may be coming too late.” By Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun

FLORIDA

Priest child sex abuse laws continue to change in Florida
“At a 2018 press conference, then Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a statewide investigation into child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests(link is external) saying, ‘Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the Church and a threat to society,’ Shortly before the investigation was announced 15 victims had already contacted authorities. Now after more than a year victims are continuing to come forward yet the state has been tight lipped about the number of tips reported through the statewide hotline.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

LOUISIANA

One year after releasing names of abusive priests, Baton Rouge Diocese adds two more
“At the one-year anniversary of releasing a list of clergymen credibly accused of abuse, the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has added two more priests who served in Ponchatoula to their list of those with credible claims against them(link is external). Diocesan officials announced Wednesday morning that they were adding two priests from religious orders who served in the diocese to their list, which has grown since its initial release a year ago. The additions of the Rev. Richard Raphael Archer, a Dominican friar, and Rev. Lawrence Dark, a Congregation of the Holy Cross priest, bring the total of Catholic clergy members who worked in and around Baton Rouge and were credibly accused of abuse to 45.” By Andrea Gallo, The Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Victims’ lawyer releases credibly accused clergy list for Fall River Diocese
“The Diocese of Fall River is being pressured to release a list of clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). On Tuesday (Jan. 21), Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, well known for representing sexual abuse victims in claims against the Archdiocese of Boston, released his own list of nine priests and one Catholic Church employee within the Diocese of Fall River that he says have been ‘accused of sexually abusing one minor in which this office has successfully brought child abuse claims against.’” By Kiernan Dunlop, South Coast Today

Diocese of Fall River suspends retired Catholic priests James Buckley, Edward Byington over claims of child sex abuse
“Two retired Catholic priests were suspended from the ministry over allegations they sexually abused children(link is external) decades ago, the Diocese of Fall River announced Sunday (Jan. 19). The suspended priests, James F. Buckley and Edward J. Byington, are not assigned to a parish but have assisted with masses at various churches since their retirements in the 2000s, the Diocese of Fall River said in a statement.” By Jackson Cote, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Clergyman sentenced to jail after restraining teenager
“The second priest to be convicted through Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s clergy abuse investigation was sentenced on Monday (Jan. 27) to jail time after he pleaded guilty to holding a teenage boy against his will(link is external) in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in 2013. The Rev. Brian Stanley was sentenced to 60 days in Allegan County Jail, with credit for two days served, five years’ probation and must register as a sex offender for 15 years.” By Oakland County Legal News

MINNESOTA

Tuesday’s hearing ends civil action between Ramsey County and archdiocese
“Officials in Ramsey County and the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis go to court Tuesday (Jan. 28) to mark the end of a nearly four-year civil case(link is external). In 2016, Ramsey County prosecutor John Choi dropped criminal sexual abuse charges against the church. The church was allowed to admit guilt and institute a plan, overseen by Choi’s office, to ensure children’s safety.” By WCCO Radio Newsroom

Archdiocese to hold conference for clergy abuse survivors
“The daylong conference in Lake Elmo, east of St. Paul, will include Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi providing an update on the impetus for the conference: The settlement of civil charges filed by the county in 2015 alleging the archdiocese was negligent in the case of an abusive priest(link is external). “Mr. Choi always felt restorative justice should be part of the archdiocese taking accountability for its actions and providing a means of healing for the community,” said Stephanie Wiersma, an assistant Ramsey County attorney who will participate in the conference and has been involved in the case since the beginning.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

NEW JERSEY

Catholic fund has paid out million to N.J. priest sex abuse victims. Friday is the last day to apply.
“More than 500 people have applied to receive cash settlements from a new Catholic Church fund created to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey(link is external), said the program’s managers who plan to accept the last new applications Friday (Jan. 31) … As of early this month, the program has paid out more than $10 million in settlements to New Jersey victims, though only 86 of the 552 applications had been decided, said Camille Biros, co-administrator of the fund.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

New lawsuits against Newark Archdiocese accuse former Rutherford priest of sex assault
“A pair of lawsuits filed under new state law have been filed against the Archdiocese of Newark by men saying they were sexually abused nearly four decades ago by a late Catholic priest(link is external). The men accuse the church of failing to protect them from the Rev. David Ernst, who was assigned to Saint Mary’s in Rutherford and taught at Our Lady Help of Christians parochial school in East Orange.” By Valerie Musson, Dsily Voice

New Jersey Catholic school priest suspended during sexual abuse investigation
“A Catholic priest assigned as chaplain at Oratory Catholic Preparatory School in Summit has been placed on leave pending investigations(link is external) by Union County authorities, and school and church officials said. Rev. Salvatore DiStefano is currently on administrative leave as the Union County Prosecutor’s Office investigates ‘complaints issued in the past several days,’ Maria Margiotta, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a statement.” By Katie Kausch, NJ Advance Media, on nj.com

NEW MEXICO

Former priest accused of sex crimes heads to trial
“Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday (Jan. 29) in the trial of an ex-priest accused of raping a first grader at a parochial school in Santa Fe County(link is external) in the late 1980s. Marvin Archuleta’s criminal trial is the first to come out of state Attorney General Hector Balderas’ ongoing investigation into claims of child sex abuse in Roman Catholic churches throughout New Mexico. The state intends to bring Thomas P. Doyle of Virginia, a national expert on clergy sex abuse, to testify in the case, according to a witness list.” By Phaedra Haywood, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK

Court papers: put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand for questioning in abuse cases
“He wants to be identified only by his initials, the same identity he uses in the lawsuit he filed against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester. ‘The victims need to know. We have a right to know,’ he said about new developments in the case. Attorneys for child sexual assault victims are asking a judge to put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand(link is external). He ran the diocese for 33 years.” By Jane Flasch, WHAM-TV13 News

Three victims come forward with allegations of child sex abuse against priest
“Three new victims are coming forward with allegations of child sex abuse against a Catholic priest(link is external) who previously pleaded guilty to forming a sex club and molesting dozens of children. Convicted child molester Father Edward Pipala is once again at the center of a child sex abuse scandal and alleged church cover-up. ‘For decades, he was given license and permission by the Archdiocese and top officials to continue one of the most predatory paths we’ve seen,’ says attorney Jeff Anderson.” By News12 Westchester

OHIO

Ohio priest pleads not guilty to child-porn related charges
“An Ohio Catholic priest pleaded not guilty to 21 child pornography-related counts(link is external) in a Cleveland courtroom on Wednesday (Jan. 22). The Rev. Robert McWilliams, 39, was indicted last week by a Cuyahoga County grand jury. He was arrested last month at a parish in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville after the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force searched his living space using a warrant from neighboring Geauga County.” By Associated Press in The Washington Times

Columbus bishop creates task force, hires attorney to tackle allegations
“Bishop Robert Brennan, of the Diocese of Columbus, has started a task force to look into diocesan policies regarding sexual abuse of minors by priests(link is external). The diocese has also hired a local law firm to look into its records and see if more priests should be added to a list of 50 clergy members who have been accused thus far. Columbus Bishop Robert Brennan says he wants to look at the sexual abuse of minors by clergy members with ‘new eyes.’” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

OKLAHOMA

Retired Oklahoma City priest added to clergy abuse list
“Archbishop Paul Coakley announced Tuesday (Jan. 21) the addition of a now-retired Oklahoma City priest who served in churches across the state to the list of priests who have had a substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor(link is external). According to the investigation, the archdiocese was contacted in 1993 by a former parishioner of Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Enid who reported allegations of abuse against Father Marvin Leven, 94, that started when the victim was age 15 and recurred as a young adult at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.” By Kaylee Douglas, KFOR-TV4 News

TENNESSEE

Documents contradict Knoxville diocese’s timeline of knowing about sexual abuse allegations against priests and teacher
“After months of publicly discrediting and denying sexual abuse allegations against prominent priests and a diocesan employee(link is external), documents obtained by the Times Free Press suggest the Diocese of Knoxville may have known about those allegations for almost a year before suspending the accused employee.” Wyatt Massey, Chattanooga Times Free Press

TEXAS

Ex-Dallas-area Catholic priest accused of molesting a child
“A 78-year-old former Roman Catholic priest whose whereabouts remain unknown has been accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child(link is external) while serving as a priest in North Texas, according to a police affidavit. Dallas police obtained a warrant Tuesday for the arrest of Richard Thomas Brown, a priest who served at five North Texas churches before he was removed in 2002 and recently defrocked. The affidavit accused Brown of sexually molesting a child on July 5, 1989.” By Associated Press in Washington Times

Corpus Christi priests accused of credible abuse file appeal in defamation case
“A lawyer is arguing retired Corpus Christi priests were wrongly included in a list of clergy ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external),’ especially when one was exonerated multiple times. In an Appellants’ brief submitted Monday to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals, attorney Andrew M. Greenwell argues retired priests Michael Heras and John Feminelli were included in a Diocese of Corpus Christi list of priests ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.’” By Alexandria Rodriguez, Caller Times

WASHINGTON

Prominent Catholics together call for review of Seattle Archdiocese’s secret clergy abuse files
“A group of prominent Catholics announced Tuesday (Jan. 28) that it’s pursuing a ‘lay-led,’ independent review of the Seattle Archdiocese’s secret clergy files(link is external) to fully expose the breadth and depth of the church’s sexual abuses in Western Washington and find a path forward for healing the damage caused to generations of the religion’s followers.” By Lewis Kamb, Seattle Times

WISCONSIN

La Crosse Diocese names 25 former priests who abused children
“At least 25 priests who served in the Diocese of La Crosse over the past several decades sexually assaulted children(link is external), the diocese disclosed Saturday (Jan. 18). The disclosure, posted at 4 p.m. on the diocese website at diolc.org, brings the total number of Catholic priests with substantiated accusations of sexual abuse in Wisconsin to nearly 160. The La Crosse diocese serves nearly 200,000 Catholics in counties across central and western Wisconsin, including those in Marathon, Portage and Wood counties.” By Laura Schulte, Wausau Daily Herald

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church attempts to stop one of its own priests from suing it for child abuse
“The Catholic church is attempting to stop one of its own priests from suing it for child abuse because he took too long to come forward(link is external), prompting criticism that it has learned nothing from the royal commission. The Lismore diocese plans to seek a permanent stay in the New South Wales supreme court to prevent one of its priests from suing for abuse he suffered as a 12-year-old altar boy. Court documents allege the altar boy was abused in the 1960s by Clarence “David” Anderson, a now-dead priest.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Christian Brothers child sex abuse survivor John Lawrence said attacker made him feel ‘worthless’
“An elderly man who was sexually abused by the Christian Brothers as a child(link is external) has described the pain and fear he experienced being repeatedly raped as a nine-year-old boy at a group home for vulnerable children. Perth man John Thomas Lawrence, 75, has become the first child sex abuse survivor to testify about his ordeal in court since Western Australia removed time limits on such cases being heard.” By Eliza Borrello, ABC News

Religious privilege: priest confessed to child abuse 1,500 times
“Father Michael McArdle wrote in a 2004 affidavit that he made confessions of child abuse 1,500 times over 25 years(link is external). Each time, he walked out of the confessional booth with his sins absolved. Rockhampton Bishop Brian Heenan barred McArdle from contact with children in 1996 after hearing allegations from victims. Although McArdle never denied the allegations, Heenan failed to contact the police.” By Destiny Rogers, qnews.com.au

CHILE

Catholic clergy abuse victim leads drive to shakeup establishment politics in Chile
“James Hamilton, a doctor who was one of the first people in Chile to come forward claiming he was the victim of child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), has called his party Dignity. The name is a reference to the public square in the Chilean capital where protesters have gathered over the past three months to denounce inequality and high living costs. Hamilton is seeking to unite his countrymen around “principles” rather than ideologies of left and right.” By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda, Reuters

FRANCE

French trial exposes how church covered for predator priest
“One of the first people to notice Bernard Preynat’s unhealthy obsession for young boys was the supervisor at the seminary where, still a teen, the future priest started training for his career in the church. ‘At 14, 15 years old, I became interested in the youngest boys and the supervisor summoned me to tell me that I was abnormal and sick,’ the self-confessed child abuser said at his trial in France this past week. ‘I explained this to the bishop.’ And yet, after a two-year church-imposed course of psychotherapy, Preynat was still ordained into the priesthood(link is external).” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press

GERMANY

On abuse-scandal efforts, German bishops urge patience
“German bishops urged patience toward their efforts to deal with the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external). The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops, meeting in Wurzburg, said the plans that resulted from the latest investigations needed time. Their appeal came 10 years since the first revelations of the abuse emerged. ‘We need this time and we hope for understanding; we will not be absolving ourselves from the responsibility,’ they said Jan. 28.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

GUAM

‘Greatest measure of justice’: $21M for survivors, other claimants in Archdiocese plan
“Guam’s clergy sex abuse survivors and other claimants may be able to receive some $21 million in restitution(link is external) from the Archdiocese of Agana, if the church’s reorganization plan to solve its bankruptcy gets court approval. This is the first public disclosure of the amount the archdiocese and its insurers plan to pay claimants, including those allegedly molested and raped by bishops, priests and other clergy dating back to the 1950s.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

SLOVENIA

Catholic group calls on Ljubljana archbishop to resign over inaction on multiple rape allegations against priests
“A Catholic civil society group dedicated to fighting sexual abuse in the Slovenian Roman Catholic Church has called for the resignation of Slovenia’s most senior cleric, Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore, due to the church’s persistent failure to tackle sexual abuse allegations against members of the clergy(link is external). The church keeps adopting and updating recommendations on how church workers should deal with allegations of sexual abuse, but ‘everything remains dead ink on paper,’ said Igor Vovk, a senior member of the Dovolj.je (It’s Enough) group and director of the Catholic pro-life NGO Zavod Iskreni.” By Total Slovenia News

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New database of abusive clergy will ‘put pressure’ on bishops to improve transparency / Cruxnow.com

As of January 20, they (Pro Publica) note, there have been at least 178 lists produced by U.S. dioceses and religious orders. 41 dioceses and dozens more religious orders, they write, have not yet done so. (Cruxnow.com)

A new, independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse was launched this week, marking what some observers say is a sign of a new era of transparency in the Catholic Church and others labeling it the “privatization of justice” after years of church leaders blocking such efforts.

“The database, which was activated on Monday, was a yearlong effort by ProPublica, “a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.” The launch comes after the 2018 release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which sent shock waves through the U.S. Church as it chronicled seven decades of abuse of more than 1,000 victims at the hands of 300 priests.

“Since then, numerous dioceses have rushed to publish their own list of accused priests.

“‘Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests,’ write the researchers behind the ProPublica effort.”

By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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10 years after Vatican reform, Legion in new abuse crisis / Associated Press

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.” (Associated Press)

The administrator of the elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, used to take the girls out of class and send them to the chapel, where the priest from the Legion of Christ religious order would sexually abuse them.

“‘As some were reading the Bible, he would rape the others in front of them, little girls aged 6 to 8 or 9,’ said one of his victims, Ana Lucia Salazar, now a 36-year-old Mexican television host and mother of three.“

“‘Afterward, nothing was the same, nothing went back to the way it was,’ she said through tears at her home in Mexico City.

“Salazar’s horrific story, which has been corroborated by other victims and the Legion itself, has sparked a new credibility crisis for the once-influential order, 10 years after the Holy See took it over after determining that its founder was a pedophile.

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.”

By maria Verza and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read More …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


January 17, 2020

TOP STORIES

Panel to call for more lay control in the Australian Church
“A six-person committee charged with reviewing church governance and management is expected to present Australia’s bishops with a plan to overhaul the management of the church in the country. The plan would cede control over financial, human resources and governance functions to professional laity(link is external), Jack de Groot, a member of the review committee, told Catholic News Service. The committee, established by the Australian Catholics Bishops’ Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in May 2018, expects to present the plan by late March.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests
“Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a new book defending the Catholic Church’s practice of a celibate priesthood, in a shocking move(link is external) that comes as Pope Francis is considering the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.According to excerpts from the volume released Jan. 12 by the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating the move, which was requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at October’s Vatican synod gathering.”By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

A bill in the Utah State Legislature removes ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to child abuse
“A bill made public ahead of the 2020 legislative session would remove the ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to reporting abuse cases(link is external).House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would demand that a priest, a bishop or any other clergy who receives a disclosure of abuse turn around and report that to law enforcement to investigate. If that clergy member doesn’t, they could face a misdemeanor charge. It also allows for the possibility of civil litigation by a victim, she told FOX 13.” By FOX-TV13 News

Catholic Church shields $2 billion in assets to limit abuse payouts
“For most of the 20th century, the Catholic Church in the U.S. minimized the damage wrought by pedophile priests by covering up the abuse(link is external). When the bishop of the Davenport, Iowa, diocese was told in the mid-1950s that one of his priests was sexually abusing boys at a local YMCA, he kept it secret. “It is consoling to know that no general notoriety has arisen, and I pray none may result,” he wrote to a priest, capturing the strategy of the era.” By BloombergQuintBy Josh Saul, BloombergQuint.com (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Archbishop Scicluna hils abolition of pontifical secret in clerical sex crimes
“Malta’s archbishop Charles Scicluna has hailed the abolition of the pontifical secret in cases of sexual violence and clerical abuse of minors(link is external), as an important step in working for justice for victims.Scicluna, whom Pope Francis appointed as the Holy See’s prosecutor on clerical sex abuse cases, said the abolition will mean certain jurisdictions cannot be excused from not collaborating with authorities on such cases.”By Matthew Vella, MaltaToday.com.mt

Church offers little outreach to minority victims of priests
“The Samples were a black Chicago family, with six children and few resources. The priest helped them with tuition, clothes, bills. He offered the promise of opportunities — a better life.He also abused all the children(link is external).They told no one. They were afraid of not being believed and of losing what little they had, said one son, Terrence Sample. And nobody asked, until a lawyer investigating alleged abuses by the same priest prompted him to break his then 33-year silence.”By Gary Fields, Juliet Linderman and Wong Maye-E, Associated Press, in Minneapolis Star Tribune

Irish cardinal admits inquiries into child rapist priest were only to protect church
“Senior figures in Ireland’s Catholic church set up inquiries into historical sexual abuse solely to protect the church from scandal(link is external), the former leader of Ireland’s Catholics has admitted.

DrSeán Brady, the former primate of All Ireland, told an inquiry into historical abuse on Thursday (Jan. 2) that he and other Catholic clerics were sworn to secrecy about these tribunals so that the ‘good name’ of the church could be protected.”By Henry McDonald, The Guardian

ACCOUNTABILITY

Judge says parents can sue diocese over abuse reporting
“A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can move forward with a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging that it has not fulfilled its obligations under state law to report child sexual abusers(link is external).The parents and survivors claim that the Pittsburgh diocese along with the other seven Pennsylvania dioceses have created a public nuisance by failing to report every allegation of child abuse and are asking that they be compelled to release information about all known allegations.” By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press

Thomas Doyle traces the disintegration of clerical/hierarchical culture
“I have thought recently that one way to understand the revived interest in the priest sexual abuse scandal(link is external), post-Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury reportof little more than a year ago, is in the context of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief. You know: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance … No doubt the cycles will go on. But in one peculiar and important sense, regarding the hierarchical culture at the heart of the scandal, perhaps we can now say with some certainty that significant portions of the community have arrived at acceptance of the death of the clerical/hierarchical culture.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Victims benefit from mandated reporting laws
“The Dec. 30 editorial ‘Vatican Secrets’ brings an opportunity to clarify the meaning and ramifications of a ‘pontifical secret(link is external).’ Pontifical secrecy never pertained to the reporting of an allegation to civil authorities or to whether a victim could speak publicly about his or her experience.The Diocese of Pittsburgh has reported allegations involving current minors to the district attorney for more than 30 years and expanded that in 2002 to include allegations of past child sexual abuse brought forward by survivors who had become adults.” By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis struggles to escape scandals of 2019
“Pope Francis ended 2019 in embarrassment(link is external) when he angrily slapped the hand of a woman who had pulled on his own while he was greeting pilgrims on New Year’s Eve. He began 2020 with a public apology for losing his patience and setting a ‘bad example.’ It was a fitting coda to a year in which the pope addressed one scandal—the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse crisis—only to become embroiled in another, over the Vatican’s murky finances.” By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, on MSN.com

Pope hints at broader vision of ‘recovery’ from sex abuse scandals
“From the beginning, two things have been true about the clerical sexual abuse scandals(link is external) in the Catholic Church.The first is that the Church failed, and failed miserably, in its duty to protect children and vulnerable adults entrusted to its care. Unearthing those failures, and doing justice for them, is a long-term challenge that’s far from over.The second is that despite those failures, the Catholic Church also carries generations of wisdom about raising children successfully …”By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Why the McCarrick report could be delayed
“The news that Theodore McCarrick recently moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living has fueled speculation that a report from the Vatican’s internal investigation on McCarrick will soon be released.But while the report may be completed in Rome, its release may not be imminent(link is external), and some U.S. bishops may be quietly hoping for further delays.” By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

Bishops narrowly approve USCCB rate hike for 2021
“The bishops of the United States have narrowly approved an increase on the amount dioceses must contribute to the national bishops’ conference. The measure initially failed to pass when put to a vote during their November 2019 meeting and additional votes had to be collected by mail to ensure the measure passed.” By Catholic News Agency

Controversy continues regarding South Sudan archbishop appointment
“Bari ethnic leaders in South Sudan have distanced themselves from critics of the newly-appointed Archbishop of Juba. The archbishop has faced controversy since his December appointment for several reasons(link is external), including that he is not a member of the region’s predominant Bari tribe. ‘Those indigenous clergy and faithful Bari who have rejected the appointment of the new Archbishop for Juba [do] not reflect the position of the entire Bari Community or their association i.e. the Bari Community Association,’ Cornelio BepoLadoKenyi, chairman of the Juba-based association, explained in a Dec. 23 statement.”By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Meeting of Church heavy-hitters calls for ‘adjustments’ to priestly formation
“A major gathering of ecclesial heavy hitters focusing on the future of the priesthood concluded with a call for a reimagining of priestly formation(link is external) – one that incorporates the laity and women in the process and better reflects the racial and cultural diversity within the U.S. Church.The two-day symposium at Boston College took place January 2-3 and was organized around “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” a document first published in December 2018, which was the result of a series of seminars sponsored by the college’s Department of Theology and School of Theology and Ministry.”By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Francis appoints first woman to managerial role at Vatican’s Secretariat of State
“Pope Francis appointed an Italian woman as an undersecretary in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State Jan. 15, in the first such appointment of a woman to a managerial role(link is external) in what is traditionally considered the city-state’s most important office. Francesca Di Giovanni, who has worked for the Secretariat for 27 years, will be one of two undersecretaries in the Section for Relations with States, which is essentially the Vatican’s foreign ministry.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The church must face its own role in violence against women
“”By how we treat a woman’s body, we can understand our level of humanity,” Francis told the crowd, decrying the ways in which women are ‘continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution and forced to suppress the lives they carry in their wombs.’ This was not the first time that Francis has spoken about violence against women(link is external), but his comments stood out in stark relief against an incident on New Year’s Eve in which he angrily slapped away a woman’s hands after she forcefully pulled him close to her.”By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Bishop Scharfenberger suggests bankruptcy is ‘probability’ for Diocese of Buffalo
“It’s been a little more than a month since Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany assumed the additional role of apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo. As he enters his second month as the interim caretaker of the diocese, Scharfenberger is speaking about the work to sort through a painful and extensive clergy sex abuse crisis, admitting that Chapter 11 bankruptcy appears likely(link is external).”By Michael Mroziak, WXXI-AM News, from WBFO-FM

How parishes can tackle U.S. church’s money crisis
“Of its myriad problems in recent decades—including the serial sexual abuse of children by clergy and the institutional cover-up of these horrific acts—a growing cash crunch is the single biggest threat to the church’s future(link is external).Historically, U.S. Catholics have dutifully contributed to the church, but with newer generations not as likely to attend Mass, there is no guarantee this giving will continue. Meanwhile, many dioceses and parishes employ the same threadbare fundraising playbook.”By Michael White and Tom Corcoran, America: The Jesuit Review

CLERICALISM

Your thoughts on dismantling clericalism
“Two recent NCR Connectionscolumns by executive editor Tom Roberts highlighted thoughts on the culture of clericalism(link is external) from Thomas Doyle, who said the clergy sexual abuse crisis ‘is evidence of a profound contradiction that reaches to the foundational core of the institutional church,’ and from Jesuit Fr. James Keenan, who proposes an alternative ‘culture of vulnerability as a path to a ‘servant priesthood’ and a ‘servant episcopacy.’ Letters to the editor are edited for length and clarity …”By National Catholic Reporter Staff

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

New celibacy kerfuffle sparks debate over role of pope emeritus
“When retired Pope Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy in 2013, he said that he would be ‘hidden from the world(link is external),’ and that God was calling him ‘to go up the mountain,’ and to dedicate himself to prayer and meditation.However, it became clear on Sunday Jan. 12) that his idea of ‘hidden’ is not quitethe dictionary definition when excerpts of a new book by Benedict and Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office, were published in French daily Le Figaro.”By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

As village churches close, Dutch Catholics leave faith rather than worship elsewhere
“Churches appear to be less indispensable to small communities than they themselves are inclined to think. The Dutch Catholic weekly KatholiekNieuwsbladreached that conclusion after long-term research into the effects of church closure on village communities(link is external).The research of the Dutch Catholic weekly shows, among other things, that the pace at which churches are disappearing from the countryside will only increase in the coming years. It often results in painful closures or mergers, but the local village communities also seem to recover surprisingly quickly.”By Dutch Catholic Weekly “KatholiekNieuwsblad” on Cruxnow.com

Friars, seeing numbers shrink, plan to pull clergy from Raleigh Catholic church
“The pastor of Raleigh’s St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church told parishioners he was surprised by the decision Friday (Jan. 3) of his order to pull Franciscan friars from the parish.In his email to parishioners, Fr. Steve Patti said the order, Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, had been discussing for years a gradual withdrawal from some of their ministries, a response to ‘the aging of friars and declining vocations to religious life(link is external).’” By WRAL.com

VOICES

The Church’s enduring legacy of abuse
“In Fernando Meirelles’ film ‘The Two Popes,’ former Pope Benedict XVI, played by Anthony Hopkins, confesses his sins to Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. It is a crucial scene, in which Benedict aims to convince Bergoglio, played by Jonathan Pryce, of the reasons for his resignation as head of the church. As Bergoglio listens, Benedict mentions Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ(link is external) …” By Leon Krause, Slate

Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy must not be a sanctuary for sin
“Now we know that Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger is more than bankruptcy curious. The leader in charge of Buffalo’s Catholic diocese told a Buffalo News reporter on Monday (Jan. 13) that filing for Chapter 11 protection is probable as the diocese faces an onslaught of lawsuits(link is external) from individuals making claims of clergy sex abuse.As we have noted before, that would be unfortunate. If it happens – and there are defenses for it – the diocese needs to be as forthcoming about the abuses its priests and bishop committed as it would if the matter were left in state court. There can be no more hiding in dark corners.” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

Paying the cost of willful ignorance
“The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has seen better days.In the nearly 20 years since The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team uncovered a concerted effort within the Archdiocese of Boston not only to cover up the reprehensible behavior of pedophile priests(link is external), but also the ensuing coordinated effort to move these men from parish to parish with no warning to the people who they ostensibly served, it has seemed that every passing year has brought with it a fresh set of new revelations about similarly horrific cases from virtually every corner of the country.”By Cape Cod Times Editorial Board

Cardinal Cupich: How can we end clerical sex abuse and purify the Church?

“One day, a man in his mid-50s came to my office and shared the painful story of being sexually abused by his pastor(link is external). He started serving Mass when he was 9 years old, and the pastor always asked him to stay afterward to tidy up the sacristy. One day the priest took him to the basement and sexually abused him. He did this every Sunday over four years. After abusing him, the priest would walk the boy home and have dinner with the boy’s family Adding another demonic layer of pain to the sexual abuse itself, each Saturday the priest would drive the boy to another town and force him to confess his supposed sins to another priest …”By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago

Diocese falls short with its list
“The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children. In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said ‘even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all.’ We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names(link is external), since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds.” By Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board

Church doesn’t seem serious about abuse
“Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church(link is external) in reaction to a worldwide scandal, The Associated Press found. In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe?”By Fairmount Sentinel Editorial Board

Diocese faces new decade to right itself
“Debate will continue about whether the decade of the 2020s really began on Jan. 1 of this year or whether that actually will occur on Jan. 1, 2021. Either way, the period of time has been traumatic for the Roman Catholic Church here, across Pennsylvania, across the nation and, indeed, around the world.The reason is the ongoing horrific, unconscionable child-sexual-abuse scandal(link is external).That scandal of mind-shattering proportion — one that has challenged even the most devout Catholics’ beliefs, attitudes and trust — is destined to span the decade of the 2020s and perhaps beyond.” By Altoona Mirror Editorial Board

Diocese falls short with its list
“The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children(link is external). In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said “even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all. We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names, since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds …” By Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board

Protect children, ensure accountability, lift statutory limits
“Removing statutory limits on the age at which adult survivors of child sexual abuse may sue for damages is simply justice, given what we now know about the lasting effects of psychological trauma. It also will signal that complicity in shielding perpetrators from accountability is over, and that Connecticut will put the protection of children before the interests of institutions. The state’s legislative task force on the statute of limitations regarding sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and sexual assault is nearing the deadline for its assignment.’”By The Day Editorial Board

Transparency still lacking in Catholic Church
“Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church in reaction to a worldwide scandal(link is external), The Associated Press found. In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe.AP investigators examined lists released by Catholic dioceses across the country, of clergy ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse. ‘An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from the lists,’ the news agency reported.”By The Weirton Daily Times Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill would give sexual assault survivors one-year ‘look back window’ to file cases
“Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would give survivors of childhood sexual assault a ‘look back window(link is external)’ to address previously unreported claims. It would allow them one year to open cases with an expired statute of limitations. This follows a recent wave of states passing look back laws. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have created similar opportunities for abuse victims to have their voices heard.” By Stephanie Colombini, WLRN-FM National Public Radio

Ending limits for child sex abuse lawsuits gets support from Missouri lawmakers
“For two decades, Bryan Bacon kept the memories of his abuse locked away … Bacon told his story to the House Children and Families Committee in a hearing Tuesday (Jan. 14). He was there to support a proposal that would remove the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in cases of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). Currently, the law gives survivors of abuse 10 years to file civil claims.” By Tynan Stewart, St Louis Post-Dispatch

Mexico bishops urge no statute of limitations on sex abuse
“The Roman Catholic Church in Mexico called on the country’s government Tuesday Jan. 14) to modify the legal code and do away with statutes of limitations for sexual abuse of minors(link is external). ‘We want to ask in the name of the bishops of Mexico for there to be no expiration for this crime,’ said Rogelio Cabrera, president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference. He called it ‘unjust’ that nothing can be done about such cases starting 10 years from the date of the offense, ‘since the wrong done lasts for the lifetime of the person who has been a victim.’” By Associated Press

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Archdiocese to hold conference for clergy abuse survivors
“Victim/survivors and others impacted by clergy sexual abuse are invited to a Jan. 23 conference on restorative justice and healing organized by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis(link is external). The daylong conference in Lake Elmo, east of St. Paul, will include Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi providing an update on the impetus for the conference: The settlement of civil charges filed by the county in 2015 alleging the archdiocese was negligent in the case of an abusive priest.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

ALASKA

‘It’s never, ever been your fault’: Alaska bishop offers apology in wake of report on sexual abuse
“An Alaska bishop offered a series of apologies on Thursday Jan. 16) in the wake of a review that disclosed reports of sexual misconduct by 14 men(link is external) who worked for the Archdiocese of Anchorage, some stretching back more than 50 years. All but one of the accused were priests. The abuse involved children and vulnerable adults. At a press conference at the archdiocese in downtown Anchorage, Bishop Andrew Bellisario said he wanted those abused by clergy members to know: ‘It’s not your fault. It’s never, ever been your fault.’ By Tegan Hanlan, Alaska Public Radio

ARIZONA

Ex-priest indicted on charges of sexually abusing two boys in Phoenix diocese
“A former Catholic priest was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury Thursday (Jan. 9) on charges of sexually abusing two boys under age 15(link is external) more than a dozen years ago. John ‘Jack’ Dallas Spaulding faces six counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of molestation of a child between the years of 2003 and 2007.” By Lauren Castle, Arizona Republic

CALIFORNIA

A sordid life? Priest, now dead, accused of raping 7-year-old girl, fathering another child
“Decades after his death, the Rev. EfrénNeri is accused of leading a sordid secret life, raping a 7-year-old girl and fathering a child(link is external) out of wedlock in the 1950s.At that time of both incidents, he was assigned to Christ the King parish in Rialto, in San Bernardino County, then part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.Outside the diocesan offices Wednesday (Jan. 8) morning, ‘Jane Doe’ accused Neri of raping her in 1958.” By Peter Rowe, Los Angeles Times

Bakersfield church, Fresno Diocese, accused of covering up child sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Fresno and St. Philip the Apostle church in Bakersfield are being sued. They’re accused of covering up sexual misconduct by a pastor for decades(link is external).Fr. Anthony Moreno, who served as priest at St. Philip the Apostle from July 1979 to December 1980, is being accused of molesting multiple children, according to a law suit filed in Fresno court this week.”By Emma Goss, KBAK-TV58 News

Law firm expects to file hundreds of lawsjuits against California Catholic Dioceses in coming weeks
“Standing in a hotel near the Oakland waterfront,James Brogan didn’t quite know where to begin, so he did something most sexual assault survivors don’t do—he gave his name(link is external). ‘It’s wrecked my entire life, every aspect of my life,’ he said, not looking past the lectern behind which he stood. ‘Where do you go?’ Because of a new California law, Brogan and countless other survivors of rapists masquerading as holy men can go to court.”By Raheem F. Hosseini, NewsReview.com

FLORIDA

State continues to investigate child sex abuse
“The Florida Attorney General’s office is not releasing the number of tips it has received since 2018 when then-state attorney general Pam Bondi launched a statewide investigation into all reports of past abuse(link is external) in the Catholic Dioceses, including a website where victims can submit tips about abuse – past and present.” By FOX13 News

INDIANA

St. Paul’s to hold discussion on sexual abuse
“Following decades of headlines about sexual abuse committed by clergy members in the Catholic Church, a Grant County parish is holding a two-week discussion on the issue.According to BBC News, a landmark 2004 church-commissioned report said more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the US had faced sexual abuse allegations(link is external) in the previous 50 years, with numerous allegations, investigations and convictions of clergy reported since then worldwide. More recently, a grand jury report in Pennsylvaniasubstantiated that nearly 300 priests were involved in the sexual abuse of approximately 1,000 children.”By Victoria Lawson, Chronicle-Tribune

MASSACHUSETTS

One year later, Fall River diocese’s list of ‘credibly’ accused priests still not done
“Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River wrote a letter to parishioners last January announcing the church had hired a former FBI agent to review allegations of sexual abuse against minors dating back to the 1950s(link is external).The plan,he wrote, was to complete the review by spring of last year, and produce a list of credibly accused clergy members, following what a growing number of dioceses – including Providence – have already done across the country.”By Eli Sherman, WPRI-TV10 News

Priest gets probation for ‘unnatural acts’ on a minor
“A Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to two counts of ‘unnatural acts’ with a minor(link is external) for accusations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s.James Randall Gillette was sentenced to five years of probation in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Jan. 2, according to court records. More serious charges of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a minor were dismissed, but he still has to register as a sex offender.” By Associated Press on WBZ-TV4 News

MINNESOTA

Crookston Diocese priest place on leave for boundary violations
“Bishop Michael Hoeppner says ‘several issues’ concerning Fr. Bryan Kujawa have been brought to his attention, including ‘non-criminal, non-sexual boundary violations(link is external).’ Kujawa works at St. Philip’s Church in Bemidji and St. Charles in Pennington. Hoeppner says Kujawa will remain on leave until a comprehensive assessment is completed and the Diocesan Review Board makes further recommendations.” By KVRR.com

NEBRASKA

Report says Archdiocese of Omaha is complying with U.S. bishops’ child protection policies
“The Archdiocese of Omaha announced this week that an audit had found the archdiocese to be in compliance(link is external) with U.S. bishops’ policies to prevent sexual abuse of children by clergy and other church personnel.The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spelled out the policies in its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter. The charter has called for annual audits of dioceses since the bishops adopted it in 2002.”By Christopher Burbach, Omaha World-Herald

NEW JERSEY

Former student accuses nun of sex abuse at Holy Cross School
“A former student of a Catholic school in New Jersey says she was sexually abused by a nun while she was in first grade(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court.Holy Cross School in Rumson, Holy Cross Parish and the Diocese of Trenton were named as defendants.The woman, a Cliffside Park resident, she was abused by Sister Mary Nazareen while she was a teacher at Holy Cross School during the 1960s, according to the lawsuit.”By Tom Davis, Patch.com

New Jersey dioceses extend deadline for victims fund
“New Jersey’s Roman Catholic dioceses have given a six-week extension to childhood victims of sexual assault considering applying for compensation(link is external) from a fund the church set up, the account’s co-administrator said Thursday. Camille Biros, the co-administrator of the fund covering all five dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a phone interview that so far more than $9 million in 76 different cases has been paid out.”By CBS-TV3 News

NEW YORK

North Country’s Roman Catholic church faces 20 new child victim lawsuits
“The North Country’s Roman Catholic church faces 20 new lawsuits filed in recent months(link is external) under the Child Victims Act. Bishop Terry LaValley says this new wave of suits involves instances of alleged abuse by priests that date back decades. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act last February. Among other things it opened a window for victims of past alleged sexual abuse to sue for damages in civil court. So far, the Diocese of Ogdensburg says 20 people have sued under the provision. Asked about the legal and financial situation, spokeswoman Darcy Fargo referred NCPR to the church’s January regional newsletter.” By Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio

Child Victims Act sponsor moves to extend ‘lookback window’ for abuse lawsuits
“The state senator who sponsored legislation that allows victims of child sex abuse to sue their alleged predators, no matter when the abuse occurred, has introduced a bill to extend the window for new lawsuits(link is external).The Child Victims Act took effect in August 2019, eliminating statutes of limitations and enabling survivors to sue their alleged abusers during a one-year ‘lookback window’ that expires Aug. 13, 2020. State Sen. Brad Hoylman sponsored the bill, which passed last legislative session after years of advocacy, and has introduced a new piece of legislation that would extend the ‘lookback window’ for one more year.” By David Brand, Queens Daily Eagle

Honeoye Falls priest bounced from church to church in five counties
“A priest in the Rochester Diocese was bounced from church to church in an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse(link is external), says a new lawsuit filed under the Child Victims Act.It is the first lawsuit to name Rev. Otto Vogt. It alleges the abuse happened 30 years ago at St. Paul of the Cross Church in Honeoye Falls.John McHugh says he was 10-years-old in 1989 when he was singled out by Vogt. ‘He ingratiated himself into the family, became friends with the family, went to the family home,’ said attorney Mitchell Garabedian of Boston. He has filed hundreds of suits on behalf of victims of clergy abuse.”By WHAM-TV13 News

Lawsuit filed against diocese, Randolph church
“An unnamed woman has filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Randolph(link is external).The four-page court filing was received Dec. 30 in state Supreme Court in Erie County, where the headquarters for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is located. A woman accuses Father Joseph P. Friel of sexually abusing and sexually assaulting her while Friel was serving as priest at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church while the woman was a child taking religious instruction at the church.” By John Whittaker, Jamestown Post-Journal

Lawsuit claims Trautman, former Buffalo Diocese leader and Erie bishop, covered up clergy abuse case
“A new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Thursday (Jan. 2)details the lengths the accuser says Church officials took to cover up clergy abuse(link is external) in the Diocese of Buffalo. It specifically blames Donald Trautman, who served as vicar general and auxiliary bishop in Buffalo before becoming the Bishop of Erie in 1990. ‘In the lawsuit, we state that Bishop Trautman covered this abuse up,’ said Paul Barr, who represents the alleged victim.”By WIVB-TV4 News

NORTH CAROLINA

Catholic Church identifies those ‘credibly accused’ in WNC
“According to the diocese, Adelbert ‘Del’ Holmes was ‘credibly accused’ of committing child molestation against three minors(link is external) in Murphy in 1976 while he was a clergy member. The Catholic church became aware of the allegations against Holmes in 1988 and he was removed from the ministry in 1991. Holmes was a clergy member at the St. William Catholic Church in Murphy and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Mission in Hayesville. There is no recorded documentation that the Catholic church notified local law enforcement nor the District Attorney’s Office of these allegations when the church was notified in 1988.” By Smoky Mountain News

DA’s office issues statement on Catholic priest abuse
“Following the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte’s list of clergy that have been ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse since the diocese’s creation in 1972, District Attorney Ashley Welch’s office has released a statement noting that two of the members worked in her prosecutorial district, which includes Haywood County, back in the 1970s and 1980.The statement highlights that those who have allegations of abuse by members of the clergy can still come forward(link is external).” By Kyle Perrotti, The Mountaineer

NORTH DAKOTA

Bismarck Diocese names priests with sexual abuse claims
“The Bismarck Diocese has released a list of priests who have substantiated claims against them of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external).The list of 18 diocesan clergy and four extern clergy have all served the Diocese of Bismarck. Diocese of Bismarck Bishop David Kagan says each have claims the Diocese has determined to be likely true.The accused clergy include:Earl J. Becwar (died September, 1991), Norman J. Dukart (living) …” By ValleyNewsLive.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Allentown Diocese has paid out nearly $9 million over clergy sexual abuse
“The Allentown Diocese so far has agreed to pay $8.98 million to 47 victims of sexual abuse by priests(link is external) from its compensation fund since it was opened last spring in response to a landmark grand jury report accusing senior church officials of systematically covering up the sexual abuse of children, the diocese announced Tuesday (Jan. 14) in a press release … Administrators have not informed the committee of a completion date.” By Karen Shuey, TheMercury

Abuse case seeking church records moves forward in Pittsburgh
“Nearly 18 months after a Pennsylvania grand jury report unmasked decades of allegations of clergy sexual abuse in Catholic parishes across the state and church leaders paid $84 million to abuse survivors, fallout from the report continues to mount in the courts(link is external).State lawmakers began the process ofamending the Pennsylvania Constitution to give abuse survivors with old claims a day in court even as thestate Supreme Court weighs a lower court rulingthat could set the stage for such claims even sooner.”By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Walnutport priest removed from ministry after taking ‘disturbing’ photos of wrestlers
“A Catholic priest in Walnutport was removed from ministry after he was seen taking ‘disturbing’ photographs of wrestlers(link is external) at a high school tournament last month, the Diocese of Allentown announced Sunday (Dec. 5).The Rev. Thomas A. Derzack, 70, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish, took the photos Dec. 27 without the wrestlers’ knowledge during the event at the Bethlehem Catholic High School gym, the diocese said.”By Riley Yares, The Morning Call

TENNESSEE

Diocese of Knoxville settles sexual abuse lawsuit out of court
“The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has reached an out-of-court settlement with a Blount County man whose lawsuit alleged he was sexually abused as a child by two priests(link is external).The settlement means the July suit bought by attorneys for Michael Boyd of Blount County will not proceed in Knox County Circuit Court.The terms and amount of the financial settlement were not disclosed in a seven-paragraph announcement issued today by the diocese. The diocese and church officials also admit no wrongdoing in the settlement.” By Amy McCrary, Knoxville News Sentinel

UTAH

Bill requiring clergy to report child abuse confessions opposed by Utah Catholics, House Speaker
“As religious opposition both in and out of Utah mounts against a proposed bill that would require all allegations of child abuse to be reported to authorities — including those stated in religious confessionals(link is external) — a powerful legislative leader has opposed the bill. House Speaker Brad Wilson won’t support the bill in its current form, according to a statement he sent to the national Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.” By Katie McKellar, Deseret News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Church settles Snohomish priest’s sex abuse case for $1.7 million
“The Archdiocese of Seattle announced Thursday (Jan. 9) it has reached a $1.7 million settlement involving a Snohomish priest accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1980s.The Rev. Dennis Champagne served at St. Michael parish in Snohomish from 1979 to 1999. He was put on administrative leave in 2002, after the archdiocese received a complaint of sexual abuse.” By Zachariah Bryan, Everett Herald

WYOMING

Cheyenne police interviewing more priests as witnesses in ongoing Catholic clergy investigation
“Cheyenne police detectives are interviewing Catholic priests as potential witnesses in authorities’ nearly two year-long investigation into sexual abuse by members of the clergy(link is external) here.Cheyenne police spokesman David Inman said Thursday (Jan. 9) that the case is still being investigated by police in the capital, five months after the agency turned the case over to prosecutors. In an email, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Cheyenne said the church ‘hasn’t heard anything about priests being interviewed by the Cheyenne Police Department; therefore, the Diocese of Cheyenne cannot comment.’” By Seth Klaman, Caspar Star Tribune

AUSTRALIA

Brisbane Archdiocese slams laws to compel priests to report child abuse
“Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop has hit out at proposed laws that would compel Queensland priests to report the confessions of child abusers(link is external). The state’s teachers, doctors, nurses, childcare workers and school principals already have to report crimes against children to authorities, but Archbishop Mark Coleridge says the laws would ‘limit and unjustly interfere’ with the human rights of Catholics.” By Lydia Lynch, Brisbane Times

Catholic priest dies before being sentenced for child sexual abuse
“Disgraced former Catholic Priest James Joseph Cunneen, who was found guilty of indecent assault against six teenage boys(link is external) in New South Wales in the late 1980s, has died before he could be sentenced.60-year old MrCunneen was due to be sentenced in Downing Centre District Court on 14 February 2020. He was arrested, charged and prosecuted last year after information given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2014.After an extensive investigation, police extradited MrCunneen back to Australia in 2017 where he was charged.”By Sonia Hickey, The Big Smoke

FRANCE

Trial delayed for French priest accused of abusing 75 boys
“A former French priest accused of sexually abusing around 75 Boy Scouts(link is external) went on trial Monday (Jan. 13), but the proceedings were delayed for at least a day because of a strike by lawyers.The case is France’s worst clergy abuse drama to reach court so far, and its repercussions reached all the way to the Vatican. ‘I have heard the suffering of these people, which I’m guilty of causing. I hope that this trial can unfold as quickly as possible,’ Bernard Preynat told the court after the judge announced the trial would be delayed until Tuesday.”By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Inquiry report finds gaps in UK legal system are allowing known offenders to sexually abuse children abroad
“The Inquiry has published its reporton the protection of children outside the UK, focusing on the legal measures designed to prevent British child sex abusers from offending overseas.The report finds that offenders from England and Wales are travelling to commit extensive abuse of children across the world(link is external), including in eastern Asia and Africa.” By Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse on iicsa.org.uk

Mum beaten and abused by nuns sues for £750k
“A mum from Renfrewshire who claims she was beaten and abused at an orphanage(link is external) has launched a £750,000 legal action bid against the Catholic order.Annemarie McGuigan said she was beaten with a stick and locked in cupboards during her five-year stayat the Nazareth House children’s home in Aberdeen.The 59-year-old was ‘force-fed’ her own vomit and is now taking legal action against the Sisters of Nazareth.” By The Herald

GUAM

‘Having nightmares to the day’: former Barrigada altar boy sues for priest’s sex abuse
“Some 40 years after he said a priest raped and molested him several times(link is external), a former Barrigada altar boy is now suing the entities that he thinks enabled and then covered up the abuses.To this day, he continues to have nightmares of being sexually abused by the priest, the lawsuit says.Father Louis Brouillard allegedly raped and molested him in or about 1977 to 1979, according to the $5 million lawsuit filed in local court Wednesday (Jan. 8).” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

MEXICO

Legion of Christ accused abuser removed from priesthood
“ The Catholic Church has removed Mexican Fernando Martínez from the priesthood after considering him guilty of various sexual abuse crimes against minors(link is external), the Legion of Christ religious order said Monday Jan. 13).The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided that Martínez could not continue his priestly duties, but allowed him to remain as a member of the Legion of Christ and the church, a decision that upset his victims.” By Maria Verza, Associated Press

PHILIPPINES

Vatican acquits ‘healing’ priest of alleged sexual abuse of minors
“Controversial ‘healing priest’ Rev Fr. Fernando Suarez has been cleared by the Vatican from accusations of sexual abuse of minors(link is external).The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith informed Judicial Vicar and Retired Novaliches Bishop Most Rev. Antonio Tobias of the “not guilty” verdict on Suarez in a letter dated December 13, 2019.“I was instructed to notify the Rev. Fr. Fernando M. Suarez of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Occidental Mindoro of the Decree of “Not Guilty” of the accusation lodged against him of sexual abuse of minors or delicta contra sextum cum minoribus,” read the decree of notification signed by Tobias.”By CNN Philippines Staff

Vatican hands down ‘not guilty’ verdict on healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez
“The Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith of the Vatican has exonerated a healing priest from Bukidnon, who was accused of sexual abuse(link is external).The Congregation sent a letter to the Judicial Vicar and Retired Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias that has ruled Fernando M. Suarez of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Occidental Mindoro of ‘not guilty’ of the accusation against him of committing sexual abuse of minors.In response, Tobias, through the National Tribunal of Appeals of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines informed Suarez and other priests and bishops about the ruling from the Vatican through a decree of notification.”By Samuel P. Medenilla, Business Mirror

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Judge says parents can sue diocese over abuse reporting / Associated Press

“Lawyers for the parents and survivors said the order issued late Tuesday (Jan. 7) is the first time private citizens have been allowed to challenge the church to prove it is complying with a reporting law.” (Associated Press)

 Pennsylvania judge has ruled that parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can move forward with a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging that it has not fulfilled its obligations under state law to report child sexual abusers.

“The parents and survivors claim that the Pittsburgh diocese along with the other seven Pennsylvania dioceses have created a public nuisance by failing to report every allegation of child abuse and are asking that they be compelled to release information about all known allegations. Lawyers for the parents and survivors said the order issued late Tuesday is the first time private citizens have been allowed to challenge the church to prove it is complying with a reporting law.

“The order, issued by Allegheny County Judge Christine A. Ward, also sustained the objections from the state’s other seven dioceses to being parties in the lawsuit because there were no specific allegations against them. Ward gave the attorneys for the parents and survivors 30 days to amend the lawsuit before she will consider whether to dismiss the other dioceses as defendants.”

By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press — Read more …

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Hundreds of abused clergy left off church’s sex abuse lists / Associated Press

An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served. (Associated Press)

Richard J. Poster served time for possessing child pornography, violated his probation by having contact with children, admitted masturbating in the bushes near a church school and in 2005 was put on a sex offender registry. And yet the former Catholic priest was only just this month added to a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sexual abuse — after The Associated Press asked why he was not included.

“Victims advocates had long criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not making public the names of credibly accused priests. Now, despite the dioceses’ release of nearly 5,300 names, most in the last two years, critics say the lists are far from complete.

“An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served.

“The AP reached that number by matching those public diocesan lists against a database of accused priests tracked by the group BishopAccountability.org and then scouring bankruptcy documents, lawsuits, settlement information, grand jury reports and media accounts.

“More than a hundred of the former clergy members not listed by dioceses or religious orders had been charged with sexual crimes, including rape, solicitation and receiving or viewing child pornography.”

By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, Associated Press — Read more …

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Pope jettisons pontifical secret; Voice of the Faithful applauds

BOSTON, Mass., Dec. 18, 2019 – Pope Francis yesterday changed the Catholic Church’s Canon Law to abrogate the “pontifical secret,” the Vatican’s equivalent of “top secret,” with regard to clergy sexual abuse cases. Voice of the Faithful joins clergy abuse victims and survivors and their advocates in considering this reform long-overdue.

Voice of the Faithful has always promoted full transparency of clergy abuse, understanding that the Church used secrecy in an attempt to protect itself against scandal, which resulted in particularly unjust treatment of victims. Because of the Pope’s action, no one may in the future claim that they cannot hand over documentation of abuse, or testify at trials, or be uncooperative with civil authorities by claiming clergy abuse information is considered top secret by the Vatican.

The Church’s leading clergy abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, has called the Pope’s instruction “epochal.” Abuse survivor Marie Collins, a former member of the Papal Commission for the Protection of Minors who resigned in frustration at Vatican resistance, hailed the change, calling it “excellent” and a “real positive change.”

Will this reform usher in a new era of transparency and accountability in the Church? We can only hope.


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

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