Posts Tagged Focus news roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 25, 2022

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

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

PRIESTS

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

CONNECTICUT

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

ILLINOIS

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

INDIANA

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

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

MISSISSIPPI

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

NEW YORK.

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

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

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

WISCONSIN

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

AFRICA

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

CANADA

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

EAST TIMOR

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

FRANCE

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

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

SWITZERLAND

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 28, 2022

TOP STORIES

Pope releases Vatican reform, gives weight to fighting abuse
“Pope Francis released his long-awaited reform program of the Holy See bureaucracy on Saturday (Mar. 19) that envisages greater decision-making roles for the laity and gives new institutional weight to efforts to fight clerical sex abuse(link is external). The 54-page text, titled ‘Praedicate Evanglium,’ or ‘Proclaiming the Gospel,’ replaces the founding constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’ that was penned by St. John Paul II in 1988.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Spain parliament approves independent investigation into Catholic Church sexual abuse cases
“The Spanish Parliament voted Thursday (Mar. 10) overwhelmingly in favor of a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate alleged Catholic Church sexual abuses of minors(link is external). Spain’s ombudsperson is set to chair the commission. The final vote count consisted of 286 votes in favor, 51 votes against and two abstentions. Spain’s Catholic Church has been under investigation on multiple fronts since a report from El Pais newspaper revealed 1,237 cases of sexual abuse within the church. Since then, the Catholic Church opened an investigation, lawmakers opened an inquiry, and the Attorney General launched an investigation.” By Lauren Ban, Jurist: Legal News & Commentary

1st German Catholic diocese allows women to perform baptisms
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Essen has become the first in Germany to allow women to perform baptisms(link is external), citing a lack of priests. The diocese said in a statement Monday (Mar. 14) that Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck tasked 18 lay ministers —17 of them women — with conferring the sacrament of admission into the Church at a ceremony over the weekend. Until now only priests and deacons – functions the Catholic Church reserves for men – were allowed to perform baptisms.” By the Associated Press on ABCNews.com

For the synod to succeed, the church must listen to all of us
“As the synodal consultation process gets underway, I’ve heard from several diocesan lay leaders throughout the country about how concerned they are that this process will not be inclusive(link is external). Many fear that only a single group of people, primarily from leadership councils in parishes and dioceses, will be asked for input during this initial stage. Others share how parishes continue to serve only the dominant group in the community and are not inclusive of all cultural communities. What is painfully obvious is the lack of diversity in areas of leadership and the lack of centering the experiences of those parishioners at the margins.” By Milton Javier Bravo, U.S. Catholic

ACCOUNTABILITY

The Institutionalist: Pope Benedict and Munich’s sex-abuse crisis
“‘What did he know and when did he know it?’ That was the famous question asked by Senator Howard Baker fifty years ago at the Watergate hearings. Today that question is being asked about Pope Benedict, who has been accused of mishandling sexual-abuse cases(link is external) when he was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.” By Arthur McCaffrey, Commonweal

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Will Catholic colleges embrace synodality
Why haven’t Catholic colleges and universities in the United States more urgently engaged Pope Francis’s repeated calls to practice ‘synodality’(link is external)? After all, these centers of intellectual development and social change are crucial in getting younger Catholics to care about the future of the Church. On this episode, we’re featuring a series of conversations with three experts on the current state of the synod and American Catholic higher education: Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University, Micah Kiel of St. Ambrose University, and Amirah Orozco of Dominican University.” By Editors at Commonweal

Parishes hold discernment sessions
“In Catholic parishes around western Oregon, Catholics have gathered over the past six weeks to pray, speak up, listen and dream about the future of their worldwide church(link is external). Information from parish discernment meetings will feed into regional writeups then move on to an Archdiocese of Portland report that will help shape documents at the national and Vatican levels. Launched by Pope Francis, the process is the largest consultation with believers in the history of Christianity. It will reach a culmination at the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality in 2023.” By Catholic Sentinel

Not many Catholics care about the synod. But I’m not ready to give up on it year.
“The apathy in the U.S. church is real. The synodal journey, and the diocesan synods, are not off to a good start(link is external). Find someone in your parish who even knows anything about it—take your time. Catch a priest off guard, and he might have a word or two to say. Good luck, though, finding any earnest enthusiasm. Thumb through Twitter a minute. Caustic medium though it is, you will really get an idea what I mean. It has had a sluggish start, this synod.” By Joshua J. Whitfield, America: The Jesuit Review

POPE FRANCIS

After 9 years, Francis reorganizes Vatican with focus on evangelization, roles for laypeople
“Pope Francis has overhauled the Vatican’s central bureaucracy for the first time in over 30 years, dramatically expanding the number of top leadership roles lay men and women can hold and reorganizing Vatican departments under the central priority of evangelization(link is external). The 54-page text of the new Apostolic Constitution was released on March 19 — 9 years to the day of Francis’ inauguration as pope in 2013 — and fulfills a top priority of the College of Cardinals, who made clear their desire to improve and decentralize church governance when they gathered in Rome to name a successor to the then-recently retired Pope Benedict XVI.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Pope removes Puerto Rican bishop from office
Pope Francis has ‘relieved’ Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, of the pastoral care of the diocese(link is external), the Vatican announced without providing an explanation. The Vatican’s brief announcement March 9 added only that the pope had asked 79-year-old Bishop Álvaro Corrada del Río, retired head of the neighboring Diocese of Mayagüez, to serve as apostolic administrator. Bishop Fernández, in a statement posted on the diocesan website, said, ‘I feel blessed to suffer persecution and slander for proclaiming the truth.’ The bishop also said he had been asked to resign but refused to do so.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Scandinavian bishops criticize Germany’s synodal path reform project
“The Catholic bishops of the Scandinavian countries have voiced concern about ‘the direction, the methodology and the substance’ of the Synodal Path reform consultations in Germany(link is external). In an open letter to the German bishops’ conference, the Nordic bishops’ conference said it appreciated that there was a ‘palpable need for change’ in Germany. However, the issues addressed were not a ‘purely German’ concern, they added. Although the bishops acknowledged the Germans’ desire to address the wounds caused by clergy sexual abuse and to call for a ‘radical conversion’ of the church, they said the process must stop at those issues ‘that contain unchangeable parts of the church’s teaching.’” By Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Top Vatican officials invite priests to help contribute to synodal process
“Priests should try to help show the true face of the church as an open, welcoming home inhabited by the Lord and enlivened by love, said Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of the Bishops, and Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy. ‘It is well known that today’s world is in urgent need of fraternity. Without realizing it, the world yearns to meet Jesus,’ they said in a letter to the world’s priests, including those who are also bishops and cardinals. In order to help people encounter Jesus, priests ‘need to listen to the Spirit together with the whole people of God(link is external), so as to renew our faith and find new ways and languages to share the Gospel with our brothers and sisters,’ they wrote. That is the precise objective of the synodal process that Pope Francis has proposed …” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women’s theology mentoring program doubles in size
“The Good Samaritan Study and Mentoring Program has doubled in size for its second year(link is external), meaning eight women will receive support to undertake studies aimed at promoting women’s leadership within the Church. The popular SAM Program was able to be expanded thanks to financial assistance from a number of men’s religious orders. Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Sister Patty Fawkner, wrote to several male religious congregations in Australia offering them the opportunity to contribute to the SAM Program as a way of supporting women’s leadership in the Church.” By CathNews.com

Pope Francis: The church needs women saints
The Catholic Church needs women, especially women saints(link is external), who have shown throughout history an unwavering dedication to God and to caring for their brothers and sisters, Pope Francis said. The women honored as doctors of the church and as co-patrons of Europe, he said, are examples of “the courage to face difficulties; the capacity for being practical; a natural desire to promote what is most beautiful and human according to God’s plan; and a far-sighted, prophetic vision of the world and of history, that made them sowers of hope and builders of the future.” By Catholic News Service in America: the Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Church finances must be ‘exemplary,’ ‘irreproachable,’ pope says
“Financial and judicial reforms are meant not only to bring the Vatican up to date with international standards of transparency but also to make the church’s structure reflect ‘an increasingly evangelical style,’ Pope Francis said. Meeting March 12 with judges, prosecutors, investigators and other members of the Vatican’s state tribunal, the pope said that when it comes to financial management and transparency, ‘the church must be exemplary(link is external) and irreproachable, especially on the part of those who hold important roles of responsibility.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Brazilian bishop: I hope the synod will end clericalism in the church
“The church needs to overcome clericalism once and for all in order to effectively promote unity and synodality(link is external), said Brazilian Bishop Pedro Carlos Cipollini in an interview conducted over Zoom last December … ‘It is clericalism that prevents the church today from being missionary,’ Bishop Cipollini said. ‘I have great hope that the synod on synodality can make clericalism collapse—perhaps not entirely, but at least in its major strongholds. If this synod doesn’t overcome that difficulty, I don’t know when we will have another opportunity.’” By Filipe Domingues, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Pope Francis is drawing on Vatican II to radically change how the Catholic Church is governed
“Pope Francis’ long-awaited reform of the Roman Curia takes a head-on approach to the crises facing the church, using the Second Vatican Council as a road map for reclaiming the church’s credibility. One could argue Francis was elected to carry out this reform, given that it was a main subject of the cardinals’ pre-election conversations in 2013. It is only the fifth such effort to remake the Curia in the last 500 years … The new constitution for the Roman Curia, ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (‘Preach the Gospel’), which was finally released March 19 after nine years of work, recognizes that in the face of the crises of abuse, vocations and credibility, the way forward is not a ‘smaller but purer’ church but rather a broad evangelization(link is external), the road map for which is Vatican II.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Commentary: a time of reckoning for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Roman Catholic churches and parishioners
“I’ve also, off and on as a reporter for 30 years, covered the physical and sexual abuse cases of Christian Brothers and priests who destroyed young boys’ lives(link is external) — right from the Hughes Inquiry to the actual trials of the Mount Cashel Christian Brothers and priests in the early 1990s.I’ve also met, spoke with and interviewed a number of victims — mostly men, and mostly still young men at the time, with their hearts and lives torn apart. Watched them crumble in front of me.” By Glen Whiffen, SaltWire.com

I am an abuse survivor. I believe the synod will teach the church how to listen.
“On Dec. 9, 1968, I pulled a stool next to my father in his room at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, the same hospital where so many coronavirus patients succumbed during the Covid-19 pandemic … Two hours later my father died. I had just turned 12, and I didn’t realize that my darkest days were ahead. His death left our family shattered. My mother fell prey to her alcoholism, and I fell prey to her escalating physical and mental abuse. Father figures in the community sought me out. Some were well-intentioned, others were not. In my 13th year, I was raped by a male teacher. Molestation by a Roman Catholic priest would follow(link is external).” By Mark Joseph Williams, America: The Jesuit Review

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Irish abuse survivor: Curia reform undermines independence of commission
“A survivor of clerical sexual abuse who quit the Vatican’s advisory group on abuse said she believes new reforms of the Roman Curia will further erode the independence of the body(link is external). Marie Collins, whose advocacy led to an Irish government inquiry into the handling of abuse allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese, was one of the founding members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2014. She quit in 2017, warning that ‘the reluctance of some in the Vatican Curia to implement recommendations or cooperate with the work of a commission, when the purpose is to improve the safety of children and vulnerable adults around the world, is unacceptable.’ By Chai Brady, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

INDIANA

Priest at Carmel church under investigation for misconduct with a minor
“A priest at a Carmel Catholic church has been suspended from public ministry. The Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana says the Rev. James De Oreo has been accused of inappropriate conduct with a minor. De Oreo is a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, located on the southwest corner of West 146th Street and Oak Ridge Road.” By WISH-TV8 News

KANSAS

Statement regarding Rev. Michael Schemm
“Today (Mar. 7), Rev. Michael Schemm was reinstated to public ministry in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita(link is external). In October of last year, the diocese received an allegation that Father Schemm, pastor at Church of the Resurrection, sexually abused a minor in the 1990s. Rev. Schemm denied the allegation and was placed on administrative leave of absence pending investigation. In accordance with our protocols, the diocese notified the district attorney.” By the Diocese of Wichita

LOUISIANA

New lawsuit alleges members of Hope Haven sexually abused man when he stayed at home in 1970s
“On Tuesday, March 15, attorneys Jessica Arbour and Jacques Bezou, Jr. hosted a press conference regarding the filing of what they say is a ‘new child sexual abuse and coverup lawsuit(link is external).’ The suit has been filed on behalf of Larry Polizzi, a man who claims he was sexually abused as a child at Hope Haven, a church-run home for orphans and troubled youth. Court papers report Polizzi was molested during a court-ordered stay at Hope Haven in 1976. Polizzi was 14 when the allegations happened.” By Kylee Bond, WGNO-TV News

Priest, nun names in new Hope Haven sexual abuse lawsuit
“A new lawsuit filed on behalf of Larry Polizzi, who lived at Hope Haven in his teens, alleges the horrific sexual abuse he endured while living there(link is external) back in the 1970s. ‘Instead of taking care of him, they abused him, pretty systemically and repeatedly,’ said Jessica Arbour, an attorney for Polizzi. The lawsuit names Father Sean Leo Rooney and Sister Alvin Marie Hagan as the perpetrators of the abuse. ‘I’ve been ashamed of myself for many years and I feel, for what they done to me, from the time I was 14, they need to be held accountable,’ said Polizzi.” By Anna McAllister, WGNO-TV News

Lawsuit filed against Diocese of Baton Rouge under new child sexual abuse law
“A lawsuit has been filed against the Diocese of Baton Rouge under a new law suspending the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases in Louisiana(link is external). The lawsuit names Fr. John Weber, who was a priest with the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Diocese of Baton Rouge. Weber died in 2000. According to the petition for damages, which was filed in East Baton Rouge Parish District Court, a man claims he was sexually abused by Weber at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Baton Rouge beginning when he was about 13 years old. The church was also named in the lawsuit.” By WAFB-TV9 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Late Everett priest accused of sexually abusing student at least 100 times in 1970s
“A Boston Archdiocese priest has been accused of sexually abusing a student at least 100 times in the late 1970s(link is external) at a Catholic school in Everett, one of the many places where he was assigned by the archdiocese, according to the alleged victim’s lawyer and the official Catholic Directory. The late Rev. Michael J. Regan allegedly abused the girl from approximately 1977 to 1980, when she was about 14 to 17 years old and the priest was a teacher at Pope John XXIII High School, Mitchell Garabedian said at a press conference on Tuesday (Mar. 14).” By Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald

Trial should go forward in former altar boy’s case against diocese, SJC justice says
“Lawyers for the Springfield diocese failed to persuade a Supreme Judicial Court justice to delay action on a lawsuit brought by a former altar boy sexually abused decades ago by a bishop(link is external). In a ruling late last week (Mar. 11), Associate Justice David A. Lowy denied a motion by lawyers for the diocese and other defendants to halt proceedings in the case, saying the plaintiff ‘has a right to expeditious resolution of his case.’” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MICHIGAN

No charges against northern Michigan priest
“The Michigan Attorney Generals Office will not file criminal charges against a northern Michigan priest accused of sending inappropriate texts to students(link is external). Late last year, the Diocese of Gaylord referred a complaint to the AG’s Office involving a priest sending messages through text and social media to high school students. The Attorney General’s Office said the priest involved was Bryan Medlin.” By Roxanne Werly, UpNorthLive

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Legion of Christ N.H. school dismissed from sex assault lawsuit
“The Center Harbor school where several boys were reportedly molested by members of the disgraced Roman Catholic religious order, the Legionaires of Christ, is no longer a defendant in the federal lawsuits brought by the survivors(link is external). Five men filed lawsuits against the order and the school last year in the United States District Court of Connecticut accusing the order of negligence for effectively facilitating and covering up the abuse.” By Damien Fisher, InDepthNH.org

NEW JERSEY

Abused as an altar boy, he biked 800 miles to inspire other victims in a new film
“A lone cyclist pedals along a rolling road as cars pass. This is David Ohlmuller. He is 52 now, divorced, the father of a college-bound son, a hall of fame champion paddle tennis player and a long-distance cyclist. He was also abused by a Catholic priest when he was an altar boy(link is external) in Montclair, New Jersey. He rides his bicycle to exorcise that memory.” By Mike Kelly, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK.

Nassau County DA investigating Diocese of Rockville Centre pastor for possession of child pornography
“The Nassau County District Attorney’s office is investigating an associate pastor at a Levittown church for possible possession of child pornography(link is external). The church is under the umbrella of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The Rev. Joseph Nohs is being probed and is not permitted to serve as a priest at St. Bernard’s Church in Levittown until the outcome of the investigation is complete. Requests for comment from the diocese were not returned at press time.” By Mike Smolins, LIHerald.com

Brooklyn aux bishop under Vatican investigation, whistleblower resigns
“Bishop Raymond Chappetto, 76, whose resignation was announced by the Vatican on March 7, is accused of failing to pass on to the Brooklyn diocesan review board and diocesan officials a memo about a priest who had been accused of misconduct(link is external). The Vatican has directed the bishop of a New York diocese to investigate, sources in Brooklyn and the Vatican told The Pillar. The investigation has raised questions among some in Brooklyn about the decision of Brooklyn’s Bishop Robert Brennan to leave Chappetto in place as vicar general for more than four months after he became aware of complaints to the Vatican about Chappetto’s conduct in office.” By The Pilar

Accused bishop’s funeral Mass participation provokes outcry from abuse victims
“Retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz kept a low profile in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo since being accused last summer of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 1990(link is external). At least that was the case until Monday (ar. 14), when Grosz was on the altar for the funeral of Bishop Emeritus Donald W. Trautman in St. Peter Cathedral in Erie, Pa. Grosz’s participation in the funeral Mass alongside several other bishops has sparked outrage on social media among survivors of clergy sexual abuse who thought the church had suspended him from public ministry while it investigated the abuse claim.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

OHIO

Former Franciscan friar Morrier sentenced on sex crimes
“A former Franciscan friar has been sentenced on sex crimes that took place when he was at Franciscan University of Steubenville(link is external). ‘I’ve lost the last 12 years of my life to him, the third order regular Franciscans and Franciscan university,’ the victim said in court Friday (Mar. 11). As the victim read a long and emotional statement, David Morrier sat emotionless in the Jefferson County Common Pleas Courtroom of Judge Joseph Bruzzese.” By Paul Giannamore, WTOV-TV9 News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Lawsuit accuses Charleston priest of sexual abuse of former student
“A new lawsuit accuses a Charleston priest of sexual abuse. Reverend Father Bryan Babick has been named in a federal lawsuit along with the diocese of Charleston and the Bishop of Charleston brought by a former seminary student(link is external). Babick has been the parish administrator at Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Folly Beach. The defendant was also a former chaplain at Bishop England High School. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff ‘John Doe 197,’ was a seminary student. He says he was being advised by Babick at the time of the alleged abuse in 2019.” By Anne Emerson, ABC-TV4 News

SOUTH DAKOTA

Former Rapid City priest sentenced for child sex crimes
“A former Rapid City catholic priest was sentenced on Friday (Mar. 11) for child sex crimes on top of his current sentence for stealing from the church(link is external). Marcin Garbacz, a native of Poland, first pleaded not guilty, and then guilty for illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place. While traveling in Poland, Garbacz recorded video of an unclothed minor.” By NewsCenter1 Staff

TENNESSEE

Questioning Knoxville diocese’s handling of abuse cases / Featured letter
“When you string together all that’s alleged or known about Diocese of Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika and the purported seminarian who is now accused of sexually assaulting a church employee, it paints a pretty damning picture(link is external). None of these facts or allegations, in isolation, is of course conclusive proof of wrongdoing. But taken together, they sure don’t pass the smell test.” By David Clohessy, KnoxNews.com

ARGENTINA

‘We were practically nothing to him,’ ex-seminarian says of Bishop Zanchetta’s abusive behavior
“One of the former seminarians who was the victim of sexual abuse by Argentine Bishop Emeritus Gustavo Zanchetta(link is external) of Orán says the powerful prelate manipulated young men under his authority with clothing, computers, and other gifts, discriminated against darker-skinned seminarians, and ‘bragged about being friends’ with Pope Francis. ‘The truth is that we had a bad time,’ the former seminarian, identified only as ‘M.C.’ told journalist Silvia Noviasky of the newspaper El Tribuno in an exclusive interview.” By Catholic News Agency

AUSTRALIA

Toowoomba Diocese performs strongly on audit
“Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd has today published its safeguarding audit report on the Toowoomba Diocese. The audit assessed the diocese’s progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. The standards provide a framework for the safety and protection of children and adults at risk in Catholic organizations. ACSL chief executive officer Ursula Stephens said that the diocese has performed strongly, with 87 per cent of the NCSS criteria and indicators relevant to the diocese either fully implemented, or substantially progressed(link is external).” By CathNews.com

Retired Catholic priest Richard Doyle found guilty of molesting young girl decades ago
“A retired Catholic priest in Perth has been found guilty of sexually abusing a young girl(link is external) more than 40 years ago. Richard Doyle, 85, was found guilty of four charges of indecent dealings with the girl when she was between the ages of six and 10. The District Court in WA was told the girl’s mother was a devout Catholic with a strong involvement in the church. She first met Doyle in Bruce Rock where he was a parish priest.” By Cason Ho, ABC News

Victorian Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale faces more child sex abuse charges
“Victorian police have charged Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale with more child sexual abuse offences(link is external) as part of an investigation into a number of alleged historical assaults. On Tuesday (Mar. 8), detectives from the Sexual Crimes Squad charged the 87-year-old with 24 charges related to sexual offenses, including sexual penetration of a person aged 10-16 and indecent assault.” By ABC

CANADA

Former B.C. seminary student suing estate of dead priest over alleged sexual abuse
“Vancouver’s Roman Catholic archbishop, a Mission Catholic seminary and a dead priest have been named as defendants in a lawsuit alleging sexual and physical abuse(link is external) dating to 1977. The complainant, known only by his initials, alleges Harold Vincent Sander, also known as Father Placidus, encouraged the 13-year-old seminary student to sketch his profile. It was in Sander’s private office that the boy’s pants and underwear were lowered to his ankles, according to a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on March 14.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, North Shore News

Papal meetings will address ‘legacy of suffering’ Indigenous face, Canadian bishop says
“Canada’s bishops have voiced hope that when delegations of Canadian Indigenous meet with Pope Francis next week (Mar. 28), the meetings will be an opportunity to reflect on the tragedies of the past and take steps toward further healing and reconciliation(link is external). Speaking to Crux, Johnathan Lesarge, a spokesman for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), expressed sorrow and remorse for the trauma experienced by Indigenous communities, and for the church’s role in the suffering they endured through the residential school system.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Cemeteries will not be sold to help compensate Mount Cashel victims, says archdiocese
“Uncertainty about the fate of cemeteries in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s has been put to rest following an agreement in principle that excludes the sacred properties from a historic and ongoing liquidation process(link is external). Evelyn Grondin-Bailey, a member of the St. Patrick’s cemetery committee in Burin, said Monday (Mar.14) she was ‘absolutely elated’ that the restored cemetery in her community will not be sold. ‘We were extremely happy to get that news,’ she said.” By Terry Roberts, CBC News

CHILE

Chile’s new leader puts bishops on notice over legacy of abuse scandals
“Gabriel Boric, the charismatic former student activist who swept to the presidency in Chile last December and is now the second-youngest head of state in the world, marked the end of his first week in charge on Friday (Mar. 18). There’s at least one group in Chile clearly put on notice there’s a new sheriff in town – the country’s Catholic bishops, who presided over the most massive clerical abuse crisis anywhere in Latin America(link is external).” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

GUIANA

Archbishop: ‘Many of our assets must be contributed’ to settle abuse cases
“Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes on Friday (Mar. 18) issued a much stronger call for the Catholic community to pull together more existing assets to help pay nearly 300 survivors of Guam clergy sexual assault(link is external) because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do, and it would end the Archdiocese of Agana’s three-year bankruptcy. Many of these assets must be contributed, he said. The archdiocese is under a March 25 deadline to offer a revised settlement offer to the creditors’ committee that represents mostly abuse survivors. Otherwise, the clergy sex abuse cases could go to trial.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post, in Kilgore News Herald

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Retired Catholic priest, 89, jailed after admitting historical sexual offenses
“A retired Catholic priest has been jailed after admitting to historical sexual offences carried out in the 1960s. Anthony Barker, 89, pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault(link is external) at Durham Crown Court on December 22, 2021. On Friday (Mar.11), Barker, of Queensway, Hexham, Northumberland, was sentenced to a 28-month custodial sentence and placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. The court heard how Barker abused a child in his care on the grounds of the former Ushaw College, a former Catholic seminary in Durham, north-east England.” By Gerard Donaghy, The Irish Post

LUXEMBOURG

Victims of sexual abuse continue to come forward
“Eleven people contacted the archdiocese in 2021 to report that they experienced sexual violence within the structures of the church(link is external). Specifically, the reports were made by three women and eight men. One of these individuals was over 18 years of age at the time the incident occurred. This means that ten people were minors when they were sexually assaulted. The incidents reportedly took place between 1940 and 2009.” By Roy Grotz, RTL.lu

NEW ZEALAND

Hundreds held after New Zealand-led investigation into images of child abuse
“A two-year investigation led by the authorities in New Zealand has resulted in the arrests of hundreds of people around the globe on charges of possessing and sharing child sexual abuse material(link is external), officials said on Wednesday (Mar. 2). Dozens of children were moved out of harm’s way as a result, the authorities said. The investigation, the largest of its kind led out of New Zealand, found a secret global networks that shared child sexual abuse images on a wide scale.” By Natasha Frost, The New York Times

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 14, 2022

TOP STORIES

Cardinal archbishop offers resignation on return from timeout
“A prominent Roman Catholic archbishop who faced strong criticism for his handling of the church’s sexual abuse scandal in Germany said Wednesday (Mar. 2) that he has offered his resignation to Pope Francis following a ‘spiritual timeout’ granted by the pontiff(link is external). Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, marked his return to work with a lengthy letter to the faithful in which said he was ‘not returning unchanged, as if nothing had happened in this time.’” By Greg Moulson, Associated Press

Bishop barred from public ministry in former diocese
“The former bishop of the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, Bishop Michael Hoeppner, will not return to do any ministry in the diocese and will have his retirement compensation cut(link is external), the diocese’s new shepherd announced on March 7. Hoeppner resigned on April 13, 2021 at the request of Pope Francis following a 20-month-long investigation into claims that he mishandled allegations of clergy sex abuse. He was 71 at the time – four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.” By John Levenburg, Cruxnow.com

Young Catholics say they need church leaders to listen, engage them more
“Catholic young people in the U.S. are leaving behind traditional models of learning about and living out their faith, and clergy, youth ministers and others will have to make some drastic changes(link is external) to their ministry style if they want to keep them engaged. That’s the bottom line of ‘The State of Religion & Young People 2021 — Catholic Edition,’ a report released Feb. 23 by Springtide Research Institute, a Minnesota-based nonprofit sociological research institute dedicated to exploring the spiritual lives of young people. Its current research focuses on the demographic ages 13-25, also known as Generation Z.” By Christina Lee Knauss, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Ex-bishop appointed by pope sentenced for sex abuse
“A retired Argentine bishop seen as close to Pope Francis was sentenced on Friday (Saturday, Mar. 5, in Manila) to four-and-a-half years in prison for sexually abusing two seminarians(link is external). A court in the northwestern town of Oran, where Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta was bishop from 2013 to 2017, ordered his immediate detention. The 57-year-old Zanchetta, who had traveled from the Vatican for the trial, was convicted of ‘simple, continued and aggravated sexual abuse,’ with his offense aggravated by his role as a clergyman.” By Agence France-Press in The Manila Times

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

A personal reflection on synodal listening session
Our pastoral care area, or PCA, for the synodal listening session consists of five parishes grouped together, based on proximity(link is external). The first session was Dec. 15. As I was going to the meeting, I ran into a young person near the church and struck up a conversation. He asked, ‘What is going on this evening?’ I threw the question back to him: ‘What do you think is happening?’ He replied, ‘I don’t know. I hear that there is going to be a big complaining meeting!’ ‘Complaining about what?’ I enquired. ‘I don’t know. I guess the church!’” By Teresia Mutiso, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic college leaders urged to listen up in synod sessions
“Although next year’s world Synod of Bishops on synodality may seem like it would be something far removed from U.S. Catholic college students, many are hoping that’s not the case. ‘Synodality is the chance to be creative in imagining the future of the church. Use this chance. … Catholic colleges and universities can make a contribution(link is external),’ a theologian told a group of Catholic college leaders in February. Massimo Faggioli, professor of historical theology at Villanova University, outside of Philadelphia, urged Catholic leaders … to be invested in the synod not only because Catholic colleges are a big part of the church but also because there is currently a ‘crisis of trust in institutions’ and Catholic colleges are not immune to it.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service

Where German Catholics & Pope Francis diverge: Germany’s ‘synodal way’ charts its own course to reform.
“Germany’s Synodale Weg (‘synodal way’), led by the German conference of bishops and the national committee of lay German Catholics (ZdK), assembled for the third time in February; it was likely a watershed moment in the German Church’s synodal process(link is external). Some 230 delegates, lay and clergy, debated and voted on over a dozen documents produced by working groups in four areas: power in the Church; the model of priesthood; women and ministries; and sexual morality in Church teaching.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

BISHOPS

Argentine bishops renew commitment to eradicating sex abuse after Bishop Zanchetta’s sentencing
“The Argentine Bishops’ Conference expressed Friday (Mar. 4) its closeness to the victims of Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, sentenced to prison for sexually abusing seminarians(link is external), and renewed their commitment to eradicate these abusive behaviors. ‘Having learned of the court ruling in which Gustavo Zanchetta, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, has been convicted, we want to express our closeness to the victims and express a strong and sincere request for forgiveness on behalf of the entire Church,’ the bishops said in a March 4 statement.” By Walter Sanchez Silva, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report

When we got a new bishop, he didn’t know about our archdiocese’s history of abuse. Then he listened to me and other victims.
“Shortly after Archbishop Donald Bolen was installed to serve as Archbishop of Regina, I and other victims reached out and requested to meet with him. We learned he was unaware of the area’s deep legacy of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). At the initial and subsequent meetings, he learned of the deep legacy of abuse and the painful, retraumatizing and broken process that myself and other victims were subjected to when they came to the church to report abuse. Those initial conversations resulted in an understanding and willingness on his part to walk with and work with victims.” By Pamela Walsh, America: The Jesuit Review

Warning to bishops: Please make sure the Eucharistic Congress isn’t a very expensive boondoggle
“In a report published last week, my colleague Brian Fraga surveyed a variety of opinions about the U.S. bishops’ planned eucharistic revival that begins in June and is set to culminate with a $28 million Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in 2024. Fraga’s reporting brought to mind a famous moment in the history of the Catholic Church in this country(link is external). On June 24, 1926, some 600,000 Catholics made their way by car or train to the campus of Mundelein Seminary for the great eucharistic procession that was the final act in the 28th International Eucharistic Congress in Chicago, the first to be held in the United States. Earlier that week, a Mass had been celebrated at Soldier’s Field and a variety of programs, Masses and confessions were held at Chicago’s many churches.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Religious Sister tells Mexican symposium: Women have an essential role in the Church
“Despite her short stature, Sister María Grazia Caputo, Representative of the Salesian International Institute Mary Help of Christians of the United Nations in Geneva and New York, has plenty of reasons to stand tall. And she’s had many opportunities to do so, when both men and women within the church tried to set her aside. ‘I have had the negative experience of men and women who tried to squash me or move me to the side(link is external),’ Caputo told Crux. ‘Each one of us is called to rediscover themselves as a gift from God, who has a project for us to carry out, and for which he has given us an identity. We do not need to be someone else to achieve what God has planned for us.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

The nun reshaping the role of women inside the Vatican
“Sister Nathalie Becquart, 53, a French Roman Catholic nun, was named to serve as under secretary of the Synod of Bishops, a summit of 250 bishops from around the world that will meet in Rome in 2023. She will become the first woman with a right to vote at such a high-level Vatican gathering(link is external).” By Celestine Bohlen, The New York Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican judge tosses defense motions as fraud trial advances
“The Vatican’s criminal tribunal on Tuesday (Mar. 1) resoundingly rejected defense motions to dismiss a landmark financial fraud case and ruled the trial will go ahead(link is external) with the questioning of a cardinal scheduled for later this month. Judge Giuseppe Pignatone read aloud his rejection of two-dozen defense arguments from the past seven months that sought to have the charges dropped against the 10 defendants. The case involves the Holy See’s bungled 350 million-euro (US$390 million) investment in a London property, though it has grown to involve other unrelated financial charges.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Sentencing due for Torrance nun who embezzled Catholic school funds
“The retired principal of a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, who as a nun took a vow of poverty, faces sentencing today (Mar. 8) for embezzling more than $835,000 in school funds to support a gambling habit and other personal expenses(link is external). Mary Margaret Kreuper, 80, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty in July to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges. Prosecutors recommend a 24-month prison sentence, three years of supervised release, and restitution. Kreuper’s sentencing position was sealed.” By City News Service on kfiam640.iheart.com

VOICES

Midlands voices: All victims of sexual abuse deserve chance at justice
“All victims of child sexual abuse deserve the chance to seek justice. Who could disagree? Two high-profile Nebraska public officials, that’s who. On Feb. 9, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson sent a representative to a Judiciary Committee hearing to publicly testify against LB 1200. That legislation would allow victims of child sexual abuse to sue public institutions(link is external) — like public schools and juvenile detention facilities — for their careless supervision of employees who sexually abuse children.” By Matt Heffron, Omaha World-Herald

Diocese of Albany fights release of records as former bishop contends he wants to help survivors
“When former Bishop Howard Hubbard penned an Op-ed in the Times Union just as the Child Victims’ Act was about to expire, his former diocese was facing more than 300 lawsuits from survivors of childhood sexual abuse. His words offered regret for mistakes made in the past and hope for reconciliation and healing, in spite of the fact that Hubbard himself was the target of some of the abuse allegations. Currently, the Diocese of Albany is fighting the release of internal documents that would surely shed light on how sexual predators were allowed to continue preying on innocent children.” By Joseph Saunders, LosAngeles.legalexaminer.com

The Whistleblower
“It’s near the end of Lent 2021, the Church busy season, and Father Boniface Ramsey, 75, bounds around St. Joseph of Yorkville Parish in New York City amid a hectic schedule. On this warm, early spring day as the city seemingly emerges, slowly and cautiously, from a yearlong pandemic, students at the parish school are playing on the street … For decades, Father Ramsey knew much about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct but found few willing to listen(link is external) and fewer still willing to do anything about it. ‘It would come up on occasion,’ Father Ramsey recalls, particularly when McCarrick was up for an ecclesial promotion or was the subject of a laudatory story. ‘Something would irritate me on all this. I would feel frustrated and not listened to.’” By Peter Feuerherd, FranciscanMedia.org

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Shocking statistics
“An extraordinary claim appeared in a column by Matthew Syed in the Sunday Times yesterday (Fe. 27), namely that up to a million Italian children have been abused by Italian priests since 1950(link is external). No-one can fail to have been shocked by such a figure, but from where does it originate? The answer is that it comes from a member of ‘The Abuse Network’ which is calling on the Church in Italy to investigate clerical sex abuse as has happened recently in France and Germany.” By David Quinn, Catholic Herald

‘I felt like I had to be there,’ says photographer Lisa Kessler, who documented aftermath of clergy sexual abuse crisis in Boston
“Twenty years ago, as the Globe’s Spotlight Team broke explosive stories about clergy sexual abuse of children, protests erupted outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, blocks away from photographer Lisa Kessler’s studio(link is external). She picked up her camera and went to the demonstrations. ‘I felt like I had to be there. I was the only person, certainly the only photographer, with access to all the different players,’ said Kessler, who is not Catholic. She had spent most of the 1990s as a photographer of record for the Archdiocese of Boston, traveling with church hierarchy and shooting for the Boston Pilot, the archdiocese’s official newspaper.” By Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe

CONNECTICUT

Woman accuses former Bridgeport priest of sexual abuse
“A woman is coming forward with sexual abuse allegations against a former Bridgeport priest. ‘Jane Doe’ said Fr. George Maslar sexually abused her twice in his car in 1971 when she was around 15 years old(link is external). ‘I never envisioned myself doing this,’ the woman said during a press conference Wednesday (Feb. 16). ‘I was too afraid. I felt ashamed as if it was my fault. Thinking about it made me physically sick.’ She said she met Maslar when both attended prayer meetings at the Cathedral of Saint Augustine in Bridgeport.” By Jenn Brink WTNH-TV8 News

INDIANA

Priest gets prison term for sexually abusing altar boy
“A western Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priest who sexually assaulted an altar boy for several years has been sentenced to 2½ to five years in state prison(link is external). The Rev. Andrew Mark Kawecki, of Greensburg will also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years once he’s freed from custody under the sentence imposed Thursday. He had pleaded no contest last October to indecent assault.” By The Associated Press

Suspended Indianapolis priest pleads guilty in minor sex abuse case
“An Indianapolis Catholic priest suspended amid allegations of sexual abuse involving a minor on Tuesday (Mar.8) agreed to plead guilty to one charge filed against him(link is external). According to the Hamilton Superior Court plea agreement, Fr. David Marcotte, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of dissemination of matter harmful to minors, a level 6 felony.” By Lucas Gonzalex, WRTV-TV News

MASSACHUSETTS

New allegation of abuse deemed credible against former Pittsfield priest
“A review board run by the Diocese of Springfield has upheld a new allegation of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest who served parishioners of a Pittsfield(link is external) church in the mid-1980s. The diocese said Wednesday it updated its roster of credibly accused priests to now reflect multiple allegations that Charles J. Sullivan sexually abused minors. Sullivan, who served the diocese from 1965 to 1992, died in 2014. He was assigned to St. Mary the Morning Star Parish in Pittsfield from 1984 to 1986.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Lawsuit alleges sexual abuse of student at Holbrook Catholic school in the 1980s
“An Auburn man has filed a negligence lawsuit accusing two now deceased priests of sexually abusing him while he was a student at a Catholic school in Holbrook(link is external) during the 1980s. The suit, filed Tuesday in Worcester Superior Court, alleges the abuse occurred at St. Joseph School when Gerry Nee, now 46, was 6 to 12 years old. The alleged abuse took place in confessionals and a vacant rectory, where one sexual assault left Nee in need of medical attention, according to the nine-page lawsuit.” By Tonya Alanez, The Boston Globe

MINNESOTA

Bishop Cozzens offers clarity regarding statuses of Msgr. Grundhaus and Bishop Hoeppner
“In a Mar. 7 letter to diocesan faithful, Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens offered clarity regarding the statuses of Msgr. Roger Grundhaus and Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner(link is external). According to the letter, Msgr. Grundhaus does not have faculties for public ministry in the Diocese of Crookston. The declaration is in effect for one year and will be reviewed at that time to determine if it should continue.” By Janelle C. Gerge, Crookston Diocese

MONTANA

Missoula Catholic schools president on leave following diocese investigation
“Missoula Catholic Schools President Luis Hayes has been placed on immediate paid administrative leave following an investigation(link is external), the Diocese of Helena announced. Former Loyola Sacred Heart High School Principal Kathy Schneider and former Athletic Director Jacob Alford will also remain on paid administrative leave for the remainder of the year. None of the three administrators on leave will be offered contracts to return in the fall, according to Bishop Austin Vetter.” By Skylar Rispens, Missoulian

NEW MEXICO

Catholic child sex abuse trial moved to February 2023
“The civil tort case referencing alleged abuse by the late Fr. David Holley against a John Doe while Holley was in Alamogordo in the 1970s will now be heard in February 2023(link is external). The case was originally set to begin in July 2022. According to court filings, more time was needed for discovery between the parties. Discovery, in the legal senses, means to exchange legal information and facts of the case between opposing attorneys so that all sides can know the facts of a case.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Archdiocese sues insurance companies over sexual abuse coverage
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, in the throes of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, sued four insurance companies this week, claiming they haven’t fulfilled their contracts to provide liability coverage for sexual abuse complaints(link is external). The archdiocese hopes to raise enough money, including through insurance payouts, to settle the bankruptcy case involving more than 400 people who allege they were victims of clergy sexual abuse, with some claims dating back decades.” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Nassau priest under investigation for child pornography
“The pastor of a Levittown church has been barred from services while Nassau County District Attorney’s office investigates him for possible possession of child pornography(link is external). According to News12, Father Joseph Nohs, a priest at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, is not allowed to present himself as a priest while the investigation is ongoing, the Diocese of Rockville Centre said.” By Alex Costello, Levittown Patch

Pre-trial battles form as Albany diocese fights release of records
“Last August, former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard reflected on his handling of decades of child abuse allegations in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, noting that his ‘most fervent prayer each day is that victims’ … But for many victims, according to their attorneys, the ‘healing’ they seek may rely on a full disclosure of why the diocese(link is external), as Hubbard has acknowledged, covered up the chronic sexual abuse for decades by secretly shuffling priests in and out of treatment, or moving them from parish to parish without warning congregations about their criminal behavior.” By Brendan J. Lyons, Albany Time Union

OKLAHOMA

Two more Mount St. Mary administrators out following sexual assault allegations
“Months after sexual assault allegations surfaced, two additional Mount St. Mary administrators have resigned. The school’s vice principal and a counselor have resigned. The announcement was sent to parents and students. Last year, Mount St. Mary conducted an independent investigation into sexual assault claims from current and former students(link is external). ‘At first I was really scared because, honestly, it’s just really traumatizing to have to deal with it again, it’s been a long time and I don’t like to even think about what happened,’ one woman said.” By Shelby Montgomery, KOCO-TV5 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pa priest gets prison term for sexually abusing altar boy
“A western Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priest who sexually assaulted an altar boy for several years has been sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in state prison(link is external). The Rev. Andrew Mark Kawecki, of Greensburg will also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years once he’s freed from custody under the sentence imposed Thursday. He had pleaded no contest last October to indecent assault.” By Associated Press

TENNESSEE

Knoxville Catholic diocese accused of improper sexual abuse investigation, lawsuit alleges
“An unnamed plaintiff is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville and its bishop, alleging the diocese did not properly investigate sexual abuse allegations against a former employee(link is external).

The complaint, filed Tuesday in Knox County Circuit Court, outlines in vivid detail several instances of sexual harassment and abuse the plaintiff said he suffered. It also makes several allegations about the bishop overreaching in an investigation of abuse claims, using information reported last year by a news agency.” By Liam Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel

VERMONT

‘Move Forward with Love’: Exhibit traces healing journey of abuse survivors
“The newest exhibit at the Vermont History Museum documents a painful legacy, but it’s one survivors of childhood abuse and trauma say needs to be heard(link is external) as part of their healing process. ‘This cannot be allowed to happen again,’ said Katelin Hoffman, referring to the abuse she experienced at the now-defunct St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington when she was in her early teens. Hoffman and others have reported they were routinely harmed at the facility that closed in 1974. Some said, as a particularly shocking example, they were even forced by staff to eat their own vomit when they were sick.” By Jack Thurston, NECN-TV

AUSTRALIA

Abuse survivor takes Archdiocese of Melbourne to trial over historical sexual abuse
“Oliver will never forget the day his life changed forever. It was the day a Catholic priest — a man he saw as God — abused his trust and allegedly set him on a path towards ‘shame, substance abuse and profound mental illness(link is external),’ the Supreme Court of Melbourne heard. ‘I was dead. He murdered me,’ Oliver told the court. ‘He murdered that boy, that little boy, that I used to be.’

In 1968, Oliver was sexually assaulted by Desmond Gannon — now known to be a notorious pedophile priest.” By Lucy MacDonald, ABC News

CANADA

Deal will see Mount Cashel abuse survivors and St. John’s parish get share of Chase the Ace cash
“A settlement has been reached involving millions of dollars raised in a Chase the Ace fundraiser for a St. John’s-area parish nearly five years ago(link is external). The cash got tangled up in ongoing insolvency proceedings involving the Roman Catholic church in eastern Newfoundland and efforts to compensate victims of historic abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage. An out-of-court settlement was reached Sunday (Feb. 27) night. The matter had been due to go before a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge Monday morning.” By Tony Roberts and Rob Antle, CBC News

GERMANY

German court convicts Catholic priest of abusing girls
“A German court on Friday (Feb. 25) convicted a Catholic priest of sexual abuse of children in cases that spanned many years(link is external) and sentenced him to 12 years in prison. The Cologne state court also ordered the 70-year-old to pay three co-plaintiffs in the cases damages totaling 50,000 euros ($56,000), news agency DPA reported. The priest was identified by local media only as Hans U. According to the indictment, the case against the priest covered 118 counts and the youngest victim was a 9-year-old girl.” By Associated Press

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Archbishop: Child abuse scandal shames us
“The new Archbishop of Glasgow yesterday (Feb. 27) said the Catholic Church should feel ashamed over the child abuse scandal while praising survivors for speaking out(link is external). William Nolan also insisted the Church must ‘change our ways to ensure what happened in the past does not happen again.’ His comments came as he was installed as the new leader of Scotland’s largest Catholic community at a mass in the city’s St Andrew’s Cathedral.” By Katrine Busey, The Sunday Post

GUAM

Judge’s ruling paves way for use of Catholic parish, school assets to help pay clergy sex abuse survivors
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Saturday (Feb. 26) afternoon issued a ruling that paves the way for the use of the assets of Catholic schools and parishes to help pay nearly 300 survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults(link is external). The judge found in favor of the committee representing mainly abuse survivors. The creditors committee, represented by attorneys Edwin Caldie and Andrew Glasnovich, asked the court to allow the inclusion of school and parish assets into the Archdiocese of Agana’s bankruptcy estate, so they could be used to compensate abuse survivors.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

INDIA

50-year-old priest arrested for uploading child pornography
“A 50-year-old priest has been arrested for allegedly uploading child pornography on social media in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur district(link is external). The accused has been arrested under sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO) 2012 and the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000. The complaint came from a US-based NGO. The police said that the complaint was made by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which is a US-based NGO. NCMEC found the content and informed the Indian authorities.” By TimesNewNews.com

INDONESIA

Timor-Leste acquits priest over false abuse case report
“A Timor-Leste court has acquitted a priest and several of his staff over writing a report in favor of a defrocked priest jailed for sexually abusing young girls(link is external). Father Herminio Fatima Goncalves, former chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of Dili Archdiocese, and three of his staff were on trial after being accused of authoring the controversial report that made wild and false allegations against police prosecutors, journalists and NGOs involved in the prosecution of Richard Daschbach.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

JAPAN

Bishops in Japan set March 18 as day of prayer for victims of sexual abuse
“Catholic bishops in Japan have dedicated the second Friday of Lent as a Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse(link is external). Archbishop Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, has requested Catholics to join in prayers for the victims and survivors of sex abuse on March 18, ucanews.com reported. Archbishop Kikuchi said that in recent years cases of sexual abuse by clergy have been reported in churches around the world, and investigations reveal that many similar cases existed way back in the past.” By Catholic News Service

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

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

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

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

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

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

PRIESTS

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

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

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

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

WOMEN’S VOICES

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

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

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

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

CALIFORNIA

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

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

LOUISIANA

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

NEW JERSEY

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

OHIO

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

SOUTH CAROLINA

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

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

VERMONT

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

WASHINGTON

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

CANADA

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

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

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

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

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

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

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

Portugal

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

SWITZERLAND

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


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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

August 9, 2021

TOP STORIES

Bishop: Albany diocese covered up priest abuse for decades
“The longtime former head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany says the diocese covered up sexual abuse by priests for decades and protected clergy by sending them to private treatment instead of calling police(link is external). Bishop Howard Hubbard, who ran the diocese in New York’s Capital District from 1977 to 2014 and has himself been accused of sexual abuse, made the admission in a statement issued through his lawyer to the Albany Times-Union in response to questions from the newspaper.” By Associated Press

Defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teenager in 1970s
“Defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged Wednesday (Jul. 28) with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College(link is external) in the 1970s, making him the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the United States to face criminal charges in the clergy sexual abuse scandal. McCarrick, 91, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who fraternized with popes and presidents before he was expelled from the priesthood over sexual abuse allegations, is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 in a criminal complaint filed by Wellesley Police in Dedham District Court.” By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe

Vatican trial opens into financial scandal rocking papacy
“A cardinal who allegedly induced an underling to lie to prosecutors. Brokers and lawyers who pulled a fast one over the Vatican No. 2 to get him to approve a disastrous real estate deal. A self-styled intelligence analyst who bought Prada and Louis Vuitton items with the Vatican money that she was supposed to send to rebels holding a Catholic nun hostage. Vatican prosecutors have alleged a jaw-dropping series of scandals in the biggest criminal trial in the Vatican’s modern history(link is external), which opens Tuesday (Jul. 27) in a modified courtroom in the Vatican Museums. The once-powerful cardinal and nine other people are accused of bleeding the Holy See of tens of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers and apparent favors to friends and family. They face prison sentences, fines or both if convicted.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

The Vatican revealed its real estate portfolio for the first time – and it includes over 5,000 properties
“On the eve of a trial for financial malfeasance connected to the Vatican’s purchase of a property in London, the office that handles most of the Vatican’s investment portfolio, including real estate, made public a summary of its annual budget for the first time. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, known by its Italian initials APSA, released its budget synthesis July 24, and its president, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, described it as ‘a step forward in the direction of transparency and sharing.’ APSA directly administers 4,051 properties in Italy and entrusts to outside companies the administration of some 1,200 properties in London, Paris, Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland(link is external), the report said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

ACCOUNTABILITY

Catholic Church approved legal fees from fund meant for residential school survivors: documents
“New details have emerged about the Roman Catholic Church’s controversial multimillion-dollar legal bill paid from a fund intended for residential school survivors(link is external). In documents obtained Friday (Jul. 30) by CBC News, one of the church’s lawyers admits that the money came from that fund and said everything was done with full approval of all 50 Canadian ‘Catholic entities’ contributing to the fund. Legal and ethics experts interviewed Friday (Jul. 30) say they’re horrified, calling it another example of the Catholic Church’s betrayal of survivors.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

Canadian priest banned after downplaying residential school abuse
“A Catholic priest in Canada has been banned from speaking publicly by the Archdiocese, after accusing Indigenous residential school survivors of physical and sexual abuse, of lying to get money in federal court settlements(link is external). Father Rheal Forest made the comments on July 10 during a sermon in St Emile Roman Catholic Church in Winnipeg where he was reportedly filling in for the church’s regular pastor. ‘If they wanted extra money, from the money that was given to them, they had to lie sometimes – lie that they were abused sexually and, oop, another $50,000,’ Forest said, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC). ‘It’s kind of hard if you’re poor not to lie,’ he reportedly said.” By Aljazeera.com

Millions meant for residential school survivors spent on Catholic Church lawyers, administration: documents
“The Roman Catholic Church spent millions of dollars that were supposed to go to residential school survivors on lawyers, administration, a private fundraising company and unapproved loans(link is external), according to documents obtained by CBC News. The documents include a host of other revelations. They appear to contradict the Catholic Church’s public claims about money paid to survivors. ‘There are also a large number of serious accounting discrepancies that are alarming to Canada,’ states one document, a 53-page federal government ‘factum’ summarizing the evidence in a 2015 court matter.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

As Cardinal Becciu goes to court, Francis’ financial reforms also on trial
“The Vatican is opening criminal proceedings on July 27 against Giovanni Angelo Becciu, a once-powerful cardinal demoted by Pope Francis last fall, and nine other defendants. They are charged with embezzlement and other crimes linked to a 2013 investment of a purported $240 million in a London real estate venture that kept swallowing money until it went bust, leaving an approximate $415 million Vatican loss. The trial marks an emboldened turn in Francis’ papacy, likely to surpass other forensic dramas in the chain of scandals since ‘Vatileaks’(link is external) … In the current trial, the prosecution’s web work of links among defendants has attacked the leaders of both the Vatican bank (formally, the Institute for the Works of Religion) and the Vatican’s wider financial watchdog apparatus.” By Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. churches reckon with traumatic legacy of Native schools
“The discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada have prompted renewed calls for a reckoning over the traumatic legacy of similar schools in the United States(link is external) — and in particular by the churches that operated many of them. U.S. Catholic and Protestant denominations operated more than 150 boarding schools between the 19th and 20th centuries, according to researchers. Native American and Alaskan Native children were regularly severed from their tribal families, customs, language and religion and brought to the schools in a push to assimilate and Christianize them.” By Peter Smith, Associated Press, in Longview News-Journal

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis agrees: Equal pay for women is long (long) overdue
“For modern interpreters of Catholic social teaching, there is little question that women deserve equal pay and a chance to build prosperous careers that align with their desires for family and home life. It has not always been so(link is external). ‘Rerum Novarum,’ the seminal 1891 papal encyclical on the dignity of work, explicitly said that women should be working primarily in the home, but Catholic thinking has evolved, Kate Ward, a professor of theology at Marquette University, told me. ‘Pope Francis even talks about how it can be O.K. for women to work and men to stay home,’ she said.” By John W. Miller, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis’ Reforms to Canon Law On Sexual Abuse: True Change Or Wishful Thinking?
“‘Every time there is a single incident of abuse in the Catholic Church it is a scandal. And I’m glad it is a scandal’ – Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ response to questions on the Catholic Church’s continued association with rape and abuse of children was, in many ways, an understatement(link is external) … Against this background, the latest changes in canon law on sexual abuse, enacted by Pope Francis, represent a conscious and significant drive to remedy the ills that have marred the history of the Church. The reforms make some key changes: it is now a crime under canon law to omit the reporting of abuse; furthermore, the Church now recognizes that vulnerable adults are susceptible to abuse from members of the clergy, and that laypeople who hold church office can now be sanctioned for similar sex crimes.” By Raef Murphy, The Oxford Student

CARDINALS

Cardinal urges religious to join local preparation for Synod of Bishops
“Consecrated virgins, hermits and members of religious orders, individually and as communities, should take part in the consultations for the Synod of Bishops, because ‘to ensure that the synodal church is not a mirage, but rather a dream to be realized, it is necessary to dream together, to pray together and to work together(link is external),’ said Cardinal João Braz de Aviz. The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, asked consecrated men and women to participate in the diocesan-level listening sessions scheduled to begin in October as the first step of preparation for the 2023 assembly of the Synod of Bishops, discussing the theme, ‘For a synodal church: communion, participation and mission.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Prosecution of Cardinal Becciu shows Francis’ reforms will be hard to reverse
“Cardinals are not called ‘princes of the Church’ for nothing, and (Cardinal Giovanni Angelo) Becciu had acquired more power than most(link is external): In his previous role as sostituto at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, he functioned somewhat like a White House chief of staff. On paper, both roles do not appear as consequential as they are, but in practice, both serve at critical choke points for virtually all decision-making. In previous pontificates, Becciu’s cardinal’s hat would have been enough to shield him from prosecution. If, before Francis, Becciu had been caught doing something illegal or even terribly wrong, he might have been posted to a different job, and given a sinecure, the way Cardinal Bernard Law was named archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore after he resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Libasci allegations part of a wave in New York brought on by temporary elimination of statute of limitations
“A lawsuit alleging the bishop of Manchester abused an altar boy(link is external) in the early 1980s is part of a wave of clergy abuse suits in New York, where a law passed in 2019 opened a temporary exemption from the statute of limitations. The exemption allows survivors of abuse decades ago to come forward with their claims, and seek recompense. The look-back window will close Aug. 14. Thousands of survivors of abuse in New York have come forward, including more than 200 lawsuits against the Diocese of Rockville Centre, where Bishop Peter A. Libasci served as a priest in the 1980s. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in September 2020.” By Josie Albertson-Grove, New Hampshire Union Leader

PRIESTS

Remembering why I became a priest
“The priesthood of the Catholic Church has always lived with the trappings of a kind of mystique, perhaps because of the celibacy. When the sexual abuse crisis in the church arose, that mystique was tarnished or even eroded. Parishioners no longer put priests on pedestals, and there may be something very good in that. I keep reminding myself that we’ve been called to walk with the people rather than to lead from on high(link is external). The result has become remembering why it was that I became a priest.” By Joe Juknialis, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Historic Vatican trial may change Catholic Church’s finances forever
“Ten Catholic clergymen and laypeople will answer charges of corruption and fraud from Vatican judges on Tuesday (July 27) in preparation for the largest trial ever held in the city-state and the first in memory to put a cardinal in the dock. But the trial is in many ways as much a test of Pope Francis’ ambitious effort to overhaul the Vatican’s financial and judicial system(link is external). For the first time ever, the Vatican released on Saturday (July 24) the annual report outlining the expenditures of its bureaucracy, known as the Curia, and its real estate and financial operations, known by its Italian acronym, APSA.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

CHURCH REFORM

McCarrick Case Could Begin ‘A New Era’ For Going After Church Leaders, Says Lawyer
“Defrocked ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick last week became the highest-ranking Catholic church official to be criminally charged for sexual abuse, for assault and battery on a 16-year-old boy in Wellesley in the 1970s. Meanwhile, in unrelated cases, the archdiocese of Boston settled six lawsuits last week with former leaders accused of assaults across the state ranging from 1966 to 1990. Jim Braude was joined on Greater Boston by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of victims of church abuse to talk about the church’s longstanding problem with sexual abuse in its ranks. Garabedian said the McCarrick case could represent ‘a new era’ for going after powerful leaders in the church, as more victims keep coming forward(link is external).” By WGBH-TV News, Boston

New survey shows most Catholics have no idea who Cardinal McCarrick is. That’s a problem.
“When the news broke on Thursday (July 29) that the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been criminally charged with sexual abuse of a minor, many Catholics likely felt justice was one step closer to being served. Others may have wondered anew how the former archbishop of Washington had been allowed to abuse seminarians and minors for decades. But a new survey shows that perhaps the likeliest response to the McCarrick news among Catholics was: Who?(link is external)” By Kerry Weber, Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

N.J. Catholic diocese sets up line to gather tips about suspected theft, fraud in parishes
“Two months after one of its priests admitted in court to pocketing $516,000 in parish funds, a New Jersey Catholic diocese is introducing a multi-step system that will allow people to anonymously report financial misconduct in their parishes(link is external). The Diocese of Metuchen — which includes churches in Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties — is partnering with an ethics consulting company to set up a telephone and online system to gather reports of ethics violations in its parishes, schools and cemeteries, church officials said.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

How limiting the Latin Mass may become the defining moment for Pope Francis
“People have wondered whether Francis will cause a permanent division in the church with his new ruling. That seems like the wrong question. The divisions were already there. — Pope Francis took sudden steps on July 16, 2021, to curtail the traditional Latin Mass, in an abrupt reversal of his predecessor’s policy(link is external). To non-Catholics — and many Catholics — the decision may seem on first glance to be a technical, even obscure action not worth very much attention. But it sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic Church. As a scholar who studies the Catholic Church’s relationship to the world, I believe the move may be the most important action Francis has taken in an eventful papacy.” Commentary by Steven P. Millies, Chicago Sun-Times

Tabloids, scandal and spying: The U.S. Catholic Church has hit a new, dangerous low point.
“On July 20, a Catholic online news commentary site, The Pillar, published a report alleging that Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill of the USCCB ‘engaged in serial sexual misconduct, while he held a critical oversight role in the Catholic Church’s response to the recent spate of sexual abuse and misconduct scandals’ … Rare is the story that manages to be so depressing in so many ways(link is external). Unpacking and analyzing Monsignor Burrill’s story, and how it came to light, is difficult because so many complicated issues are involved, each with distinct troubling threads with unclear implications. But when the story is broken down, as I have tried to do here in five points, it suggests a troubling thesis: The U.S. Catholic Church has entered a dangerous new reality.” By Zac Davis, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Former Cardinal Could Encourage Victims To Seek Help
“Next month, a former Catholic Cardinal will face criminal charges in Massachusetts for alleged sexual molestation. Theodore McCarrick is the highest ranking member of the U.S. Catholic clergy to be criminally charged with sex abuse. The charges stem from an alleged incident involving a teenage boy that happened more than 45 years ago. Many of the sex abuse cases involving boys and young men are not reported until the victims are adults(link is external), and in the past many such reports have been disbelieved.” By Harrison Patiño and Maureen Cavanaugh, WPBS-FM Public Media

A living Catholic tradition
“July 16, 2021 was a great day for the Roman Rite and for the legacy of the Second Vatican Council. Finally, after years of accommodating those who dislike or actually reject the liturgical reforms of the Council, the Catholic Church’s highest authority took a definitive step to re-establish the reformed rites as normative for the whole Latin Rite Church(link is external), without exception. Pope Francis, in his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, not only firmly abrogated Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum pontificum (2007) which had ‘freed’ the older rites, allowing them to be celebrated by any priest at any time, he also declared and established that the reformed liturgy is ‘the unique lex orandi [law of prayer]’ of the Church today.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

Editorial: Another big step in Johnstown man’s mission on behalf of abuse victims
“Shaun Dougherty’s quest to support victims of child sexual abuse has reached a new level(link is external) with his appointment as board president for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The Westmont man is the face of the push for justice on behalf of adult victims in Pennsylvania, and now takes his knowledge, energy and passion to the national and international levels with his SNAP appointment, where his fierce lobbying efforts can have an even greater impact.” By Dave Sutor, The Tribune-Democrat

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Two suits filed under new law that expands time for sex abuse claims
“Two lawsuits have been filed under a new Louisiana law that gives child abuse victims a chance to file suits for old claims(link is external). The bill took effect Sunday (Aug. 1), and allows victims of sex abuse to file suits against anyone involved for the next three years. If someone was convicted in connection with the abuse, there is no limit on filing suits. Previous law allowed people to file suit for ten years after their 18th birthday.” By KATC-TV3 News

PA Supreme Court ruling sets back victims, spares Erie diocese from slew of lawsuits
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit that sought to create a way for child sexual assault claimants to sue in old cases(link is external), further hindering victims’ search for justice while sparing Roman Catholic dioceses statewide millions of dollars in potential claims involving abusive clergy. In northwestern Pennsylvania, the ruling in the case, issued Wednesday (Jul. 21), severely erodes the legal efforts of as many as 30 sexual abuse claimants who were seeking compensation from the Catholic Diocese of Erie.” By Ed Palattella, Erie Times-News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Lists of abusive priests remain obscure and incomplete. That much change.
“The Catholic Church’s attempt to repair the damage caused by decades of priestly abuse would be vastly improved by a full, transparent, easy-to-use national list of abusive clerics(link is external). And no, that still doesn’t exist. Two years ago, many dioceses — but not all — began publishing lists of priests ‘credibly accused’ of abusive behavior. But these are too often incomplete, as well as difficult to find and use.” By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

Male survivors of sexual abuse struggle to find treatment
“The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 men have been sexually victimized at some point. It’s a largely silent epidemic despite revelations of abuse by Catholic priests and Boy Scout leaders(link is external). Not confronting this issue only makes recovery harder. Rachel Rock brings us one man’s search for support. Jim Holland says he was raped by a priest when he was 13 years old. He locked his trauma away for 30 years, held it at bay with drinking, drugs and promiscuity. The 2003 Boston Globe Spotlight investigation of priest sexual abuse triggered Holland’s memories.” By Ari Shapiro and Rachel Rock, National Public Radio WWNO-FM New Orleans

Catholics weigh in on abuse scandal 3 years after McCarrick and Pennsylvania report
“Although many Catholics’ memories of the clergy sex abuse scandals that rocked the U.S. church in 2018 have dimmed, a majority of those who recalled the scandals said in a survey they felt more positive about the church’s progress in confronting the issue. Overall, 76% of respondents in the survey, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, said sexual abuse of minors by clergy has hurt the church’s reputation ‘at least somewhat(link is external).’ The report, commissioned by America Media, the Jesuit ministry, was released July 19.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

ILLINOIS

Former Oakland County priest faces trial in sex abuse case
“A former priest in Oakland County charged with sexually assaulting a youth(link is external) decades ago is heading to trial, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday (Jul. 21). Gary Berthiaume was bound over on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony, after a ruling by 47th District Court Judge James Brady, state officials said.” By Mark Hicks, The Detroit News

LOUISIANA

‘Justice will prevail:’ Man alleging sexual abuse at Holy Cross camp sues after filing restrictions lift
“After he says he was molested by a religious brother at a Holy Cross School summer camp(link is external) decades ago, John Losteau needed medication to control his anxiety and manage what he calls his ‘dumpster fire, train wreck’ of a life. He thought for years that he had forever lost the chance to file a lawsuit seeking damages for his alleged abuse when he turned 28. But a new law went into effect Sunday (Aug. 1) opening a three-year ‘lookback window’ in which survivors could come forward with child molestation claims no matter how old they were, and Lousteau was among the first in line.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4News

MASSACHUSETTS

Catholic priest at Norwood church, school accused of fondling 11-year-old girl
“The Boston archdiocese has settled a Norton man’s claim that higher-ups in the institution failed to protect him when he was 11 years old and sexually abused by a priest in Norwood(link is external). Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, well-known for representing sexual abuse victims in claims against the archdiocese, said in a news release Wednesday (Jul. 28) that a settlement in the ‘high five figures’ was reached last month.” By Mary Whitfill, The Patriot Ledger

MICHIGAN

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw removes priest from ministry due to sexual misconduct allegations
“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has permanently removed one of its priests from duty, years after the priest was accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). On Friday, July 23, Bishop Robert Gruss removed the Rev. Ronald J. Dombrowski from ministry, the diocese said in a statement. The diocese had suspended Dombrowski in March 2018 as a ‘precautionary measure’ after someone reported to the agency that Dombrowski sexually abused them as a minor. No criminal charges have been filed against Dombrowski.” By Cole Waterman, MLive.com

Former Michigan priest to face trial for alleged sex abuse of 14-year-old boy
“A former Catholic priest will go to trial for sexual abuse against a minor(link is external), officials announced today. An Oakland County judge ruled today, July 21, that there is enough evidence against Gary Berthiaume, 80, to bound him over to circuit court for trial on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC), a 15-year felony.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MISSISSIPPI

Man alleging sexual abuse as a child in Mississippi sues Franklin-based Catholic order
“A 32-year-old man who alleges he was sexually abused by a Franciscan brother(link is external) while in elementary school in Mississippi has sued the Wisconsin-based religious order. In the federal lawsuit filed Monday (Jul. 26), Raphael Love’s attorneys argue the abuse and a campaign to silence him have caused ‘permanent and debilitating damage’ and have negatively influenced the course of his life. ‘It’s typical with abuse victims, and I’ve represented many of them, that the trajectory of a victim’s life is changed completely by the abuse,’ Love’s Seattle-based attorney, Phillip Aaron, told the Journal Sentinel.” By Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

NEW JERSEY

Howell ex-pastor acquitted in sexual abuse case: ‘I pray for the accuser’
“Under the cloud of sexual abuse allegations for almost three years, the former longtime pastor of St. Veronica R.C. Church in Howell walked out of the Monmouth County Courthouse(link is external) Friday (Jul.23) after a judge acquitted him of the charges, and said he will continue to pray for his accuser. After Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor found the 80-year-old priest not guilty of three counts of sexual assault on a child more than two decades ago, the Rev. Henry Brendan Williams said he was ‘certainly very relieved’’ by the verdict.” By Kathleen Hopkins, Asbury Park Press

NEW YORK.

Bishop acknowledges child predators were sent for ‘treatment’
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany engaged in a decades-long cover-up of chronic child sexual abuse committed by its priests(link is external) by employing practices described in a recent statement from former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who ran the diocese from 1977 to 2014. Hubbard’s statement, issued through his attorney in response to a series of questions from the Times Union, confirmed that the diocese shielded priests and others facing sexual abuse allegations — sending them into private treatment programs rather than contacting law enforcement officials or alerting parishioners. Some of those priests allegedly emerged from treatment and committed more crimes.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times Union

Ogdensburg Catholic diocese named in another child sex abuse case
New accusations of child sexual abuse have been made public(link is external) against the Ogdensburg Catholic Diocese under New York’s Child Victims Act. The deadline for people to file a claim of abuse is August 13. An attorney representing victims in New York State says 43 people from priests, teachers, and lay members of Diocese of Ogdensburg have been named in one or more public claims of child sex abuse.” By Celia Clarke, North County Public Radio

Clergy accused of sex abuse made public
“A New York City law firm introduced an updated public database Thursday (Jul. 22) with 13 new alleged perpetrators accused of child sexual abuse(link is external) in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, filed under the Child Victims Act this year as the law’s lookback window nears it closing deadline.” By Kate Lisa, Hudson Valley 360, Johnson Newspaper Corp.

PENNSYLVANIA

Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg releases following statement regarding Rev. David Danneker
“Today, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg released the following statement regarding Rev. David Danneker. Rev. Danneker most recently served in the role of vicar general and moderator of the curia. ‘The Diocese of Harrisburg has received allegations of adult misconduct(link is external) made against Rev. Danneker. While this matter does not involve a child, we are taking the accusations seriously. Accordingly, a full investigation, conducted by an outside third party, has been launched to review the matter.’” By Diocese of Harrisburg

RHODE ISLAND

A R.I. priest was charged with sexual assault, but the case remains in limbo
“State authorities are quietly prosecuting a sexual assault case against a former Diocese of Providence priest(link is external). Edward Kelley, 79, had relocated to South Carolina, where he was arrested in mid-May on a warrant out of Rhode Island, according to court records. He was later brought to Rhode Island, where he faces an indictment on three counts of first-degree sexual assault dating to 1983 in North Smithfield.” By Brian Amaral, The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON

Abuse claims involving Sister Delores Crosby settled; she also worked at Edmonds’ Holy Rosary School
“The Archdiocese of Seattle on Friday announced final settlements totaling $165,000 for two separate cases involving allegations of sexual abuse by Sister Dolores Crosby(link is external) in the 1980s, when she served as principal at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School in Seattle from 1979 to 1992. Crosby also taught at Edmonds’ Holy Rosary School from 1973 to 1978. Crosby, who died in 2007, was also principal at Immaculate Conception School in Everett from 1992 to 1999. In 1999, Crosby surrendered her credentials for teaching and administration when an individual brought forward an allegation of inappropriate contact that took place in the 1980s.” By MyEdmondsNews.com

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin clergy abuse inquiry: AG Kaul provides update
“Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on Tuesday, July 27, provided an update on the statewide inquiry into clergy and faith leader abuse(link is external). The review of such abuse cases was announced in April as the first statewide independent review. Since then, Kaul said the state has received dozens of reports. ‘What we are doing is encouraging survivors to report,’ Kaul said. ‘We have received over 100 reports through this reporting system, many of who are reporting previously reported, but some of the people are reporting for the first time.’” By Christina Van Zeist, FOX-TV6 News Milwaukee

AUSTRALIA

Abuse survivors of now-deceased priest line up to seek compensation
“The first in a series of civil cases seeking compensation for abuse survivors and victims of a now-deceased pedophile priest(link is external) is expected to begin in the Supreme Court on Monday (Jul. 26). Bryan Coffey was found guilty in 1999 of 14 charges relating to indecent assaults on seven boys and one girl that took place across four Victorian parishes between 1960 and 1975. The complainants are seeking compensation for loss of income, pain and suffering, and medical expenses, and include children who were allegedly abused by Coffey in the south-west Victorian towns of Port Fairy, Terang and Yambuk, as well as Ouyen in the Mallee.” By Matt Neal, ABC South West Victoria

Legal payout brings hope for other victims of pedophile priest
“As the first of Kevin O’Donnell’s victims to report the pedophile priest to police(link is external), he paved a courageous path for other abuse survivors to follow. Now, he hopes the $1.375 million he will receive from the Catholic Church will stand as a landmark settlement that assists O’Donnell’s other victims who are seeking compensation. ‘I never let go of the bone. I just kept fighting it. I thought, ‘this is not right,” said BTZ, as he is known in legal files.” By Adam Cooper, The Age

CANADA

Quebec priest sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for sex crimes against minors
“A Quebec priest has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing minors at a Catholic boarding school(link is external) more than three decades ago. Jean Pilon, 79, was then sentenced to three and a half years in prison for his crimes. Before that, he heard victim impact statements from nine of his victims, including Brian Ford. Ford has been waiting a long time to see Pilon brought to justice.” By Global News

Roman Catholic Church to begin selling off properties to settle abuse claims
“Two properties belonging to the Archdiocese of St. John’s will be going up for sale in the coming weeks, the first of many properties to be put on the market. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s says it is continuing to work to address the abuse at Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s(link is external), for which the NL Court of Appeal held the Church responsible earlier this year. Archbishop Peter Hundt shared a statement on Sunday which was read aloud at masses throughout the diocese.” By VOCM.com

Saskatoon Catholic Diocese releases details on nine sexual assault and misconduct cases
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has released details about nine historical cases involving sexual abuse and misconduct(link is external) that were investigated as part of the Safer Churches, Safer communities Safeguarding Action Plan. The March 2020 commitment by the diocese involves reviewing historical cases of serious misconduct reported over the last 60 years in the diocese. The review released in July only involved complaints for which the investigation of the report had concluded.” By Kelly Skjerven, Global News

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Former priest speaks out over Cardinal Keith O’Brien abuse
“Brian Devlin was one of four whistleblowers who detailed a litany of allegations against the man who was the Catholic Church’s most senior cleric in Britain, prompting his resignation and admission of sexual misconduct(link is external). Eight years on, Devlin has spoken out for the first time about the man he considered a friend, mentor, and teacher, and outlined suggestions for reforms he believes could help end the “silence, secrets and omertà” in the church.” By Martyn McLaughlin, The Scotsman

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Sisters ‘released from shame that had haunted them’ as ex-priest who abused them as children is jailed
“Two sisters have said they have been ‘released from the shame which has haunted  then after a former Donegal priest was jailed for 15 months for the horrific sexual abuse he inflicted upon them when they were children(link is external). Con Cunningham, now aged 86, pleaded guilty before Letterkenny Circuit Court today to eight counts of indecent assault between 1971 and 1975. Passing sentence Judge John Aylmer said the abuse had had an appalling impact on the lives of victims Margaret and Paula Martin.” By Stephen Maguire, The Independent

Irish Jesuit Order statement regarding Joseph Marmion
“A statement from the Irish Jesuit Order following the publication of some of the contents of an inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) against Father Joseph Marmion during his time as a teacher at Belvedere College in Dublin during the 1970s … ‘After the naming in public of Joseph Marmion SJ last March the Jesuits in Ireland appealed for anyone who had any complaints, concerns or questions to contact our Safeguarding Office.’” By The Irish Times

NEW ZEALAND

Priest accused of abusing a child had links to two Wellington schools
“A priest accused of sexually abusing a child had historic links to two Wellington Anglican schools(link is external), with parents at one – Chilton Saint James in Lower Hutt – informed of the links on Monday (Aug. 2). During her testimony to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care two weeks ago, Joanna Oldham accused Reverend Ray Oppenheim of sexually abusing her when she was a young girl. She said that, when she was nine years old, Oppenheim molested her and took indecent photos of her three times before an uncle found out and put a stop to it.” By Tom Hunt, Stuff

Brave witness shares underwhelming experience with the Catholic church
“A brave witness at the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Pacific Investigation has shared her experience of coming forward to the Catholic Church and police about the abuse her relative suffered by a Catholic priest(link is external). The witness known as Ms. CU spoke on behalf of her niece, who was 15-years-old at the time of the abuse. She explained the Tongan society is very hierarchical, saying that ministers, priests and nuns elevate in both status and authority because of the godly factor.” By Sela Jane Hopgood, RNZ Pacific Journalist

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 30, 2021

TOP STORIES

New Vatican laws on clergy abuse not enough, says former papal commissioner
“A respected former member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse has expressed disappointment in the recent revision of the criminal section of the Catholic Church’s canon law, saying the changes do not go far enough to protect children and vulnerable adults from possible predators(link is external). Marie Collins, an Irish survivor who resigned in frustration from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2017, pointed during a June 15 webinar to the fact that the new provisions do not mandate that a priest found guilty of abuse be removed from any office he may hold, or from the priesthood.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

A Vatican office rallies the strength of the laity
The Holy See’s Dicasteries recounted from the inside: history, goals and mission – a look at how the offices work that support the Pope’s ministry. The prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, describes the work of his office in this interview.
Five years in existence and three areas of competence as big as the world can be summarized in a single word: laity(link is external). Pope Francis created this new structure of the Holy See in response to his wish to bring together men and women of every background, culture and part of the world. The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life is the privileged place and observatory to discern and promote all that can give prominence to the lay vocation in the Church and the world … The aim is to promote reflection in anthropological, moral, and philosophical areas, as well as action in political, economic, and ethical spheres in order to protect and promote the dignity of human life..” By Alessandro De Carolis

The abuse crisis and the elusive horizon of a repenting church
“The Catholic Church enjoyed a bit of a renewed honeymoon with the global media after the May 21st announcement of the ‘synodal process 2021–2023.’ But the love fest lasted only about a week.(link is external) It was brought to an abrupt and ugly end when law enforcement officials in Canada discovered 215 unmarked graves of indigenous children at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia. International organizations quickly demanded that the Church in Canada and the Holy See admit responsibility for the tragedy … For the Catholic Church in the 21stcentury, the present is unmanageable, the future continues to slip away, and the hope of a fresh start has become elusive.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

In Canada, Another ‘Horrific’ Discovery of Indigenous Children’s Remains
“The remains of 751 people, mainly Indigenous children, were discovered at the site of a former school in the province of Saskatchewan, a Canadian Indigenous group said on Thursday (Jun. 24), jolting a nation grappling with generations of widespread and systematic abuse of Indigenous people. The discovery, the largest one to date, came weeks after the remains of 215 children were found in unmarked graves on the grounds of another former boarding school(link is external) in British Columbia. Both schools were part of a system that took Indigenous children in the country from their families over a period of about 113 years, sometimes by force, and housed them in boarding schools, where they were prohibited from speaking their languages.” By Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky, The New York Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Synodality? What’s Synodality?
The USCCB just isn’t into it, and that’s a problem.
“This necessarily means a rebalancing of power in the Church—not only between the clergy and the laity or between men and women, but also (for example) between the power of money and the contributions of the voiceless. Therefore, even though the bishops are in charge, the synodal process requires a mobilization of the entire Church(link is external) … All have the opportunity to play an important role during the next two years. If everything is left to the vertical institution of the Church, this two-year ‘synodal process’ will simply perpetuate an ecclesiastical order that works only for an increasingly small number of people—that is, for clerics and the clericalized laity.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

UN rights experts urge Vatican to halt child sex abuse
“A group of United Nations human rights experts said Monday (Jun.21) they had urged Pope Francis and the Vatican to take steps to stop child sex abuse in Catholic institutions and prevent it from happening again(link is external). The experts called on ‘the Holy See to take all necessary measures to stop and prevent the recurrence of violence and sexual abuse against children in Catholic institutions, and to ensure those responsible are held to account and reparations are paid to victims.’ The four special rapporteurs, who do not speak for the United Nations but report their findings to it, wrote to the Vatican on April 7.” By Buenos Aires Times

Vatican regulates lay movements to prevent governance abuses
“The Vatican took steps Friday (Jun. 11) to better regulate Catholic lay religious movements(link is external) by imposing term limits on their leaders and requiring internal elections to be representative of their memberships. The Vatican’s laity office cracked down on the largely unregulated world of international associations of the faithful after some cases of abuses of authority and bad governance had been reported.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on MyJournalCourier.com

POPE FRANCIS

Francis names Oblate priest new secretary of papal clergy abuse commission
“Pope Francis has named Oblate Fr. Andrew Small secretary ‘pro tempore’ of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external). Small, 53, had served two terms as national director for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, and his successor there was named in April. The Vatican June 22 announced Small’s appointment to the commission, which Pope Francis established in 2014. The body of experts, with input from survivors, is meant to make proposals and spearhead initiatives to improve safeguarding norms and procedures throughout the church. Its work is separate from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s investigation and canonical prosecution of clerics accused of abuse.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

German says Pope made right call when he refused Cardinal’s resignation over abuse crisis
“A leading German bishop says Pope Francis made the right decision when he refused the resignation of German Cardinal Gerhard Marx(link is external), who had asked the pope to release him from his role as archbishop of Munich in an attempt to assume collective responsibility for the clerical sexual abuse scandals. ‘It creates security for the others: You never know for what mistake a bishop might be obliged to resign,’ said Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Carinal says Church law on abuse will need ‘continuous updating’
“Cardinal Oswald Gracias says the Church was trying to ‘answer present-day needs’ when it revised the section on canon law dealing with penal matters, but also noted Church law on abuse will need ‘continuous updating(link is external).’ Under the new version of the code promulgated at the beginning of the month, there is new chapter on “Offenses Against Human Life, Dignity, and Liberty,” covering matters of abuse.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

German cardinal’s resignation, refused by pope, reinvigorates church reform
“Pope Francis rejected the resignation of German Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s on Thursday (June 10), but the news did little to calm the shockwaves Marx’s move sent through the Vatican and supporters of Germany’s controversial Synodal Path movement(link is external), who view the prelate as their champion. In a letter published June 4, Marx offered his resignation to Francis in light of the sexual abuse scandals shaking the church in Germany and beyond, which Marx said was ‘also caused by our personal failure, by our own guilt.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

CCCB Statement – Delegation to the Holy See
“The Catholic Bishops in Canada have genuinely heard the sincere invitation to engage wholeheartedly with the past and are deeply committed to take truly meaningful active steps together with Indigenous Peoples in view of a future filled with greater respect and cooperation. The recent discovery of children’s remains at a burial site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia reminds us of a tragic legacy still felt today(link is external). With the strong encouragement of Pope Francis, the Bishops of Canada have pledged true and deep commitment to renewing and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land.” By the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Poland’s embattled bishops to meet with Pope Francis
“When Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, a retired Polish prelate, was sanctioned by the Vatican in late May for mishandling sexual abuse by his clergy, it was just the latest blow to the once-unsullied image of the country’s Catholic Church. In recent days, there have been reports that the Polish bishops have been specially summoned to Rome in the fall by Pope Francis because of a spate of sexual abuse cases(link is external) that have rocked the country’s church. Although officials have denied the accuracy of the reports, they nonetheless signal the deep unease now afflicting religious life in Europe’s most Catholic country.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Can the US bishops grasp Pope Francis’ ecclesial vision?
“When Cardinal Reinhard Marx published his remarkable and unexpected letter of resignation as archbishop of Munich and Freising on June 4, religion reporters, theologians and members of the hierarchy jumped on the phone to try and make sense of it. Some writers foolishly rushed into print with analysis … Francis did not accept the cardinal’s resignation. Again he surprised us. Not only that, his response to the German cardinal was so spiritually rich, and so provocative in its understanding of the source of episcopal authority(link is external), it could well serve as the starting point for the discussion the U.S. bishops will have at their spring meeting later this week. The pope’s vision might yet save the bishops’ conference from its worst instincts.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Irish bishops choose woman to head steering group for synodal pathway
“The Irish Catholic bishops have chosen a laywoman to head preparations for a national synod, due to be held in the next five years(link is external). Nicola Brady has worked in a number of peace-building roles, both nationally and internationally, and currently works on building relations between the Christian traditions in Ireland. Bishops meeting virtually for their summer 2021 plenary meeting announced June 16 that Brady will head up a new synodal steering group to make preparations.” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

VATICAN

Vatican to seek dismissal of Guam rape case
“The Holy See, or the Vatican, will be seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed against it by a former Catholic school student who claimed that former Archbishop Anthony Apuron raped him(link is external) in the mid-1990s. ‘The Holy See intends to file a motion to dismiss based upon numerous grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficient services of process and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,’ the Vatican’s legal team said in court filings. That motion would detail the team’s defense against claims that the Vatican is liable for an archbishop’s rape and molestation of children, among other things.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

Vatican regulates lay movements to prevent governance abuses
“The Vatican took steps Friday (Jun. 11) to better regulate Catholic lay religious movements by imposing term limits on their leaders and requiring internal elections to be representative of their memberships. The Vatican’s laity office cracked down on the largely unregulated world of international associations of the faithful after some cases of abuses of authority and bad governance(link is external) had been reported. Canon lawyers and theologians said the crackdown was perhaps a sign that other lay movements, which have flourished over the last half-century but were largely left to govern themselves, might be similarly targeted.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH REFORM

Voice of the Faithful 2021 Conference will feature well-known theologian and women religious leader
“An internationally recognized theologian and author and the leader of an organization representing thousands of women religious will speak at Voice of the Faithful’s 2021 Conference Re–Membering the Church: Moving Forward(link is external). Overall, this year’s VOTF conference will look closely at the body of the Catholic Church to see how structure, power, participation, and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world.” By PRZen on DigitalJournal.com

CHURCH FINANCES

No Vatican-NZ money-laundering probe
“Media coverage of a spectacular error in an Australian financial authority’s reporting of financial transactions from the Vatican to Australian(link is external) accounts earlier this year prompted some Catholic figures to mention possible New Zealand connections, as part of a wider discussion about money-laundering between nations. But New Zealand Police have told NZ Catholic that the New Zealand Financial Integrity Unit ‘has not commenced any money-laundering investigations in relation to the transfer of funds between the Vatican and New Zealand.’” By Michael Otto, New Zealand Catholic

Nun who ran Torrance Catholic school will plead guilty to stealing funds that financed gambling habit
“A nun who ran a Catholic elementary school in Torrance agreed to plead guilty to stealing more than $ 835,000 from school funds(link is external) to pay her personal expenses, including gambling habits. Mary Margaret Kluper, 79, was charged with one wire fraud and one money laundering charge on Tuesday, according to the California Central District Federal Attorney’s Office. The judicial transaction was submitted with the billing documents. Kluper’s lawyer, Mark Burn, said he was ‘extremely regretful of what happened’ about how Kluper became a nun at the age of 18 and devoted his life to helping others.” By California News Times

As new report released, Vatican bank chief says ‘bad old days’ are done
“With release of an annual report showing a healthy profit in 2020 despite the Coronavirus pandemic, Friday capped what’s already been a good run in June for the Institute for the Works of Religion, the so-called ‘Vatican bank,’ including good grades from Europe’s top financial watchdog and a key recognition by the IRS in America. In tandem with other milestones in recent years, President Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, the French economist and banker who’s led the IOR since 2014, believes June 2021 marks an historic turning point. ‘I think we can say,’ de Franssu told Crux, ‘that the era of the old Vatican bank is ove(link is external)r.’ By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

Sardinia charity linked to ousted Vatican cardinal searched
“Italian police searched the offices of a Sardinian charity and diocese on Wednesday (Jun. 9) on behalf of Vatican prosecutors who are investigating a once-powerful cardinal on alleged embezzlement charges(link is external). Lawyers for Cardinal Angelo Becciu said in a statement that any and all documentation seized would only serve to confirm the absolute correctness of the behavior’ of Becciu, the charity and the diocese of Ozieri. Pope Francis sacked Becciu as head of the Vatican’s saint-making office and stripped him of his rights and privileges as a cardinal in September, amid a crackdown on financial mismanagement and corruption in the Holy See.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Watchdog group: Vatican needs to improve handling of financial crimes
“Moneyval, the European financial watchdog committee, said that while the Vatican has made progress in combatting financial crimes, its investigations into potential crimes committed by senior officials needs more fine-tuning(link is external). The group, also known as the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, released its assessment of the Vatican’s compliance with financial regulation standards June 9. The 275-page report was published after experts from Moneyval conducted a two-week onsite inspection of the Vatican in October.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, America: The Jesuit Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Joe Biden, the Bishops & Vatican II: The Battle Over the Brand of U.S. Catholicism
“With the Catholic Church now besieged by scandal, financial collapse and an extraordinary exodus of the faithful hastened by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are good reasons to be worried that the bold experimental spirit of Vatican II, its hope for a church engaged with the world, is at its end(link is external) in these Biden years. Many Catholics could be tempted to indulge hopes that the Biden administration could be a new beginning for the council’s spirit of engagement with the world if Mr. Biden can excite Americans about Catholicism—while at the same time exciting Catholics about the goodness of our political obligations.” By Steven P. Millies, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Thomas Merton’s wisdom for a church in crisis
“It’s striking how timely those opening observations (of Thomas Merton’s) are 57 years later. Indeed, the church, at least within the United States, is facing a crisis(link is external). And, as I have written here before, part of what contributes to the crisis is the refusal of many bishops to recognize the ongoing creative power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, they double down on their own sense of self-assurance and the mistaken belief that they — and they alone — are responsible for the success or failure of Christ’s church. This is part of what I see playing out in their reduction of the Blessed Sacrament to an idolatrous token of political partisan approval or as a blasphemous weapon to be used in controlling the people of God.” By Daniel P. Horan, OFM, National Catholic Reporter

The collapse of the US bishops’ conference
What we witnessed last week at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring meeting was outrageous(link is external). As mentioned in my last column, bishops questioned each other’s motives without any objection from the chair. Bishops argued that this push to draft a document on the Eucharist was not motivated by politics, but then had to acknowledge that the idea came from a working group formed to cope with the Biden administration. And, in what would appear funny were it not so tragic, every time the principals in the effort to draft the document explained that they were not motivated by politics, that this effort was not directed at any one individual, one of the culture warrior backbenchers would get up and mention President Joe Biden by name.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church response to sexual abuse must center on survivor well-being, not defensiveness
“In light of the recent discovery of 215 Indigenous children in unmarked graves at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia and investigations at other former residential schools, there have been renewed calls for the Pope to apologize for residential schools and for the Catholic Church to release its records(link is external). The story has also turned public scrutiny on how the Catholic Church has responded to other calls to apologize and be accountable to victims in cases of sexual abuse both in residential schools and throughout the church.” By Beth Daley, TheConversation.com

Church For Residential Schools: Experts
Too few people in charge of residential schools have faced legal consequences for ‘crimes against humanity” committed against Indigenous children, experts say.
Following the discovery of the remains of 215 undocumented children, some as young as 3, under a former residential school in British Columbia, calls are mounting for leaders and staff of residential schools to be punished. Starting in the 1800s, residential schools were funded by the Canadian government and operated by churches to forcibly assimilate an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children. More than half of all schools were Catholic-run. Sweeping physical and sexual abuses, disease, and malnutrition were rampant, and up to 15,000 children, many undocumented, were killed nationwide(link is external). The last school only closed its doors in the mid-1990s.” By Anya Zoledziowski, VICE.com

A mass grave for Indigenous children was found in Canada. Could it happen in the United States
“After years of grueling testimony about the treatment of First Nations and other Indigenous children in residential boarding schools during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Canadians could be forgiven if they believed they had already heard the worst. But on May 27, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that a land survey using ground-penetrating radar at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia discovered the remains of 215 children—and more are expected to be found(link is external) after another survey this month.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

As Child Victims Act nears end, details of abuse still elusive
“Nearly two years ago, the Child Victims Act went into effect, touted as a way to bring both a reckoning for individuals and institutions involved in decades of child abuse and a measure of justice for their victims. But none of the thousands of court cases that have been filed in New York have yet gone to trial(link is external) and many details of the alleged institutional coverups that shielded the abuse remain cloaked in secrecy.” By Edward McKinley, Times Union

New Maine law will remove time barrier to civil claims on childhood sexual abuse
Anyone who has experienced childhood sexual abuse in Maine soon will be able to file a civil claim against their perpetrator, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred(link is external). In 2000, Maine eliminated the statute of limitations for those lawsuits. But that policy was not retroactive, so victims whose claims had expired still could not bring them forward. On Monday (Jun. 21), Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill that will lift the statute of limitations for those cases as well. Supporters said that means more survivors will have the option to take their abusers to court.” By Megan Gray, Portland Press Herald

Pa. lawmakers threaten university funding over statute of limitations deadlock
“A pair of state lawmakers who sponsored a bill to give adult survivors of child sexual abuse the right to sue their assailants beyond the statute of limitations say they will block state appropriations for Pennsylvania’s public research universities if Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward continues to stall a vote on their bill. State Reps. Jim Gregory, R-Blair County, and Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, say they’ve assembled a coalition of lawmakers from diverse sectors who are willing to block funding to Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities unless Ward, a Hempfield Republican, moves the bill to a vote.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Louisiana Legislature allows for more child sex abuse lawsuits — including against the Catholic Church
“The Catholic Church and other major institutions accused of mistreating children stand to lose a lot more money to lawsuits brought by victims of abuse(link is external) under a bill unanimously approved by the Louisiana Legislature Thursday. House Bill 492, sponsored by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, removes the time limit for civil lawsuits over child abuse. Currently, a person must sue over child abuse before they turn 28 years old.” By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

First-Of-Its-Kind Law Allows Child Sex Assault Survivors To Sue Institutions That Covered Up Abuse
“On the last day of the legislative session, state lawmakers gave final approval to what will be a first-in-the-nation law. The bill will allow survivors of child sexual assault between 1960 and 2022 to sue institutions like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts if their assault was the result of a cover-up by the institution(link is external). They will have three years to file the lawsuit. Earlier this year, lawmakers lifted the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases going forward but, because the state constitution bars retroactive claims, it didn’t help those abused in the past. This bill creates a new type of claim not under the statute of limitations.” By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Do not say ‘rape’ but term it ‘inappropriate contact’: Catholic Church
“In 2018, the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime – the division within the bureau that provides profiles of violent criminals, among other things – reviewed much of the evidence the Pennsylvania Grand Jury received and concluded that its analysis of the material revealed something akin to ‘a playbook for concealing the truth(link is external).’ First, the church employed euphemisms for sexual assault, referring to the crime not as rape, but as ‘inappropriate contact’ or ‘boundary issues,’ center investigators said. In one case, the grand jury reported a priest’s repeated and violent sexual assaults of children were referred to as ‘his difficulties.’” By Savio Rodrigues, Goa Chronicle

Catholic churches publicly report a fraction of sexual abuse allegations
“The number of sexual abuse accusations made public by Catholic churches in Illinois is a fourth of the total number(link is external), according to Attorney General Kwame Raoul. An investigation launched by Former Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2018 discovered Catholic churches kept at least 500 sexual abuse accusations a secret. At the time, only 185 clergy members in the state were publicly identified as being “credibly” accused of child sexual abuse. Madigan announced her investigation in August 2018, and by December, the state discovered those 500 undisclosed cases, bringing the total number of allegations up to about 690.” By Renée Cooper, WCIA.com

CALIFORNIA

Attorney says ‘predator’ Craig Harrison sexually assaulted 2 minors, one at Bakersfield church
“Attorneys have filed lawsuits alleging former priest Craig Harrison sexually assaulted two minors(link is external), one at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Bakersfield. Harrison sexually assaulted a 13-year-old at St. Francis in about 1990, said plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson at a press conference in Fresno. He said Harrison lured the teen into the rectory and ‘violated him repeatedly.’” By Jason Kotowski, KGET.com Bakersfield

Diocese of Fresno vows to soon release report on priests accused of sexual misconduct
“The Diocese of Fresno is close to releasing a much-anticipated report on priests accused of sexual misconduct, an official said Wednesday (Jun.9). ‘We are in the process of finalizing that report,’ said Cheryl Sarkisian, chancellor and victim assistance coordinator for the diocese. ‘It has been time- and labor-intensive and is close to being finalized for release soon. The diocese under then-Bishop Armando Ochoa vowed in January 2019 to release a list of accused priests, much like other dioceses have done across the country.’” By Robert Rodriguez, Fresno Bee

ILLINOIS

Chicago Archdiocese settles sexual abuse suit for $880,000
“Two men who said they were sexually molested decades ago by a notorious Catholic priest who was imprisoned for molesting other boys have agreed to a settlement of $880,000(link is external) from the Archdiocese of Chicago, attorneys announced Wednesday (Jun.23). The men alleged Norbert Maday sexually abused them repeatedly starting when they were as young as 10 years old while they were altar boys and students at St. Bede the Venerable Elementary School on the city’s South Side, attorneys Jason Friedl and Martin Gould said.” By Don Babwin, Associated Press

How one Catholic order closes its eyes to sexual abuse by clergy
“Among Catholic religious orders in the United States that, like the U.S. church itself, are facing a national reckoning over clergy sexual abuse of children, the Claretians stand out(link is external). The Claretians operate Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3200 E. 91st St. on the Southeast Side, which was the first Mexican American Catholic congregation in Chicago. Many of the order’s ministries center on children, including tutoring, violence prevention and arts programs. Like other orders that operate in the Chicago area, the Claretians have faced abuse allegations. Six clerics accused of sexual abuse have served at some point at Our Lady of Guadalupe, records show.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Tmes

Northwest Side pastor reinstated following sexual abuse investigation by Archdiocese of Chicago
“The Archdiocese of Chicago reinstated the Rev. Daniel McCarthy to a Northwest Side parish(link is external) less than a year after a decades-old sexual abuse allegation surfaced. In a letter released Monday to the congregation of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish and School, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich stated McCarthy would be reinstated effective immediately following an investigation from last year’s report. ‘The Review Board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father McCarthy is guilty of these allegations,’ Cupich stated in the letter.” By Elvia Malagón, Chicago Sun-Times

IOWA

Iowa Attorney General’s report reviews dozens of ‘overwhelming’ sex-abuse complaints against Catholic priests
“In Iowa as in the rest of the country, the incidence and duration of sexual abuse by clergy ‘were overwhelming’ and the cover-up ‘extensive(link is external)’ in earlier decades, a report by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office that was released Wednesday (Jun. 23) concludes. A years long investigation by the office reviewed nearly 50 complaints of sexual abuse against current and former Catholic priests and other officials, including 17 allegations that had never before been reported.” By William Morris and Melody Mercado, Des Moines Register

KANSAS

KCK Catholic diocese says finding that priest did not sexually abuse minor was wrong
“A finding in 2002 that one of its priests did not sexually abuse a minor was inaccurate(link is external), the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced on Friday (Jun.18). ‘With deep sorrow for the suffering of victims and survivors of abuse, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announces that William Haegelin, a priest who was removed from ministry in 2002 and laicized in 2004, has been the subject of a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor,’ the archdiocese said in a statement published in Friday’s issue of The Leaven, its official newspaper.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

A Catholic Priest Admitted to Raping a Child. Because His Deposition Is Sealed, He Walks Free.
“The Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse (SCSA) issued a letter to various law enforcement officials requesting that they read the sealed deposition of accused child rapist, and former Catholic priest(link is external), Lawrence Hecker. The President of SCSA Richard Windmann explained that a ‘Federal Court in New Orleans, Louisiana, has sealed a deposition in which a Catholic priest admitted to raping a child. Because the deposition is sealed by the court, this predator is a free man on the streets of our community, and no child is safe, and he has escaped Justice.’” By Helen Lewis, Big Easy Magazine

Faced with financial liability, Lafayette Diocese and fallen priest shift blame to victim’s family
“Disgraced priest Michael Guidry has twice changed his story about the night in 2015 that he molested a teenage altar boy in the rectory of St. Peter’s Church in Morrow(link is external), a small community in St. Landry Parish. When the boy reported the abuse three years later, Guidry initially told St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives that he could not recall the fondling. But moments before taking a lie detector test, he admitted rubbing the boy’s genitals.” By Ben Myers, The Acadiana Advocate

MICHIGAN

Former Jackson music teacher facing 10-20 years in prison after sexual abuse plea
“A former music teacher is facing 10 to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse charges dating to his tenure at a Jackson Catholic school(link is external) in the 1970s. Joseph Comperchio pleaded guilty Friday (Jun. 18) in Jackson County Circuit Court to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office. Nessel’s office in September charged Comperchio with six counts of criminal sexual conduct for sexually abusing two children and added five new counts in October related two individuals.” By Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News

Former Catholic school teacher downstate pleads guilty; 4th conviction in AG’s Clergy Abuse investigation
“A former Catholic school music teacher will serve at least a decade in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of criminal sexual conduct(link is external), which will result in the harshest prison sentence thus far in the Michigan Department of Attorney General’s ongoing clergy abuse investigation. Joseph – or Josef – Comperchio, of Fort Myers, Florida, was first charged last September for sexually abusing two children. In those cases, he was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Then in October of last year, five new counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving two individuals were added.” By FOX-TV6 News

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Supreme Court sends case accusing Catholic priest of abuse back to Forrest County
“Robert McGowen’s hopes for relief decades after he says he was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest(link is external) are still alive after the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling Thursday (Jun. 17). McGowen was 12 and 13 years old in 1984-85, when he says he was sexually abused by former Sacred Heart Catholic Church priest Father John Scanlon. McGowen said he did not remember the abuse until one day in December 2018, after which he sought counseling, according to court documents.” By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American

MISSOURI

Kansas City diocese hasn’t named all priests credibly accused of sex abuse, group says
“The Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese has failed to include nearly 20 priests on its list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse even though they are named elsewhere(link is external), a victim’s advocate group said Wednesday (Jun. 23). Those priests — including one convicted in Texas of trying to hire a hit man to kill his victim— all had ties to the diocese in the past, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group publicly released the names at an afternoon news conference.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW JERSEY

Attorney for clergy sex-abuse victims claims Camden diocese ‘underreported’ assets
“The Diocese of Camden ‘grossly underreported’ its assets in a bankruptcy filing in an effort to ‘disadvantage survivors of clergy abuse(link is external),’ a lawyer charged Wednesday (Jun. 23). Attorney Jeff Anderson asserted Bishop Dennis Sullivan, the diocese’s leader, ‘has at least $774 million under his control.’ In contrast, he said, the diocese’s bankruptcy filing lists assets of almost $54 million and net assets after liabilities of $28.1 million.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

Law firm adds 9 N.J. priests to list of accused abusers, as deadline nears in diocese’s bankruptcy case
“Anyone who was sexually abused by a Catholic priest has less than two weeks to file a claim before a deadline set in the Diocese of Camden’s bankruptcy case, attorneys said as they added nine new names to the list of accused priests(link is external). The diocese — which includes parishes in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties — filed for bankruptcy last fall after church officials said its finances were overwhelmed by clergy sexual abuse settlements and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

N.J. man sues Delbarton School alleging monks sexually abused him repeatedly in the 1970s
“A former star athlete and football player at Delbarton School in Morris County has filed a lawsuit against the order that runs the private Catholic institution, claiming three monks sexually abused him as a teenager(link is external) in the 1970s – the latest in a series of similar lawsuits filed against the school. Rodney Baron, now 57, claims in the lawsuit he was abused in the late 1970s when he was 13 or 14 years old. Baron states in the suit that he and his brother were the only Black students at Delbarton and were instructed to be ‘exceptionally obedient’ because of their race.” By Anthony G. Attrino, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Buffalo Diocese to monitor 18 priests accused of abuse with home visits, restrictions
“The Buffalo Diocese, heavily criticized by State Attorney General Letitia James for not keeping better tabs on priests who molested children, is launching a monitoring program that will include monthly home visits and other restrictions for offending priests(link is external). Bishop Michael W. Fisher confirmed in an interview with The News that the diocese has developed and begun to implement a ‘detailed monitoring plan with a professional monitor who will be in contact with each of these priests who have been relieved of ministry.’” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Tollner seeks info from Diocese on abuse he says he suffered
“Rensselaerville resident Richard Tollner has filed a legal petition against the Diocese of Albany, relating to an effort to secure justice against a Catholic priest whom Tollner says sexually abused him when he was a teenage prep-school student(link is external) in Nassau County. The petition for pre-action discovery, filed on May 28, would allow Tollner and his attorneys to acquire information from the Diocese of Albany that would help them to ‘fully evaluate [Tollner’s] claims’ against the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which oversaw the prep school, St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary, where Tollner says he was sexually assaulted a number of times by Alan Placa in the 1970s.” By The Altamont Enterprise

Rochester diocese seeks approval for $35M settlement with insurers for sex abuse victims
“The Diocese of Rochester has asked a federal judge to approve a $35 million settlement agreement with its insurers to help pay survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). In a statement issued Friday (Jun. 11) afternoon, the diocese said the proposed agreement was with Lloyd’s of London and Interstate Fire and Casuality, who are among the major insurers involved in its bankruptcy case.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Sexual abuse claims at Bronx Catholic school spanning 3 decades come to life
“It’s taken him decades to tell his story, but one man is sharing with News 12 his traumatic memories of being sexually abused as a little boy for years at a Catholic school(link is external) and community center in the Bronx. He says the time to get justice is now as the expiration date for the state’s Child Victims Act approaches. ‘As a little child, I could not process what was happening to me. I felt defenseless, I felt dirty. I felt it was my fault,’ said the man. John Doe spoke with News 12’s Asha McKenzie under protection of anonymity.” By News 12 Staff

Rochester diocese seeks approval for $35M settlement with insurers for sex abuse victims
“The Diocese of Rochester has asked a federal judge to approve a $35 million settlement agreement with its insurers to help pay survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). In a statement issued Friday (Jun. 11) afternoon, the diocese said the proposed agreement was with Lloyd’s of London and Interstate Fire and Casuality, who are among the major insurers involved in its bankruptcy case.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

NEVADA

Law Review: Seven more victims sue the Catholic Church
“A few years ago, this column summarized the statistics of thousands of lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church for ignoring the molestation of children by priests who historically were transferred to other parishes where their pedophilia continued. Today’s case, Ratcliff v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, analyzes a new case filed by seven adults. Seven adults claiming they were molestation victims(link is external), sued the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles and related individuals and entities for molestation allegedly committed by Father Christopher Cunningham.” By Jim Porter, Sierra Sun

TEXAS

New list of clergy accused of sex abuse released by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
“Faith leaders from the Catholic dioceses in Texas have added four more names to the list of clergy who were accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) from 1950 through the end of 2018. The original list was presented as part of an effort to bring about the restoration of trust, according to the website hosted by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The updated list includes John Patrick Barry, C.S.B., Franz B. Lickteig, O.Carm. and William ‘Herb’ Schreiner, C.S.B. who have all been “deceased for decades.” By ABC-TV13 News

WISCONSIN

Lawsuit claims racial discrimination in treatment of clergy abuse survivors
“We’ve heard the reports of alleged and confirmed sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, but we’re also learning about racial disparities in the treatment of clergy abuse victims(link is external). In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, June 8, the lawyer for a Black clergy abuse victim accused the Franciscans of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headquartered in Franklin, Wisconsin, and the Diocese of Jackson Mississippi, of discrimination. He said both churches ignored Raphael Love’s repeated claim of abuse by former Franciscan Brother Paul West.” By CBS 58 Newsroom

AUSTRALIA

Some abuse survivors to receive advance payments
Elderly and terminally ill survivors of child sexual abuse will be able to access advance compensation payments of up to $10,000(link is external), after an inquiry found the scheme designed to support victims is a bureaucratic nightmare. In its first two years of operation, the national redress scheme has been criticized as incredibly slow, overly complicated and traumatizing for survivors forced to recount horrific tales of abuse in the hope of securing financial support. A review commissioned by the Morrison Government has been released by Social Services Minister Anne Ruston and agreed with many of those sentiments.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Ottawa archbishop apologizes for Catholic Church’s role in residential school system
“Ottawa-Cornwall Archbishop Marcel Damphousse issued a formal apology Monday (Jun. 21) to Indigenous people for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system(link is external). He also called on Pope Francis, the global head of the church of approximately 1.3 billion people, to apologize, as well. The apology is the latest expression of contrition from a Canadian Catholic leader since the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked burial sites of children’s remains adjacent to a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. It follows similar apologies from the archbishops of Vancouver and Regina.” By Ryan Patrick Jones, CBC News

Catholic order that staffed Kamloops residential school refuses to share records families seek
“The order of nuns that taught at the former Kamloops residential school, and others in B.C., continues to withhold important documents that could help tell the story of how Indigenous children died at the schools over the past 150 years(link is external). The Sisters of St. Ann has never approved the release of relevant government records — documents that could relate to deaths at the schools — according to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the religious order.” By Angela Sterritt, Jennifer Wilson,·CBC News

Sask. Catholic churches delay, reject calls to release internal files on abuser priests
“Joey Basaraba cries randomly while sitting in his Saskatoon apartment, in the shower or out walking. He can’t remember the last time he slept through the night. ‘I take it one day at a time,” Basaraba said in an interview this week. Basaraba, who says he was sexually abused for years starting at age six by two Prince Albert, Sask., priests(link is external), is joining the renewed national calls for church transparency after the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a Catholic residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.” By Jason Warick,·CBC News

GERMANY

Archdiocese of Berlin suspends work of commission on sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Berlin announced that it was temporarily suspending the work of its expert commission established to follow up on a legal report about sexual abuse in the archdiocese(link is external) since 1946. The archdiocese said June 22 that the commission is recommending that findings from the legal firm Redeker Sellner Dahs be reworked or that another legal firm be commissioned to investigate the abuse. In a statement later that day, lawyers Sabine Wildfeuer and Peter-Andreas Brand of Redeker Sellner Dahs said they learned about the suspension of the archdiocesan Sexual Abuse Expert Commission through the media.” By Anli Serfontein, Cruxnow.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Fr Malachy Finnegan: Abuse survivor Tony Gribben gets six-figure settlement
“A man abused for years by a pedophile priest at a County Down school is to receive a six-figure sum in damages(link is external), the High Court has been told. Tony Gribben, 61, sued the trustees and board of governors at St Colman’s College in Newry and the Diocese of Dromore. He took the lawsuit over the sexual and physical assaults suffered at the hands of the late Father Malachy Finnegan. The pay-out to Mr Gribben forms part of a settlement.” By BBC News

‘The Irish Handmaid’s Tale’: Mother and baby home survivor says reality was worse than fiction
“The way survivors of mother and baby homes have been treated by the Catholic Church and successive governments in Ireland amounts to ‘abuse of the abused(link is external),’ one woman has said. Terri Harrison was among the survivors to give testimony to the Investigation Committee of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. Speaking to The Journal, Terri said that recalling the trauma she suffered when coerced into giving her son up for adoption, and her ongoing search for him, while giving evidence to the Commission was incredibly difficult.” By TheJournal.ie

‘I was disgusted by it’: Former Belvedere College pupils claim priest assaulted them
“A number of former pupils of Belvedere College in Dublin have alleged that a priest who taught at the fee-paying secondary school assaulted them(link is external) in the late 1970s and 1980s. In March the Jesuits in Ireland publicized the name of a former Belvedere College teacher, Fr Joseph Marmion SJ, who is now deceased, to encourage people who may have suffered abuse to come forward. The Order said at the time that Marmion had ‘sexually, emotionally and physically’ abused pupils at Belvedere College in Dublin in the 1970s.” By The Irish Journal

Retired priest seeks to stop child sex abuse trial going ahead
“A retired priest is seeking a High Court order halting his trial on charges of child sexual abuse dating back to the 1960s. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is facing four charges of sexual assault of a female(link is external) on dates between 1966 and 1969. The complainant was a secondary school student and a minor at the time of the alleged assaults in Co Galway. The first assault is alleged to have taken place in the room of an abbey.” By Aodhan O’Faolain, The Irish Times

POLAND

Poland asks Vatican’s data for its church sex abuse probes
“Poland’s state commission for fighting sex abuse of minors said Thursday (Jun. 24) it has asked the Vatican for data on abuse by the clergy in Poland because Poland’s church is not providing the requested information(link is external). Head of the commission Blazej Kmieciak said that some 30% of cases of abuse of persons aged under 15 that the commission is analyzing relate to the clergy. He said, however, that despite written requests made earlier this year to regional leaders of Poland’s Catholic Church and of other churches, only one bishops’ court made its files available to the State Commission for Cases of Pedophilia.” By Associated Press in Las Vegas Sun

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 20, 2021

Pope asks U.S. bishop to resign after cover-up investigation
“Pope Francis asked a bishop in the U.S. state of Minnesota to resign after he was investigated by the Vatican for allegedly interfering with past investigations into clergy sexual abuse(link is external), officials said Tuesday (Apr. 13). The Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner on Tuesday and named a temporary replacement to run the diocese. Hoeppner is 71, four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.” By Associated Press

Woelki calls for stronger law on clerical sex abuse
“The Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki has called for a tightening up of Canon law on clerical sex abuse(link is external). ‘Canon law on how to deal with priestly sexual abuse must be changed. It needs tightening, that is, the rulings must be made clearer and more explicit,’ he said. For example, the statute of limitations for sexualized violence must be extended and the ‘contradictions in canon law and in the German bishops’ conference’s guidelines on priestly sexual abuse must be eliminated,’ he added.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

A bird’s nest and healing: Vatican sponsors event on preventing sexual abuse
“The Vatican is teaming up with Harvard University to host a virtual Symposium on preventing and healing child sexual abuse(link is external), an event which grew out of a bird’s nest presented to Pope Francis, according to Jennifer Wortham, Ph.D., of Harvard. A bird’s nest can carry a powerful message: ‘All children deserve a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow.’ That simple, yet important, aim lies at the heart of this global symposium entitled ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse.’ Dr. Wortham says she hopes April 8 will become the World Day for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Healing, and Justice, a proposal which she is launching at the United Nations in September.” By Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Dominicans in Poland launch investigation of abusive priest
“The Dominican province in Poland has started an independent, lay-led investigation of a sect-like youth ministry ran by Dominican Father ‘Paweł M.’ between 1996-2000 in Wrocław. The Dominican friary in Wrocław released a statement on March 7 apologizing for the abuse(link is external). ‘We turn to you with great pain and shame. We stand before you in the truth that, despite the passage of years, is revealing its terrifying face more and more clearly,’ the statement said.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Legal lessons: Past sexual abuse cases help train canon lawyers, according to Pope Francis
“When Pope Francis abolished the ‘pontifical secret’ covering the church’s judicial handling of cases of the sexual abuse of minors, it was hailed as a major step forward in promoting greater transparency and accountability(link is external). At first glance, it means victims and witnesses are free to discuss a case … But an additional consequence of this landmark change, enacted in mid-December 2019, will be its potential to provide much-needed practical training and multidisciplinary studies for those involved in the handling of abuse cases.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on TheDialog.org

ACCOUNTABILITY

French high court clears cardinal of abuse cover-up
“France’s highest court confirmed on Wednesday (Apr. 14) that the former archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, did not cover up the sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by a predator priest. The ruling by the Court of Cassation closes a long, emotional drama that brought angst to the Roman Catholic Church, under scrutiny around the world for hiding abuse by its clergy.” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press in Star-Tribune

At online symposium, Pope Francis says religions can eradicate sexual abuse together
“After decades of child sexual abuse scandals, the Catholic Church is ready to share its successes — and failures — with other religious and lay institutions. At an April 8-10 online symposium with religious representatives from around the world, Pope Francis expressed his hope that together, religions can fight ‘this profound evil(link is external).’ ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse,’ organized by the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, brought together 73 speakers from different religious, cultural and professional backgrounds last weekend to address the phenomenon that has touched nearly every major religious group in the world.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Accountability, transparency, due process still needed, abuse experts say
“To help foster a wider discussion on work that still must be done to safeguard minors and vulnerable people in the Catholic Church(link is external), a canon law journal published a series of talks by experts regarding accountability, transparency and confidentiality in the handling of abuse allegations.mThe talks were part of a seminar in December 2019 sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to address the topics as well as the seal of confession and the pontifical secret.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Disgraced Palmerston North bishop’s future lies with the Vatican
“The disgraced bishop of Palmerston North, Charles Drennan, still retains his title, but must follow conditions imposed on him by the Vatican, a commission has heard(link is external). Cardinal John Dew apologised to victims of abuse from the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on Friday (Apr. 2) and he also discussed Drennan’s resignation. Drennan resigned as Palmerston North bishop in October 2019 after allegations involving an inappropriate relationship and harm of a young woman who was not a minor.” By George Heagney, Stuff.co.nz

CARDINALS

Cupich: 30 years ago Cardinal Bernardin developed plan to address abuse
“When Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago developed a comprehensive plan over a two-year period, in 1991 and 1992, to address clerical sexual abuse issues(link is external) in the Illinois archdiocese, he provided a copy of those procedures to all his fellow U.S. bishops at their annual meeting. ‘Their response was decidedly mixed,’ Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Chicago’s current cardinal-archbishop, said in recounting these efforts by the late prelate. ‘Imagine if all the bishops had taken those documents home and fully implemented them in their dioceses, how much further ahead we would be … how many children might have been spared,’ he said.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

BISHOPS

‘We are outraged’: Parents object to new assignment for Cincinnati bishop who failed to report Father Drew allegations
“Parents of young children at a private Catholic school say they are infuriated and may withdraw their students after the Archdiocese of Cincinnati assigned a former high-ranking bishop who resigned in the fallout over a priest charged with raping an altar boy to be the pastor at two churches affiliated with their school(link is external). ‘We are outraged. We are being ignored and our children’s safety is not being considered at all,’ said Kim McRoberts, whose 11-year-old daughter is in the fifth grade at St. John The Baptist School on Dry Ridge Road in Colerain Township.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

The cultural disarmament of progressive Catholic bishops
“Archbishop Chaput and many of his views need to be challenged. But most liberal and progressive Catholics are just ignoring him. They do so at their own peril(link is external). It is striking that Chaput seems to be the only US bishop in the 21st century who seems capable or willing to offer to the wider public — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — his vision in a format that leaves an impression and a deeper effect than the occasional interview or speech.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

Msgr. John Tracy Ellis on selecting bishops in the US
“The title ‘On the Selection of Bishops for the United States’(link is external) did not indicate if this was a lecture or the draft of a magazine article. I asked Purcell if he knew to what purpose the monograph had been put, and he checked with a priest in San Francisco who instructed me to reach out to Fr. Tom Shelley, a priest of the New York Archdiocese, who is working on a biography of Ellis. I did so, and Shelley let me know that Ellis had published two articles on the subject, one for Commonweal and the other for The Critic. I took a photograph of the first page and sent it to Shelley. He replied that the monograph was identical to the opening of the article in the July, 1969 issue of The Critic.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Vatican plans major conference on priesthood
“Increasing vocations to the priesthood, improving the way lay people and priests work together and ensuring that service, not power, motivates ordination(link is external) are all possible outcomes of a major Vatican symposium planned for 2022. ‘A theological symposium does not claim to offer practical solutions to all the pastoral and missionary problems of the church, but it can help us deepen the foundation of the church’s mission,’ said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the chief organizer of the symposium planned for February 17-19, 2022.” By CathNews.com

VATICAN

Vatican event on priesthood to explore topic of celibacy
“A top Vatican official in charge of organizing a major symposium on the priesthood next year has said the discussion will touch on several controversial hot-button issues such as priestly celibacy, the women’s diaconate, clericalism, and the clerical sexual abuse crisis(link is external). Speaking to journalists during the April 12 presentation of the event, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said, ‘the question of celibacy is important.’ ‘We have all spoken about it, and it will be discussed, but it will not be the central theme of the symposium,’ he said. ‘It is not a symposium on celibacy, like it needs to be taken up deeply. It’s a broader perspective.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Italian prosecutors request arrest warrant for Italian financier named in Vatican scandals”
“Italian prosecutors have asked a judge for an arrest warrant for Gianluigi Torzi, accusing the financier of money laundering and tax evasion(link is external). Torzi is already embroiled in a legal battle with the Vatican’s judiciary for his alleged role in the controversial purchase of a London apartment complex using Catholic Church funds. The document, signed March 29 and seen by Religion News Service, cites ‘serious indications of guilt related to self-laundering and tax violations.’ The Italian authorities also charged him with requesting false payments and fraudulently filing for bankruptcy.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

VOICES

Can the Catholic Church agree to change anything?
“Sometimes you need to catch your breath when a Vatican official’s speaking echoes a theologian’s writings. Which way is this going to go? Not long ago, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, echoed a 50-year-old passage from a book by … wait for it … Swiss theologian Hans Küng. Speaking on Spain’s church-owned COPE radio network, Parolin underscored the Good Friday theme of Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher for the papal household, and (perhaps unknowingly) brought forth a concept delineated by Küng 50 years ago: Some things can change, but internal church divisions are dangerous(link is external).” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Overdue reckoning at hand for archdiocese
“Completing a settlement between victims of clergy sexual abuse and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is crucial for Roman Catholics in New Mexico. First, the people injured by an institution that allowed its priests to harm children are owed reparations. The damage to these victims is incalculable; money is the least the church can do to compensate for the sins of the past. As many New Mexicans know too well, the church that nurtured their faith and fed their souls also turned a blind eye to repeated reports that its clergy were molesting children(link is external). Preserving the church’s reputation was all that mattered.” By The Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial Board

Barron’s ‘beige Catholicism’ erases years of racial, social justice activism
“Bishop Robert Barron’s recent piece detailing the ‘evangelical path’ of his organization Word on Fire has provoked heated debate over his use of the term ‘beige Catholicism’ to refer to the faith of liberal or progressive Catholics(link is external). It’s not the first time he’s used the term. He coined the phrase 25 years ago, to critique modern or liberal Catholicism as ‘a faith that had become culturally accommodating, hand-wringing, unsure of itself.’ Barron has long combated post-Vatican II trends that he sees as anthropocentric rather than Christocentric. He connects these trends with the loss of the beauty and splendor of the Catholic cultural tradition. But he has now become concerned with what he sees as liberal Catholicism’s dangerous opposite extreme: the radical traditionalist movement in the church.” By Rebecca Bratten Weiss, national Catholic Reporter

Wealthy conservative Catholics are the new U.S. magisterium
“Sean Fieler was once asked to name ‘the thinkers or donors’ who have influenced how he practices his considerable philanthropy. ‘There’s a good network I’ve gotten to know over the last decade or so, through boards or shared charitable interests, who have had a big effect on me — Frank Hanna, Tim Busch, and Leonard Leo, for sure,’ he answered. Fieler is not a household name in Catholic circles, but anyone interested in the future of the church in the United States should keep tabs on what he and his ‘good network’ are up to(link is external).” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Saying sorry not enough
“A day late and a dollar short. That was the phrase used by Dr. Tom Doyle, a non-practicing Catholic priest, to describe the church’s apology, at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care(link is external) last month, to those damaged by clergy sexual abuse. Dr. Doyle has been researching this issue since the 1980s when, as a canon lawyer stationed at the Vatican embassy in Washington, he was one of the authors of a 1985 confidential report on clergy sexual abuse of minors written for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.” By Otago Daily Times Editorial Board

American Catholicism: Headed Towards a Dead End
“Although ‘nearly one-third of American adults (31.7%) say they were raised Catholic, only about one in five (20.8%) identified as Catholic’ in a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. ‘The share of adults who identify as Christians fell from 78% to just under 71%’ between 2007 and 2014. But ‘within Christianity the greatest net losses, by far, have been experienced by Catholics(link is external),’ according to the ‘America’s Changing Religious Landscape’ study. The survey also showed that – since 34% of Catholics were Latino and 8% Black, Asian or other – the number of white Catholics had fallen to less than 12% of the population.” By Betty Clermont, OpenTabernacle.wordpress.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child sex abuse lawsuit bill faces long odds in House vote
“The Pennsylvania General Assembly is again discussing legislation to aid survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external), which faces an uphill battle to be passed. The goal of several different proposed measures is to create a two-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers, most notably Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania. The original measure, a constitutional amendment question that would have been posed to voters during the May 2021 primary election, has faced multiple setbacks.” By Harri Leigh, FOX43-TV News

Colorado Lawmaker Shares Story Of Rape As Legislature Eliminates Statute of Limitations Ending 30 Year Battle
“ he state legislature passed a bill which allows survivors of sexual assault to sue their perpetrators no matter how much time has passed(link is external). The bill eliminates the statute of limitations in civil cases. Survivors have been trying to pass the bill for 30 years, telling their stories year after year. This year, a state lawmaker was among them.” By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

Is this the year Minnesota gets rid of the statute of limitations on sexual assault?
“People who commit sexual assault will be at risk of criminal charges for the rest of their lives(link is external) if a bill to eliminate Minnesota’s statute of limitations on rape and other sex crimes gets enough support in the Legislature. William Dinkel, a survivor of child sexual abuse and a Long Prairie native, has advocated for the policy. A law change will send a message to victims that the justice system and the government care about them and want justice, Dinkel said Tuesday (Mar. 30).” By Nora G. Hertel, St. Cloud Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Site aims to help abuse survivors
“Jeff Anderson & Associates on Tuesday (Apr. 6) launched a database they hope will aid child abuse survivors, law enforcement and fellow attorneys(link is external) in their efforts to seek justice from the Catholic Church in New York State. The virtual event featured a breakdown of statistics for all dioceses in the state, including the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Anderson said the purpose of the report was, in part, “to identify those institutions and Catholic bishops across this country who have been complicit in allowing children to have been abused and to do what we can with each survivor, one at a time, to make sure that we are doing something today to protect kids tomorrow.” By Cara Chapman, Press-Republican

CALIFORNIA

Newport psychologist arrested on charges of sexually abusing children as a priest in California
“A former Roman Catholic priest who has worked as a clinical psychologist in Newport is facing charges of sexually abusing boys at parishes in California more than 20 years ago(link is external). The former Rev. Christopher J. Cunningham was arrested early Wednesday at his home on Sylvan Terrace by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Cunningham, 58, was sought by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department on a dozen charges of lewd acts upon boys under 14 years old, during incidents from 1995 through 1997. He was arraigned at Kent County Superior Court in Warwick and held for extradition to face the charges in Los Angeles County.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe

MASSACHUSETTS

A progress report on diocese’s abuse response task force
“Last fall, in my capacity as chair of the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield, I wrote an op-ed providing an overview of the work the task force was undertaking with emphasis on the stakeholder input that we would be seeking. I write now to affirm that the task force has been actively engaged and has made excellent progress in our data collection endeavor and in other phases of our work(link is external).” By Daniel Ford, Berkshire Eagle

MISSOURI

Survivors of church abuse laud Missouri Supreme Court ruling on evidence in lawsuits
“Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests lauded a Missouri Supreme Court decision that will allow some circumstantial evidence to be presented in lawsuits(link is external). A small group of volunteers with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered Wednesday (Apr. 7) outside the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in downtown Kansas City. ‘The Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling yesterday, essentially made it somewhat easier for victims to expose predators and protect kids through civil lawsuits,’ said SNAP member David Clohessy. ‘Let’s be clear — Missouri has always been and remains a very tough state for victims to get justice in, but yesterday was progress.’” By Katie Moore, The Kansas City Star

Missouri Supreme Court keeps Chaminade clergy sex abuse case alive
“The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday(Apr. 6) affirmed a decision by a lower court that First Amendment protections shield religious employers from some lawsuits in certain cases of clergy abuse(link is external). But the court also overturned part of the lower court’s decision, saying it erred in not allowing plaintiff John Doe to bring expert testimony backing his claims of intentional failure to supervise clergy before a jury.” By Maria Benevento, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW JERSEY

Newark Archdiocese let priest work after one sex abuse allegation. Now there are 2 more
“A newly filed lawsuit alleges that Kevin Gugliotta, a priest in the Newark Archdiocese, sexually abused a boy at a Union County parish(link is external) in 2006, a few years after church officials decided he could not be punished for alleged abuse from decades earlier when he was a Boy Scout leader. Newark Archdiocese officials have said they had no authority to punish Gugliotta after first hearing about allegations against him in 2003 because he was not yet a priest at the time of the alleged abuse, which the accuser said occurred in the 1980s.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW MEXICO

Silent no more: Victim says abuse left her life a shambles
“For decades, Leigh-Anne just wanted someone, anyone, to listen. Instead, she said, she was placed in a mental hospital, silenced and ignored(link is external) until she fell into a years-long spiral of drug addiction, self-doubt and destruction. The 39-year-old was finally going to get her chance to confront Sabine Griego – the former priest who she says raped her repeatedly from ages 7 to 9.” By Matthew Reisen, Albuquerque Journal

Priest sex abuse survivor sues NMAG for allegedly withholding public records
“A survivor of alleged sexual abuse when he was a child is suing the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office for allegedly withholding public records related to credibly accused Catholic priests within the Diocese of Las Cruces(link is external). ‘For decades the national Catholic Church used New Mexico as a destination to hide pedophile priests, taking advantage of the unique cultural makeup of our communities, including their devoutness,’ attorney Paul Linnenburger said in a news release … Fr. David Holley victim Phil Saviano who was abused by Holley in Douglas, Massachusetts, in the Worcester Diocese in the 1960s.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News, in New Hampshire Union Leader

NEW YORK.

Head of elite Catholic school is fired over sexual misconduct charges
“Regis High School, one of the most prominent Catholic schools in the country, said it planned to fire the Jesuit priest who serves as its president after an investigation found he had engaged in sexual misconduct involving several adults(link is external), including school employees. The Rev. Daniel Lahart, who has been president of Regis, a prestigious all-boys school in Manhattan, since 2016, has been on administrative leave since late February, the school said in a statement. His firing will be effective April 21, the school said.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits filed against Brooklyn Jiocese under Child Victims Act
“Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) have been filed against the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Brooklyn since the passage of the state’s Child Victims Act in 2019 through the end of 2020, according to a recent analysis. The 571 complaints filed against the Diocese, which covers Brooklyn and Queens, during the first 17 months of the act includes filings against 532 institutions under control of the religious district and 301 alleged abusers. Of those alleged abusers are 230 members of the clergy.” By Kevin Duggan, The Brooklyn Paper

More than 300 sex abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is facing more than 300 lawsuits tied to accusations of sexual abuse(link is external). The lawsuits stem from the New York’s Child Victims Act, which took effect in August 2019. It allowed victims who claim that they were sexually abused by members of the diocese to file civil lawsuits anonymously. It also stiffened penalties for their perpetrators. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2019 a month after the Child Victims Act took effect.” By James Brown, WXXI-FM Public Radio News

Ogdensburg Catholic diocese named in 80 child abuse cases
“Between September 2019 and December 2020 cases were filed under New York’s Child Victims Act that accused 39 clergy and a lay teacher in the diocese of abuse(link is external). Analysis of the cases in New York state was conducted by a law firm representing some of the child abuse survivors. The oldest alleged incidents were from 1959 ending with the most recent ones occurring in 1995.” By Celia Clarke, North Country Public Radio

Catholic Church Faces Wave Of Sex Abuse Cases Across State
“The New York State Child Victims Act has wiped away decades of silence in the Catholic Church, with thousands of sexual abuse survivors coming forward(link is external) and creating a surge of sexual abuse cases against the papistry. This past summer, it was revealed that priests in Oswego were included in a list of new lawsuits against the Diocese of Syracuse under the Child Victims Act.” By Shea O’Malley, Oswego County Today

NORTH DAKOTA

Catholic Confessions Part 1: A history of clergy abuse in North Dakota
“In January, the Attorney General’s office released the results of an 18-month long investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses(link is external). This investigation was prompted after the Bismarck and Fargo Dioceses released a list of 53 individuals with allegations of child sexual abuse in 2019. Of the 53 named individuals, all but two had died by the time the investigation commenced.” By Hayley Boland, KFYR-TV FOX News

OHIO

Cincinnati bishop who quit in fallout over priest charged with raping altar boy will be pastor over two churches
“The second-highest ranking bishop at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who resigned in the fallout over a West Side priest charged with raping an altar boy three decades ago will be the pastor of two Hamilton County churches starting July 1(link is external). Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Joseph Binzer was assigned to oversee the ‘pastoral territory’ of Corpus Christi Catholic Church off Springdale Road in Mt. Healthy and St. John Neumann Catholic Church located on Mill Road in Springfield Township, according to one of the church’s websites.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

PENNSYLVANIA

State House OKs plan to allow sex abuse victims to sue despite statute of limitations
“The state House on Wednesday (Apr. 7) passed legislation that would open a window for lawsuits by survivors of childhood sex abuse without first seeking to change the Constitution(link is external). The measure isn’t likely to move in the state Senate, where Republicans have said they think that the change to allow lawsuits can only be legally provided by amending the Constitution, a process that will take until 2023 at the earliest … This legislation would allow survivors of abuse to sue public schools in addition to private schools and other private organizations.” By John Finnerty, New Castle News

VERMONT

Former residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage recount horrific abuse, want day in court
“Several former residents of the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington spoke of the abuse they suffered there and urged the Legislature to eliminate the statute of limitations(link is external) for civil claims of childhood physical abuse. They would also like to see the legislation go further and allow civil claims of childhood emotional abuse. Linda Crossman, a member of Voices of St. Joseph’s, was among the former residents who urged expanding the legislation to include emotional abuse.” By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger.org

WISCONSIN

St. Norbert Abbey identifies two more Norbertine priests who abused minors, including former abbot
“St. Norbert Abbey, under pressure to deal with a history of abusive clergy(link is external), has identified two more Norbertine priests who sexually abused minors in the 1960s and ’80s. The newly named priests include former Abbot Benjamin Mackin, who led the Catholic order in De Pere from 1982 to 1994. A review by an independent board substantiated claims that Mackin sexually assaulted minors in the 1980s while abuse by Arnold Schinkten occurred in 1962, according to a news release from the abbey Thursday (Apr. 8). Both men are dead.” By Benita Mathew and Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

WYOMING

Police, DA’s office clashed amid Bishop Hart investigation, documents show
“Wyoming police and prosecutors were repeatedly at odds over the sexual abuse investigation into retired Catholic Bishop Joseph Hart(link is external), police and prosecutor documents show, with police claiming that prosecutors hadn’t read basic case documents and prosecutors complaining about media attention and their problems with the work by police. For 10 months between 2019 and 2020, prosecutors in Wyoming were considering whether to charge Hart, now 89. At least eight men told police that they or a relative had been the victim of sexual misconduct by him.” By Seth Klamann, Denver Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Bishops’ Conference achieves strong result in audit
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has fully implemented or substantially progressed the implementation of 97 per cent of relevant safeguarding indicators(link is external), an external audit has found. Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd last week published its findings after selective interviews with Conference staff, interaction with the Conference’s leadership and Safeguarding Committee, and a review of policies and procedures. Trudy Dantis, the director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research and the chair of the Bishops Conference’s Safeguarding Committee, said the audit process helped the organization strengthen its policies and procedures.” By CathNews.com

Vatican ruling on Bishop of Broome looms as tension builds in outback diocese
“Tensions are building over whether the Vatican will allow a bishop accused of sexual misconduct and bullying(link is external) to return to his outback parish, with a former priest warning it is a critical crossroads for the Catholic Church that could set an international precedent. Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders was sent on a six-month sabbatical in November to give the Vatican time to assess the findings of an internal investigation into his running of the remote northern diocese.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley

CANADA

Former Vancouver Catholic Archbishop ordered to give evidence in old sex-abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver has been ordered by a judge to give evidence in old sex-abuse case(link is external), the second time he will have given evidence in such a case. The case involves a man named Mark O’Neill alleging that he was physically and sexually abused when he was a student at the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission. He claims that several former Benedictine priests abused him while he was between the ages of 13 and 17, with the alleged incidents occurring between 1974 and 1978.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

Former Hanover priest sentenced for sexual abuse
“A priest who lived in Hanover was sentenced Wednesday (Mar. 31) to 21 months in jail in the Superior Court of Justice in Walkerton for sexually abusing a child(link is external). Mervin Perera, 73, was found guilty Jan. 30 of touching a girl for a sexual purpose, after a trial in Walkerton. He appeared in person in a Walkerton courtroom but the sentencing was conducted by videoconference. Perera has appealed the court’s decision and was released immediately after he was sentenced, his lawyer, Scott Cowan said after the hearing. Perera is governed by release terms which include non-association with the victim.” By Scott Dunn, The Sun Times

EAST TIMOR

Defrocked US priest revered in East Timor accused of abuse
“It was the same every night. A list of names was posted on the Rev. Richard Daschbach’s bedroom door. The child at the top of the roster knew it was her turn to share the lower bunk with the elderly priest and another elementary school-aged girl. Daschbach was idolized in the remote enclave of East Timor where he lived … So, the girls never spoke about the abuse they suffered(link is external). They said they were afraid they would be banished from the shelter the 84-year-old from Pennsylvania established decades ago for abused women, orphans, and other destitute children.” By Margie Mason and Robin McDowell, Associated Press

INDONESIA

Indonesian Catholic schools move to tackle sexual abuse
“A high-profile sexual abuse case in which altar boys in Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta were assaulted by a church worker was a wake-up call for Indonesia’s Catholic schools to look at ways to better protect students from such predators, according to educators. The case — the first involving sexual abuse within the Indonesian Catholic Church brought to a civil court(link is external) — saw the perpetrator, Syahril Marbun, jailed for 15 years for raping two altar boys.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

POLAND

Sanctions against Polish bishops cautiously welcomed by abuse survivors
“After the Vatican sanctioned two retired bishops in Poland, abuse victims say it’s a good start, but may be too little, too late(link is external). On Tuesday (Mar. 30), the Vatican imposed sanctions on emeritus Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdańsk. The two had been featured in the ground-breaking documentaries ‘Hide and Seek’ (2020) and ‘Tell No One’ (2019) by the Sekielski Brothers.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

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March 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

Cardinal Tobin joins Cupich on Vatican’s influential Congregation for Bishops
“On March 4, Pope Francis named Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops(link is external), making him the second American now serving on the group tasked with advising the pontiff on which Catholic priests to appoint as bishops across the world. Tobin effectively replaces retired Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, whose appointment to the congregation ended in November on Wuerl’s 80th birthday. Tobin now joins Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, whom Francis appointed to the group in 2016.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The Vatican is pushing forward on synodality; the U.S. Bishops should follow suit
“Pope Francis’ appointment of Xavière Sister Nathalie Becquart and now-bishop-elect Luis Marín de San Martín to the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops is only the latest step in his efforts to push the global church toward a synodal model of leadership(link is external). That is, a model in which bishops and lay people speak freely together about the issues affecting them and where they believe the Spirit is calling them, and, through discussion and voting, reach decisions together.” By Colleen Dulle, SacredHeartUniversity.typepad.com

Cologne diocese abuse scandal: Investigators identify suspects
“A German law firm published an independent report Thursday (Mar. 18) following accusations of efforts to cover up sexual violence in Germany’s most powerful Roman Catholic diocese, Cologne. The report identified around 243 abusers of minors — priests or laypeople working for the church — and at least 386 victims between 1946 and 2018, but some of these did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Cologne diocese. Some 55% of cases referred to children under the age of 14 and around half dealt with sexual violence. The rest of the cases had to do with verbal or physical abuse. Almost two-thirds of abuses were carried out by members of the clergy, the rest by laypeople. The report also indicated a clear rise in reported abuse between 2004 and 2018.” By Deutsche Welle

‘It’s not just lip service’: Jesuits announce new commission on the role of women in the order
“On March 8—International Women’s Day—Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the Jesuits, announced the creation of the Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus(link is external). Father Sosa explained in a statement that the commission is the next step in the Society’s efforts to more fully include and collaborate with women, following previous decrees from General Congregations. A task force assembled by Father Sosa in 2020 also recommended the formation of a commission of this nature. The Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus is made up of 10 members: six women, three Jesuits and one lay man.” By Molly Cahill, America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Retired Buffalo bishops must pay for lawyers in defending against AG’s lawsuit
“Two retired bishops from the Buffalo Diocese will have to pay for their own defense against a state Attorney General’s Office lawsuit that accuses them of protecting priests accused of child sex abuse(link is external). “U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Carl L. Bucki rejected the diocese’s request to retain a Buffalo law firm to represent retired Bishop Richard J. Malone and retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, both of whom are individually named, along with the diocese, in a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Letitia James in November. In a ruling late Tuesday (Mar. 2), Bucki said the diocese has “no obligation” to retain the Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman law firm on behalf of the two bishops, who retired prior to the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2020.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Washington account of $2m Cardinal Wuerl fund raises transparency questions
“The Archdiocese of Washington on Thursday (Mar. 4) said that more than $2 million allocated for the ‘continuing ministry activities’ of emeritus archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl was given by donors to cover Wuerl’s living and travel expenses, and to allow the cardinal to give charitable gifts at his discretion. But while the archdiocese now says the money was given by donors for the express purpose of funding Wuerl’s ‘expenses and ministerial needs,’ its audited financial statements tell a different story, stating the archdiocese designated $2 million of its own ‘net assets without donor restrictions’ for Wuerl’s use(link is external).” By The Pillar, on PillarCatholic.com

Panelists call for reckoning on abuse of Native American children at Catholic boarding schools
“In its attempts to address sex abuse crises, the Catholic Church has issued apologies, conducted investigations and paid reparations, but the Vatican has never publicly apologized for abuse inflicted on Indigenous Americans at Catholic-run boarding schools(link is external) in the United States and Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries, according to presenters at a Feb. 25 online panel event, ‘Native American Communities and the Clerical Abuse Crisis,’ hosted by Fordham University’s Taking Responsibility project.” By Lucy Grindon, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Pressure eases on Cardinal Woelki
“German bishops have backtracked after sharp criticism of the turmoil in the archdiocese of Cologne in recent weeks caused by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s decision not to publish the abuse report he had commissioned(link is external). At their plenary in the last week of February, they publicly emphasised that they were all responsible for the situation of the German Church. ‘A number of things in the Cologne archdiocese certainly need clearing up, but it would be all too hasty a conclusion to put the focus solely on the Archbishop of Cologne,’ conference president, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, underlined in his final report after the online plenary.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

BISHOPS

German bishop orders new look at US claims against Schonstatt founder
“Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier has ordered a reexamination of abuse allegations against Fr. Joseph Kentenich(link is external), the founder of the international Schonstatt movement, from his time in exile in the U.S. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported Ackermann referred to allegations made by an American man who accused Kentenich of sexually abusing him between 1958 and 1962. The bishop told the diocesan newspaper Paulinus that the accusations had been examined at the time, but that such suspected cases were treated differently today.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Top German bishop laments ‘scandalous’ image of church
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference said Thursday (Mar. 4) that the country’s Roman Catholic church is suffering from a ‘scandalous image’ amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue. The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse.” By Associated Press

WOMEN’S VOICES

Dear Pope Francis: Thank you for 8 years of challenging and healing the church. But women still deserve more.
“Dear Pope Francis, I remember that last year you personally recommended us to be brave like Mary Magdalene even when addressing the Pope. That is why I allow myself to tell you, with all respect, trust and affection, that as a woman I feel that something is owed to us(link is external). You fight against machismo and clericalism, but I think that not enough progress has been made in taking advantage of the wealth of women who make up a large part of the People of God.” By María Lía Zervino, America: The Jesuit Review

Ambassador: Progress for women leaders at Vatican
“International Women’s Day was celebrated yesterday (Mar. 8) with the global theme ‘Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’ In terms of the Church, Pope Francis is making small but significant steps towards greater inclusion of women in decision making and leadership(link is external). He has amended Canon Law so that women may be officially recognized as exercising the ministries of Lector and Acolyte. And he has appointed a woman as Under-Secretary to the Synod of Bishops – with the right to vote. Chiara Porro, the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See has told Vatican News that Pope Francis is an active promotor of gender equality:” By CathNews.com

Mary Grace Gallagher: Man shares why Maryland should end statute of limitations on child abuse claims
“It is a paradox of ‘social movements’ that they rely on lone voices, sharing stories of impact and pain. Whether chanting ‘Me Too’ or ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it is easy to stand in a crowd and demand change and much harder to stand alone, as one Bowie resident did last month, when he shared with strangers the most horrifying and vulnerable experience of his(link is external) life in a recorded Zoom session for the Maryland General Assembly. The legislators tuning into the hearing had been given a 200-page stack of testimony from survivors of childhood sexual abuse, all of it urging them to strengthen a law called the Hidden Predator Act that had passed with great fanfare in 2017.” Commentary by Mary Grace Gallagher, Capital Gazette

Catholic women invited to national consultation
“Catholic women are being invited to participate in a national consultation with two bishops later this month and to mark their diaries for a national gathering in September. The national consultation, which will take place on 27 March via Zoom, invites women to articulate and celebrate their contribution to and vision for the mission of the Catholic Church in Australia(link is external). Bishop Michael Morrissey, the Bishop Delegate for Women, said he is looking forward to hearing from Catholic women from across the country.” By Catholic Outlook

VATICAN

Ex-Vatican altar boy testifies in seminary sex abuse trial
“A former Vatican altar boy has testified that an older seminarian would come into his bed at night to perform a sexual act on him(link is external) in the Vatican’s youth seminary, saying his initial shock gave way to resignation because he feared being sent home. Accuser L.G. testified for the first time Wednesday (Mar. 17) in the Vatican’s criminal courtroom, in the first-ever case to go to trial alleging sexual abuse within the Vatican walls — among the altar boys who serve at papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli is accused of abusing his authority as a more senior seminarian to force L.G. into ‘carnal acts’ of sodomy and masturbation, using violence and threats, from 2007-2012.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

The Vatican restricts Traditional Latin Mass and suppresses private Masses at St. Peter’s Basilica
“The Vatican’s Secretariat of State has issued an instruction regarding the celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, suppressing Masses said by a priest by himself, and restricting the celebration of the extraordinary form of Mass in the Latin rite to one altar(link is external) in the crypt of the basilica. The instruction comes from the First Section of the Secretariat of State, which deals with the general affairs of the church and is headed by Venezuelan-born Archbishop Peña Parra. He is the third-highest ranking official in the Roman Curia and is known as the “substitute” (or chief of staff).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Curial speculation follows papal meetings with bishops
“Sources have told CNA that Pope Francis may choose two US-born prelates as prefects of congregations in the Roman Curia.(link is external) The two are Blase Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and Bishop Robert Prevost of Chiclayo. Pope Francis had a private audience with Cardinal Cupich Jan. 30, while he met Bishop Prevost March 1. The two audiences may be part of a series of meetings Pope Francis has in view of a general reshuffle of the top Curia officials. After the retirement of Robert Cardinal Sarah as prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, there are five congregations whose prefects have already reached and surpassed the retirement age of 75.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

CHURCH FINANCES

Celebrity priest creates financial storm at Long Island parish
“The gist of a meeting on a late February weeknight at St. Joseph Parish in Babylon, New York, is probably familiar to many Catholic churches across the country, as Fr. Jason Grisafi, the pastor, discussed how St. Joseph could meet its expenses in light of steadily declining contributions, a drop exacerbated during the last year by COVID-19. The meeting, however, was remarkable, given St. Joseph’s recent history(link is external). For one, it was livestreamed and a video of it was posted on the parish’s website, which also contained St. Joseph’s latest financial report. That transparency stands in stark contrast to the alleged opacity that marked the tenure of the previous pastor, Fr. Charles Mangano, who has moved on to a new assignment but has left behind unanswered questions about his financial stewardship at St. Joseph.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis signs off on Vatican budget with a multimillion-dollar deficit
“The Holy See’s budget for 2021 is significantly different from those of previous years both because of the financial difficulties related to the Covid-19 pandemic and the new methodology involved in its preparation—a ‘zero-based budget’—that sought to ensure maximum accountability. It envisages a deficit of $59 million (U.S. dollars), but the deficit would have been $95 million if the Peter’s Pence donations had not been included as income(link is external).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

CHILD PROTECTION

Poland’s Catholic bishops work with religious orders to strengthen child protection system
“Poland’s Catholic bishops strengthened their child protection system(link is external) on Thursday (Mar. 11) with an agreement with the country’s male religious orders. During the bishops’ plenary meeting in Warsaw on March 11, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki and Fr. Janusz Sok, C.Ss.R., signed a declaration committing men’s religious orders to cooperation with the St. Joseph Foundation, which the bishops established in 2019 to support abuse survivors.” By Catholic News Service

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German Catholics and Protestants Pursue Intercommunion Despite Vatican Objections
Catholics and Protestants in Germany announced on Tuesday (Mar. 16) that they would press ahead with intercommunion at an event in May despite Vatican objections(link is external). In a March 16 press release, organizers of the third Ecumenical Church Congress (ÖKT) in Frankfurt said that they planned to invite Christians to attend celebrations ‘in many churches’ in the city and across Germany on May 15. According to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, they said: ‘Christians of all denominations have the opportunity on this evening to come and enter, to get to know different traditions and — following their own conscience — to celebrate the living memory of Jesus Christ.’” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

VOICES

Honor the ‘mothers’ of early Christianity during Women’s History Month
“Women’s History Month is a great time to celebrate the ‘mothers’ of our Christian church. Until recently, few realized that early female believers shaped our church’s future no less than their better-known brothers (aka the ‘fathers of the church’(link is external)). On Feb. 14, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI made the rather remarkable statement that ‘without the generous contribution of many women, the history of Christianity would have developed very differently,’ and that the female presence was not ‘in any way secondary.’ Some early church mothers are relatively well-known while others are all but forgotten. Early writings and funerary inscriptions testify that women served as prophets, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, deacons, presbyters, enrolled widows, and heads of house churches and monasteries.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

How Big Money Is Dividing American Catholicism
“A schism in the faith between liberals and conservatives is being exacerbated by a group of plutocrats. The hardening schism in American Catholicism is shaping up to be a test of the influence of liberal Catholicism and the liberal left more broadly(link is external). It pits a loosely organized cultural and theological movement against a well-oiled and well-funded political movement on the right—the latter a testament to conservative Catholicism’s commitment to a politics of money and power.” By Katherine Stewart, The New Republic

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Catholic group opposes Colorado bill that would give child sex abuse survivors the ability to sue their abuser at any time
“For decades, survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their advocates have urged states to let them hold abusers accountable in civil court, no matter how long it’s been since the abuse. A bipartisan bill in the Colorado Legislature to do just that so far appears to have widespread approval, but it’s not without opposition from the Colorado Catholic Conference — a church embroiled in a sex abuse scandal in Colorado, the U.S. and around the world(link is external). There is no expiration date in Colorado to bring criminal charges against a person accused of child sex abuse, but the statute of limitations to sue an individual is only six years after a victim turns 18. Last year’s effort to change the latter failed.” By Saja Hini, The Denver Post

Lawmakers want to use emergency powers to pass sexual abuse reform. Can they find the votes to pull it off?
“Six weeks after the Wolf administration revealed that a clerical error had derailed a years-long effort to help survivors of child sex abuse, Pennsylvania state lawmakers are invoking a seldom-used legislative power to salvage it. If the plan that lawmakers put in motion on Monday (Mar. 15) succeeds, Pennsylvania voters will be asked during the May 18 primary election to ratify an emergency amendment to the state constitution allowing child sex abuse victims to sue perpetrators in decades-old cases(link is external). If it fails, voters will have to wait at least two years before they can weigh in.” By Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Cologne Archdiocese awaits potentially explosive report on abuse
“A potentially explosive report about sexual abuse in Germany’s Cologne Archdiocese is set to be released March 18(link is external). The fate of the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, could be profoundly affected. He has offered to resign if he is implicated in a cover-up. The upper echelon of the archdiocese will be targeted in the currently secret report, according to Joachim Frank, chief correspondent of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the city’s largest newspaper.” By Donald Snyder, National Catholic Reporter

This trauma counselor helps heal the wounds of abuse
“It was the early 2000s. The stories of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy were making headlines everywhere(link is external) and over and over again. Horrifying stories of the abuse perpetrated on children by adults they had been taught to trust. It had happened in parishes across the country, and even those who hadn’t personally experienced that sort of trauma were triggered by the news stories. Sharon Froom, a licensed mental health professional, was witnessing a great deal of emotional turmoil.” By Ann Christenson, U.S. Catholic

Sipe documentary prompts memories of early sex abuse activist
“I watched the documentary, ‘Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood,’ with a mix of very powerful emotions: profound admiration and gratitude for all that A.W. Richard Sipe had done and all that he continues to do, and very painful sadness. Richard and I go back to the earliest years of the clergy abuse phenomenon(link is external) … The documentary accurately showed Richard as a loving and gentle person who attracted people to him, especially people who were troubled, precisely because the empathy he shared was real, and because it was real it transcended the barriers of fear so many have when they seek help.” By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

ILLINOIS

Lapeer teen sues Catholic church and school, claiming a priest raped him 10 years ago
“A former student of Bishop Kelley Catholic School in Lapeer has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming a priest raped him in a teacher’s lounge(link is external) 10 years ago. The student, who was 8 years old at the time, said he attended a one-on-one counseling session in October 2010 with the priest in a teachers lounge. The student claims the priest raped him during the spiritual formation session. The student, who is now 18 years old, says he did not immediately report the assault because the priest allegedly told him that he had “power with the devil” and would have the student’s mother killed if he talked about the incident.” By ABC-TV12 News

3rd man accuses a Chicago activist pries of sexual abuse
“A third man has come forward with sexual abuse allegations against a Chicago priest who has gained widespread acclaim for his activism(link is external), saying he felt he owes it to two brothers who have faced criticism for accusing the priest of abusing them decades ago when they were teens. The 59-year-old man alleges in an affidavit shared late  Mar. 2) with church officials that the Rev. Michael Pfleger once grabbed his crotch over his clothes in the priest’s bedroom area at St. Sabina Church in the summer of 1979 as the then 18-year-old accuser pretended to sleep.” By Associated Press

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese estimates 400 sexual abuse claims filed by March 1 deadline
“Roughly 400 people, who allege that they were sexually preyed upon by local priests and deacons(link is external), went to bankruptcy court and sought compensation from the Archdiocese of New Orleans before last week’s deadline for victims of clerical abuse to file such claims, church officials said Thursday. The announcement provides some clarity about the number and potential value of remaining clerical abuse cases that the archdiocese will have to settle or litigate before it can reorganize its finances, a process that started when the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last May.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

Metairie deacon arrested on child molestation charges
“An ordained Catholic deacon from Metairie was arrested Monday (Mar. 8) and charged with sexually molesting a 10-11-year-old boy(link is external) two decades ago, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed. Virgil Maxey ‘V.M.’ Wheeler III, 62, was booked into Jefferson Parish jail Monday on one count each of sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile, Capt. Jason Rivarde said. Rivarde told The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate that Wheeler is suspected of performing oral sex on the boy in question and showering with him.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

MISSOURI

Deceased priest added to archdiocese’s list of clergy with substantiated claims of abuse of minors
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis has added the name of a deceased priest to its list of clergy who have had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). Father Vincent Duggan was added to the list of clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Because Father Duggan was accused after his death, his name will be added to that section of the list. The updated list of clergy with substantiated claims of abuse is available online at archstl.org/list. Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski sent a letter to parishes in the archdiocese where Father Duggan had served in ministry, and an announcement will be made in those parish bulletins.” By Archdiocese of St. Louis

NEW MEXICO

Ex-Las Cruces pastor accused of molesting teenage girl in 1970s
“A civil complaint filed in Albuquerque alleges a former Las Cruces Catholic priest sexually abused a teenage girl(link is external) in the 1970s. The Rev. Jesus Goni was a pastor at St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church at the time of the alleged incident. The plaintiff, who is identified as Jane Doe 43 in the lawsuit, accuses Goni of ordering her into his office in approximately May 1970 and inappropriately touching her. She was about 14 years old at the time.” By Leah Romero, Las Cruces Sun-News, in Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK

Deadline for filing sex abuse claims against Syracuse Catholic Diocese is approaching
“Anyone who wants to file a claim seeking damages for clergy sex abuse against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse must do so by midnight on April 15(link is external). The diocese issued a reminder of that deadline, known as the “bar date,” in a news release Sunday. The deadline was initially set in November 2020 by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Margaret Cangilos- Ruiz.” By Don Cazentre, Syracuse.com

WISCONSIN

Advocates push for a clergy abuse investigation in memory of Notre Dame graduate who died one year ago
“Supporters of a man who accused priests at St. Norbert Abbey of sexually abusing him(link is external) gathered outside a Green Bay Catholic high school Sunday (Mar. 7) to call on state officials to pull back the curtain on clergy abuse in Wisconsin. The rally near Notre Dame Academy came two days before the family and friends of Nate Lindstrom will mark one year since he died by suicide on March 9, 2020. Lindstrom, a Notre Dame alumnus, said he endured abuse by three Norbertine priests in the 1980s while he worked for clergymen who often took him to the abbey swimming pool.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

ARGENTINA

Argentine court clears former priest in sexual abuse case
“A court on Tuesday (Mar. 9) cleared a retired priest of sexual abuse charges on grounds the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes had expired(link is external). Former priest Carlos Eduardo José, 62, had spent more than a year in custody during the legal process and the ruling by a three-judge panel in the city of San Martin means he can go free. Attorneys for his accuser, Mailin Gobbo, said they would appeal.” By Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest denies historical abuse
“A former Catholic priest has denied sexually abusing a teenage schoolboy(link is external) almost 50 years ago while stationed at a remote northwest Queensland parish. Neville Joseph Creen, 80, pleaded not guilty to four historical counts of indecent and sexual abuse of the teenager in Mt Isa, where he served as a priest in the 1970s. The alleged victim, who cannot be identified, had just lost his father in a mining accident when he first met Father Creen, crown prosecutor Katrina Overell said in her opening in Brisbane District Court.” By Robyn Wuth, Guardian News

‘I was walking into an ambush’: Former Wallaby Tony Daly speaks out about childhood sexual abuse
“‘I can acknowledge it and I accept the ramification. But I won’t accept that I was a 10, 11-year-old boy and I was walking into an ambush. It shouldn’t have happened.’ There are small moments around which our lives turn. A chance encounter, a diagnosis, a shared connection. The defining moment in Tony Daly’s life happened when he was just 11. The man who he claims sexually abused him was a Catholic brother at his new boarding school(link is external).” By David Mark, ABC News

CANADA

Saskatoon Catholic officials promise to name sexually abusive priests in spring report
“Roman Catholic Church officials in Saskatoon are promising to publish a report this spring naming all abusive priests and staff going back to 1933(link is external). Saskatoon would be just the second jurisdiction in Canada to release names of abusive priests. A partial list was published by the Vancouver diocese in 2019. In the U.S., the vast majority of churches chose—or were forced by the courts—to make their lists public more than a decade ago. The Saskatoon report will list the priests involved in public court cases, but also the ones contained in the church’s internal records, said Brenda Fitzgerald, a member of the historical review committee for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

Class action against archdiocese for alleged negligence in abuse by priests ‘proceeding’
“A class action by dozens of Nova Scotians who say they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests(link is external) dating back to 1960 ‘is proceeding,’ says the lawyer representing the plaintiffs. The class action was filed on behalf of Douglas Champagne and other sexual abuse survivors. Champagne, according to the court filing, suffered lasting and permanent effects from sexual abuse at the hands of Father George Epoch while Epoch worked as a priest at the Canadian Martyrs Church in Halifax.” By Francis Campbell, The Chronicle Herald

COSTA RICA

Costa Rican bishops respond to alleged cover-up of sex abuse by students at Catholic school
“The National Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference released a statement in response to the alleged cover up of the sexual abuse of a former student at the Calasanz Catholic school(link is external). According to the local newspaper La Nación, a 21-year-old woman surnamed Cruz Carrillo made the accusation on social media that two of her male classmates sexually abused her in 2016.” By Catholic News Agency

FRANCE

France faces hard-hitting report on clerical sexual abuse
France faces a hard-hitting report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) this autumn after the head of an independent inquiry into such crimes since 1950 said it could reach a total of at least 10,000 cases. The commission, headed by retired judge Jean-Marc Sauvé, has been analysing self-reported cases and combing through diocesan archives for the past two years and expects to issue its report in October.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

GERMANY

Cardinal Marx’s Handling of Abuse Cases Under Scrutiny
“German Cardinal Reinhard Marx has rejected as ‘baseless’ accusations he prevented a full disclosure of information regarding clergy sex-abuse cases(link is external) in his diocese a decade ago — similar to accusations he himself has made against Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne. The charges were made against Cardinal Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, by German criminologist Christian Pfeiffer, whom the German bishops commissioned in 2011 to investigate a major study of abuse in the Church in Germany. That study was published in 2018.” By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Ampleforth College: Catholic school in child abuse scandal fails new inspection
“Ampleforth College, the Catholic school that is banned from taking new pupils after a child sex abuse scandal, has failed another Ofsted inspection(link is external). The school said that the latest findings related to ‘procedural’ issues rather than ‘horrific abuse.’ Ampleforth initially challenged the findings of an inspection in September before dropping its appeal. In November Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, ordered the North Yorkshire school not to take new pupils.” By Nicola Woolcock, The Times

INDONESIA

Amid sex abuse trial of ex-priest, Timor-Leste confronts its demons
“Images and short videos of people holding posters containing statements against sexual abuse adorn the timeline of a new Facebook campaign page. The campaign is called ‘Hapára Abuzu Seksuál hasoru Labarik,’ which means ‘Stop sexual abuse against children(link is external)’ in Timor-Leste’s Tetun language. Created on March 3, it aims to strengthen public awareness of sexual abuse amid the trial of ex-priest Richard Daschbach, according to Ariel Mota Alves, one of its administrators.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Notorious clerical abuser Oliver O’Grady back on the streets after release from prison
“Former priest and infamous pedophile Oliver O’Grady has been released from prison this week after serving his latest sentence for a sex-offence. Now 75-years-old, O’Grady had been jailed for 22 months last October for possessing ‘child pornography’, his ninth conviction(link is external). He had served time in California for the abuse of two boys where he served as a Catholic priest before being deported back to Ireland in the 1990s.” By Emon Dillon, Sunday World

MALTA

Clerical sex abuse case to be heard behind closed doors
“The case against two Xagħra priests charged with sexually abusing an altar boy(link is external) will be heard behind closed doors, a Gozitan court ruled on Monday (Mar. 8). Magistrate Bridgette Sultana issued a decree ordering the proceedings to be held behind closed doors ‘in the interest of full justice.’ She also barred the press from further reporting on the alleged perpetrators before the proceedings end. The priests, aged 70, and 84, have both denied sexual abuse charges.” By The Times of Malta

Chihuahua priest sentenced to 34 years for sexual assault of altar girl, 8
“A Chihuahua priest who was convicted in February of aggravated sexual assault against an 8-year-old who served as an altar girl(link is external) at his church was sentenced Tuesday (Mar. 2) to more than 34 years in prison. Aristeo Trinidad Baca, 78, a suspended priest at the Santa María de la Montaña Parish Church in Ciudad Juárez, assaulted the girl between 2015–2018, the court found on February 22. The priest received multiple sentences, totaling 34 years, five months and 10 days, reflecting the fact that he had sexually assaulted the girl on at least three occasions.” By Mexico News Daily

NEW ZEALAND

Faith-based Institutions To Front Royal Commission On Redress For Abuse
“Witnesses for faith-based institutions, including Archbishops and a Cardinal, will give evidence before the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry this month, on their processes for resolving historic and current abuse claims(link is external). Phase 2 of the Faith-based Redress hearing runs from 15 to 29 March. Phase 1 of the hearing was held late last year and focussed on the experience of survivors in seeking redress (such as compensation, counselling, an apology etc) for abuse and/or neglect in the care of faith-based institutions.” By Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry on Scoop.co.nz

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

February 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

Pope appoints more women to Vatican posts previously held only by men
“Pope Francis has appointed two women to Vatican posts previously held only by men(link is external), in back-to-back moves giving women more empowerment in the male-dominated Holy See. He appointed Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, on Saturday (Feb. 6) as co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, a department that prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years on a different topic. The previous day, Francis named Italian magistrate Catia Summaria as the first woman Promoter of Justice in the Vatican’s Court of Appeals.” By Reuters on NBC News

New York’s Catholic church leaders control billions outside the reach of abuse survivors
“The Catholic bishops of New York sold a lucrative insurance business they controlled and stored the proceeds in a foundation they also administer, keeping billions out of the reach of survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). The move occurred in 2018, with the church selling its Fidelis Care insurance company and moving $4.3 billion of the proceeds into the new Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. At the same time, the Child Victims Act in New York was gaining momentum in the Legislature, a measure that the church had lobbied against for more than a decade.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times Union

Pope again updates Vatican legal code amid scrutiny, probes
“Pope Francis has made another set of changes to the Vatican City State’s legal code, which has come under heightened scrutiny and criticism as Vatican prosecutors seek to crack down on financial crimes and mismanagement(link is external) by Holy See monsignors and money managers. In a new law published Tuesday, Francis made two modifications to criminal trial procedures when defendants don’t show up, one of which allows their lawyers to defend them fully even in absentia.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

St. Louis Archbishop Rozanski accused of covering up clergy sex abuse at previous post
“A civil lawsuit filed in Springfield, Massachusetts, alleges St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski was part of ‘abhorrent attempts’ to protect the reputation of a now disgraced Roman Catholic bishop while at his previous post in the northeast(link is external). The plaintiff, named John Doe in court records, had already claimed that the late Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldon sexually abused him in the 1960s when he was an altar boy. Now he alleges he was also harmed by the alleged cover-up of the abuse decades later when he first started reporting it to the diocese in late 2014.” By Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ACCOUNTABILITY

Kansas Catholic bishop under investigation by KBI for alleged sexual abuse of a minor
“Kansas’ top law enforcement agency is investigating an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Roman Catholic Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City(link is external), the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced Monday (Feb. 8). ‘An investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is under way,’ the archdiocese said in a statement published in The Leaven, its official newspaper. ‘Bishop Brungardt denies the allegation and is cooperating fully with the KBl.’” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

POPE FRANCIS

Opposition to Francis rooted in opposition to Vatican II
“At the end of January, Pope Francis delivered an important address to participants in a meeting of the National Catechetical Office of the Italian Bishops conference. It warrants attention from all the local churches because it shows, I think, why the opposition to Francis is rooted in the desire to put the Vatican II toothpaste back into a pre-conciliar tube(link is external). In the address, the pope presented an understanding of catechesis that is so far from the dry appeals to chapter and verse that tend to characterize a certain kind of apologetical, conservative Christianity.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Catholic priests accused of sex abuse increasingly use defamation lawsuits to fight allegations
“As clergy abuse lawsuits proliferate across the U.S., a growing number of priests who say they were falsely accused are pushing back(link is external) — by suing their accusers, investigators and even church officials. The list includes the Rev. Roy Herberger of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York. Last year, he filed a defamation case against a 42-year-old man who said the priest had assaulted him as a boy. The diocese cleared Herberger after a six-month investigation, but the experience was devastating, he said.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women’s voices necessary for genuine discernment at synods
“The good news: Pope Francis named Xaverian Sr. Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary to the Vatican’s office of the Synod of Bishops, possibly with voting rights. The other news: the second undersecretary named, Augustinian Fr. Luis Marín de San Martín, will become a bishop. The more things change. … Still, it is important to have a woman’s voice near the top(link is external), and the fact that Sr. Becquart will likely have a vote makes an important statement about the role of the nonordained.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Nun says her Vatican appointment means ‘clericalist mindset is changing’
“A French nun who could potentially be the first woman to cast a vote in the Synod of Bishops said Wednesday (Feb. 10) that her appointment is evidence the ‘clericalist mindset is changing’(link is external) as more and more women assume high-level decision-making responsibilities in the Catholic hierarchy. Sister Nathalie Becquart told journalists that Pope Francis has been underlining the importance of including women in the decision-making processes, helping move the Church from a clericalist attitude towards a more synodal one.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Pope’s move for women’s rights anything but a token gesture
“In what’s being hailed as a demonstration that Pope Francis is in earnest about empowering women within ecclesiastical structures(link is external), on Friday (Feb. 5), for the first time ever, the pontiff named a woman as the Promoter of Justice for the Appeals Court of the Vatican City State. In effect, the Promoter of Justice functions like a District Attorney in the United States, making the case for a criminal charge in front of the justices of the Vatican tribunal whenever a conviction comes up for appeal.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Women Religious, Women Deacons Q&A: Why would the ministry of women religious/women deacons be beneficial?
“Francis’ repeated calls for a ‘more incisive female presence’ in church leadership have met uneven implementation around the world(link is external) as well as at the Vatican. There are possible positions open to laypersons that might allow women — if appointed — to have a ‘more incisive presence’ in the church. These are typically administrative positions and, at the Vatican at least, can be limited to five-year terms. Again, women can be appointed to some positions, and women’s viewpoints can make a difference, but only if they are considered. Depending on the Vatican office or diocesan structure, a woman is too often at risk of being ornamental and eliminated from actual decision-making.” Last is a series of five by Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Priest in Vatican youth seminary trial denies abuse claims
“An Italian priest denied Wednesday (Feb. 10) that he sexually molested a fellow altar boy when both were teenagers at the Vatican’s youth seminary(link is external), taking the stand for the first time in a criminal trial over alleged abuse within the Vatican walls. The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli told the Vatican tribunal that the allegations against him were unfounded and implausible. He said they were the fruit of divisions in the seminary as well as ‘jealousy’ among former seminarians that he was eventually ordained a priest.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH FINANCES

Envoy’s case confirms culture, not law, is real roadblock to reform
“In virtually any reform effort, there are usually two targets, one of which is obvious and relatively easy to tackle if there’s the will to do it, the other far more elusive and resistant to change. The first of those targets is outright, blatant corruption, and the other is formed by cultural assumptions and patterns of behavior that aren’t generally perceived as criminal or even immoral. It would seem that Pope Francis’s financial reform of the Vatican has reached that second stage(link is external), and it’s an open question whether it will succeed and how many other contretemps may erupt along the way.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Sitting on billions, Catholic dioceses amassed taxpayer aid
“Scores of Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. had more than $10 billion in cash and other readily available funds when they received at least $1.5 billion from the nation’s emergency relief program(link is external) for small businesses slammed by the coronavirus, an Associated Press investigation has found. The financial resources of several dioceses rivaled or exceeded those available to publicly traded companies — like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House — whose participation in the Paycheck Protection Program triggered outrage last spring.” By Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

A cardinal in the dock would mark real reform in Vatican justice
“From the outside, the commonplace assumption about the Vatican’s system of criminal justice probably is that it’s too lenient, because, as people would see it, the system boils down to Vatican personnel policing their peers and thus, many likely assume, the temptation is to go easy. Insiders, however, have long felt it’s precisely the other way around. The whole point of Vatican tribunals, as they rather cynically perceive it, is to deliver lower-level scapegoats to insulate senior figures from culpability(link is external), so the system is stacked in favor of the prosecution.” By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

Legislation needed to help victims of child sexual abuse
“We’ve been told by thinkers and self-help gurus through the years that mistakes can be a source of learning, inspiration and growth(link is external) that we shouldn’t fear them, and we should courageously move on from them. Advice along these lines has undoubtedly been ricocheting through the mind of now-departed Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar in recent days. Boockvar fell on her sword and resigned last week after a mistake the State Department made that had the distinction of being both trivial and exceptional.” By Editorial Board, Observer-Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

House Sponsors Hope Derailed Sex Abuse Survivor Rights Amendment Will Get Back On Track
“A proposal to give childhood sexual abuse survivors in Pennsylvania two more years to sue after the statute of limitations has expired(link is external) is getting another chance in the state legislature. The measure would have amended the commonwealth’s Constitution, but its years-long approval process was set to start over when the Department of State revealed this week it failed to advertise the amendment last year, as required by the Constitution.” By Sam Dunklau, WSKG-FM National Public Radio

State agency bungles ballot referendum for child sex victims
“Some victims of child sexual abuse might have to wait two years or more to pursue legal claims because of a major bureaucratic bungle that prompted angry denunciations across the political spectrum Monday (Jan. 29) and the resignation of Pennsylvania’s top state elections official. A proposed state constitutional amendment allowing lawsuits over decades-old claims — prompted by investigations into child sexual abuse allegations inside Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic diocese(link is external) — wasn’t advertised as required and so cannot appear on the ballot this spring, the Wolf administration disclosed Monday (Jan. 29).” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

Abuse survivors and advocates push emergency measure for May ballot
“A bipartisan team of Pennsylvania lawmakers will invoke a rare emergency provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, seeking to restore a constitutional amendment ballot question long sought by victims of child sex abuse(link is external). An administrative error by the Department of State, discovered late last month, prevents the question from appearing on the May 18 ballot. The proposed amendment gives child sexual abuse victims a retroactive two-year ‘window’ in which to file civil lawsuits, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Charity says assault allegations against founder ‘plausible’
“International charity Aid to the Church in Need said it found ‘very plausible’ the claim that its founder, the late Fr Werenfried van Straaten, had sexually assaulted a former employee(link is external) in the 1970s. The charity, which supports Christians suffering under persecution or extreme poverty, confirmed in a statement last week that the victim came forward with the allegation in 2010 and that preparations for a sainthood cause for Fr van Straaten stopped at the time. ‘The leadership of the charity took the accusation very seriously. It immediately sought out the person concerned and, in a personal meeting, listened to her. Her portrayal of the incident seemed very plausible,’ ACN said in the statement published after Christ und Welt, a supplement of the German newspaper Die Zeit, reported the charity had paid the woman 16,000 euros ($25,000).” By CathNews.com

CALIFORNIA

New Diocese of Oakland sex abuse lawsuit reveals seminaries as a hot bed of abuse
“New revelations of disturbing sexual abuse at a seminary are coming to light(link is external) after a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Oakland settled last year. According to a local NBC affiliate, “The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago. He does not wish to be identified, so NBC Bay Area is calling him John Doe.” By Los Angeles Legal Examiner

DELAWARE

Diocese of Wilmington again found in compliance with plan to deal with sexual abuse of minors
“The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has once again been found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People(link is external), the comprehensive action plan adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 to effectively deal with sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy and other church personnel. The findings are a result of a review of data collected for the 2019/2020 Charter audit period by StoneBridge Business Partners, an independent firm hired by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Diocese of Wilmington has been found to be in compliance in all audits including its first audit in 2004.” By The Dialog

FLORIDA

Former Jacksonville bishops failed to report sexual abuse allegations, records show
“Since the early 1990s, at least four women have repeatedly come to the Diocese of St. Augustine with complaints of how now-deceased priest William Malone molested and fondled them, impregnating at least one of them(link is external), in the 1980s. His victims were young girls, the youngest just 11 years old. The Diocese of St. Augustine told its parishioners in 2019 — for the first time — it knew of credible allegations against Fr. Malone. Church leaders didn’t specify how many victims came forward or what they knew.” By Kelly Wiley, News4Jax

ILLINOIS

Cardinal Blase Cupich demanding details on abusive order priests but won’t post findings
“Two and a half years after the latest sex abuse scandal rocked the Catholic church and prompted new pledges of transparency, the church in the Chicago region has yet to make a full accounting to the public of its problem priests(link is external). Cardinal Blase Cupich has demanded for more than two years now that Catholic religious orders that operate in his territory fully disclose to him any information on their clergy members who now face or previously have faced accusations of child sexual abuse.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

LOUISIANA

New Orleans archdiocese to add clergy abuse survivor to allegation review board
“For the first time since a sexual abuse scandal erupted within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans decades ago, its leader is adding an abuse survivor to the panel that reviews allegations involving clergy(link is external). Archbishop Gregory Aymond announced Thursday (Feb. 11) that a clergy abuse survivor, whose identity will be kept confidential, will become part of his Independent Review Board. The board, comprised of ‘primarily lay professionals’ according to the archdiocese, reviews abuse claims to see if they are credible and then makes recommendations to the archbishop.” By Greg LaRose, WDSU-TV6 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Archives: Diocese wanted Rev. Holley out. Personal letters detailing priest’s situation obtained by T&G
“Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan in 1971 decided that one reason the Rev. David A. Holley should go into the care of Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico or some other location operated by the order was because they would be able to find a placement for him after he completed treatment, the bishop said in a letter written at the time. Rev. Holley, denied parole last week, is now serving a 55- to 275-year prison sentence in New Mexico for sexually abusing and raping eight boys(link is external) there. Although Rev. Holley was taken in as a priest of the Worcester Diocese in 1962 and incardinated in 1967, which means he became a priest of the diocese, he proved to be problematic because of his history of sexually molesting boys.” By Kathleen A. Shaw, Telegram & Gazette

Bishop Weldon accuser files lawsuit against Springfield diocese
“A former altar boy who accused the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of sexual assault(link is external) — and whose claim was found to be ‘unequivocally credible’ following a review ordered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield — has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the physical harm he suffered in the 1960s and continued emotional distress. The plaintiff says he was between 9 and 11 years old when he was raped multiple times at multiple locations by Weldon and two other members of the clergy.” By Ray Kelly, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

MINNESOTA

Diocese files plan for reorganization
“The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has reached a settlement with the Creditors’ Committee representing 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). ‘It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years. We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority. We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our Diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious, and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.’ said the Most Reverend John M. Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.” By Diocese of Winona-Rochester

  • Winona-Rochester Diocese reaches $21.5 million settlement with abuse victims, By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi trial delayed for friar accused of sex abuse
“A trial has been postponed until April for a former Franciscan friar accused of molesting students(link is external) in the 1990s at a Catholic school in Mississippi. Paul West had been scheduled for trial in February. His case was delayed so he could undergo a mental evaluation, The Greenwood Commonwealth reported, citing dockets on the local district attorney’s website. A Leflore County grand jury indicted West in August on two counts of sexual battery and two counts of gratification of lust. If convicted, he faces life in prison.” By Associated Press

NEW MEXICO

Catholic priest sex abuse trial to begin in December 2021
“A trial date was set in the case of the late Fr. David Holley, who allegedly sexually abused a victim in Alamogordo(link is external). New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Daniel Ramczyk set the jury trial date for the case as Dec. 13. The complainant, listed as John Doe, allegedly was one of several of Holley’s victims in Alamogordo in the 1970s, court records state.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Judge: Sex abuse lawsuits can proceed against the Church
“A federal judge has rejected an attempt by the bankrupt Archdiocese of Santa Fe to block three lawsuits accusing it of transferring millions of dollars(link is external) in property to individual parishes to shield the assets from settlements in sexual abuse cases. Last week’s ruling allows lawsuits for hundreds of victims to proceed, while the archdiocese says it will file another appeal. ‘The gist of the proposed actions was that [the archdiocese] allegedly transferred to its 93 parishes most of [its] property, without consideration, and with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud its creditors (almost entirely sex abuse claimants),” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma wrote in his ruling.’” By Dillon Mullan, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Diocese of Buffalo says audit shows it to be complying with youth safety procedures
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo says a newly-completed audit by a Rochester firm finds it is fully complying with guidelines put forth to protect children(link is external) and young people from harm. StoneBridge Business Partners looked at the years 2019 and 2020, collecting and measuring data from parishes, schools and key diocesan departments. The information collected covers topics including appropriate training, screening and hiring processes and procedures for working with victims.” By Michael Mroziak, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

PENNSYLVANIA

Former priest sentenced to 5 years’ probation in abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic priest in Pennsylvania who pleaded guilty to assaulting two altar boys(link is external) about two decades ago has been sentenced to five years’ probation. John G. Allen, 77, of York had pleaded guilty in November to indecent assault and corruption of minors in the assaults at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook between 1997 and 2002. He acknowledged having touched the children over their clothes.” By Associated Press

TEXAS

Archdiocese of San Antonio plans to update its clergy abuse list
“Two years ago, when Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller released a landmark list of priests credibly accused of sexually assaulting and abusing children(link is external), he said that apologizing once wouldn’t suffice. Two years after that defining moment, his words torment survivors of crimes that amounted to rape. None of the cases might have resulted in imprisonment, but they embroiled the Catholic Church in a global cover-up and scandal.” By Elaine Ayala, LMTonline.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church pedophile networks to be mapped ‘like organized crime’ by academics
“A ‘mafia-like’ code of silence among ‘dark networks’ within the Catholic Church has begun to emerge from a world-first project mapping clerical pedophile networks(link is external), says an academic behind the project. The project is led by Newcastle sociologist Kathleen McPhillips and criminologist Jodi Death (pronounced Deeth) from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) law faculty. The research builds on work done by Sally Muytjens, one of Dr Death’s doctoral students, who mapped Catholic paedophile networks in Victoria.” By Giselle Wakatama, ABC Newcastle

CANADA

Supreme Court sides with London, Ont., woman suing Catholic church
“The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with Irene Deschenes, the London, Ont., woman trying to reopen her civil suit against the Diocese of London(link is external), which has tried to legally stop her for more than a decade. Thursday’s (Feb. 11) dismissal of the diocese’s appeal application marks the end of the legal road for the church, at least for now, and it means Deschenes and the church can begin renegotiating her claim. ‘It’s in the hands of the church so we will see what will happen next. If they have any compassion for the victims they created, they’d be on the phone to us by the end of the day,’ said Deschenes at a virtual media conference after the ruling.” By Kate Dubinski, CBC News

Catholic Church sued in class-action suit linked to Mount Cashel case
“A class-action lawsuit has been filed over allegations that children at two Vancouver-area Catholic schools were abused by members of the Christian Brothers(link is external) who had been transferred to B.C. from the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage. The lawsuit says that the abuse at Vancouver College and St. Thomas More in the period from 1976 to 1995 continued a pattern of systemic child abuse at institutions run by the Christian Brothers in Canada first revealed at the Newfoundland orphanage in the mid- to late-1970s.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

St. John’s Catholic diocese named in proposed Vancouver class action
“The legal entity of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s has been named in a proposed class-action lawsuit involving alleged sexual abuse at schools in Vancouver where Christian Brothers taught(link is external) decades ago. The notice of civil claim was to be filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Monday (Feb. 8) and the local archdiocese has not had legal notification yet, according to the lawyer Joe Fiorante who hopes to get the class action certified in B.C. … Early police investigations in Newfoundland and Labrador were covered up at the time.” By Barb Sweet, The Chronicle Herald

GERMANY

Cologne Catholic sex abuse probe seen as cover-up
“Germany’s secular panel on sexualized violence against children says Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese has ‘severely damaged’ moves to own up to its abusive past(link is external). Cologne’s archbishopric ‘severely damaged’ the process of owning up to decades of sexualized violence against children in its ranks as demanded by victims and lay Catholics, a top secular German panel found on Monday. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse — a commission mandated by parliament since 2016 to probe cases across German society — decried the diocese’s own internal review, saying this must be done instead by outsiders.” By Deutsche Welle

German archbishop under fire over clergy sex abuse report
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference has criticized the handling by one of the country’s most prominent Roman Catholic archbishops of a report on past child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, faces mounting discontent in his diocese over his decision to keep under wraps a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm.” By Associated Press

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Christian Brothers abused children at Fife care home ‘with impunity’ inquiry concludes
“St. Ninian’s School in Falkland exposed youngsters to risks of sexual, physical, and psychological danger for almost the entire time it was open(link is external). Lady Smith’s damning conclusion of the Christian Brothers was revealed today with the publication of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. She said they were the perpetrators who would ‘pursue their abusive practices with impunity.’ And her view of St Ninian’s School in Falkland was ‘depressing.’ and that abusive Brothers had ‘unrestrained access’ to vulnerable children.” By Allan Crow, Fife Today

Victim speaks out after abusive priest sentenced
“The victim of a priest sentenced to serve more than a decade in jail for child sexual abuse has attacked the Archdiocese of Birmingham for trying to dissuade him from reporting the assaults to police. Last week, Fr Joseph Quigley was jailed for 11 years and six months for sexually and physically abusing a young man(link is external). At one stage he locked him in the crypt of a church as a punishment for supposed wrongdoing.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Catholic brother allowed to live by school had been charged with abuse of seven victims
“A Catholic brother who was allowed to live on school grounds was the former head of a school accused of abusing multiple children(link is external). The man spent several years living in France before moving onto accommodation connected to St Francis Xavier’s (SFX) College in Woolton. The ECHO has since learned that the man, a member of the French Catholic order the Brothers of Christian Instruction, was charged with 10 counts of indecent assault against seven victims, some under 13, at a school outside the Merseyside area.” By Jonathan Humphries, Liverpool Echo

GUAM

Vatican removed as defendant in Guam clergy sex abuse case
“The nephew of former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron removed the Holy See, or the Vatican, from the list of defendants in his clergy sex abuse case(link is external). Mark Apuron, through attorney Delia Lujan Wolff, filed a ‘notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice’ of all claims against ‘Defendant Holy See, State of the Vatican City, its instrumentalities and/or agents.’ A dismissal without prejudice means the matter is not dismissed forever, and can be brought to court again.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

MALTA

The long shadow of clerical abuse
“The Church has always been a key focal point in Maltese life and culture. Precisely because of its importance and dominance, and not just in Malta, the issue of clerical sex abuse has only begun to fully surface in recent decades(link is external). Evidence from countries which have had extensive experience of clerical abuse suggests that it is far more widespread than formal reporting would suggest. Experience to date indicates that victims are extremely slow to come forward while Church and state are notoriously slow to acknowledge the issue and society at large is significantly reluctant to even discuss it.” By Times Malta Editorial Board

Sex abuse in the Church; majority of victims don’t report cases, says expert
Victims of child and adolescent abuse rarely report their abuse, meaning many perpetrators are still within the community(link is external), a 2000 study by psychologist Mariella Dimech of 80 people with drug problems had found at the time. ‘Numbing The Pain’ focused on the link between child and adolescent abuse and drug addiction by following 80 people who had drug problems over time – 90% of these vicims had been abused during childhood and adolescence.” By Laura Calleja, Malta Today

POLAND

Poland’s Catholic church accused of failing to take action against paedophile priest for 25 years
“The Catholic church in Poland has been accused of failing to take decisive action against an accused pedophile priest for 25 years(link is external) after first being made aware of the allegations. The claims, broadcast in a new television report on Monday (Feb.15), are the latest revelations regarding the church’s alleged failure to properly investigate child sex abuse by clergy. In some instances, the institution has been accused of deliberately covering cases up and protecting perpetrators.” By NotesfromPoland.com

SPAIN

Madrid archdiocese provided support for 85 abuse victims in 2020
“The Archdiocese of Madrid provided support services for 85 victims of abuse in 2020, 75 of them direct victims and 10 who were family members(link is external). The 85 victims received free psychological care and listening sessions offered through the Repara Project for the prevention of abuse and care for victims, launched in January 2020. Altogether, the Repara Project provided free 400 psychological care and listening sessions in its first year of operation.” By Catholic News Agency

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

February 8, 2021

TOP STORIES

Francis: ‘No concession’ to those who deny Vatican II teachings
“Pope Francis on Jan. 30 urged those charged with passing on the principles of the Catholic faith to consider the teachings of the Second Vatican Council as sacrosanct(link is external), saying that to be Catholic one must adhere to the reforms brought about by the landmark event. ‘You can be with the church and therefore follow the council, or you can not follow the council or interpret it in your own way, as you want, and you are not with the church,’ the pontiff said in a meeting with a group of catechists connected to the Italian bishops’ conference.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

In came Latin, incense and burned books, out went half the parishioners
“Religion scholar Maria Lichtmann felt a strangeness overcome St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Parish in Boone, North Carolina, four years ago. Fr. Matthew Codd, the then-pastor at St. Elizabeth’s, was joined by a group of seminarians who went through the church’s theology library and removed books deemed heretical, including those of spiritual writers Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton. The books were later burned, she was told by a parish staff member(link is external). Lichtmann, a retired religious studies professor at Appalachian State University, left the region in part, she told NCR, because of the changes in the parish. She now lives in Georgia.” By Perter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Joy, frustration and humor: reactions to Vatican law change on lectors, altar servers
“”Am I the only one who is like: wait, women aren’t explicitly allowed to be lectors and altar servers before this?” Flora Tang wrote on Twitter Jan. 11. She was not, in fact, the only one. (For starters, more than 30 people liked her tweet). In the wake of Pope Francis’ announcement Jan. 11 that officially opened altar serving, lectoring and eucharistic ministries to all ‘lay persons(link is external),’ rather than just men, Catholic organizations and individuals expressed a mix of emotions, including joy, disappointment and a bit of wry humor — or just plain surprise. Some saw the move as a positive step that more fully recognizes women’s roles in the church.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Lots of Politics, Little Legitimacy: The USCCB needs an ecclesial and theological vision
“The second Catholic president of the United States is the first to hold office in the midst of an American intra-Church crisis. John Kennedy never had to deal with the kind of conflict currently roiling the USCCB or the opposition of so many bishops to the papacy(link is external). But Joe Biden takes office just as the situation inside the U.S. Catholic Church becomes reminiscent of the Americanist controversy of the late nineteenth century. What divided the bishops then were the warnings put forth by Leo XIII in Longinqua oceani (1895) and Testem benevolentiae (1899)—namely, admonitions against embracing the ‘American’ models of religious liberty and separation of church and state. New York Archbishop John Corrigan sided with the pope, against St. Paul Archbishop John Ireland and his allies, whom Leo ultimately disavowed for their ‘Americanist’ views. The split had long-term effects on the Church.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Women’s Work: The pope makes it harder to keep women out of liturgy
“It must be difficult for a mainstream journalist covering the Vatican beat on days like January 11, when Pope Francis’s motu proprio, Spiritus Domini, was announced. How to convey the significance of a tweak to canon law that clarifies women’s eligibility to be lectors and acolytes at Mass(link is external)? Aren’t they…already doing those things? Pity the reporter who must quickly explain the existence of ‘stable ministries’ in the Church, and the now-obscure practice of formally instituting lay men into those roles … It’s no wonder so many outlets framed the news in terms of what hadn’t happened: ‘Pope says women can read at Mass, but still can’t be priests’ ran a typical headline.” By Mollie Wilson O’Reilly, Commonweal

ACCOUNTABILITY

Australian police find no crime in Vatican money transfers
“Australian police said Wednesday (Feb. 2) they found no evidence of criminal misconduct in money transfers from the Vatican that a financial agency mistakenly inflated(link is external) by almost $1.8 billion and fueled corruption speculation. Australian Federal Police investigated the transfers to Australia that the country’s financial intelligence agency, Austrac, reported to the Senate in December amounted to $1.8 billion over six years.” By Associated Press in Star Tribune

Catholic Church: German bishops’ summit considers women and lay roles as answer to abuse crisis
“Germany’s Catholic bishops will resume discussions this week to plan the Synodal Path, a set of conferences slated to address controversial questions such as women’s roles and LGBTQ acceptance, even as the country faces yet another scandal of sexual abuse by clergy. Many churchmen believe that the social questions and the abuse crisis are related(link is external). ‘The abuse crisis hurts the church very deeply,’ Rev Martin Maier, a Jesuit priest and former editor at the German Catholic magazine Voices of the Time (Stimmen der Zeit), told Religion News Service. ‘One of the goals of the Synodal Path is to restore trust, which is crucial and vital.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, in Sight Magazine

A Vanishing Priest, a Wall of Secrecy and a 25-Year-Old Abuse Case
“Thirty-odd years ago, 8-year-old Timothy Schlenz spent every Saturday being tutored on the sacraments at a Manhattan church. It was there, he said, that he was regularly abused. Only years later did Mr. Schlenz come to understand that Father Jones had abused him. He wanted to press charges, though by then the statute of limitations had passed. But the New York State Child Victims Act, which allows for victims to file civil lawsuits against their abusers regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred, has given Mr. Schlenz a chance to make his case(link is external).” By Jenn Morson, The New York Times

Michael McDowell: Church, State and society all owe redress over homes
“A somewhat fractious debate has emerged on whether responsibility, legal or moral, for the awful neglect and ill-treatment of Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children lies with the State, the churches, or with society at large. It is a combination of all three. A duty of acknowledgment of responsibility and of redress lies with all three.(link is external) The state is an emanation of society; the churches were integral parts of that society. Our church-dominated society perpetrated this terrible mistreatment of its weakest and most vulnerable.” By Michael McDowell, The Irish Times

Pope Francis

Clergy must remain united with faithful, not become elitist, pope says
“Members of the clergy should always remember they are part of the people of God and not an elite group that stands above the faithful(link is external), Pope Francis said. In a video message sent Jan. 24 to Peruvian Bishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, president of the Latin American bishops’ council, also known as CELAM, the pope said the council’s upcoming meeting with the laity highlights the importance of remaining ‘together with the people of God.’ By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in Catholic San Francisco

BISHOPS

Sunday Mass in every church to become a thing of the past, Dublin Archbishop says
“Dublin’s new Catholic Archbishop has said celebration of Sunday Mass in every church will become a thing of the past and a declining priesthood will require a greater role for lay leadership(link is external). In a interview on the day of his formal installation, Archbishop Dermot Farrell set out the current state of his diocese in numbers , 197 parishes served by 350 active priests with an average age of 70. He said there was now a need to reorganize parishes both in terms of how they are divided out and the possibility of lay leadership.” By Patsy McGarry and Mark Hilliard, The Irish Times

Bishops throw cold water on the most Catholic inauguration in history
“Apparently, the leadership of the U.S. bishops conference, before it had even heard the speech, chose to range itself among those unwilling to ‘come together to carry all of us forward(link is external).’ Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the conference, issued a churlish statement … The statement contained two big fat lies at its heart … The worse lie came when Gomez said, “Catholic bishops are not partisan players in our nation’s politics.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Leading nun says decision-making shouldn’t be a matter of ordination
“One of the Catholic Church’s most prominent nuns has said the push for women’s priestly ordination in the Catholic Church points to a deeper question that needs to be asked and stressed the need to separate ordained ministry from decision-making(link is external). ‘I think there’s a bigger question, which is really the discernment of the ministries that are needed in the Church and in the world today,’ said Sister Patricia Murray, a member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and secretary general of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

The larger dimension of the pope’s new document on women and ministry
““Spiritus Domini” is the latest moment in a long-term process to de-clericalise the Catholic Church. Pope Francis’s little document Spiritus Domini on allowing women to be officially invested with the lay ministries of lector and acolyte is a most welcome development(link is external). It is a very interesting small brick in his larger pastoral edifice dedicated to implementing the reforms mandated over half a century ago by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).” By Thomas O’Loughlin, Catholic Outlook

WOMEN DEACONS

Women Religious, Women Deacons Q&A: Who could be the general superior?
It is a documented fact that women, including members of abbeys and monasteries, were ordained as deacons(link is external). The misconception that the ordination of women deacons was ‘only’ the ceremonial appointment of an abbess ignores both the fact of their sacramental diaconal ordinations and the fact of their abbatial consecrations, which gave jurisdictional powers and authority. In some liturgies, the two nominations are collapsed, but without question some abbesses were ordained as deacons and, in fact, had territorial jurisdictional authority equivalent to that of bishops within their abbey and monastery territories.” By Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Vatican says allegations against Wyoming bishop can’t be proven
“A Vatican investigation has exonerated retired Bishop Joseph Hart of Cheyenne, Wyoming, on seven accusations of sexual abuse towards minors, while five other accusations ‘could not be proven with moral certitude(link is external),’ the diocese announced in a statement Monday (Jan. 25). The decree came from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) – the Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints. However, the CDF issued a canonical rebuke to Hart for ‘his flagrant lack of prudence as a priest and bishop for being alone with minors in his private residence and on various trips, which could have been potential occasions endangering the ‘obligation to observe continence’ and that would ‘give rise to scandal among the faithful,’’ according to the diocese statement.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Despite question marks, Vatican bank verdict is still a watershed
“We’ve been down this road before, of course, but nevertheless we witnessed what’s being hailed as a landmark moment this week for financial reform in the Vatican(link is external) when a longtime former president of the Vatican Bank, along with the bank’s lawyer, were sentenced to eight years and 11 months in jail for their roles in a $70 million fraud.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Former Vatican bank president guilty of embezzlement
“A former president of the Vatican bank and his lawyer have been found guilty of money laundering and embezzling millions of euros from property sales(link is external). According to a statement released by the Vatican yesterday (Jan. 21), Angelo Caloia, who served as president of the Institute for the Works of Religion from 1999 to 2009, and his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, were sentenced to eight years and 11 months for skimming profits from the sale of Vatican properties. Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican tribunal, handed down the sentence and ordered Caloia and Liuzzo to pay a fine of 12,500 euros ($19,600) each.” By CathNews.com

VOICES

Opinion: It’s time for Colorado’s Catholic Church to take a moral inventory
“The dialogue about the need for accountability following reports of priestly abuse should also be the catalyst for examining other areas where the church presumes moral authority(link is external), including health care. Growing up in the Catholic faith, several guiding principles were instilled in me, including the sanctity of human life and dignity, that our humanity is measured by the compassion we show the poor and our most vulnerable, and that regardless of our differences, we are all God’s children. And of course, and perhaps most fundamentally, to trust in God, his plans, and in his holy church.” By Bri Buentello, The Colorado Sun

Catholic Church Sex Abuse: What Is Suitable Compensation for a Life of Trauma?
“If you had a choice between losing a limb or being psychologically traumatized your whole life, which would you choose? By ‘psychologically traumatized,’ I mean suffering debilitating lifetime depression and anxiety, having difficulty holding onto a job, not being able to enter into satisfying personal and intimate relationships, unshakeable (and unwarranted) self-blame and even being rejected by family who don’t understand consequent behavior. Many sex abuse victims struggle with substance abuse throughout their lives(link is external), undergo repeated hospitalization, attempt or commit suicide, and many without anyone knowing why they were so troubled. Many of them live in poverty or near poverty their whole lives.” By Janet E. Smith, Commentary in National Catholic Register

Port: We cannot let children be hurt so that priests can keep their vows
“If your religious or political beliefs require you to stay silent when a child is in harm’s way, it’s time to change those beliefs … Though I am not religious myself, I have a well-established history of supporting religious liberty. It saddens me to see the religious liberty argument invoked to protect people who are harming children(link is external). Americans are already losing faith in their cultural institutions, from the government to the news media to organized religion. Arguing that religious leaders shouldn’t be required to report child abuse because of “religious liberty” isn’t going to help with that trend.” By Rob Port, Inforum

Joe Biden, the pope and the looming schism in America’s Catholic Church
“The new president of the United States of America is a Catholic — only the second Catholic to be elected to America’s highest office after John F. Kennedy in 1960. But in recent times, a significant change in the US has seen the Catholic Church(link is external) becoming the country’s single largest community of faith … The country has no problem with [Biden] being Catholic, but a not insignificant segment of the Catholic Church in the US — from among its bishops, its clergy, and its faithful — has a problem with his brand of Catholicism.” By Deutsche Welle

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

A Pa. Dept. of State error means some sex-abuse victims will again have to wait for justice
“Pennsylvania’s top election official will resign after her agency made a mistake that will delay a statewide vote on whether survivors of decades-old sexual abuse should be able to sue the perpetrators and institutions that covered up the crimes(link is external). Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who oversaw a tense and difficult presidential election in the battleground state, will resign Feb. 5, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday (Feb. 1).” By Angela Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer

AB218: California Catholic bishops fighting 2019 clergy sex abuse law
“Most California Roman Catholic bishops are asking a judge to throw out a 2019 law that allowed accusers of clergy sexual abuse to sue even if they were molested decades ago(link is external). Motions filed this month in southern and northern superior courts ask judges to rule Assembly Bill 218 unconstitutional. Among the arguments was the assertion that the amount of time that had passed could make it harder for the defense to gather evidence.” By Robert Jablon, Associated Press, in The Mercury News

Pa. House passes measure to allow voters to create a window for child sex abuse victims to go to court
“Pennsylvania on Wednesday (Jan. 27) stepped closer to paving the way for adults who were sexually abused as children to seek recourse in court against their predators. By a vote of 187-15, the state House of Representatives passed a measure that could lead to a temporary lifting of expired statute of limitations for some abuse victims, allowing them to file civil suits.” Ivey DeJesus, By PennLive.com

Abuse amendment gets second go
“A Senate committee moved quickly Monday (Jan. 25) to start the second round needed to pass a state constitutional amendment to open a two-year retroactive window for lawsuits by child abuse survivors(link is external). The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 8, which addresses fallout from a 2018 statewide grand jury report that examined decades of child sexual abuse and cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.” By Roger Swift, Altoona Mirror

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Dilemma at heart of sex abuse claims
“We can’t guess at the truth, and shouldn’t try. All the public can do is wait for the case to resolve itself, which might never happen(link is external). Until then, we can look at the context in which this is occurring.

What do we know? Such accusations have exploded. In 2019, accusations of sexual abuse against Catholic clergy quadrupled, from what had been a steady 1,000 or so a year, to 4,434. The church paid out more than a quarter billion dollars in settlements that year.” By Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times

ARIZONA

Former Tempe pastor accused of child sex abuse
“A man known in his community as being devoted to God is now facing child abuse allegations(link is external). A six-month investigation led Tempe police to the arrest of 48-year-old Mario Rodriguez-Ramirez, a man who was once a pastor. Police say the abuse began in 2015, when the little girl was 9 years old. Rodriguez-Ramirez took the victim and two other children to Kiwanis Park in Tempe, police say. There, he allegedly hugged and kissed the girl when she reached the ground after going down the slide, police say.” By Andriana Loya, 12News Phoenix

Tucson Diocese being sued for racketeering over alleged sex abuse
“A federal lawsuit accuses the Tucson Diocese and Los Angeles Diocese of violating Arizona’s racketeering laws by burying allegations that some priests sexually abused children and moving those priests from parish to parish(link is external) instead of turning them over to law enforcement. This is the second major case of its kind after a recent change to state law gave sexual abuse victims more time to take their abusers and the organizations that protected them to court. Two lawsuits have been making their way through Arizona court aimed at the Corpus Christi Diocese alleging abuse by a priest who was moved to Arizona by the Diocese there.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror

CALIFORNIA

New Sexual Abuse Claims Against Two Oakland Diocese Priests
New sexual abuse allegations within the Oakland Diocese are publicly coming to light(link is external) for the first time after being included in a lawsuit against the Diocese that settled late last year for $3.5 million, without any admission of liability. The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago.” By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott and Mark Villarreal, NBCBayArea.com

CONNECTICUT

Lawsuit: Priest raped boy on day of his sister’s wedding
“A Catholic priest raped a 9-year-old altar boy on the day of his sister’s wedding(link is external) that the priest officiated, according to a new lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport. The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, charges that the diocese knew or should have known that Father Kiernan Ahearn was unfit to be around children but continued to assign him duties that involved children.” By Associated Press

ILLINOIS

St. Sabina’s Rev. Michael Pflegerfaces 2nd allegation of child sex abuse; priest’s lawyers assail ‘false attacks’
“A second person has come forward with allegations of sex abuse as a minor by Rev. Michael Pfleger(link is external), which attorneys of the longtime St. Sabina Church pastor have called ‘false attacks … motivated by greed.’ Pfleger, one of the most prominent figures in the Catholic community in Chicago, stepped away from the Auburn Gresham parish earlier this month at the archdiocese’s request as it investigates decades-old sexual abuse allegations made by another person. The Archdiocese of Chicago’s general counsel ‘just received’ the additional allegation, a spokesperson said Sunday evening.” By Madeline Kenney, Chicago Sun-Times

KANSAS

Lawsuit accusing Kansas priest of sexual abuse in 1980s can go forward, court says
“A lawsuit alleging a Topeka priest sexually abused a boy(link is external) in the 1980s can proceed after an appeal by church officials was struck down this week. The lawsuit, which says the boy was 9 years old when a priest at St. Matthew’s Church began abusing him, was filed in Wyandotte County District Court in August 2017. The lawsuit names as defendants a priest identified in court records only as M.J. and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, which has authority over St. Matthew’s.” By Katie Moore and Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese suspends pastor of St. Peter Claver after he is accused of child rape in lawsuit
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans on Wednesday (Jan. 27) suspended the pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Treme after he was accused in a lawsuit of raping a 10-year-old boy while hearing his confession(link is external) during an out-of-state retreat in 2008. The Rev. John Asare-Dankwah’s suspension will remain in effect until church authorities can complete an investigation into the allegations, archdiocesan officials said in a statement.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

Attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims asking court to unseal deposition of accused pedophile priest
“Attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims are fighting to get the deposition of an accused pedophile priest unsealed(link is external). Those lawyers claim the Archdiocese of New Orleans concealed almost all of Lawrence Hecker’s crimes from law enforcement. In a new court filing, lawyers for the alleged church sex abuse survivors say ‘there is more than ample evidence and support’ that both Hecker and the Archdiocese concealed multiple felonies perpetrated by Hecker against children.” By Kimberly Kurth, WVUE-TV8 News

MASSACHUSETTS

The Boston Archdiocese’s list of priests accused of abuse does not include cases settled with alleged victims
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has paid millions of dollars in recent years to resolve accusations of sexual abuse against priests working in local parishes. Yet, the names of many of those priests are missing from the archdiocese’s public roster of clergy accused of sexually abusing children(link is external), an accounting that began a decade ago under pressure from victims. Their exclusion has angered survivors of abuse, particularly in light of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s longstanding pledge to be transparent about clergy sexual abuse after decades of secrecy.” By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Seven decades after a priest assaulted her, a Plainfield woman is still grappling with the trauma
“When trauma resurfaced in Patty Rondeau’s life 50 years ago, it came in a sleek black car rolling up to her sister’s Hartford home. The day had been beautiful; sunny and bright, just before a christening party one of her sisters was throwing. Rondeau, then in her 30s, was sitting among the lilacs and grass outside, turning the sandy dirt into small castles with her children. The arrival of the Rev. Daniel Roberts dashed the idyllic moment(link is external).” By Anna Merriman, The Valley News

NEW YORK.

Buffalo Diocese: Audit shows compliance with Catholic Church child safety charter
“The Buffalo Diocese says that an independent audit shows they were in full compliance with the Catholic Church’s child safety charter for 2019-2020(link is external). Rochester firm StoneBridge Business Partners conducted the audit, which the diocese says required extensive data collection from schools, parishes and diocesan departments, including the documentation of procedures, training conducted, and hiring practice.” By Emyle Watkins, WGRZ-TV2 News

Church deacon busted for trying to have sex with teen he met on Grindr: officials
“A church deacon was busted this week for trying to have sex with a 14-year-old boy(link is external) he met on the gay hook-up site Grindr, officials said. It turns out that Rogelio Vega, 50, of Maspeth, Queens, was actually chatting up an undercover detective posing as a youngster, according to prosecutors. ‘This defendant by all outward appearances is a church-going family man,’ said Queens DA Melinda Katz.” By Rebecca Rosenberg, New York Post

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota bill to close child abuse reporting loophole nixed after Catholic opposition
“A bill that would have required North Dakota clergy to report cases of child abuse and neglect learned during confession(link is external) or other private religious conversations has been withdrawn from consideration this session. Current state law presents a loophole that does not mandate that pastors, priests and other clergy report abuse to a law enforcement agency if it’s information received when acting as a spiritual advisor. The withdrawal of Senate Bill 2180 on Friday, Jan. 29, came after the Catholic Church publicly condemned the legislation as ‘draconian.’” By Inforum.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Allentown Diocese sells 171 acres to pay priest sex abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has sold some of its property in Lower Macungie and Upper Saucon townships to help compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The diocese sold 118 acres on Flint Hill Road in Upper Saucon for $3.55 million and 53 acres on North Krocks Road across from Hamilton Crossings in Lower Macungie for $7.5 million, the diocese said in a Jan. 8 news release. With the land sales, the diocese finished paying off a loan taken out to fund a compensation program for victims of clergy sexual abuse.” By Michelle Merlin, The Morning Call

VIRGINIA

Catholic Diocese of Richmond says allegations one priest found not credible
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Thursday (Jan. 28) that child sexual abuse allegations against Thomas Long, a former priest of the diocese, were not credible(link is external) and that his name will not be added to its list of clergy for which credible and substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse have been made. The allegations were part of an investigation launched in June 2020 after the diocese received an allegation of child sexual abuse against Long, who was accused of the abuse while serving at Christ the King School in Norfolk in 1986.” By Holly Prestidge, Richmond.com

AUSTRALIA

New Church protocol published for responding to sexual abuse
“A new protocol to be introduced next week provides a framework for Catholic entities across Australia to respond consistently to people raising concerns or allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). Source: ACBC Media Blog. The National Response Protocol, which was adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at its November 2020 plenary meeting, is the product of two years of work and widespread consultation within and beyond the Church. That consultation included engagement with victims and survivors and their advocates.” By CathNews.com

Sex abuse victim speaks out after Perth Catholic church consents to pay $2.45m compensation
“A victim who will be awarded $2.45 million in compensation for sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest has spoken out about the ‘severe’ impact the abuse continues to have on his life(link is external). Perth’s Catholic archbishop consented to pay the compensation after the victim, who is now aged in his 50s, described being raped by Father Bertram Adderley in the 1970s. The landmark judgement was approved by a District Court judge last week and is believed to be one of the highest known sums paid by any Catholic church in Australia to a survivor of historic sex abuse.” By Keane Bourke and Amelia Searson, ABC News

Case highlights horror of abuse: Archbishop Costelloe
“Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB says the case of the former altar boy who was abused by a priest in Perth in the 1970s highlighted the horror of sexual abuse and the dreadful effects it had on victims(link is external). The Church will make a record payment of $2.45 million to the survivor, agreed to after one day of trial in Western Australia’s Supreme Court. Fr Bertram Adderley, who died in the 1980s without ever being charged, abused many boys in regional WA and Perth, the survivor’s Victorian law firm Rightside Legal said yesterday (Jan. 21).” By CathNews.com

GERMANY

Priests urge Cologne cardinal to resign in sexual abuse report crisis
“Priests in Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese are demanding their archbishop resign for suppressing a critical report into clerical sexual abuse(link is external) in the western German diocese. The growing crisis in the powerful western diocese has taken on fresh urgency after claims that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki ignored church guidelines rather than report a friend’s sexual abuse record to Rome. The case involves a priest friend who had convictions for sexually abusing young boys in the 1970s.” By Derek Scally, The Irish Times

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Diocese asking for voices of church sex abuse survivors to be heard
“An independent review of all past safeguarding cases related to Church of England churches in the region wants to ensure that survivors’ voices are heard(link is external). All dioceses nationally are taking part in the Church of England’s Past Cases Review 2 including the Diocese of Lichfield, which is home to more than 500 churches in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Shropshire and the Black Country. Lichfield Diocese was also one of seven dioceses identified as needing to carry out further work to provide an updated and comprehensive version of the first Past Cases Review published in 2010.” By James Vukmirovic, Express & Star

GUAM

Judge OKs latest legal fees of $476K in church bankruptcy case; 1-month stay ordered
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Tuesday (Jan. 26) approved $476,000 in revised legal fees and costs in the Archdiocese of Agana’s two-year-old bankruptcy case(link is external). Two days later, the judge issued an order approving stipulation for stay of proceedings and suspension of work at least until Feb. 28, 2021, except for certain matters. The judge, in her Jan. 28 order, said all parties shall make their best efforts to reduce legal fees by limiting work in the main case and the adversary proceeding case for at least a month.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

MALTA

‘The First Time Was A Sunday’: Bursting Into Tears, Gozo Rape Victim Recalls Being Pushed Into A Confessional And Touched By Priest
“‘He used to threaten me and use force when I refused. I often tried to run away but he would hold me down. He would force me in, telling me I’m going to hell or that he was going to speak to my parents.’ These were the harrowing words of a former altar boy who was allegedly raped by priest Joseph Sultana(link is external).” By David Grech Urpani, LovinMalta.com

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church abuse victims: Only a fraction of them coming forward, group says
“A survivor group for people abused while in the care of the Catholic Church says only a fraction of them are coming forward. A number have spoken with the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care, but it is being seen as only the tip of the iceberg(link is external). Dr Christopher Longhurst from SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said many people are reluctant to come forward for fear of ridicule. ‘There is so much shame around the abuse that society sees the victim as wounded and defective and there is victim blaming.’” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

PERU

She Exposed Sexual Abuse in a Catholic Kids Camp. Now She’s Facing a Prison Sentence
“When reporters at the Boston Globe exposed child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, their investigative work was so celebrated that Hollywood made a film, Spotlight, about it. Now, after carrying out a similar crusading probe into pedophilia in a Catholic lay organization in South America, Peruvian journalist Pao Ugaz is facing jail time(link is external) and a hefty damages bill.” By Simeon Tegel, VICE World News

POLAND

Fresh cover-up claims against former Papal secretary
“A group of Polish politicians has pledged to press new accusations against Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary of St John Paul II, after prosecutors refused to investigate TV documentary claims that he ignored and covered up abuse by priests in his Krakow archdiocese(link is external). ‘The gravity of crimes that Cardinal Dziwisz may have committed is so enormous that failure to investigate them is obviously detrimental to the public good and the private interests of victims,’ said Lukasz Kohut, a European Parliament member from Poland’s liberal Wiosna (Spring) party.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, The Tablet

SPAIN

Jesuit order in Spain apologizes for decades of sexual abuse by members
“The Jesuit order in Spain has admitted that 81 children and 21 adults have been sexually abused by 96 of its members since 1927(link is external), and has apologized for the ‘painful, shameful and sorrowful’ crimes. In a report released on Thursday (Jan. 21), the Society of Jesus, whose members often work as teachers, said most of the abuse had taken place in schools ‘or was related to schools.’ According to the document, 48 of the 65 Jesuits who abused children are dead. Four of the surviving abusers are no longer Jesuits and 13 have been prevented from working with children pending the outcome of civil or canonical cases, or have already been ordered to cease their ministry and sent to isolated Jesuit communities.” By Sam Jones, The Guardian

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