Posts Tagged Focus news roundup

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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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

January 25, 2021

TOP STORIES

Francis changes Catholic Church law: women explicitly allowed as lectors, altar servers
“Pope Francis has changed Catholic Church law to make explicit that laywomen can act as readers and altar servers in liturgical celebrations(link is external), effectively removing a previous option for individual bishops to restrict those ministries only to men. In an unexpected apostolic letter published Jan. 11, the pontiff says he is making the change to recognize a ‘doctrinal development’ that has occurred in recent years. That change, the pope says, ‘shines a light on how some ministries instituted by the church have as their foundation that common condition of baptism and the royal priesthood received in the Sacrament of Baptism.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Indictment of fundraising priest exposes lack of diocesan oversight
“Fr. Lenin Vargas’ request for money seemed more fitting for a spam email than from a Catholic priest. From 2014 until 2018, Vargas allegedly solicited funds from parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Starkville, Mississippi, where he was the pastor(link is external), for what he claimed were expenses for his cancer treatment and for charities in his native country of Mexico. … Furthermore, the Diocese of Jackson failed to divulge the fraud, allowing Vargas to pilfer money for years, according to a report from the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, which cites an affidavit filed in federal court by Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative arm of the U.S Department of Homeland Security.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

North Dakota bill would force priests to violate confession seal in abuse cases
“Three North Dakota state legislators introduced a bill this week that would oblige Catholic priests to violate the seal of confession in cases of confirmed or suspected child abuse, on penalty of imprisonment or heavy fines(link is external). The current mandatory reporting law in North Dakota states that clergy are considered mandatory reporters of known or suspected child abuse, except in cases when “the knowledge or suspicion is derived from information received in the capacity of spiritual adviser”, such as in the confessional.” By Mary Farrow, Catholic News Agency

Journalists reject Cologne’s confidentiality agreement
“Signing the agreement ‘would have meant that one could not report anything one had obtained from other sources(link is external) as one would have had to prove that one had not obtained it from the background discussion,’ Joachim Frank, chairman of the German Catholic Publicists and chief correspondent of the DuMont media group, who was one of the eight journalists, told Deutschlandfunk.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

ACCOUNTABILITY

Record payment ordered in Church abuse case
The Church will make a $2.45 million payout to a clergy sexual abuse survivor in Western Australia, in what is believed to be a record payout(link is external). The survivor will receive $2.45 million-plus legal costs to compensate him for abuse by teacher and priest Bertram Adderley, who groomed and raped him between 1977 and 1980 when he was aged 10 to 12. Lawyers involved in seeking restitution for victims of sexual abuse say they believe the settlement is up to $1 million higher than any payout previously awarded to someone suing the Catholic Church.” By CathNews.com

Buffalo’s new Catholic bishop says he will remove abusers and their enablers
“Having lived most of his life in the Baltimore-Washington area, we asked Buffalo’s new Catholic bishop, Michael Fisher, if he knew anyone in Western New York. Bishop Mike, as he prefers to be called, thought for a moment and answered, ‘No.’ To his knowledge, there are no familiar names or faces for him in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese. That may prove to be an asset because after Fisher is installed on Friday (Jan. 15) afternoon, he faces a number of tough decisions. He says he’s willing to toss out clergy and others involved in the sex abuse scandal that rocked the diocese(link is external).” By Steve Brown and Joseph O’Rourke, WGRZ-TV2 News

Probe highlights Vatican legal system’s limited protections
“A criminal investigation into a Vatican real estate investment is exposing weaknesses in the city state’s judicial system and a lack of some basic protections for those accused — highlighting the incompatibility of the Holy See’s procedures with European norms. The Vatican has never been a democracy, but the incongruity of a government that is a moral authority on the global stage and yet an absolute monarchy is becoming increasingly evident(link is external). The pope is supreme judge, legislator and executive, who holds the ultimate power to hire and fire officials, judges and prosecutors and make and waive laws and regulations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Factbox: Reports into abuses in the Irish Catholic Church
“Thousands of infants died in Irish homes for unmarried mothers and their offspring run by the Catholic Church from the 1920s to the 1990s, an inquiry found on Tuesday (Jan. 12), an ‘appalling’ mortality rate that reflected brutal living conditions. There have been a series of reports into allegations of abuse and mistreatment by priests and members of religious orders(link is external). Here are some details of their findings …” By Reuters

BISHOPS

New Buffalo bishop seeks to ‘listen’ as he takes over troubled diocese
“When Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fisher of Washington is installed as the 15th bishop of Buffalo on Friday, he’ll be entering a diocese in the throes of controversy(link is external). In November, New York State attorney general Letitia James sued the diocese, former Bishop Richard Malone and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Edward Grosz for failing to protect minors and inadequately investigating and reporting claims against diocesan priests that went back decades.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Pope accepts resignation of French archbishop amid financial challenges
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz of Avignon, a month after the archbishop celebrated his 75th birthday, amid ongoing questions about his management style and handling of archdiocesan finances(link is external) … As early as 2019, about 200 faithful belonging to a group called Christians in Vaucluse had requested the archbishop’s early retirement because of what they saw as a style of governance that created ‘real suffering’ for local Catholics. Among the contentious issues were that of personnel management, concern for the poor, people feeling unwelcomed, the lack of ecumenical and interreligious initiatives and diocesan finances.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

Diaconal ministries link women religious to restoration of women deacons
“In May 2016, Pope Francis responded to a question posed at the triennial assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG): If women religious are already performing the many ministries of deacons, why not form a commission to study the restoration of women to the diaconate?(link is external) The pope responded immediately, naming 12 scholars the following August to the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women who met in Rome four times and returned a report by June 2018. The pope gave a portion of the report to the UISG leadership at their May 2019 assembly. It has not been published.” First in a Series of Five by Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Parish leaders: Review of Catholic cathedral funds finds $117,000 in unauthorized transactions
“An internal review by the Diocese of Nashville found about $117,000 in unauthorized transactions from the Cathedral of the Incarnation’s financial accounts(link is external). The transactions in question were discovered during a scheduled review of the cathedral’s funds, according to a letter church leaders sent Tuesday (Jan. 12) to parishioners. An accountant in the diocese’s finance office helped with the investigation, which determined the misappropriated parish funds had been used for personal benefit since 2015 … The review of parish funds followed Fowlkes’ recent appointment as pastor.” By Holly Meyer, Nashville Tennessean

Vatican, AUSTRAC seek data clarification
“Australia’s financial watchdog is reviewing its calculation that transfers worth $US1.8 billion ($A2.3 billion) had been sent to the country from the Vatican since 2014, after Vatican and Australian Church calls for clarification. A senior Vatican official and an Australian bishop told Reuters last week they had no knowledge of the transfers and would be seeking clarification(link is external). The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) cited the amount in response to a parliamentary question by Australian Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in Canberra Times

VOICES

The pope’s latest decree is a victory for Catholic women
“A lot of American Catholics might not see the importance of Pope Francis’ declaration that women can take part in the formal ministries of acolyte and lector. After all, there have been ‘altar girls’ in many American parishes for years. But ‘many’ is not ‘all.’(link is external) Some parishes and dioceses allow only boys to assist the priest at the Mass and other ceremonies. The pope’s decree doesn’t focus on children and adolescents or require that girls be allowed to serve Mass. It says that church law will be changed to say that “lay persons” of either sex may be formally installed in the ministries of acolyte (a priest’s assistant) and lector (a reader of Scripture during the liturgy).” By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

Victims of child sexual abuse need more time to confront their abusers
Sexual abuse of children is extremely difficult to prosecute. It often takes years(link is external) — and even decades — before a person who was abused as a child is prepared to confront the abuser in a court of law. That seldom happens, because of the difficulty of presenting evidence and because of the sense of shame that all too often keeps this horrible crime hidden in secrecy, allowing the abusers to remain untouched by the law.” By The Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Should alleged victims of child sex abuse have more time to sue? Soon voters may decide
“Voters may soon decide if alleged victims of child sexual abuse will have more time to file civil lawsuits(link is external) against the people or organizations they are accusing. However, critics voiced concern the proposal could tip the scales of justice towards the accuser while taking away rights of the accused. House Bill 14 is a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would establish a 2-year-long window in which civil claims arising from child sexual abuse could then be asserted even if they had previously been barred by a statute of limitations.” By Jamie Bittner, FOX43-TV News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Priest accused of abetting alleged sex abuse ring is hired by diocesan charity
“On a scorching day in August 2015, the mother of a teenage girl walked into the confessional of a small church near the Sicilian city of Catania, in southern Italy. She believed that the leader of her lay Catholic group, a man known as the Archangel, had repeatedly raped her underage daughter and possibly others(link is external). She trusted the priest, the Rev. Orazio Caputo, who had worked closely with the Archangel’s Catholic Culture and Environment Association or ACCA, to listen to her fears.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Malta archdiocese condemns charismatic group accused of abuse
“Following a 5-month investigation into the charismatic Community of Jesus the Savior, the Archdiocese of Malta has issued a decree forbidding participation in the group after finding what it described as abusive tendencies causing harm to members(link is external). In a Jan. 8 communique, the bishops’ conference of Malta, consisting of the Malta and Gozo dioceses, said they ‘reaffirm the decision to disassociate themselves from Komunità Ġesù Salvatur,’ referring to the group by its Maltese name.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CONNECTICUT

Norwich Diocese Likely To Shell Out More Apart From $9.5 Million, After Facing 35 New Sexual Assault Lawsuits
“More trouble’s in store for the Diocese of Norwich and former Bishop Daniel Reilly, as he now faces 35 lawsuits pertaining to accusations made by men who alleged that they were sexually abused as children and teens by Christian Brother K. Paul McGlade, who ran the former Academy at Mount Saint John in Deep River in the 1990s … Recent reports also suggest that McGlade has had a history of inflicting abuse on assaulting young boys in Australia before he came to Norwich.” By Pooja Prabbhan, Latin Times

LOUISIANA

Alleged church sex abuse victim says George Brignac raped him in 1977
Brian Manix held on to a secret for 43 years and says it took its toll. ‘These people don’t realize what they’ve done to all of us. I’ve gone to drugs, I’ve gone to alcohol, I’ve tried to commit suicide three times,’ said Manix. Manix was an altar boy at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in New Orleans when George Brignac was a deacon. He says he was just 10-years-old in 1977, when Brignac raped him in City Park(link is external).” By Kimberly Kurth, FOX8News Live

MASSACHUSETTS

Catholic priest pleads not guilty to rape, assault charges on minor
“The Catholic priest charged with multiple counts of rape pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday during his arraignment in Barnstable Superior Court. Mark Hession was arraigned on charges including two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery on a child less than 14(link is external) and one count of intimidation of a witness. He was released after posting $2,500 cash bail.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times

Catholic diocese releases names of credibly accused priests
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River in Massachusetts has released a list of 75 clergy credibly or publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). The diocese in a statement Thursday Jan. 7) said more than three-quarters of the names released by the diocese have already been made public through previous announcements from the church, media reports, or other means. There are currently no priests in ministry who have been credibly accused. Bishop Edgar da Cunha said he was profoundly sorry for any abuse perpetrated by priests within this diocese and is working to make sure it never happens again.” By Associated Press, on WBNG-TV12 News

‘The list has triggered emotions’: Victims’ attorney digs deeper into priests accused of abuse
“The sheer number of names on the Diocese of Fall River’s list of clergy credibly or publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor is shocking on its own, but the list provided little information about when and where the abuse occurred, how many victims there were, and who knew about it(link is external). Additionally although the lists contain 75 names, an attorney for victims of sexual abuse believes it is incomplete.” By Kiernan Dunlog, Fall River Standard-Times

MINNESOTA

Carlton County priest listed as ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Duluth has added a former Carlton County priest to its list of clergy deemed ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse(link is external). The Rev. David Tushar had served as a priest in Northeastern Minnesota for nearly 35 years when he was placed on leave in July 2019 pending an investigation into allegations of abuse. The allegations were related to his earlier service as a Holy Cross Father and Catholic school teacher in Niles, Illinois, from 1978-79.” By Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune

NEW JERSEY

Rumson Priest Named In Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Trenton Diocese
“A priest who served for seven years at Holy Cross Church in Rumson was recently named in a sexual abuse complaint filed Tuesday (Jan. 19) against the Diocese of Trenton. Fr. Thomas A. Rittenhouse was ordained in 1976 in the Diocese of Trenton and is accused of sexually abusing a minor while assigned to the Rumson church from 1981 to 1982(link is external). He served at Holy Cross from 1981 to 1988.” By Nicole Rosenthal, Rumson Patch

Suit Alleges Sexual Abuse at Point Retreat
“For over 50 years, the Marianist Family Retreat Center, on the corner of Yale and Cape avenues, in Cape May Point, has been the site of contemplation, celebration and prayer for the faithful. One woman alleges that in summer 1974, it was a site of horror and violation that still hurts decades later … Identified in the court documents as Jane Doe RP, she filed a suit against the center and the Marianist Province of the United States, alleging that she faced repeated sexual abuse from two clergy members(link is external).” By Bill Barlow, Cape May County Herald

N.J. Catholic diocese has a plan to compensate victims of abuse. Advocates aren’t happy.
Advocates for people sexually abused by clergy are opposing a plan from a New Jersey Catholic diocese to compensate victims(link is external). The Diocese of Camden announced a proposal on Dec. 31 to speed up the process of setting aside millions of dollars for abuse claims, after the church filed for bankruptcy in October. ‘The Diocese wants to continue to pay survivors rather than lawyers and other professional advisers,’ the church said in a statement.” By Blake Nelson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Law firm files 5 more suits alleging past child sex abuse by dead Catholic priests
“A law firm specializing in representing abuse victims has filed five additional lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Newark alleging priests sexuallly molested children going back decades(link is external). Three of the priests have been credibly accused of abuse in the past, their names and allegations made public by Catholic dioceses in New Jersey. All five are deceased. The suits were filed by Jeff Anderson & Associates, along with New Jersey attorney Greg Gianforcaro. They have filed numerous similar lawsuits in the Garden State since late 2019, when a new state law relaxed statute of limitations on such cases, opening a two-year lookback window for victims to file suit.” By Kevin Shea, NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Clergy sex abuse advocates criticize method of picking new Buffalo bishop
“While wishing new Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Michael Fisher success in his new role, a former priest turned advocate for clergy sex abuse victims says Fisher’s selection is clouded by the involvement of a former superior, who stepped down from a powerful position within the US Catholic Church amid his own accusations of covering up abuse cases(link is external). Fisher, before coming to Buffalo, served as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC under Cardinal Donald Wuerl.” By Michael Mroziak, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

EXCLUSIVE: Leaked transcript shows NY church’s attempt to block Child Victims Act
“When Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the longtime leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, introduced the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program(link is external) to the public in Oct. 2016, he expressed his hope that offering financial settlements to the victims of sexual abuse by clergy would both “promote healing” and “bring closure” after more than a decade of constant scandal.” By Pete Madden, ABC-TV News

Father Bill Lombardy accused of sexual abuse by former altar boys: suit
“One-time priest and chess grandmaster Father Bill Lombardy — who was portrayed by actor Peter Sarsgaard in a movie about famed chess player Bobby Fischer — has been accused of sexually abusing two altar boys in a new lawsuit(link is external). The now-deceased Lombardy — whose training of Fischer was depicted in the 2014 movie called “Pawn Sacrifice” — is accused in a Bronx Supreme Court lawsuit from last week of sexually assaulting two students in the 1960s, when he taught at St. Mary’s School in the Bronx.” By Priscilla DeGregory, New York Post

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota clergy sex abuse survivors say Catholic reforms too little, too late
“For decades, Ted Becker frequently woke up in the dead of night, gagging. Sometimes a pungent, familiar smell would force him from bed to search the house for a repressed memory that took him years to find. Not until he saw a psychiatrist in the late 1980s did he understand why the recurring sensations affected him so deeply. Memories of sexual abuse involving a Catholic priest(link is external) from the early 1950s, beginning when he was 9 years old, flooded back.” By C.S. Hagen and April Baumgarten, Mitchell Republic

OHIO

Police not investigating Catholic priest placed on leave after allegation surfaces
“Three area police departments said they have not been asked to investigate allegations against a local priest who was put on leave by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati(link is external). Father Anthony Cutcher of St. Peter Catholic Church in Huber Heights was placed on leave Monday after an allegation surfaced against him, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati said Thursday (Jan. 14). Police in Huber Heights, Montgomery and Miami counties told the Dayton Daily News they have not been asked to investigate the allegation involving Cutcher.” By Eileen McClory, Dayton Daily News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Diocese of Charleston faces second lawsuit in a week
“A lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Charleston alleges abuse dating back decades. The new suit is the second filed against the diocese in a week’s time. The lawsuit was filed by a man who claims a priest sexually abused him over span of two years(link is external) in the mid-1970s while the defendant was a student at St. John’s Catholic Church and Cathedral School. The victim says in the suit he was 13 when he he started to be abused on a weekly basis. He said Frederick Hopwood, a priest, would put his hands down the victim’s pants and molest him.” By WCSC-TV5 News

WASHINGTON

Catholic church pays $2 million to settle local abuse cases
“The Archdiocese of Seattle has reached over $2 million in settlements in the past six months due to credible allegations of sexual abuse against four Catholic priests(link is external) in Western Washington, including two former leaders of a parish in Snohomish and one in Everett. The Rev. Michael C. OBrien led St. Michael Parish from 1974 to 1979. He was succeeded by the Rev. Dennis Champagne from 1979 to 1999, who then became the priest of St. John Bosco Church in Lakewood. Church leaders put Champagne on leave in 2002, after someone accused him of sexual misconduct.” By Caleb Hutton, HeraldNet.com

CANADA

Three decades after Mount Cashel orphanage abuse scandal, victims are still fighting for justice
“For most people, it’s just another shopping plaza … But John Doe No. 26 will never forget what used to be here. The 80-year-old grandfather can still vividly see the notorious Mount Cashel orphanage that stood at this St. John’s site until it was demolished in 1992. He was a resident there for seven years, until he was 15 years old, and suffered unspeakable violence and abuse at the hands of men who were supposed to care for him(link is external).” By Greg Mercer, The Globe & Mail

GERMANY

Confidentiality dispute piles pressure on cardinal accused of mishandling abuse cases
“German media have criticized the Archdiocese of Cologne for offering to provide a ‘background briefing’ to journalists about an unpublished report into clerical sex abuse on condition that they signed a confidentiality form(link is external). Journalists from several media organizations reported that they had refused to sign the form and walked out of the meeting on Jan. 5, which was called to explain issues regarding the report’s methodology.” By Catholic News Agency

Bishop: Making up the Duty of Abuse for Years
Processing the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Germany will remain a task for years(link is external), according to Bishop Stephan Ackermann. ‘That will be a painful process,’ said the representative of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) for questions about sexual abuse in Trier from the German news agency. Over the next five years, all 27 dioceses nationwide would face an independent review by specially formed committees dealing with ‘responsibilities’ – how people dealt with perpetrators and victims in the past.” By The Courier

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Priest, 63, who sexually abused boys as young as 10 on church youth club trips in the 1970s and 80s and tricked them into sex acts using a card game is jailed for five years
“Last November Hardwicke was found guilty on five counts of historic indecent assault(link is external), following a nine day trial. In one incident a victim was made to take part in sexual activity as part of a card game, prosecutors said. Hardwicke carried out the abuse by taking ‘special interest’ in his victims and made them feel as if they had nowhere else to turn, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).” By Luke May, Daily Mail

GUAM

Firms cut legal fees by $2K in church bankruptcy ahead of hearing
Two law firms in the Archdiocese of Agana’s two-year-old bankruptcy case reduced their legal fees by $2,162.50, ahead of a court hearing(link is external) on the latest interim fee applications. The fourth interim fee applications from law firms now amount to about $478,400. The archdiocese’s bankruptcy marks its second year this month. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is aimed at reorganizing the church’s finances, and compensating nearly 300 Guam clergy sex abuse survivors while also keeping all Catholic schools and parishes open.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

INDONESIA

Indonesian church worker jailed for molesting altar boys
“A church worker in Indonesia has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting altar boys(link is external) following the first-ever sexual abuse trial in a civil court involving the Indonesian Catholic Church. Depok District Court in West Java convicted Syahril Marbun on Jan. 6 for abusing two altar boys at St. Herkulanus Parish in Depok in Bogor Diocese, where he served as liturgical coordinator.” By Ryan Dagur, Jakarta, UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes
“The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters was established by the Irish Government in February 2015 to provide a full account of what happened to vulnerable women and children in Mother and Baby Homes during the period 1922 to 1998(link is external). It submitted its final report to the Minister on 30 October 2020. Each element of the Report can be accessed through the links below …” From Ireland’s Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

MALTA

Pope Francis Defrocks Maltese Priest Who Sexually Abused 13-Year-Old
“Pope Francis has accepted the Conventual Franciscans Order’s request to dismiss Donald Bellizzi, the Maltese priest convicted of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy(link is external), iNews Malta reported. Last November, Bellizzi, a former Burmarrad Franciscan, was sentenced to three years in prison. Bellizzi’s offences first began in 2010, when he would invite youths interested in becoming priests on retreats to the Franciscan convent in Burmarrad. Investigations into the case were kicked off after the Curia received reports of the abuse.” By Benjamin Abela, LovinMalta.com

NEW ZEALAND

Abuse inquiry: we all know the outcome
“We must already know what the New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care will reveal about the Catholic Church in New Zealand. That’s because it has been said before, time and time again, across the globe, by many other inquiries into the exact same issue. Independent inquiries worldwide have already looked into what happened to children(link is external), young people and adults at risk in the care of the Catholic Church over past decades.” By Matthew Epsom, The Gisborne Herald

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 17, 2020

TOP STORIES

The People Should Choose Their Bishops Again
“There are a number of conclusions one could draw from reading the Vatican report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. For example: that the clerical sex-abuse crisis in the Church is worse than we thought and extends to vulnerable adults. Also, that position and influence in our Church are easily bought, and that bishops lie, even to the pope, to protect other bishops. But the conclusion that encompasses all of the above is that the way we choose our bishops is deeply flawed, producing bishops who are, in turn, deeply flawed(link is external). How did things get this way, and what can be done about it?” By Nicholas P. Cafardi, Commonweal

Action plan missing from McCarrick Report can be found Down Under
“The entire Church should take seriously the proposals for ecclesial reform coming from Catholics in Australia(link is external). The solution to the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church hangs in the balance between these two questions: What happened? and What needs to happen? The so-called ‘McCarrick Report,’ which was compiled by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and published on November 10, is an example of unprecedented transparency under pressure. It represents a fundamental step towards a better comprehension of what happened … But other parts of the global Catholic Church are addressing this problem with concrete proposals. The Church in Australia is one of the best examples.” By Massimo Faggioli, Catholic Outlook

Annual Report: Some U.S. dioceses improve financial transparency, others remain secretive
More U.S. dioceses published audited financial documents in 2020 than before(link is external), but more than a quarter still did not publish any audited financial reports, according to an annual financial transparency report by the lay organization Voice of the Faithful(link is external). About 70% of dioceses posted audited financial reports on their websites in 2020, up from 65% in 2019 and from 56% in 2017, according to the review. Margaret Roylance, chair of the organization’s finance working group, said she was heartened to see that many dioceses published these reports on time despite delays due to COVID-19.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Inter-American Human Rights Commission to look into clerical sexual abuse
“For the first time in its history, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission promised to defend victims of clerical sexual abuse(link is external), with cases being reported in at least 19 countries in Latin America … The Washington, D.C.-based commission is an autonomous part of the Organization of American States and is the main human rights body in the Americas. Thursday’s (Dec. 3) hearing was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission said it was committed to using its power to demand information on cases that are not being resolved by member states.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

DOJ probe of Catholic church abuse goes quiet 2 years later
“Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints. The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports(link is external) that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims. U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, in The Charlotte Observer

ACCOUNTABILITY

Keeping Quiet: The downside to ‘voluntary laicization’
“Pope Francis quietly laicized a priest accused of grave immorality and serious canonical crimes in 2017, rather than have him stay in the priesthood long enough to face trial. The former cleric, Peter Mitchell, was a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, when he was accused. Before joining the Green Bay diocese, he had been a priest of the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese. The case of this former cleric is closed, but the way Church authorities dealt with this man bears significant resemblance to the way in which Churchmen attempted to manage priests accused of abusing minors in the days before the crisis of leadership and governance(link is external) in the Church became a worldwide scandal.” By Christopher Altieri, Catholic Herald

POPE FRANCIS

Big business gets its wings as leaders from major U.S. companies partner with Pope Francis
“The Pope means business. Capitalism met Catholicism on Tuesday (Dec. 8), as some of the world’s biggest business leaders announced a new partnership with Pope Francis(link is external). The alliance, known as the Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican, aims to create a more inclusive, fair and sustainable economic landscape by taking pledges toward sustainable development goals focused on areas such as climate action, peace and justice, quality education and gender equality.” By Haley Messenger, NBC News

Radical truths
“A friend of mine told me that after reading Fratelli tutti he wondered how a document that is so full of obvious truisms could also be so radical. Pope Francis’s latest encyclical breaks little new ground, but the ground upon which we all stand has shifted to such an extent that talk of ‘fraternal love’ sounds both outdated and revolutionary(link is external). Part of the reason it sounds outdated is the use of gender-specific language. Would it have killed the Vatican to be more inclusive? But the encyclical also sounds utopian—in a shocking and, I think, necessary way—when set against the divisiveness and hopelessness we are currently experiencing.” By William T. Cavanaugh, Commonweal

CARDINALS

German cardinal accused of abuse cover-up turns to pope
“The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, has been accused of not informing the Vatican about sex abuse allegations against a priest(link is external). He’s now asked Pope Francis to review his conduct. Facing accusations of covering up an alleged sexual abuse case, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki asked Pope Francis on Friday (Dec. 11) to investigate. ‘In order to clarify the canonical accusations against me, I am asking the Holy Father [Pope Francis] to examine this matter,’ Woelki said in a statement issued by the archdiocese of Cologne.” By Deutsche Welle

McCARRICK REPORT

After McCarrick Report, Here’s How to Extend Safe Environment to Adults
“Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was finally brought down by credible allegations that he had sexually abused children — but as the McCarrick report reveals Church leaders could have stopped the powerful cleric’s career, and saved the lives of children, seminarians, and young priests, had they acted on allegations McCarrick had abused his power to sexually exploit young men under his pastoral care or authority(link is external). But stopping the present and future McCarricks in the Church’s midst means the People of God need to take proactive steps to educate and inform themselves about adult sexual abuse in the Church, recognizing that every adult can be vulnerable to the abuse of power for sex by clergy and lay leaders, and that protecting adults from abuse in the Church strengthens also the protection of children.” By Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register

McCarrick report shows former cardinal’s character: ambitious, brazen, untouchable
“Seventeen! That’s the most shocking number in the Vatican’s 449-page report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick appears to have molested 17 ‘postpubescent boys or young men’ over the course of his career(link is external) (Page 440). Some victims were as young as 12 years old. Some he molested repeatedly. Many were children in families that he knew well and visited frequently. He was trusted as a ‘member of the family.’ The Vatican report does not reveal names or discuss the individual cases. However, it does lay out his typical pattern of grooming and molesting his victims.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Bishops respond to governance review report
“A review of governance will help shape the way the Church in Australia understands co-responsibility in its life and mission and puts it into practice, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has said. The Australia bishops reviewed and discussed the final version of the governance review report The Light from the Southern Cross: Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia(link is external) during their recent plenary meeting. The bishops finalized their initial response to the report, which they have published today (Dec. 17). ‘A report that contains dozens of recommendations and was prepared over more than a year takes time to consider and absorb,’ Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.” By CathNews.com

Archbishop accused of failing to act on abuse appeals to Vatican
“Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg has asked the Congregation for Bishops in Rome to judge whether he is guilty of having hushed up abuse. Hesse has been accused of covering up abuse and violating canon law(link is external) by failing to report abuse to the Vatican authorities during his time as head of personnel in the Cologne archdiocese from 2006-2011. Last week the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, accused his two predecessors, cardinals Joseph Höffner and Joachim Meisner, both deceased, of failing to notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the abuse committed by a priest referred to as ‘Fr. A.’” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

South Carolina bishop says Vatican has cleared him of sexual abuse allegation
“South Carolina’s top Roman Catholic priest says the Vatican has cleared him of wrongdoing after he was accused of sexually abusing a boy(link is external) as the pastor of a New York church in the late 1970s. In a message to fellow S.C. priests ahead of Sunday’s mass, Charleston Bishop Robert Guglielmone wrote that he received a letter ‘stating that the Vatican has determined that the sexual abuse allegation against me has no semblance of truth and is thus unfounded.’” By Avery G. Wilks, The Post and Courier

American Viganò: Archbishop Chaput divides episcopacy even in retirement
“His Excellency, the Most Reverend Charles Chaput, emeritus archbishop of Philadelphia, has come out of retirement to explain to the rest of his benighted brothers in the episcopacy — and to the rest of us — that an impending scandal looms for the Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Faith: President-elect Joe Biden might be given Communion(link is external). The horror! Chaput set forth his reasonings, such as they are, in an article at First Things, the magazine of record for culture warrior conservative Catholicism.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Polish priest apologizes for defense of disgraced priest
“A popular Polish priest apologized Tuesday (Dec. 8) for a sermon in which he defended a bishop accused of covering up for pedophile priests(link is external). His sermon, delivered to a congregation including the justice minister and other top politicians, was later condemned by government officials. Father Tadeusz Rydzyk insisted that he had not intended to hurt victims or downplay the church’s role in the ‘sin and crime of pedophilia.’” By Associated Press

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

UISG, LCWR leaders discuss connections in pandemic, women in diaconate, vocations in Africa
Global Sisters Report recently held a discussion(link is external) with Sr. Jolanta Kafka, president of the International Union of Superiors General and general superior of the Claretian Missionary Sisters; Sr. Pat Murray, executive secretary of UISG and member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Sr. Elise  García, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and who serves on the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters; and Sr. Carol Zinn, executive director of LCWR and a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia. This is an edited transcript of that discussion.” By Global Sisters Report Staff, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese gets A+ in financial transparency for 2020
“Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) — a national grassroots movement of Catholics responding since 2002 to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church — has given the Diocese of Erie a 100 percent financial transparency score for 2020, the second year in a row(link is external). Erie was one of only five dioceses in the country with a perfect score …The Massachusetts-based organization conducts a survey annually of all U.S. dioceses. Financial transparency, according to the VOTF, is one key element of an open response by the Catholic Church to survivors of clerical sexual abuse and guards against fraudulent diversion of donated funds by clergy or laity.” By Mary Solberg and Anne-Marie Welsh

Pope updates Vatican financial authority following scandals
“Pope Francis has revamped the Holy See’s financial intelligence and anti-money-laundering unit(link is external) following financial scandals, including an ongoing in-house corruption probe, Vatican officials said Saturday (Dec. 5). The changes involve the governance and organization of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency, which has been renamed the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority, or ASIF, the Vatican said. Until Saturday, the agency was known as AIF, or Financial Information Authority.” By Associated Press

CLERICALISM

Post-McCarrick report dialogue zeroes in on ‘hyperclerical culture’
“One month to the day that the Vatican released its report on since-laicized cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a panel of academics took a close look at what one called a ‘hyperclerical culture’ that allowed McCarrick’s sexual misconduct to go unchecked(link is external). ‘Silence is dangerous,’ said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, a co-sponsor of the Dec 10 dialogue, ‘The McCarrick Report: Findings, Lessons and Directions,’ and who himself had been subject to sexual abuse when he was a seminarian. ‘Hyperclerical culture can be horrific — and their decisions reflect that.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on CatholicSF.org

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Detroit Archdiocese announces major reorganization of 216 Catholic parishes
“In one of its biggest restructurings in years, the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit announced Wednesday (Dec. 9) it is grouping its 216 parishes in southeastern Michigan into 51 families — each made up of three to eight parishes sharing priests. The changes have been approved by Archbishop Allen Vigneron, according to a statement released Wednesday morning … A noted Catholic expert, Rocco Palmo, said the new Detroit plan to create 51 families ‘is drastic, quite possibly the most drastic I’ve seen(link is external)’ among dioceses in the U.S. who are doing similar reorganizations.” By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

What does a consolidation of sisters’ communities look like?
“When seven congregations of Sisters of St. Joseph completed their consolidation into one new community in 2007, the sisters thought the work of the merger was largely finished(link is external). After all, it had taken nearly a decade to get to that point. ‘I remember when we did this, thinking, ‘We’re done! We did it!’ But we were not done,’ said Sr. Kathleen Brazda, part of the current leadership team for the Congregation of St. Joseph. ‘We’re still evolving, still looking at structures.’” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

The McCarrick case and some disturbing conclusions
“In a couple of sleepless nights, I read the 449 pages and 1,410 notes (the devil, as they say, is in the detail) of the Vatican report on former US cardinal Theodore McCarrick. I had anticipated that it would be depressing reading, yet we must read the worst circumstances of the time in which we live and fully carry the weight and feel the responsibility. I write under an interior impulse. I feel that the Catholic Church, starting with its leaders, can no longer wait. Either structural changes are promoted (beyond those at the level of conscience, as is obvious) or this crisis will not be overcome(link is external). Already too many have distanced themselves from ecclesial life and the practice of faith.” By Gianni Criveller, UCA.com

Opinion: Archdiocese must be held accountable for priest abuse
“After a two-year investigation, the Vatican recently released a 450-plus-page report about now-defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and how the Catholic Church hierarchy failed to stop his predatory sexual behavior. Now, local Catholics are owed a similar in-depth investigation into the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and its complicity in failing to protect children from predatory sexual behaviors of local priests, such as Geoffrey Drew. Although the Drew story is a microcosm of McCarrick’s, the system that allowed both men to go unpunished for decades, in spite of countless complaints, exists in every Catholic diocese(link is external), including our own. Drew, former pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, was arraigned on nine counts of rape in July 2019, finally halting his access to children.” By Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrman, Jan Seidel, Dan Frondorf and Kathy Weyer, Cincinnati.com

Time for a reckoning: Church must confront, change old boys’ network exposed in Vatican’s McCarrick report
“The report refers to her simply as ‘Mother 1.’ A Manhattan woman with a large brood of mostly boys and an Irish husband, she had become suspicious of then-New York Monsignor Theodore McCarrick(link is external), who snaked his way into her family and had her children call him ‘Uncle Ted.’

Her husband thought it an honor to have a clergyman take an interest in his children. Mother 1, not so. Her antennae went up when she learned he gave her sons alcohol when he took them on trips.” By Rev. Alexander Santora for the Jersey Journal, on NJ.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Local View: Add racism to church’s sex-abuse scandals
‘Too often the Catholic Church uses Native American communities to hide pedophile priests,’ Phoenix attorney Robert Pastor said. Environmental racism was a term coined to describe historical tendencies in the U.S. to store toxic waste on Native American reservations or build pollution-spewing incinerators in Latino or African-American neighborhoods. An analogous term may now be required for the Catholic Church’s systematic dumping of sexually abusive priests into minority communities: Racist diocesan exile(link is external)? Clergy abuse racism? That’s because, as more information has been extracted through recent lawsuits against dioceses and investigations of abusive priests, it has become clear that the church often banished sex offenders to minority parishes as a way of burying them.” By David McGrath, Duluth News Tribune

McCarrick report shows need to focus on survivors, panel says
“In the aftermath of the Holy See’s report on laicized ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a clergy sex abuse survivor from Chile wants matters of clergy abuse to focus more on the survivors and less so on the episcopacy itself(link is external). ‘For me, we’re discussing here how the bishops behave, how we elect them, how we make them better, how they serve us better. Where are the survivors? The men and women survivors have to be the center of our topics,’ said Juan Carlos Cruz. ‘There are so many questions and we feel that yes, we have a McCarrick report, which is a great step for sure. But the suffering and the horror that is still going for so many people in our church is real and it’s now and we need to address it immediately.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

CALIFORNIA

Oakland diocese settles sex-misconduct suit for $3.5 million
“A civil lawsuit anonymously filed last year against the Diocese of Oakland by a former seminarian over alleged sexual misconduct by an East Bay pastor(link is external) reached a settlement late last month, authorities said. In a statement last week, the diocese said the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office did not file charges despite a Livermore police investigation. Church officials added that Father Van Dinh, the former pastor of Livermore’s St. Michael’s Catholic Parish, was not a defendant in last month’s settlement of the suit ‘which had no finding or admission of liability by Dinh or by the diocese.’” By George Kelly, East Bay Times, Bay Area News Group

COLORADO

Colorado’s review of Catholic Church sex abuse named priests, but not those who covered up their crimes
“A pair of explosive reports on decades of child sex abuse in Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses named 52 priests but kept confidential the identities of numerous church officials — from administrators to bishops — who covered up or ignored allegations of misconduct and transferred known child abusers to work in other parishes(link is external). The Colorado Sun counted 37 priests in the two investigative documents—one released last year and another earlier this month—whose abuse was hidden by the church, either because officials ignored victims’ stories, chose not to investigate or did not report suspected abuse to law enforcement. In many cases, the church allowed an abusive priest to continue working as clergy despite warnings about their behavior.” By Jesse Paul and Jennifer Brown, The Colorado Sun

Colorado report names nine more priests accused of abusing minors decades ago
“New findings in an investigation into clergy sex abuse in Colorado’s Catholic dioceses show substantiated claims that an additional nine Catholic priests abused minors decades ago(link is external). Released Dec. 1, the findings are in a supplemental report from the lead investigator, former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, who continued to look into cases as more survivors came forward after the release of his initial report in October 2019.” By Julie Asher, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Denver Archbishop Aquila appears to downplay new Catholic Church abuse cases
“Following the release of a report this week on the history of child sexual abuse at the hands of Colorado Catholic priests that identified dozens of new survivors and nine new perpetrators, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila seemed to once again downplay the severity of the abuse(link is external). The supplemental report released Tuesday (Dec. 1) by the Colorado Attorney General’s office was a follow up to a report on clergy sexual abuse released last year. Tuesday’s report, which concludes a 22-month investigation into how Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses sheltered abusers over seven decades, identified an additional 46 abuse survivors and nine priests that came to light since the release of the first report.” By Madeleine Schmidt, Colorado Times Recorder

Investigator says Pueblo Diocese has system in place that could improve handling of child sex abuse cases
“An investigator of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests says the Pueblo Diocese has set up systems that would significantly improve its handling of reports of misconduct(link is external). Investigator Bob Troyer, a former federal prosecutor, also says the systems—which are new—are yet untested. Troyer worked this year and last for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to delve into hundreds of cases of sexual assaults by priests in the state’s three dioceses: Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver.” By Robert Boczkiewicz, The Pueblo Citizen

Catholic priest names as a child abuser in new report was a counselor at church camp
“A Catholic priest who was named as a child sex abuser in a new report was a counselor at a church camp(link is external) in 1958 when a 10-year-old deaf boy disappeared before his skeletal remains were discovered a year later. Jerry Repola worked at the Catholic Camp St. Malo in Colorado in August 1958, when Bobby Bizup vanished in mysterious circumstances after a day of fishing in the mountains.” By Rachel Sharp, Daily Mail

CONNECTICUT

Victim advocate charged with distributing child pornography
“A victim advocate for the Connecticut court system was charged Friday (Dec. 11) with distributing child pornography over a cellphone app(link is external). Federal prosecutors and the FBI said Robert Eccleston, 56, of Canton, used the app Kik in August and September to distribute numerous pictures and videos of child porn, including images depicting the sexual abuse of toddlers and prepubescent children.” By Associated Press

DELAWARE

Priest indicted, faces federal child pornography charges
“A Catholic priest from Wilmington, Delaware, who served as an advisor to Monoco’s royal family now faces federal child pornography charges. Reverend William McCandless is accused of collecting thousands of child pornography images(link is external) while serving overseas, then returning home with them. The 56-year-old was placed on home confinement and ordered to surrender his passport. McCandless also once served as principal of the Salesianum School in Wilmington and held a post at DeSales University.” By ABC-TV6 News

ILLINOIS

Chicago archdiocese to pay $1.5 million in sexual abuse suit
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who says he was sexually abused as a child by a defrocked priest who was convicted of sexually abusing several boys(link is external), the man’s attorney said Thursday (Dec. 3). The settlement agreement announced in a news release by attorney Lyndsay Markley is the latest dark chapter in the story of Daniel McCormack, one of the most notorious pedophiles in the history of the archdiocese.” By Don Babwin, Associated Press

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese Adds Deceased Fr. Robert Cooper to Clergy Abuse Report
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans has concluded an investigation into newly received information regarding allegations of abuse of minors lodged against the late Fr. Robert K. Cooper. With moral certitude, today, December 2, 2020, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has added Cooper’s name to the Archdiocese of New Orleans Report Regarding Clergy Abuse(link is external) found online at nolacatholic.org. This deceased Fr. Cooper should not be confused with the Fr. Cooper who is an active pastor in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.” By Archdiocese of New Orleans

MASSACHUSETTS

Priest who gave Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral homily charged in sex assault case
“A Catholic priest who delivered the funeral homily for Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 2009 has been indicted on charges alleging rape and indecent assault of a minor(link is external). A Barnstable Superior Court grand jury on Friday (Dec. 11) indicted the Rev. Mark R. Hession, 62, on two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery of a person under 14, and one count of witness intimidation, court records show. An arraignment date will be set in January, a spokesperson for the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office said.” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe

In shift, Springfield Diocese will name all credibly accused priests
“The Springfield Diocese will expand its list of credibly accused priests to include those who died before survivors brought accusations of sexual abuse.(link is external) The exclusion of such priests long has prevented some victims from seeing their abusers face a public accounting. The change is a new bishop’s first step in reckoning with a history of clergy abuse in the Catholic diocese that includes Berkshire County. It comes as an independent task force led by a retired Pittsfield judge continues to shape recommendations on how the diocese can improve policies to protect children.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Five takeaways from Bishop-elect William Byrne’s interview with the Republican
“Bishop-designate William Byrne, who will be ordained Dec. 14 as the 10th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, is the author of the recently published ‘5 Things with Father Bill,’ that tackles diverse topics and offers brief insights on each. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston will be the principal celebrant and consecrator for the invitation-only Episcopal Ordination and Installation Mass at 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Cathedral … Here are five takeaways from his recent interview with The Republican.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Three men accuse prominent Michigan priest, Polish seminary leader of sexual abuse
“The call came one warm night in June 2019. A young Polish priest referred to as ‘John Doe 1’ in a federal lawsuit filed Monday (Dec. 14) knew it was his boss, Rev. Miroslaw Krol, and he knew that Krol was drunk. But he didn’t know the night would end with him driving an intoxicated Krol and another visiting priest to a motel to meet a male sex worker, and then, according to the suit, withdrawing cash from an ATM so Krol could pay him(link is external). Krol is the chancellor and CEO of Orchard Lake Schools, an Oakland County campus that includes a private prep school, St. Mary’s; a seminary, and a Polish cultural center.” By Kate Wells, Michigan Public Radio

Judge denies accused priest’s request to throw out confession in sex crimes case
“A Michigan judge recently denied a request to throw out a confession from a priest accused of sex crimes(link is external). Gary Jacobs, a former Catholic priest in the Upper Peninsula’s Ontonagon and Dickinson counties, is charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct in five cases. His confession will stand in court. Jacobs, 75, was in court on Friday, Dec. 4, for a Walker Hearing during which the Ontonagon County Circuit Court judge denied Jacobs’ request to throw out his confession.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MINNESOTA

St. Cloud Diocese bankruptcy plan approved to settle abuse claims
“A bankruptcy court has approved a reorganization plan for the Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud to settle legal claims of clergy abuse survivors(link is external). Two years ago, the St. Cloud diocese announced that it planned to file for bankruptcy after receiving 74 claims of sexual abuse of minors. Those claims were filed during a three-year window that lifted the statute of limitations on allegations of clergy abuse in Minnesota.” By Minnesota Public Radio

NEW MEXICO

Lawyer: Victims seek to eliminate archdiocese
“An attorney for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe said Monday (Dec. 7) that his clients are dedicated to a ‘compassionate and generous’ settlement for victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external), but he accused victims’ attorneys of seeking to eliminate the ‘physical presence’ of the archdiocese in New Mexico by inquiring into church holdings. The assertion by Albuquerque lawyer Tom Walker was disputed by victims’ attorney James Stang during a hearing Monday in the archdiocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

Judge asked to halt abuse victims’ church properties lawsuit
“The lawsuits allege that more than an estimated $245 million in property owned by the archdiocese was fraudulently transferred to its parishes or their trusts and should be available to help pay claims filed by nearly 380 victims of clergy sexual ab(link is external)use. Lawyers for the archdiocese and its 94 parishes deny any fraud and argue in one court filing that the litigation is intended to strip parishes of assets that have ‘always been beneficially or legally owned by the Parishes.’” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

Former priest again accused of abuse in lawsuit
“A former priest previously accused of sexual assault has again been identified in a Child Victims Act lawsuit(link is external). The suit was filed last week in New York State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County. It alleges abuse by the Rev. John D. Lewandowski, who had previously been accused of abuse according to a list released by the Diocese of Buffalo. The plantiff is identified in the suit as ‘M.L.’ The male victim was about 14 years old in 1960 when the alleged sexual assault took place during after-school activities at the Boys and Girls Club in Jamestown.” By Eric Tichy, The Post-Journal

‘I’m tired of being quiet’: Child Victims Act suit retraumatizes and empowers Schenectady woman
“Colleen Garbarini has to make a plan before entering a grocery store: the mask can’t stay on too long. She knows the mask is there to protect her and others, but the feeling of it covering her face stirs deep emotions four decades in the making. The mask takes her back to when she was a little girl and her abuser tried to quiet her(link is external) when other people were nearby.” By Zachary Matson, Schenectady Daily Gazette

Buffalo Diocese has new bishop, but controversial attorneys, aides remain
“Terrence M. Connors has had so much influence at the Diocese of Buffalo chancery for the past 25 years that some employees privately called him ‘Bishop Terry.’ But the smooth-talking criminal defense attorney was the subject of criticism in a blistering report by State Attorney General Letitia James that accused the diocese of a ‘systemic’ cover-up of sex abuse allegations. Diocese lawyers were cited 46 times in the highly critical lawsuit filed by New York’s top prosecutor.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Prominent New York priest is investigated over sexual assault accusation
“A nationally prominent Catholic priest is under criminal investigation(link is external) after a security guard assigned to his church accused him of sexually assaulting her on Election Day, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said on Friday (Dec. 4). The priest, the Rev. George William Rutler, 75, is accused of watching pornography and masturbating in front of the guard, Ashley Gonzalez, 22, without her consent in his office at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. He then attacked her physically and sexually when she tried to flee from the room, Ms. Gonzalez told the police.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Catholic Church shielded priest who sexually abused NY man as a kid
“A New York man says the Catholic Church shielded a priest who sexually abused him for years(link is external) beginning when he was 13 and homeless in Queens in the 1970s, new court papers show. Evan Manderson, 63, says the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn failed to report the Rev. Coleman Costello to law enforcement — and even allowed him to retire with a clean slate despite the church’s knowledge of his alleged sexual abuse of children, a new Queens Supreme Court lawsuit alleges.” By Priscilla DeGregory, New York Post

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic church abuse probe goes quiet
“Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints. The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports(link is external) that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims. U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.” By Associated Press in Altoona Mirror

Ex-DeSales University priest’s child porn included torture of young children, feds say
“A former DeSales University priest and advisor to the royal family of Monaco is accused of possessing thousands of images of child pornography, including some described as the torture of very young children(link is external), according to federal authorities. William McCandless, 56, of Wilmington, Delaware, was charged by indictment Thursday with three counts of child pornography offenses, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced.” By Sarah Cassi, LeighValleyLive.com

Pittsburgh Catholic diocese pays $19.2 million to abuse survivors
“The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh paid out $19,237,000 to victims of sexual abuse by its clergy members(link is external) through a compensation fund launched after the release of a grand jury report in 2018. That report found widespread child sexual abuse in Catholic churches across Pennsylvania. The settlements were paid out by the Kenneth Feinberg Group, an independent mediator hired by the diocese in 2019, to 244 claims, according to a statement from the diocese Thursday (Dec. 3).” By Kiley Koscinski, WESA-FM90.5 News, National Public Radio

TEXAS

Former Conroe priest Manuel La Rosa-Lopez heading to prison for child indecency
“A Catholic priest is heading to Texas state prison after his formal sentencing on Wednesday (Dec. 16) for committing indecency with two underage parishioners(link is external) 20 years ago. Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez will serve 10 years in prison on two charges of second-degree felony indecency with a child. The maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years in prison.” By Shelly Childers, WTRK-TV13 News

Ex-Catholic church worker in The Woodlands accused of sexual assault of child faces more felony charges
“A former IT employee at the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and School in The Woodlands accused of sexually assaulting a child is now facing additional felony charges(link is external). According to court documents Ronald M. See, 53, was originally charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14. Now, the charges include a second count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual performance by a child, both first-degree felonies, and online solicitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, according to court records.” By Click2Houston.com

VERMONT

Orphanage report: Investigators say authorities failed to pursue abuse claims
“No evidence of murder but an acknowledgment of abuse: Those are the main findings of a more than two-year investigation into claims at a former orphanage in Burlington. Our Dom Amato explains how the state came up with the findings. The old building on North Ave. is now part of a new housing complex, but it was once the St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Attorney General T.J. Donovan says the state investigation uncovered evidence of abuse over several decades(link is external), and blames police and prosecutors for failing to investigate the allegations when they were first made.” By Dom Amato, WCAX-TV3 News

VIRGINIA

Individual retracts child sexual abuse claim against priest, Richmond Catholic Diocese says
“An individual who said they had been sexually abused as a child by a priest in Norfolk, Va., has retracted their claim(link is external), the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Tuesday (Dec. 15). The allegations were made earlier this year against retired diocesan priest William Dinga Jr. Dinga has been accused of abuse while serving at Christ the King Catholic Church in 1986. He retired in 1990 and was not permitted to exercise public priestly duties before these allegations, which Dinga denies, were made.” By Keyris Manzanares, WRIC-TV8 News

WASHINGTON

Lawsuit claiming abuse by Catholic priests dismissed
“A lawsuit claiming sexual abuse committed by four Catholic priests formerly of an Ellensburg church was dismissed(link is external) Thursday (Dec. 10). The suit was filed in April 2019 by a man identified only as John Doe against the Catholic Diocese of Yakima and four priests, including Father Seamus Kerr, a senior priest at Holy Apostles Parish in East Wenatchee. John Doe claimed he was abused in the late 1970s and early 1980s at St. Andrew Catholic Church, when he was between the ages of 10 and 18.” By Pete O’Cain, The Wenatchee World

WISCONSIN

First came sex abuse allegations at the abbey. Then secret payments. Then a suicide.
“According to interviews and documents, the Norbertines quietly sent Lindstrom monthly checks totaling more than $400,000 over 10 years after his parents complained to the Catholic order’s leaders about the harm their son suffered from being sexually abused by at least one priest(link is external) in the late 1980s. Lindstrom spent years in therapy and taking medication, and he eventually settled in suburban Minneapolis with his wife and three children. But in 2018, his life changed when the order’s abbot told him the monthly payments would end.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Post-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Church defends ‘modest’ payout to abused altar boy in landmark case appeal
“A $32,500 settlement paid by the Catholic Church to a former altar boy after he was repeatedly sexually abused by a priest was adequate and reflected the legal landscape at the time, a court has heard. The Catholic Church is seeking to overturn a landmark court ruling that paved the way for sex abuse victims to seek more compensation(link is external) even if they had already signed away their rights to sue. In October, the Supreme Court overturned a deed of release signed by a former altar boy known as ‘WCB’ in 1996 after he was repeatedly sexually abused by Warragul priest Daniel Hourigan.” By Tom Cowie, The Age

New national Catholic safeguarding agency established
“The Catholic Church has established a new company to oversee all safeguarding, child protection and professional standards in Australia(link is external), creating a more focused and streamlined model. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and the Association of Ministerial PJPs yesterday launched Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited. ‘We have discerned what was working well and what needed to change, and we are convinced this new national agency will make the Church’s work more coordinated, accountable and best prepared to ensure the safety of people in Catholic settings,’ CRA president Br Peter Carroll FMS said.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Humboldt RCMP arrest Catholic priest on sexual assault charges
“The Humboldt RCMP arrested a 45-year-old Saskatchewan priest after receiving multiple reports of incidents of a sexual nature(link is external). RCMP charged Fr. Anthony Atter of Lake Lenore with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation. RCMP say the incidents allegedly occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 4, 2020. Fr. Atter is responsible for the parishes of St Gregory, St Ann and St Anthony.” By YahooNews.com

Chilliwack Catholic church pastor fired for alleged ‘sexual misconduct’
“Parishioners of St. Mary’s Church in Chilliwack are left with questions after the departure of a long-serving pastor accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). In a letter sent to parishioners of St. Mary’s and Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta on Dec. 4, Archbishop J. Michael Miller said an internal investigation ‘confirmed that a number of accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult by Father [Nelson] Santos were with an adult were well-founded, along with related inappropriate behavior and comments.” By Paul Henderson, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

Catholic church names more sexually abusive priests, more victims come forward
More victims of sexual assault by members of the Roman Catholic clergy have come forward in B.C.(link is external) after the release of a report in 2019 on cases of abuse going back decades. And the Archdiocese of Vancouver has named three more priests. ‘We again want to acknowledge the deep suffering of the victims and their loved ones and I apologize to each of them for the trauma caused by the abuse by a priest,’ Archbishop J. Michael Miller said in a new archdiocese publication. ‘They are in my prayers.’” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier

B.C. priest accused of sexual misconduct: Vancouver Archdiocese
“An investigation into a B.C. priest has concluded accusations of sexual misconduct were ‘well-founded(link is external),’ according to the Vancouver Archdiocese. In a letter from Archbishop Michael Miller, he addressed the recent departure of Father Nelson Santos, who had been serving as an assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta. Miller writes that a number of accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult by Santos were ‘well-founded’ as were ‘related inappropriate behaviour and comments.’” By Kathryn Tindale and Tim James, CityNews1130.com

FRANCE

Ex-Vatican envoy to France gets 8-month suspended sentence for sexual harassment
“A French court has found former Vatican ambassador to France Luigi Ventura guilty of sexual harassment against five men(link is external) in 2018 and 2019 and given him an eight-month suspended sentence, AFP reported on its Twitter feed on Wednesday (Dec. 16). Prosecutors had opened an investigation after a junior official at Paris City Hall accused the papal nuncio, then 74, of molestation in January 2019, and city authorities filed a complaint. Other men later came forward with similar allegations.” By Reuters Staff

GERMANY

German nuns accused of enabling child sex abuse by priests
“Nuns in the city of Speyer ‘dragged’ children to be sexually abused by priests and politicians, a survivor told a German court(link is external). His explosive testimony is the latest abuse scandal to rock the German Catholic Church. Catholic nuns who ran a former children’s home in the German city of Speyer allegedly aided in the sexual abuse of the children who were under their care, according to a newly-surfaced court decision. The latest scandal came to light after a victim filed a case to claim compensation from the Catholic church, prompting the Darmstadt Social Welfare Court to investigate.” By Deutsche Welle

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

‘Horror’ that abusive priest allowed back into schools
“Devastated head teachers, teachers and other education experts have spoken of their anger regarding the Catholic Church’s handling of the case of Fr Joseph Quigley, an authority and adviser to bishops on Catholic education, who has been convicted of child sex abuse(link is external). Quigley, 56, was found guilty on December 3 at Warwick Crown Court of physical and sexual abuse – but 12 years after Birmingham archdiocese, when it was led by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, first learned of his abuse and did not immediately report Quigley to the police.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Scots abuse survivor handed 100K in damages after horror childhood in care
“An abuse survivor has secured £100,000 in damages after being molested and beaten while in care. The man – known as Victim N – was locked in cupboards, beaten with a stick and sexually abused when he was being looked after as a child by the Sisters of Nazareth Catholic order(link is external). He was then moved to council-run Auldhouse Care Home in Glasgow, only to be subjected to worse violence. Victim N, now 58 and living in England, raised a legal action after spending decades coming to terms with what happened.” By Jenny Morrison, Daily Record

‘Sexual sadist’ priest abused boy and locked him in church crypt
“A ‘sexual sadist’ priest who worked as a private tutor sexually and physically abused a boy and locked him in a church crypt(link is external). Father Joseph Quigly – who held various ‘presitigious’ roles including as national education advisor for Roman Catholic schools – sexually and physically abused a boy while he was a parish priest in Warwickshire. The priest – described as a ‘sexual sadist’ – rubbed the teenager’s inner thigh after making him wear gym kit, take showers with the door open, and inflicted ‘sado-masochistic’ punishments on him such as locking him in the church’s crypt.” By Birmingham Mail

The U.K. is reckoning with a clerical sex abuse crisis. Again.
“Ms. (Sue) Cox is one of the abuse survivors who provided evidence to a government inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. The inquiry has identified significant and ongoing failings in the church’s safeguarding of children and in decision-making among its highest leaders(link is external). Published on Nov. 10, the same day the Vatican released its internal report into decades-long sexual abuse by Theodore McCarrick, a former U.S. cardinal, the U.K. inquiry reports that the church’s ‘moral purpose was betrayed over decades by those in the Church who perpetrated this abuse and those who turned a blind eye to it.’” By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

When a Catholic lawyer fights sexual abuse in Indonesian Church
“Almost every Monday since September, Catholic lawyer Azas Tigor Nainggolan accompanies the altar boys who were sexually abused and their families appearing at the Depok District Court in West Java(link is external). He accompanies them against the defendant, Syahril Marbun, former altar boys’ trainer at St Herkulanus parish, Bogor diocese, the first recorded case of sexual abuse in a church brought before a civil court.” By Ryan Dagur, Jakarta, USANews.com

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand child abuse inquiry finds quarter of a million harmed in state and faith-based care
“Up to a quarter of a million children, young people and vulnerable adults were physically and sexually abused in New Zealand’s faith-based and state care institutions from the 1960s to early 2000s(link is external), a public inquiry revealed on Wednesday (Dec. 16). An interim report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry found children, some from as young as nine months old, suffered years of abuse, which included rape and electric shock treatment, by staff at psychiatric and state care facilities, clergy and foster guardians. The report estimated that up to 256,000 people were abused, accounting for almost 40% of the 655,000 people in care during the period, with most abuse occurring in the 1970s and 1980s.” By Praveen Menon, Reuters

SPAIN

A parish priest has been jailed for 20 years for sexually abusing young girls
“A parish priest has been jailed for 20 years for sexually abusing young girls in his care(link is external) during a six month period back in 2014, according to newly released court documents. The priest, practicing in the city of Cordoba, was accused of sexually groping six individuals between the ages of eight and 12 who were visiting during religious camps during the school summer holidays. An investigation began when one of the victims, who has not been named for her protection, spoke of the abuse in front of a Policia Local officer five years after the events.” By James Warren, The Olive Press

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

November 9, 2020

TOP STORIES

Vatican court hears unprecedented sexual abuse criminal trial
“An unprecedented trial is underway this month at the Vatican, the result of a whistleblower going public. A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy over a five-year period inside Vatican City walls(link is external). An older priest is charged with covering up the abuse. It’s the first criminal trial for sexual abuse to take place in the Vatican court. The first hearing of the trial lasted just eight minutes — enough for the Vatican court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The alleged victim, identified by his initials, LG, was forced ‘to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City,” according to charges read out by the court clerk.’” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio

The rise of Wilton Gregory, the first African-American cardinal
“Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and a leader of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church’s response to its sexual abuse crisis, was among 13 new cardinals that Pope Francis announced on Sunday (Oct. 25). The move positions Archbishop Gregory, 72, to become the first African-American cardinal next month(link is external). He has been a national figure since 2002, when, as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he presided over the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy toward priests guilty of sexual abuse. He was elevated from his position as the bishop of Belleville, Ill., to lead the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2005 before Francis installed him in Washington last year.” By Christina Morales, The New York Times

Are women involved in a toxic relationship with the church?
“It’s not what they say; it’s the way that they say it. Documents and Scripture translations annoyingly border on gaslighting women.(link is external) Not the big-league, drive-her-crazy gaslighting, just the subtle cognitive dissonance that slips into relationships large and small. You know, ‘He loves me, he loves me not …’ Cognitive dissonance includes saying one thing and meaning another. It exists, painfully enough, in the church. We know what the church says, but we know what it does. You have to wonder, are women involved in a toxic relationship with the church?” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Australian state police rule out probe into Vatican money transfers during Pell trial
“Police in the Australian state of Victoria said Friday (Oct. 23) that they have no plans for a further investigation into reports of money transfers from the Vatican during the trial of Cardinal George Pell(link is external), while federal police have said the information they have received is under their review, and been shared with an anti-corruption commission. Victoria Police told journalists Oct. 23 that AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, had shared information with the force regarding the transfers.” By Catholic News Agency

POPE FRANCIS

Pope names new cardinals, putting his stamp on Church’s future
“The nine new cardinal electors, whom the pope listed in a surprise announcement while addressing pilgrims from his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, include Archbishop Wilton Gregory(link is external) of Washington D.C. Gregory, who will become the first African-American to hold the rank, has become a national figure in recent months. He has called for dialogue to ease racial tensions in the United States following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police in May. He has also indirectly clashed with U.S. President Donald Trump last June when he said he found it ‘baffling and reprehensible’ a Catholic Church in Washington allowed Trump to use the facility for a photo opportunity. Trump supporters later denounced Gregory.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

CARDINALS

Cardinal Woelki would step down if implicated in abuse cover-ups
“Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki would resign from his office if the sexual abuse study he commissioned implicated him in any cover-ups(link is external), according to the Cologne Archdiocese. The German Catholic news agency KNA said the archdiocese was confirming a report in the local Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper that Cardinal Woelki had expressed this intention before the diocesan pastoral council in November 2018. The aim of the study is to identify by name those who were involved in sexual abuse.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

VATICAN

Taking a broader view of Vatican ‘anti-corruption’ reforms
“When he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was infamous for rarely giving interviews(link is external). An Argentine reporter told me in 2013 that he once went out to a site where Bergoglio was saying Mass to cover the event, and then spotted him heading for the subway afterwards. From the window of his car, the reporter told Bergoglio he was heading back towards the center of town and asked if he wanted a ride, and Bergoglio reluctantly got in.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Cathedral treasurer stole £222,000 from church to feed gambling addiction
“A gambling addict took more than £220,000 from Norwich’s Catholic Cathedral while volunteering as its treasurer(link is external). Rene Mugenzi was jailed for more than two years at Norwich Crown Court on Friday (Oct. 23) afternoon for siphoning off the cash from the bank account at St John the Baptist Cathedral and into his own between March 2016 and May 2018. He admitted the fraud at Norwich Magistrates’ Court in July, but magistrates barred the public from knowing about the case because Mugenzi’s solicitor told them the fraudster’s life was under threat.” By Tom Bristow, Eastern Daily Press

VOICES

To end sexual abuse in churches, dismantle purity culture
“With tears in her eyes, Shannon Dingle approached a female volunteer, the lone woman on an all-male staff at a friend’s church youth group. Dingle was 16 and had finally worked up the courage to disclose that she had been repeatedly raped as a child(link is external). ‘We had just heard a talk on purity and modesty, which was the only context in which sex was ever discussed in the church, so it felt like, Okay, at least we’re kind of in the right area,’ Dingle, now 38, recounts. ‘They were talking about the choices people make, and I kept thinking about how my experiences so far hadn’t been a choice.’” By Leslie Goldman, on MarieClaire.com

Q&A with Sr. Patricia McCann: ‘Be a thorn in the side of injustice
“Although Mercy Sr. Patricia McCann and her companions told the Birmingham, Alabama, police officers that they were participating in a ‘spring educational tour of the South,’ the four buses with Pennsylvania license plates told a different story. McCann, Mercy Sr. De Lellis Laboon and other faculty mentors were supervising the buses, which were full of students from Carlow University (then Mount Mercy College), the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. They planned to participate in the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965(link is external). Skeptical but with no grounds to hold them, the officers begrudgingly waved them on.” By Carol K. Coburn, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

French cases lead Focolare to promise investigation of handling abuse claims
“The president of Focolare has accepted the resignations of the lay movement’s top leaders in France and announced the group will ask an independent committee to investigate how allegations of the sexual abuse of minors have been handled(link is external). ‘The task of this body will be to listen to the presumed victims and to gather further testimonies, as well as investigating eventual omissions, cover-ups or silence on the part of those responsible for the movement,’ said a statement released Oct. 22 by the Focolare movement, which is headquartered outside of Rome.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CALIFORNIA

Survivor group slams Fresno Catholic churches for withholding names of accused priests
“It remains unknown when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno may release its list of credibly accused priests of sexual misconduct two years after it began to ponder what to release(link is external) to the public. An advocacy organization says the diocese is stalling the release of names of accused priests because it doesn’t want to encourage more lawsuits from victims. The diocese would not comment on that claim.” By Yesenia Amaro, The Fresno Bee

ILLINOIS

Clinton County priest suspended for ‘inappropriate conduct’ with minor
“A priest at two rural Clinton County parishes has been suspended from ministry after he was accused of ‘inappropriate conduct’ with a minor(link is external). According to a letter to Clinton County parishioners from Bishop Michael McGovern of the Belleville Diocese, Rev. Anthony Onyango, who was pastor at both St. Bernard Parish in Albers and St. Damian parish in Damiansville, was removed from ministry last week.” By WMIX94 Radio News

Names of priests added to Rockford Catholic Diocese sexual abuse list
“Six more names have been added to the Catholic Diocese of Rockford’s sexual abuse list(link is external). The list, updated Oct. 21, now contains the names of 21 clergy members against whom allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been substantiated. The names of the six priests added to the list and their parish assignments are …” By Chris Green, Rockford Register Star

Catholic Diocese of Bellville removes priest to investigate allegation involving minor
“Bishop Michael McGovern of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville has removed a priest from ministry due to an allegation made last week of ‘inappropriate conduct involving a minor(link is external).’ McGovern made the announcement about the Rev. Anthony Onyango on Saturday (Oct. 24) in a letter to parishioners at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Albers and St. Damian Catholic Church in Damiansville, where he was serving as ‘administrator,’ according to the online diocesan directory.” By Teri Maddox, Belleville News-Democrat

LOUISIANA

New Orleans archdiocese seeks laicization for all clergy credibly accused of sex abuse
“While allegations against two New Orleans-area priests have again raised questions about the Church’s response to clergy misconduct, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has confirmed that for the past two years it has been seeking to laicize clergy who have been removed from ministry for credible reports of sexual abuse(link is external). ‘In the Archdiocese of New Orleans, very soon after the publication of the 2018 Clergy Abuse Report, conversations began in an effort to seek the laicization of those living clergy that had been removed from ministry for abuse of a minor and this is in process,’ Sarah McDonald, communications director at the New Orleans archdiocese, told CNA Oct. 26.” By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency

Rev. Pat Wattigny, Louisiana priest accused of sexual abuse, arrested in Georgia
“Police in Georgia have arrested Roman Catholic priest Patrick Wattigny on a St. Tammany Parish warrant accusing him of sexually abusing a minor while he was leading a Slidell church(link is external), authorities said Friday (Oct. 23). Wattigny’s arrest comes a little more than three weeks after he allegedly admitted to the Archdiocese of New Orleans that he had started sexually abusing a teenage boy in 2013. He faces four counts of molestation of a juvenile, all stemming from the same victim, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate

MICHIGAN

New charges files against Catholic school teacher after two more victims come forward
“New sexual assault charges have been filed against a former Catholic school music teacher after her prosecutors last month accused the 67-year-old man of sexually assaulting two other minors while he was employed at St. John Catholic School(link is external) in Jackson in the 1970s. Joseph – or Josef – Comperchio, of Fort Myers, Florida, is charged with five new counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving two individuals. Four of the counts occurred when the victims were under the age of 13, and the fifth was while the victim was physically helpless – second-degree criminal sexual conduct–injury to incapacitated victim. All charges are 15-year felonies.” By B. Thompson, MLive.com

NEW JERSEY

Four more sex abuse suits filed against Delbarton School Catholic order, 16 cases now pending
“The Catholic order that runs the Delbarton School in Morris Township now faces 16 sexual abuse lawsuits in state court after four more were filed(link is external) Thursday (Oct.22) naming Timothy Brennan, a priest and former teacher who died late last year and who has been the focus of at least 20 complaints since the 1980s. St. Mary’s Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict New Jersey, which runs Delbarton, has settled at least 10 complaints involving Brennan over the years. Brennan is also named in 10 of the pending lawsuits.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Findlay priest, Zacharias, indicted for sex trafficking
“U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman announced today (Oct. 26) that a federal grand jury sitting in Cleveland has returned a 10-count indictment charging Michael J. Zacharias, age 53, with sex trafficking of a minor and sex trafficking of an adult and minor by force, fraud, or coercion(link is external). The defendant was arrested on August 18, 2020, and has remained in federal custody since that time. ‘This defendant is accused of using his status and position as a religious and community leader to seek out troubled minors and exploit their personal challenges for his own satisfaction,’ said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman.” By Shore New Network

NEW YORK.

Deadline to file childhood sex abuse claims against diocese of Syracuse set
“Chief Judge Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of New York stated that survivors of child sexual abuse within the Diocese of Syracuse will have until April 15, 2021 to file claims against the Diocese(link is external). The Diocese of Syracuse filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2020 after dozens of abuse survivors filed abuse lawsuits against the Diocese. The bankruptcy filings show the diocese has assets of more than $10 million but less than $50 million. Lawyers for the diocese from Syracuse firm Bond, Schoeneck & King estimated the diocese has between 100 and 200 creditors and up to $100 million in liabilities.” By Legal Examiner

OHIO

Former priest files defamation suit
“Former priest William B. Smaltz of Youngstown and his wife, Noreen, filed suit against the Diocese of Youngstown on Tuesday (Oct. 27) alleging defamation after the Diocese included Smaltz’s name on a list of priests it called ‘credibly accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external).’ The Diocese released the list to the public Oct. 30, 2018, and various news outlets published articles on it. In May, however, the Diocese said it was removing Smaltz’s name from the list after further investigation and additional information indicated that the earlier allegations against Smaltz are “no longer deemed to be credible,” according to Vindicator files.” By Ed Runyan, The Vindicator

Ohio priest accused of sex trafficking played father figure to victims, enabled drug addiction
“Michael Zacharias, 53, former Ohio priest who was arrested in August 2020, is facing a 10-count indictment with charges that include sex trafficking of minor, sex trafficking of an adult by fraud, and coercion(link is external). He has also been accused of sexually exploiting the minors by enabling their drug addiction. A Federal Grand Jury in Cleveland on Friday handed down Michael, a 10- count indictment. Michael was arrested on Aug. 18, 2020 and has remained in Federal Custody since then. Michael has been accused of engaging in sexual acts and grooming of minors since late 1990s when he was enrolled as a seminarian.” By Suneeta Sunny, International Business Times

OREGON

Former Marist High student sues, alleging school knew of sexual abuse by administrator
“A former student is suing Marist Catholic High School in Eugene and the Marist Brothers of the Schools in New York for $3.25 million, alleging an administrator in the 1970s sexually abused him for years(link is external). The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Multnomah Circuit Court in Portland, states that Brother Robert Ryan worked at the private Catholic high school in Eugene as vice principal in the 1970s and used his role to groom and isolate students, sexually abusing them at school and on school trips.” By Jordyn Brown, Register-Guard

PENNSYLVANIA

Diocese of Scranton: eight more accused of sexual abuse
“More than two years later, the fallout from Pennsylvania’s scathing Grand Jury report on clergy sex abuse continues in Scranton. Another well-known priest joins the dozens of members of the Diocese of Scranton who have been accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). 80-year-old Monsignor Joseph Kelly served as the head of Catholic Social Services for a decade and was heavily involved with St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen in the city. He is now retired.” By Elizabeth Worthington, WNEP-TV16 News

Patton priest placed on leave after accusation
“The Rev. Ananias Buccicone, OSB, pastor of Queen of Peace Parish in Patton, has been placed on leave from public ministry after an accusation of recent inappropriate conduct involving minors(link is external). The allegation was reported to authorities, and law enforcement is investigating, according to Tony DeGol, director of communications for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Father Buccicone, 58, was ordained a priest in the Benedictine Community of St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe in 1993.” By Altoona Mirror

Handling of abuse allegations divides AG candidates
“Heather Heidelbaugh, Republican candidate for Attorney General, said current attorney general Josh Shapiro should not have publicized the names of priests who weren’t charged but were accused of molesting children(link is external) in a grand jury report detailing the abuse of at least 1,000 children across the state over decades. Hardly any of the priests named in the report were charged because the crimes occurred so long ago that the state’s statute of limitations had expired. Efforts to open a window to allow survivors of child sex crimes to sue despite the statute of limitations have stalled, though the General Assembly could vote next year to put a Constitutional amendment question about opening a window for lawsuits on the ballot.” By The Sharon Herald

VIRGINIA

Catholic Diocese of Richmond to pay $6.2 million to sexual abuse victims
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced last week that it is paying $6.3 million to 51 people who experienced sexual abuse as minors by clergy(link is external). The diocese released details on Oct. 15 in a report on its website, richmonddiocese.org. In February, Bishop Barry Knestout directed the formation of a program to offer assistance to those who experienced abuse. ‘Recognizing that no amount of money will ever be able to fully compensate for the injury inflicted by abusive clergy, Bishop Knestout announced the Independent Reconciliation Program as one of many means to offer individuals a tangible sign of the Church’s effort to repair the injury and overcome the estrangement caused by clergy sexual abuse of minors,’ the report stated.” By Richmond Free Press

CANADA

Man sues Catholic Church in Vancouver alleging he was drugged and sexually abused by priest
“A man is suing the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver over allegations that a former priest and a former teacher sexually abused him(link is external) in the mid-1970s. The man, who is only identified as John Doe in the lawsuit, says that Father John Kilty, an ordained priest of the Vancouver Archdiocese who served as pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in North Vancouver from 1956-1982, targeted him while he was a six-year-old student at Holy Trinity Elementary around 1974 and ’75.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

Montreal archdiocese says priest found guilty of sexual assault has been defrocked
“A priest sentenced in 2019 for abusing two boys has been formally stripped of his priesthood(link is external), Montreal’s archdiocese said Friday (Oct. 23). Archbishop Christian Lepine had defrocked Brian Boucher in March 2019, following the conclusion of a church judicial process, but that decision had been subject to appeal. The archdiocese said in statement that no appeal had been filed. ‘Therefore, the decision stands. Mr. Boucher is no longer a priest of the Roman Catholic Church.’” By Canadian Press on TimminsToday.com

GERMANY

Row over unpublished report on Cologne clerical sex abuse cover-up
“Germany’s most influential Catholic diocese stands accused of protecting senior bishops after refusing to publish a report outlining their cover-up of clerical sexual abuse(link is external). Last February Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Cologne and one of Germany’s most senior Catholic figures, promised to publish within a month a report by a Munich law firm granted access to diocesan archives. The report, he promised, would name figures who ‘as a result of their decisions and their behavior could have contributed to abuse: structurally, institutionally or even in a concrete way.’” By Derek Scally, The Irish Times

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Derry man who says priest abused him hits out at church probe
“A man who alleges he was abused by a priest in Londonderry 28 years ago has criticized the Catholic Church’s investigation. Denis Cairns was just 13 years old when he claims he was abused by a priest attached to the Nottingham diocese(link is external). He has now received a letter from the Bishop of Nottingham, Patrick McKinney, in which the Bishop said he was ‘unable to reach the required moral certainty’ demanded of him after considering the evidence from Mr. Cairns and the priest at the center of his allegation.” By Donna Deeney, Belfast Telegraph

Former priest who downloaded child abuse imagery jailed
“Defrocked priest Oliver O’Grady was sentenced to 22 months in prison at Waterford Circuit Court on Tuesday (Oct. 27) after being found guilty by a jury earlier this month of possessing child abuse imagery(link is external). O’Grady had been accused of using a computer that had been loaned to him by a housemate at 21 Otteran Place, South Parade, Waterford, to download a video showing an underage girl being abused. O’Grady denied the charge, but admitted that the computer was used to search for images and videos of ‘young boys in underwear.’” By Darren Skelton, The Irish

NEW ZEALAND

Rosmini College sex abuse: Brother William Jackson groped boys during music lessons
“An Auckland lawyer and former politician has come out in support of a Rosmini College sex abuse victim, saying he too was groped by brother William Jackson(link is external). And the school itself has been contacted by another former student who said they had a similar experience with Jackson, a music teacher at the Catholic school in Auckland during the late 1960s and early 1970s.” By Elizabeth Binning, New Zealand Herald

POLAND

Poland’s Cardinal Dziwisz denies knowledge of abuse complaint, Maciel’s crimes
“Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the influential former long-time personal secretary of Pope John Paul II, is denying a priest’s accusation that he covered up a case of clerical abuse in 2012(link is external). In an extraordinary Oct. 20 interview for the largest private TV station in Poland, TVN24, the cardinal also denied that John Paul had any knowledge of the crimes committed by Marcial Maciel Degollado, a serial child abuser and founder of the once-powerful Legionaries of Christ.” By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


September 28, 2020

TOP STORIES

Investigation: Abuse allegations against Catholic bishop ‘credible’
“An independent investigation found that allegations of child sexual abuse by a former Roman Catholic bishop in Massachusetts were ‘unequivocally credible,(link is external)’ according to an executive summary of the report released Wednesday (sept. 16). Retired Superior Court Judge Peter Velis’s report of abuse allegations against late Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon also criticized the way the diocesan review board handled the allegations. Velis found that there was a ‘reluctance to fervently pursue an evaluation of allegations against (Weldon) due to his prominence and revered legacy in the religious community.’” By Associated Press in The Boston Globe

Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis Isn’t Over
“The Catholic University of America and The Catholic Project present Crisis: Clergy Abuse in the Catholic Church, a podcast on clergy sex abuse(link is external). Hosted by the University spokesperson Karna Lozoya, the 10-part audio documentary explores how the Catholic Church continues to struggle with the issue of sex abuse, despite the many reforms it has adopted. Episode one revisits 2018, the Catholic Church’s ‘summer of shame.’ High-ranking American cleric, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. More accusations followed, including from former seminarians.” By The Catholic University of America

Clergy abuse survivors face a lifetime of PTSD recurrence
“New job in hand, Jim Richter was adjusting well to life in Minneapolis several months after leaving his hometown of Chicago. He was enjoying his fellowship at the University of Minnesota Medical Center despite the long hours and he was coming to realize his move was a good one. Sexually abused as a teenager by a South Side Chicago Catholic priest(link is external) who had similarly assaulted other young men, Richter wasn’t expecting to hear more about the clergy abuse scandal in Minnesota.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Catholic Groups Seek Apology From Brennan and Removal of His Enablers
“A letter addressed to the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, from two groups representing lay Catholics seeks further action taken in the wake of disgraced former bishop Michael Bransfield’s ignoble resignation(link is external).The letter, which was sent Sept. 3 to Brennan, comes from Morgantown-based Lay Catholic Voices for Change, and ACT: A Church Together, which lists a Wheeling address, which represent lay, or non-clergy, members of the Roman Catholic Church.” By Alan Olson, The Wheeling Intelligencer

Diocesan Synod calls for reforms
“The call for reform of diocesan and parish governance at the first session of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will strongly influence planning for future sessions. A Governance Focus Group is evaluating diocesan governance structures and processes(link is external) and will prepare documents and recommendations for the next Synod session in 2021 … Lawrie Hallinan, chair of the Synod’s Governance Focus Group said the group had embraced the recently released national report on diocesan and parish governance, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

New laws in Queensland mean priests no longer protected by seal of confession
“Priests in Queensland will no longer be protected by the seal of confession(link is external) and must report cases of child abuse or face criminal charges. State parliament rejected protests from the Catholic church to pass new laws on Tuesday (Sept. 8). Other states continue to debate similar proposals, and in several jurisdictions clergy remain exempt from prosecution for failing to report child sexual abuse.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis: ‘Never again to the culture of abuse’
“Pope Francis has written a prologue to a recently published book on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) entitled “Theology and Prevention.” ‘Fighting against abuse means fostering and empowering communities capable of watching over and announcing that all life deserves to be respected and valued, especially that of the most defenseless who do not have the resources to make their voices heard,’ Pope Francis wrote in the introduction to the book.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic Sentinel

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Newark archdiocese bought second beach house for use by McCarrick
“Months before officials in the Archdiocese of Newark sold a beach house used by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual abuse and coercion,(link is external) the archdiocese bought a second beach house on the Jersey Shore, at which McCarrick reportedly hosted friends and courted donors. The second beach house, according to an investigative report from northjersey.com, was purchased in 1997 by the Newark archdiocese from the neighboring Diocese of Metuchen.” By Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

German Catholic bishop dismisses cardinal’s fear that ‘Synodal Way’ could lead to split
“The president of the German bishops’ conference dismissed Friday (Sept. 18) suggestions that the controversial ‘Synodal Way’ could lead to a split in the Church(link is external). Bishop Georg Bätzing made the comment Sept. 18 after Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said that the worst outcome would be if the process ‘leads to a split and thereby outside of the Church, out of communion with the universal Church.’” By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Irish priest spurns Vatican plan that would have allowed return to ministry
“A well-known Irish priest who has been in a dispute with the Vatican for several years over his controversial views has rejected a plan from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that would have restored him to public ministry(link is external). Redemptorist Father Tony Flannery has been forbidden to exercise public ministry since 2012 after he was censured for saying that he no longer believed that ‘the priesthood as we currently have it in the Church originated with Jesus’ or that he designated ‘a special group of his followers as priests.’” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

‘Fratelli tutti’ does not include women, and neither does ‘fraternity’
“Forget about women in church leadership. Do you think maybe the Vatican could hire a few women editors? The latest embarrassment: ‘Fratelli tutti,’(link is external) the title of the coming papal encyclical, is Italian for ‘all brothers.’ Vatican Media says that includes women. Oh, they say, the title comes from the writings of St. Francis. Well, yes. Except that St. Francis’ Admonitions were written to all his fellow friars: ‘omnes fratres’ or, in Italian, ‘fratelli tutti.’” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

‘We lost what we cherished’: Cincinnati parish fights back when a new priest brings change
“The changes at St. Anthony’s are part of a broader debate in the American church over the role regular Catholics, or lay Catholics, should play in the day-to-day operation of their parishes(link is external). But they also have ignited an intensely personal fight over what it means to be a religious community and what it means to be Catholic. At St. Anthony’s, the community has for years been guided by the belief that lay Catholics can and should be empowered to do important work in the parish, including, at times, work typically left to priests.’ By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

VATICAN

Vatican envoy’s removal from India brings relief for some Catholics
“Several Catholic groups in India have expressed relief after the Vatican removed its controversial envoy from the country. Pope Francis Aug. 29 suddenly transferred Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal, to Brazil amid accusations of inaction against allegedly corrupt bishops(link is external). ‘I saw the nuncio’s transfer as a small moral victory, not something to gloat about, but more a sense of relief,’ Chhotebhai, coordinator of the Indian Catholic Forum and former president of the All India Catholic Union, the largest lay association in the country, told NCR.” By Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German Catholic Church is losing priests and parishes
“A key issue for this fall’s Bishops’ Conference will be the pressures facing the Catholic Church in Germany. Fewer priests mean fewer communities, even in one of the world’s richest dioceses(link is external). As head of the Bonn Münster, one of Germany’s oldest churches, Wolfgang Picken is the Catholic Church’s most recognizable face in the former German capital. More churches are about to fall under his purview, according to new plans from the Archdiocese of Cologne. “It’s a sweeping change,” Picken told DW.” By Deutsche Welle

Reimagining parishes is a step along road to renewal
“It’s now been well established that the Catholic Church here in Western New York is facing unprecedented challenges that strike at the heart of its credibility(link is external), its ability to serve so many critical needs and, yes, its viability as a force for good. Those in church leadership must admit that many of these challenges are a result of woeful failings over many years that have caused devoted Catholics to question the fundamentals of their faith and identity.” By Edward B. Scharfenberger, The Buffalo News

Charlotte Diocese opens college seminary to serve growing Catholic population
“It was a day to thank God for sending more laborers to gather his harvest, Diocese of Charlotte leaders said as they blessed and formally opened St. Joseph College Seminary. The newly completed college seminary was blessed by Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis(link is external) Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, after an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. With its striking Gothic architecture and 30,000 square feet of living-and-learning space, the college seminary serves as home to young men who are exploring a vocation to the Catholic priesthood while also pursuing undergraduate degrees at nearby Belmont Abbey College.” By Patricia L. Guilfoyle, SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

What if women comprised 50% of sex abuse victims in the Catholic Church?
“What if the cornerstone of our conventional wisdom about the victims of the Catholic Church and clergy sex abuse crisis was wrong(link is external)? What if, in a statistically viable sample of survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church, 50% of respondents were female? What if you also knew that this result is almost statically impossible to achieve with the conventional wisdom, which says that boys outnumber girls four to one? Would that change how you, the church, advocacy groups, and the general public respond to the crisis?” By Joelle Casteix, Worthy Adversary Blog

Why there’s more to the question of the confessional
“I DON’T always get to see letters written about me to editors or online, and maybe that’s a good thing. However, one particular letter to the editor earlier this month from a local politician which I did read gave me reason to pause. He had just finished reading The Altar Boys by ABC journalist Suzanne Smith, a book on the abuse of children in the diocese of Maitland and the cover-up by the church(link is external).” By Father Brendan Lee, Wellington Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Accuser and excommunicated priest both wait as sexual violation case drags on
“The accuser prefers the traditional Tridentine rite Latin Mass. That way she only sees the celebrant from the back and can pray in peace, she told NCR. ‘That’s real separation; it doesn’t feel like the priest interacts with you,’ she said. A few thousand miles away in Sacramento, California, Jeremy Leatherby, the former pastor of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, excommunicated priest, and the man she accuses of sexual exploitation(link is external), is said to be living quietly with his family.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

New podcast series examines history of U.S. clergy sex abuse
“A new podcast series, ‘Crisis,’ has debuted, which examines the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. church(link is external). Produced by the Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America, Washington, its 10 episodes plan to recount the history of the crisis and church leaders’ responses to it. ‘Catholic University really found itself in a unique position to offer a response to the sexual abuse crisis,’ said Karna Lozoya, executive director of strategic communications in the president’s office at the university, and narrator of ‘Crisis.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

ARIZONA

Another Former Brophy Priest Has Been Accused of Sexual Abuse
“A Jesuit priest who taught at Brophy College Preparatory for seven years in the 1980s and coached the boy’s football team is the latest Phoenix-area Catholic priest to be accused of sexual abuse(link is external). In a lawsuit filed today (Sept. 24), an anonymous alum now living in California alleges that Reverend James A. Sinnerud, S.J. engaged in sexual contact with him without his consent and when he was a minor incapable of giving consent. The lawsuit does not specify the nature or time frame of the alleged misconduct, but Sinnerud would have been been in his late 40s when he taught at Brophy.” By Erasmus Baxter, Phoeix New Times

LOUISIANA

Former De La Salle principal, fellow religious brother accused of molesting student in 1980s
“A former principal of De La Salle High School and a subordinate are accused of sexually molesting one of the Uptown school’s students(link is external) in the 1980s, according to a new lawsuit filed last month. While the Aug. 7 lawsuit appears to mark the first time ex-principal Richard Langenstein and Robert Gandara face public abuse accusations stemming from their service at the 71-year-old school on St. Charles Avenue, each has previously pleaded no contest to charges of child molestation for unrelated conduct in St. Tammany Parish.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

People alleging sex abuse by New Orleans clergy must come forward by March 1, judge rules
“A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday (Sept. 17) set a March 1 deadline for purported victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy to make claims(link is external) against the Archdiocese of New Orleans, resolving months of legal arguments over how much time to allow before they are barred from seeking compensation. After a four-hour court hearing, Judge Meredith Grabill ruled that anyone alleging they were abused before the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 1 must come forward in the next 5½ months or lose the right to seek money via the judicial system.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, New Orleans Times-Picayune, on NOLA.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts clergy child sexual abuse claims against three priests settled: Mitchell Garabedian
“Clergy child sexual abuse claims against three former Massachusetts priests have been settled, the victims’ lawyer announced on Monday (Sept. 14). Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who specializes in sexual abuse cases, said he settled the clergy sexual abuse claims with the Archdiocese of Boston(link is external) earlier this year. The former priests were Fr. Sylvio Ruest, Fr. John Salvucci and Fr. T. Raymond Sullivan, according to the lawyer.” By Rick Sobey, Boston Herald

Vatican bars former Catholic priest in Lynn from active ministry; had been accused of sexual abuse in 2012
“A former longtime priest at a Catholic church in Lynn who’d been accused in 2012 of sexually abusing a child has been banned from exercising “any public ministry” and sentenced by church authorities to a life of prayer and penance, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. In a statement, the archdiocese identified the priest as Rev. James E. Gaudreau and said he’s “not permitted to exercise any public ministry, including not being allowed to celebrate public Mass.” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe

NEW JERSEY

2 new sex abuse suits filed against Metuchen Diocese include clerics not accused before
“Two lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church on Wednesday (Sept. 9) include allegations of sexual abuse against two clerics(link is external) — including a brother who worked at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen. The suits, brought under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act and New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill, allege abuse by Brother Regis Moccia and the Rev. Patrick H. Barrett, both who had not been publicly accused of abuse before Wednesday.” By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News

NEW YORK.

Child Victims Act lawsuits accuse ex-Seton coach of sexually abusing students during 1960s
“A now-deceased during the 1970s faces similar allegations from his past employment at a Catholic school in Poughkeepsie. Four lawsuits filed since December in the state Supreme Court of New York County accuse Vincent Dutkowski of sexually abusing students(link is external) at Our Lady of Lourdes High School during the early to mid-1960s.” By Anthony Borrelli, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Number of WNY priests accused in Child Victims Act suits grows to 173
“Child Victims Act lawsuits filed over the past year have accused 173 Catholic priests in Western New York of sexually abusing children(link is external). More than 30 of those priests were accused publicly for the first time only in recent weeks, including one cleric who has continued to run a South Buffalo parish despite being linked to abuse in a July lawsuit. The Rev. Donald J. Lutz said he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit when The Buffalo News contacted him last week.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Buffalo Survivors Group seeks meeting with Pope Francis
“A group of survivors of abuse by Catholic priests(link is external) in Buffalo is seeking a meeting with Pope Francis. The Buffalo Survivors Group, which was founded by abuse survivors Gary Astridge, Kevin Koscielniak, Chris Szuflita, Michael Whalen and Angelo Ervolina, wrote the following letter to Pope Francis …” By WKBW-TV7 News

Bankruptcy judge sets deadline for filing clergy abuse claims against diocese
“Sexual abuse victims will have until next August to file a claim against the Buffalo Diocese in federal bankruptcy proceedings. Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York ruled Friday (Sept. 11) that the bar date for abuse victims to submit claims should be the same day that the extended Child Victims Act expires – Aug. 14, 2021(link is external). Bucki also ruled against a request by the diocese to push the bankruptcy proceedings into mediated settlement talks.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Former Columbia priest returns to ministry after being cleared of sex abuse charge
“A Catholic priest who formerly worked in Columbia was cleared to return to the ministry after charges of sexual abuse involving a minor were dropped(link is external). Prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against Father Javier Heredia in February, according to Maria Aselage, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston. York County court records show the charge, criminal sexual conduct with minor — commit/attempt lewd act, was disposed on Feb. 3.” By Noah Feit, The State

SOUTH DAKOTA

DCI investigating allegation that priest abused child in Faith
“The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating an allegation that a Rapid City-based priest sexually abused a child in Faith(link is external) in the early 1980s, according to the Meade County State’s Attorney. States’s Attorney Michele Bordewyk said the Diocese of Rapid City contacted her office about the allegation against Father Michel Mulloy when he was working in Faith. She said she referred the case to DCI, which is under the Office of the Attorney General.” By Arielle Zionts, Rapid City Journal

WEST VIRGINIA

WV Court considers whether the First Amendment protects diocese from consumer protection laws
“The  West Virginia Supreme Court is considering whether it’s a violation of the First Amendment for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to pursue a case against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston under the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act. During about an hour’s worth of arguments in Charleston on Tuesday (Sept. 22), the justices asked attorneys whether it was possible for the attorney general to hold the diocese accountable for potential violations of the consumer law(link is external) in a way that didn’t impede its faith doctrine or church governance.” By Lacie Pierson, Charleston Gazette-Mail

Groups, saying trust in church leaders has been ‘devastated,’ push for further action on disgraced Bishop Bransfield
“Two groups have sent a strongly-worded letter to the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston, saying ‘amends’ by disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield have been inadequate(link is external) and pushing for further steps. ‘Our faith has not been destroyed but our trust in our church leaders has been devastated,’ they wrote. Bransfield served as bishop of the Wheeling-Catholic diocese from 2005 to 2018, when he retired. Following that, a church investigation examined multiple credible allegations of sexual harassment of adults, as well as financial improprieties.” By Brad McElhinny, West Virginia Metro News

CANADA

Catholic Church appeals to Supreme Court of Canada on bombshell Mount Cashel ruling
“The Archdiocese of St. John’s is looking to the Supreme Court of Canada to examine a landmark ruling that puts the Catholic Church on the hook for millions in sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external). The ruling involves Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, where over the course of decades boys suffered immense sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers of Ireland. The Brothers were not employees of the archdiocese, but in July Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal ruled the church created space for them to abuse children and get away with it, and therefore was liable to pay out damages owed by the now-defunct Christian Brothers organization.” By Ryan Cooke, CBC News

Vigil calls on Catholic Diocese to drop legal fight against abuse survivor
“Those taking part in a vigil outside St. Peter’s Basilica in downtown London on Tuesday (Sept. 15) called on the Catholic Diocese of London to drop its appeal in a decades-long legal battle with a sexual abuse survivor(link is external). ‘The way that the church is treating me now through litigation is so traumatizing, and it’s much more traumatizing than the actual abuse,’ said sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes. Deschenes reached a settlement in 2000 for sexual abuse she suffered as a child in the early 1970s at the hands of the late Father Charles Sylvestre.” By Bryan Bicknell, CTV News

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth Sexual Abuse Class Action Lawsuit
“McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax has filed a class action against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth on behalf of persons who allege they were sexually abused by priests from the Archdiocese(link is external) from 1960 to date. The class action, filed by Douglas Champagne on behalf of other sexual abuse survivors, claims that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax-Yarmouth, more commonly known as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, had a decades long policy of secrecy of any allegations of sexual abuse against a priest.” By APMLawyers.com

Catholic church settles Vernon lawsuit, apologizes for sexual abuse
“Two brothers who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest in Vernon(link is external) during the 1970s have come to an out of court settlement with the Archdiocese of Kamloops. The brothers filed separate civil claims last year, both alleging they had been sexually abused by Father Herbert Bourne when they were teenagers while the now-deceased priest was working at the St. James Catholic Church in Vernon. The brothers’ lawyer Bill Dick told iNFOnews.ca the case was settled out of court a couple of weeks ago.” By Ben Bulmer, InfoNews.ca

St. Catharine’s Catholic Diocese reaches settlement with witness of her sister’s chronic sex abuse
“A woman whose sister was sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) has reached a settlement with the Diocese of St. Catharine’s for abuse she witnessed in a case that expands the common understanding of who is a victim … The woman, whom The Globe and Mail is not identifying to protect the identity of her sister as a child victim of sex abuse, said she wants to share her story with others who may not have recognized abuse in their own lives. It was only six years ago that she realized she was also a victim.” By Kelly Bennett, The Globe and Mail

INDONESIA

How Catholic order from the Philippines set up orphanage where sexual abuse occurred
“The Philippines-based Catholic religious order the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of Charity (BSMC) was largely unknown to the Indonesian public until one of its members, Lukas Lucky Ngalngola, calling himself Brother Angelo and later Geovanny, put the congregation on the map, and for all the wrong reasons. Angelo allegedly abused orphanage boys under his care, sexually and physically(link is external). While the abuse against the boys who lived at the Kencana Bejana Rohani orphanage that Angelo set up in 2015 in Depok, West Java, was reported to the police in September last year, the crime was revealed to the public only very recently after victims and child protection activists spoke out in the media.” By Margareth S. Aritonang The Jakarta Post

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Victim of Malachy Finegan to launch legal action against Pope and Catholic authorities in Ireland
“A victim of Malachy Finegan is to launch legal action against Pope Francis and Catholic Church authorities in Ireland. The priest has been accused of sexual abuse across Co Down(link is external), including at St Colman’s College in Newry where he taught from 1967 and was president for a decade. At least 12 young boys are thought to have been sexually abused while he was at St Colman’s, while many more were physically abused.” By Connla Young, The Irish News

ITALY

Trial of Catholic lay leader highlights gaps in church’s sex abuse oversight
“The sexual abuse trial of Piero Alfio Capuana(link is external), the lay leader of the 5,000-member Catholic Culture and Environment Association, began in this small Sicilian city on Tuesday (Sept. 15), three years after the abuse allegedly took place … While the trial is taking place in Catania, a small city under the shadow of the volcano Etna, it has highlighted the Catholic Church’s lack of oversight over lay Catholic movements, particularly the actions of their often charismatic leaders.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

NEW ZEALAND

State abuse inquiry makes slow progress
“Nearly three years have grumbled by since the government first signed off on the Abuse in Care Royal Commission. What on earth have they been up to?(link is external) Announcing the inquiry shortly after assuming her premiership, Jacinda Ardern said it would be a historic opportunity for the nation to ‘confront our history and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.’ A little noticed omission in the fine print appears to have been that rather a lot of this historical confrontation would take place behind closed doors.” By David Cohen, Radio New Zealand

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Duluth Bishop-elect Michel Mulloy after abuse allegation
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Bishop-elect of Duluth, Minnesota, Michel J. Mulloy, after an accusation that he abused a minor(link is external) in the 1980s surfaced in early August. Mulloy, 66, was appointed to lead the Minnesota diocese on June 19, and his consecration and installation as bishop were scheduled to take place Oct. 1. According to a statement from the Diocese of Rapid City, where Mulloy had been administrator since August 2019, the diocese on Aug. 7 ‘received notification of an allegation against Father Mulloy of sexual abuse of a minor in the early 1980s.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Report abuse learned in confession or go to jail, says Australian state
“A new law requires priests in the state of Queensland to break the seal of confession to report child sex abuse to police or face three years in jail. The law was passed by Queensland Parliament Sept. 8. It had support from both major parties and was opposed by the Catholic Church. One Queensland prelate, Bishop Tim Harris of Townsville, tweeted a link to a story on the passage of the new law and said, ‘Catholic priests cannot break the seal of confession.’” By Catholic News Service on Catholic-SF.org

Former West Virginia bishop should reexamine his conscience
“Repentance is something that Catholics usually understand. That is one reason why former Bishop Michael Bransfield’s response to the charges leveled against him is so egregious(link is external). Bransfield formerly led the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. There he proceeded to, according to a church investigation, embezzle $792,000 while sexually harassing seminarians. Bransfield, according to the diocese, has paid back $441,000, and will retire with benefits, including a $2,250 monthly pension. That’s far less than the normal $6,200 for a retired bishop, but not a bad deal for Bransfield considering the circumstances.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

New survey of German religious orders finds decades of abuse accusations
“A new survey of heads of German Catholic religious orders found abuse allegations against at least 654 members over a period of decades(link is external), reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. The survey of 392 orders found at least 1,412 children, adolescents or wards were the victims of sexual abuse. Of the victims, around 80% were male and around 20% female, KNA reported. Franciscan Sister Katharina Kluitmann, president of the German Conference of Catholic Superiors, said there was an unquantifiable additional number of unreported cases. She said the victims had suffered additional pain from the way they were treated by leaders and other members of orders.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Philly native and ex-Bishop Michael Bransfield apologizes for financial and sexual impropriety — yet still says he did nothing wrong
“The Rev. Michael Bransfield — the Philadelphia-raised priest and former West Virginia bishop who resigned in 2018 amid a scandal over his lavish spending and sexual misconduct allegations(link is external) — issued a tepid apology Thursday (Aug. 20), his first to Roman Catholic faithful in his former diocese and one made under orders from the Vatican. Despite saying he was ‘profoundly sorry’ if anything he said or did made priests of seminarians uncomfortable during his 13-year tenure at the helm of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bransfield continued to defend himself and took no responsibility for the millions he spent on pricey personal accommodations in one of the country’s poorest states.” By Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer

Catholic leaders shine light on Church governance
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have published an ‘important and substantial’ document on the review of diocesan and parish governance and management(link is external). The review was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Church’s Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) oversaw the development of the report, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia. The IAG engaged the Governance Review Project Team (GRPT) to research and study Church governance and to prepare the report, which runs to 208 pages and includes 86 recommendations.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

O.C.’s bishop, a $12-million problem and a secret fight stretching to the Vatican
“The FedEx envelopes landed at dawn on the doorsteps of some of Orange County’s most influential Catholic philanthropists … who had raised tens of millions of dollars over the years for the local diocese. Inside were letters from Bishop Kevin Van that boiled down to two words: You’re fired(link is external). Those June missives ignited a revolt inside the Orange County church that has burned all the way to the Vatican while remaining largely hidden from the diocese’s 1.3 million rank-and-file Catholics.” By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times

Vatican tells Australian Church that seal of confession not up for debate
“Although reaffirming the principle that the seal of confession can never be violated(link is external), the Vatican has told Church leaders in Australia that victims of sexual abuse should be encouraged to report abuse to the proper authorities. Recognizing the question of the seal of confession ‘is one of great delicacy and that it is related intimately with a most sacred treasure of the Church’s life, that is to say, with the sacraments,’ the Vatican said ‘the confessional provides an opportunity – perhaps the only one – for those who have committed sexual abuse to admit to the fact.’” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope preaches on need to correct others privately, a policy some say allows abuse to fester
“Pope Francis said Sunday (Sept. 6) that gossiping was a ‘plague worse than COVID’(link is external) that was seeking to divide the Catholic Church. Francis strayed from his prepared text to double down on his frequent complaint about gossiping within church communities and even within the Vatican bureaucracy. Francis didn’t give specifics during his weekly blessing but went on at some length to say the devil was the ‘biggest gossiper’ who was seeking to divide the church with his lies.” By Associated Press in Los Angeles Times

Pope says synod used ‘parliamentary logic’ when debating married priests
“When it comes to the private notes of a pontiff, the world usually has to wait until they’ve died to have access to them, but Pope Francis this week made some of his personal notes public. They were about last October’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon region and the debate over the ordination of married men into the priesthood, the so called viri probati(link is external). ‘There was a discussion…a rich discussion…a well-founded discussion, but no discernment, which is something other than arriving at a good and justified consent or relative majorities,’ he wrote.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Bishop Bransfield offers ‘apology,’ repays $400k to W Virginia diocese
“Bishop Michael Bransfield has repaid more than $400,000 to his former diocese and issued a narrowly-worded apology to the faithful(link is external). The apology comes nearly two years after Pope Francis accepted his resignation amid accusations of personal and financial misconduct. The letter from Bransfield, dated August 15, was released by his former diocese on Thursday (Aug. 20), along with a letter from his successor, Bishop Mark Brennan, outlining how Bransfield will ‘make amends’ following an investigation into his conduct by the Vatican.” By Catholic News Agency

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

New advocacy group shows different faces of Catholic ‘feminism’
“Seven French women who recently ‘applied’ for ecclesial jobs traditionally open only to men last have quickly become icons for the Catholic ‘feminist’ movement, among other things illustrating there’s no single vision for how to achieve the more welcoming and inclusive Church they envision(link is external). That diversity was on clear display during a recent online event featuring the French activists.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Catholic women still don’t have suffrage in their church
“Tomorrow (Aug. 26) marks the 100th anniversary of the day that women’s right to vote was enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The passage of the 19th amendment was the result of more than 80 years of women agitating, picketing and lobbying; some endured jail time and force-feedings when they went on strike to protest their arrests. The moment celebrated as the official ‘start”’of the suffrage movement was the first ever women’s rights convention held 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York … Even in those earliest days of the fight for suffrage, women realized, and spoke openly about, the need for equality not only in the government, but also in the church(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

The Scriptural case for women deacons
“The synod on the Pan-Amazonian region re-opened the question of whether women can be deacons in the church. But we can return to the beginning as we contemplate the future. The New Testament not only gives us women deacons, but we know one of their names:(link is external) Phoebe. This is her hour. Because Jesus never refers to priests, deacons or ordination in any direct way, our discussion should take us to the earliest literature in the New Testament: the letters and ministerial practice of the Apostle Paul.” By Micah D. Kiel, America: The Jesuit Review

Will the Catholic Church soon allow ordained women deacons?
“This month marked the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States. Seventy years of protest and consciousness-raising made it happen in 1920. The Catholic church moves even slower, if at all, but the time seems ripe to ordain women as deacons soon(link is external). Women deacons served the church up until the 12th century, but the church’s desire to control finances and require celibacy stigmatized women even more for the last 900 years. Pope Francis has now formed two commissions, which include women, to determine if the church can ordain them as deacons once again.” By Rev. Alexander Santoro, NJ.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Laity called to share responsibility for church, say experts
“The laity are called to take greater responsibility for church life(link is external), as parish boundaries expand into what the Vatican calls ‘existential territory.’ That shift was the focus of an Aug. 25 discussion of “Co-Responsibility for the Church’s Being and Action in Parish Life” at this year’s Cardinals’ Forum at St. Charles Borromeo. The annual event advances seminarians’ academic formation while educating lay faithful about contemporary concerns in the church … ‘Co-responsibility is an idea easy enough to understand,’ said Father Dailey, ‘since by virtue of our baptism, we are all in this church thing together.’” By Gina Christian, CatholicPhilly.com

German bishops say talks with Rome on parishes must include laity
“The German bishops plan to seek talks with the Vatican about its instruction on parish reforms in the Catholic Church. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops said they want lay Catholics to be involved in the discussion(link is external). The bishops’ conference made the announcement after a meeting of its 27-member Permanent Council. The announcement said the president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, would accept an offer for talks recently conveyed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, head of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

VATICAN

Australia: Holy See responds to Royal Commission recommendations
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has looked into the Holy See’s response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. A media release, published on their website, explains ‘the Royal Commission proposed that the Bishops Conference engage with the Holy See on those recommendations because they relate to universal Church law or practice.’ Of the 80 recommendations proposed by the Royal Commission, 47 were accepted, 1 was not accepted, 13 were passed on to the Holy See, 1 is being taken into further consideration, 5 were accepted in principle, 12 are supported, and 1 is supported in principle.” By Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Since the Amazon synod, what has happened to talk of synodality?
“Lest we forget, the church is not a democracy. In a democracy, theoretically at least, everyone has a voice and a vote. But the church is controlled by less than 1% of its members. The church — at every level — is controlled by its clerics. So what is all this talk about ‘synodality?’(link is external) How can the talk become the walk when it comes to women in the church? On one level, synodality means collegiality, which brings us back to where we started from.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Catholic priest says he was silenced by the church for speaking out on abuse
“This spring, I received a letter from my boss ordering me to take down my blog or lose my job. Workers all over the country have found themselves in this kind of situation. But I may yet become the first Catholic priest removed for blogging(link is external). Until recently, I was the pastor of two parishes in southwest Virginia, one in Martinsville and the other in Rocky Mount. I love my work and my community of some 800 families. I began blogging in 2008 as an additional way of reaching the faithful.” By Mark White, NJ.com

The Newcastle Herald’s Opinion, Thursday, August 20, 2020: The Altar Boys will reopen wounds for some, and provide vindication and salvation for others
“Sadly, one of the worst indictments of our society has been the terrible and insidious prevalence of child sexual abuse(link is external) across a range of once trusted institutions. Julia Gillard – who as prime minister ordered the Royal Commission that did so much to calibrate the extent of the problem – thanked the Newcastle Herald’s Joanne McCarthy for convincing her of the need for an investigation.” By Editorial Board, Newcastle Herald

Pull back the curtain of secrecy on abuse by priests
“St. Peter in Chains Cathedral is now a ‘minor basilica.’ It is clear that Archbishop Dennis Schnurr is excited and proud, and it is clear that he welcomed members of the news media into the cathedral (now basilica) space on Aug. 15 so he could talk about ceremonial bells and special privileges. This openness to the press is a dramatic shift. Two years ago, Archbishop Schnurr was considerably less welcoming of the media(link is external) into St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrated its first Mass for Healing for the Church and for Victims of Abuse.” By Kathy Weyer, Cincinnati Enquirer

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Pennsylvania court to review diocese lawsuit
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear arguments in October on an Altoona woman’s attempt to redefine the statute of limitations as it applies to her 2016 sexual abuse lawsuit(link is external) against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Renee Rice, 52, has sued the diocese, contending she was a child victim of sexual abuse committed by a priest at the former St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Altoona.” By Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Bigger picture: Media can showcase overlooked sex-abuse survivors
“In reporting historical and recent abuse of minors, the media should broaden its focus to include portrayals of survivors as active agents of reform(link is external), one survivor said. Interviewing survivors about their abuse and the emotional impact of it brings an important ‘human face’ to the crimes, said Mark Vincent Healy, an advocate in Ireland for safe spaces, care and services for survivors of child sexual abuse. But reporters also should be asking them ‘the bigger questions’ about ongoing injustices, unnecessary hurdles and the kind of response and care that would truly help, he said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Poland struggles to deal with pedophilia in the Catholic Church
“A few days after receiving her first communion in May last year, nine-year-old Julia told her mother she was sick and refused to go to church for further ceremonies planned in relation to this key moment in a Catholic family’s life. ‘When I asked her why she didn’t want to go, she said she didn’t like the priest. When I asked her why, she said the priest was touching her(link is external),’ Magda, Julia’s mother, told BIRN, speaking on the phone from Ruszow, a village of about 2,000 people in south-west Poland where the family lives.” By Claudia Ciobanu, BalkanInsight.com

ARIZONA

Diocese of Phoenix sued for alleged child sex abuse by former priest
“Two lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Phoenix and one of its churches Wednesday (Aug. 26) for alleged sexual abuse from a former priest(link is external). Father John P. Doran allegedly abused two boys while they attended the St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in the 1970s, according to the suit filed by the now-adult victims. ‘The two men who have come forward today have waited decades for the Bishop of Phoenix to be fully transparent about the pedophile priests working in this Diocese,’ said attorney Robert Pastor.” By NBC-TV12 News

ARKANSAS

Little Rock diocese adds priest to list of accused sex abusers
“The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock announced Wednesday (Aug. 26) that it has added another priest to its list of clergy that have been ‘credibly’ accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). Father Edward Simpson, who died in 1988, was a priest in Arkansas from the time of his ordination in 1954 until his retirement in 1986. Simpson’s record shows that he served at Catholic churches in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Blytheville, North Little Rock, Jonesboro, Searcy, Eureka Springs, Malvern and Texarkana.” By Francisca Jones, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

CALIFORNIA

Judge denies request by prosecutor in case against priest facing rape charge
“The prosecutor on the case against a Catholic pastor accused of a decades-old rape of a child(link is external) was denied a request in court Monday (Aug. 24) to have certain witnesses stricken from the upcoming trial. The request, made by Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark, was denied by Wayne County Circuit Judge Bridget Mary Hathaway, court records show.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press

LOUISIANA

Group demands local diocese add new name to list of credibly accused abusers
“A group that advocates for Catholic Church sex abuse victims is asking the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux to add a new name to its list of ‘credibly accused’ priests(link is external). On Aug. 18, Archbishop Gregory P. Aymond added the Rev. Henry Brian Highfill to the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ list of priests with credible accusations of child sexual abuse.” By Dan Copp, The Courier

Abuse victims challenge legitimacy of archdiocese bankruptcy claim
“Sex abuse victims and others with claims against the Archdiocese of New Orleans argued the local church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection ‘in bad faith’(link is external) and the case should be thrown out during a virtual U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing Thursday (Aug. 27). Their claims appeared to be bolstered by a letter written to the Vatican by New Orleans Archbishop Greg Aymond on April 28, just two days before the May 1 bankruptcy filing. In the letter, Aymond assures his bosses in Rome, ‘The archdiocese is not insolvent. We have sufficient cash, cash equivalents and investments to cover 100 percent of our liabilities.’” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Sexual assault victims speak
“Two women who were sexually abused by the Rev. John J. Gallagher(link is external) in the 1970s are speaking publicly — for the first time — about their childhood trauma with the hope of empowering other survivors and themselves. The women, one who chooses to be named and another who does not, are among 11 people — 10 women and a man — represented by Boston Attorney Mitchell Garabedian in a joint lawsuit against the Catholic Church resolved earlier this year with a $1.4 million settlement.” By Breanna Edelstein, Andover Townsman

Lee Bartlett, former priest in Worcester, Leominster and Southbridge, accused of abusing teen in 70s, loses status
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a man when he was a teenager in the 1970s has been laicized at his request(link is external), Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Worcester Diocese announced Wednesday (Aug. 26). Lee F. Bartlett III, 74, was dispensed from the clerical state by Pope Francis and, as a result, may not function in any capacity as a priest or be referred to as a priest or as ‘Father’ in writing such as in event announcements or obituaries.” By Cyrus Moulton, Worcester Telegram

Church settles sex abuse cases for $1.4M: Case involves 10 women, 1 man who attended St. Mary’s School in Lawrence
“The Catholic church has agreed to pay $1.4 million to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse against 11 children(link is external) who attended St. Mary’s School in Lawrence, according to the victims’ joint attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. Garabedian, who is well known for representing victims of clergy sexual abuse, said the clients in this case were all victims of the Rev. John J. Gallagher between 1974 and 1978, when Gallagher was assigned to St. Mary’s Church and taught at the parish school.” By Breanna Edelstein, Lawrence Eagle Tribune

MINNESOTA

Priest accused of child sex abuse was allowed at Minnesota Catholic music camp
“Isaac Henson was monitoring recent reports of sexual misconduct by Twin Cities Catholic music composer David Haas when he ran across disturbing information about an adult leader at the summer music program run by Haas at St. Catherine University. A retired priest who was a regular at the weeklong program, George DeCosta, had been sued by at least six men for alleged child sexual abuse(link is external) in his home state of Hawaii, Henson learned, with the first lawsuit filed in 2012. An attorney for the men said five of the cases have been settled.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

MISSISSIPPI

Former Catholic brother returned to face Mississippi charges
“A former Catholic brother has been extradited from his home state of Wisconsin to Mississippi, where he faces sexual battery charges in a case involving two impoverished Black boys who say they were pressured as men into accepting paltry payouts to settle their abuse claims(link is external). The men have accused Paul A. West, once a Franciscan Friar and fourth-grade teacher, of molesting them in Mississippi, Wisconsin and New York while they were elementary school students.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press, on NewsPressNow.com

MISSOURI

Lawsuit says St. Louis priest abused boy in 1980s
“A federal lawsuit says the Archdiocese of St. Louis has failed to remove a De Soto priest who has had four accusations of sexual abuse against him. A man identified in the suit only as John Doe contends the Rev. Alexander R. Anderson sexually abused him as a boy(link is external) in the late 1980s at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in St. Louis, where Doe was living at the time and Anderson was chaplain.” By Robert Patrick, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Ex-priest is accused of abusing 4 kids. Monett woman says church ignored her pleas
“For at least the past 16 years, Elizabeth Mangler has kept a file saved on her computer: ‘FatherGaryCarr.doc.’ Mangler, 59, had a feeling that someday a man would come forward and accuse Father Gary Carr of child sexual abuse(link is external). And she wanted people to know that in Monett, they tried to stop him. ‘We did follow the best chain of command the Catholic Church has to offer,’ Mangler said. And she’s got the receipts.” By Harrison Keegan, Springfield News-Leader

NEW JERSEY

Priest abuse lawsuit: Former student sues Red Bank Catholic, St. James Church
“A former student at Red Bank Catholic High School was sexually abused in the early 1980s by a priest who has faced accusations of abuse at other assignments(link is external), according to a lawsuit recently filed in state Superior Court. The lawsuit says Francis McGrath abused the student, who is identified only by the initials B.T., in 1982 and 1983, causing permanent emotional and mental anguish. McGrath, now 70, was removed from ministry and left the priesthood in 1995.” By Michael L. Diamond, Asbury Park Press

Lawsuits accuse three Camden diocese priests of clergy sex abuse
“A lawsuit accuses a former principal at two Catholic high schools of sexually abusing a child(link is external) while serving at a Camden County parish. The Rev. Kenneth L. Johnston was among three priests, all now dead, who were named in four suits filed Thursday (Aug. 20) against the Diocese of Camden. The allegations of sexual misconduct were the first to be brought against Johnston, a former principal at Gloucester Catholic and St. James high schools. Johnston, also a pastor at three South Jersey parishes, was described as a ‘kindly, gentlemanly priest’ in a June 2018 obituary.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

NEW MEXICO

Two more sex abuse suits filed against ABQ orphanage
“Two more former students of the now-closed St. Anthony Home for Boys came forward Monday (Aug. 24) to file childhood sexual abuse lawsuits against nuns(link is external) who ran the orphanage after a top superior at the religious order recently stated she didn’t believe children had been molested there, their attorneys say. The two men ‘are not motivated by compensation, as the sexual abuse happened many decades ago, but primarily want the truth to be known, and are asking the Court to put into public archives all documents that point to the need for accountability and transparency,’ said their attorneys Brad D. Hall and Levi Monagle in a statement on Monday.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEVADA

Las Vegas diocese adds name to list of credibly accused clergy
“Church officials in Nevada said Friday (Aug. 21) they’re following their counterparts in Louisiana in adding a Roman Catholic priest who was suspended in 2018 to a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). The Diocese of Las Vegas said it suspended Henry Brian Highfill in August 2018 after learning he had been accused of abusing a now-deceased relative while Highfill was a priest in New Orleans from 1974 to 1981.” By Associated Press, on NBC-TV3 News

OHIO

Case settled for $1 million after claims Columbus priest sexually abused student
“The Catholic Diocese of Columbus announced a $1 million settlement to a former Saint Charles Preparatory School student after claims Monsignor Thomas Bennett abused the student(link is external). A complaint by the student, who attended the school in the early 2000s, was filed in 2018 claiming he was abused by Bennett. Bennett was a priest for more than 40 years and a teacher at the school. He died in 2008. Bennett is not on the list of credibly abused clergy and the Diocese notes, ‘This litigation matter has now concluded and a determination of credibility has not yet been made.’” By WTOL-TV11 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Fayette County priest charged with sexual assault
“Authorities on Wednesday (Aug. 26) arrested a Roman Catholic priest from the Diocese of Greensburg on charges that he sexually assaulted an altar boy on multiple occasions(link is external) from 2004 to 2007, beginning when the alleged victim was 11. The Rev. Andrew Kawecki surrendered to agents of the office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro in Fayette County, where the alleged offenses occurred, according to the office.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

47 names of clergy abuse victims part of accidental email leak
“A clergy abuse victim who participated in the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s independent compensation program for survivors is alleging that the confidentiality of nearly 50 other victims was compromised(link is external) when the program administrator mistakenly sent the individual an email in 2019 with the names of participants from another diocese’s program … The email included the names of 45 individuals who had been deemed eligible to participate in the program and two others whose abuse was perpetrated by religious order members, not priests of the Pittsburgh Diocese.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Erie diocese puts number of abuse lawsuits at 31: A total of 21 suits filed in Erie County
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie’s potential legal problems over the clergy abuse crisis extend beyond Erie County(link is external). Though the diocese is facing 21 lawsuits filed at the Erie County Courthouse, it must also deal with another 10 suits filed elsewhere in the 13-county diocese and statewide, including in Philadelphia. The suits concern claims of a cover-up and fraud by the diocese, with the plaintiffs saying clergy within the diocese abused them as minors.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Greensburg Diocese reveals ‘credible’ sex abuse claims against priest convicted of theft
“A priest convicted of stealing money from a South Huntingdon church has been added to a list of suspected sex abusers(link is external), according to the Diocese of Greensburg. Bishop Edward C. Malesic on Wednesday (Aug. 26) issued an update on the diocese’s handling of sex abuse allegations as he prepares to depart for Cleveland, revealing previously undisclosed allegations against the Rev. Emil Payer.” By Jacob Tierney, TribLive.com

VIRGINIA

Diocese of Alexandria frequently moved priest accused of sexual abuse
“A lawsuit filed this month in Alexandria calls a Catholic priest a ‘diseased pedophile who raped and sexually assaulted many young boys(link is external).’ The priest, the Rev. Leo Van Hoorn, was among 27 named in a February 2019 letter from Bishop David P. Talley as having credible accusations of sexual abuse against minors. The lawsuit claims Van Hoorn, who died in 2006 at age 74 in Baton Rouge, was ‘moved frequently throughout the various parishes of the Diocese of Alexandria.’” By Melissa Gregory, Alexandria Town Talk

WEST VIRGINIA

Ex-bishop Michael Bransfield’s ‘creepy’ behavior detailed
“With Michael Bransfield issuing a six-sentence letter of apology to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston last weekend for years of sexual and financial abuse, the church hopes to consider the matter closed. The marks from his tumultuous term of office, however, remain. Bransfield issued his statement in a letter dated Aug. 15 claiming that he did not mean to make those under his power feel sexually harassed, as well as denying that a pattern of excessive and lavish spending was inappropriate(link is external). Nevertheless, he agreed to comply with a demand from The Vatican to pay back $441,000 and to take a reduced retirement package, in what one canon lawyer described as an ‘unprecedented’ show of accountability from the church.” By Alan Olson, The Weirton Daily Times

AUSTRALIA

Canberra’s Damian De Marco has helped expose years of sexual abuses by Catholic Church pedophiles
“It was purely coincidence but the timing of National Child Protection Week and a warm spring day couldn’t be more appropriate for tireless campaigner Damian De Marco to be conferred with his Member of the Order of Australia. The AM award presented on Tuesday by Governor General David Hurley is the latest of many which have been delivered to Mr. De Marco for his unstinting efforts over decades to expose the sexual abuse of children under the care of the Catholic Church(link is external).” By Peter Brewer, The Canberra Times

CANADA

Class-action lawsuit claims systemic negligence by archdiocese
“A proposed class-action lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Vancouver claims the archdiocese was ‘systematically negligent’ in protecting parishioners from abuse by clergy(link is external). The Archdiocese was aware of the abuse and allowed the abuse to continue. The Archdiocese was also complicit in silencing survivors, who were required to take oaths of secrecy when making complaints to the Archdiocese, the claim states.” By Agnieszka Ruck, the B.C. Catholic

Catholic priest sex abuse victim awarded $844,140
“The Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese will pay a priest’s sexual abuse victim $844,140 in damages(link is external), a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Aug. 25. Rosemary Anderson, now 70, alleged in a Dec. 22, 2016, notice of civil claim that sexual abuse at the hands of Erlindo Molon, now 88, started when she was 26. She names Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole, in the claim.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Syndicated, North Shore News

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Victims of sexual abuse urged to come forward following former Middleton priest’s death
“Executors of the estate of a former Middleton priest are looking for individuals who may have suffered sexual abuse at his hands to come forward(link is external). Michael Studdert worked in Langley, Middleton, during the 1960s and is believed to have abused children in England, Wales, Poland, Denmark and Italy. Following his death, Studdert’s estate was frozen to allow his victims a chance to file claims for compensation.” By RochdaleOnline.co.uk

Appeal shows London diocese not ready to ‘do the right thing,’ sex abuse survivor says
“Once again, the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, as Irene Deschenes said, isn’t ready to ‘do the right thing(link is external).’ You could set your watch this week for when the diocese would drop its application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, hoping to overturn a lower court decision allowing the sexual abuse survivor to reopen her two-decades-old civil case.” By Jane Sims, The London Free Press

MALTA

Priest accused of sex with teen suspended from his duties
“A priest who appeared in court last Thursday (Sept. 3) over a sexual relationship he was allegedly having with a teenage girl(link is external) has been suspended from his duties, according to a spokesman for the church. The priest must refrain from public ministry while criminal process against him is ongoing, the spokesman for the church’s Safeguarding Commission told Times of Malta. This means that he cannot celebrate Mass or administer any of the sacraments in the community.” By Matthew Xuereb, Malta Times

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