Posts Tagged Focus news roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


March 27, 2020

TOP STORIES

The American parish today
“A few years ago Commonweal published a special issue on parishes in the U.S. We sent out correspondents to report on what they encountered … These dispatches provided an interesting, eclectic account of what it meant to worship in different parishes in different parts of the U.s.. At the same time, such an approach was unable to take the full measure of the changes remaking the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external)—most of all the significant changes in demographics and geography, set against the backdrop of declining vocations and broader trends in religious disaffiliation—and what they meant for local communities of Catholics.” By The Editors, Commonweal

Reporting system to record abuse complaints against bishops begins
“A reporting system accepting sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. bishops and eparchs is in place(link is external). Called the Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service, or CBAR, the system became operational March 16. The mechanism incorporates a website and a toll-free telephone number through which individuals can file reports regarding a bishop. The website is ReportBishopAbuse.org. Calls can be placed at (800) 276-1562.” By Dennis Sadowsky, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Standard

Retrial of U.S. Catholic official delayed over virus concerns
“The retrial of the only church official who has ever gone to prison in the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal was delayed Monday (Mar. 16) because of the coronavirus outbreak(link is external). The retrial of Monsignor William Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese, had been to start Monday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court but was put on hold until January amid court shutdowns meant to slow the spread of the pandemic.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press

Theologian says clerical sexual abuse ‘always about abuse of power’
“Karlijn Demasure taught religion at a secondary school for girls in Belgium when she first came across child abuse. It turned out a girl was sexually abused at home and no one at the school knew exactly what to do(link is external). ‘The psychiatrist associated with the school was also unable to help us,’ said Demasure. ‘Should we address the father that we knew about it and that it shouldn’t be happening? Should we send the girl to therapy? Nobody knew. This episode made me decide to go back to university for further study, and to specialize as a theologian in this field. We must help these children.’” By Joke Heikens, Katholiek Nieuwsblad, on Cruxnow.com

Court-appointed official says Vatican failing on accountability in Nienstedt case
“A court-appointed official for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is alleging that the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops is failing to comply with new protocols for bishop accountability(link is external) created by Pope Francis with regard to a potential investigation into former Archbishop John Nienstedt. Nienstedt led the archdiocese from 2008 until resigning under fire in 2015 after charges of failing to protect children from sexual abuse. In addition to allegations that he actively covered up for abusive priests, Nienstedt has been the subject of investigations regarding his own misconduct.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Post-reformation theology of the priesthood influenced abuse crisis, author says
“My (Clare McGrath-Merkle, OCDS, DPhil,) work has been focused mainly on the theology of the priesthood and its possible role, if any, in the crisis of sexual abuse and cover-up(link is external). The causes of the crisis are, of course, varied, but I have wanted to try to understand how this theology might have somehow contributed to a clerical identity prone to the abuse of power.” By Charles C. Camosy, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Priest chaplain at Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse had abuse record
“In January, Lindsey Faust and her partner visited the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Kentucky, for a mini vacation. Faust was a former volunteer with Loretto Volunteers and shared a rapport with the sisters and community members. It was almost like home to her. During their stay, Faust’s partner, out of curiosity, inquired about the priest who lived there, celebrating daily Mass. It was then that a community member revealed details about Fr. J. Irvin Mouser that no volunteer knew. Mouser, a priest from the Archdiocese of Louisville, was removed from public ministry in 2002 on charges of child sex abuse(link is external).” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

Erie, other dioceses unveil system to report bishops
“The creation of the nationwide Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service grew out of the clergy abuse crisis. Roman Catholic dioceses nationwide have launched a system to report claims of abuse against bishops(link is external), the Catholic Diocese of Erie announced on Tuesday (Mar. 17). The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service, which started operating on Monday, grew out of a document called ‘Vox estis lux mundi,’ or ‘You Are the Light of the World,’ which Pope Francis issued in May 2019 after an international meeting of bishops in Rome in February 2019 to address clergy sexual abuse.” By Erie Times-News Staff

You’ll need a strong stomach to digest Revelation’s insights into child sexual abuse in the Catholic church
“Despite an extensive royal commission, scores of criminal trials and excellent books such as Louise Milligan’s Cardinal and David Marr’s The Prince, there are still some unanswered questions about child sexual abuse in the now-tattered narrative of the Catholic church in Australia(link is external). These include: why did these priests do such horrible things? How did they justify their crimes to themselves and to God? What kind of conversations may they have had with, say, their archbishop or monsignor, once they were rumbled by a parent or teacher or victim?” By Brigid Delaney, The Guardian

POPE FRANCIS

What lies ahead for Pope Francis as he enters the eighth year of his pontificate
Today (Mar. 13) is the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope Francis(link is external). It is a holiday in the Vatican, but it takes place under the most extraordinary circumstances dominated by the coronavirus pandemic that began in China and then spread worldwide, infecting some 138,000 people in at least 117 countries. So far it has caused the deaths of more than 5,000 people, including more than 1,200 in Italy.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal Pell’s lawyers move quickly to file documents
“Lawyers for Cardinal George Pell have already filed supplementary material with the High Court amid hopes of a quick decision in his appeal(link is external). The cardinal’s legal team was asked to file a short note on the evidentiary relationship between the two separate incidents of abuse of which he was convicted. The note was filed on Friday (Mar. 13) night following the second and final day of his appeal. Sources close to the case doubt the issue will impact the decision in any significant way.” By CathNews.com

PRIESTS

U.S. Hispanic Catholics are future, but priest numbers are dismal
“Maria Chavira, a senior administrator in the Diocese of Phoenix, says Spanish-speaking Catholic parishes in her area are ‘bursting at the seams(link is external)’ and celebrates the emergence of Hispanics as the largest ethnic component of the church nationwide. Throughout the Southwest, where the surge has been dramatic, Roman Catholic leaders are excited by the possibilities — and well aware of daunting challenges.” By David Crary, Associated Press, in The Island Packet

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Emerging communities: Religious life is changing, but changing to what?
“At almost every national gathering of sisters in the United States in recent years, the speakers say, ‘Religious life is changing.’ However, no one knows what it is changing to(link is external). There might be a way to get a snapshot of what is to come. In 2017, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University published the third edition of a directory, ‘Emerging U.S. Communities of Consecrated Life since Vatican II,’ that lists each operating religious community in the United States that was formed since 1965, the year the Second Vatican Council ended.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

Advocate says quest for female deacons not over, despite silence in pope’s Amazon document
“There’s arguably no one in the United States that has championed the cause of women deacons more the Phyllis Zagano(link is external) – a senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University – who was tapped by Pope Francis in 2016 to serve on the Vatican commission to study the historical evidence as to whether there were women deacons in the early Church. While many had expected that Pope Francis would green light the proposal to ordain women as deacons in the Amazon after last October’s Synod on the region, instead the pope has said that he would reconstitute a new commission to study the issue further.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Former Rapid City priest convicted on 65 counts in theft, wire fraud and money laundering scheme
“A formerly ordained priest of the Catholic Diocese in Rapid City, South Dakota, was found guilty by a federal jury of wire fraud, nine counts of money laundering, transportation of stolen money, and making and subscribing a false tax return(link is external). During the trial, evidence was shown that Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, 41, while employed as a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City, arranged a plan to steal money from that was collected from parishioners from various churches.” By NewsCenter1.tv

CHILD PROTECTION

Child protection pioneer McChesney to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal
“Kathleen McChesney, a leading trailblazer in the fight against clergy sexual abuse, will receive the highest honor in the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external). On Sunday (Mar. 22), the University of Notre Dame announced that McChesney, who worked for decades in law enforcement before being tapped to establish and lead the Office of Child Protection for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), will be awarded the 2020 Laetare Medal, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic award.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Top anti-abuse expert says ‘paternalistic’ is worse than clericalism
“German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, one of the Catholic Church’s leading experts in child protection, has said that more dangerous than clericalism in the clerical abuse crisis is a ‘paternalistic’ attitude within the Church(link is external) that both devalues laypeople and puts clergy on a pedestal. While clericalism has become a hot-button issue under Pope Francis and while it certainly contributes to the problem of abuse, ‘What I think is a deeper problem is the paternalistic attitude that exists, said German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner in an interview with Crux.” By Elise Ann Allen, Curxnow.com

VOICES

To heal the church from the sex abuse crisis, we need apologies, not just policies
“The day after New Year’s my husband and I packed up our six children and drove to the Encounter Conference, in Toledo, Ohio, where 3,000 Catholics gathered for three days of inspiring talks, Eucharistic adoration and Mass. I’ll admit it: I limped into the Encounter. Since the summer of 2018, the revelations of grave sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy in the highest echelons of the church hierarchy has left me devastated and grieving(link is external).” By Colleen Duggan, America: The Jesuit Review

Editorial: How do women convince a male clerical culture to change?
“Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias had to know when he declared that he had undergone a conversion and was now an advocate for women seeking leadership roles in the global church(link is external) that those words would not be the last on the subject. Gracias made his comments during a Feb. 21 interview with NCR’s Vatican correspondent, Joshua McElwee. Gracias is not just any cardinal. The archbishop of Mumbai, he is also president of the Indian bishops’ conference and a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill advances that aims to deliver justice for adults abused as children
“After a couple of failed attempts in recent years, Georgia lawmakers are again advancing legislation to allow adults who were victims of sexual abuse more time to sue organizations that employed their abuser(link is external). This latest version of the Hidden Predator Act passed the House late last week and its fate is now in the state Senate. Its author, Warner Robins Republican Heath Clark, said the bill raises the age a victim can bring a civil suit for child sexual abuse from 23 to 38 years and expands the amount of time a victim can bring suit from two years after becoming aware of the abuse to four years.” By Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder

Shaw: Abuse victims should be able to take civil action
“It is time for the North Dakota Legislature to open a new window, so victims of sexual abuse can seek civil action against their abusers(link is external). Many of the perpetrators were or are Catholic priests. Many of the victims were children. They were frightened, ashamed and traumatized. By the time they realized the seriousness of the offenses against them or had the courage to come forward, the statute of limitations had expired for them to take legal action.” By Jim Shaw, The Dickinson Press

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Priest on PBS special offers frank accounting of past, hope for future
“If you tune in to the PBS special ‘Inside the Vatican,’ slated to air 9-11 p.m. EDT April 28, you’ll have to wait more than an hour and a half to see him, and to hear what he has to say. But German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner’s words are a necessary tonic, even if it’s sonic castor oil to some(link is external). Father Zollner wears many hats.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Courier

The Catholic Church hires ‘fixers’ to cover up sexual abuse – now they’re speaking out
“As survivors of child sex abuse continue speak out against the priests that attacked them, the Catholic Church continues to hide credible accused priests(link is external), allowing them to live, shop, walk, and freely roam communities throughout the US. But the communities the Catholic Church have chosen to set up these places of respite, where hundreds of priests die peacefully, without ever facing criminal charges, are carefully chosen. One former monk says his main task while employed by the church was to cover up and displace child molesting priests.” By Mick S. Grewal, The Legal Examiner

CONNECTICUT

Danbury clergy sexual abuse case to resume later this month
“The case of a former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys(link is external) is scheduled to resume in two weeks. Jaime Marin-Cardona, 51, is charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact. He pleaded not guilty to all nine charges. The warrant for Marin-Cardona’s arrest alleges that he groomed two boys over the course of four years, and sexually abused one of them over the same period of time.” By Kendra Baker, The Register Citizen

FLORIDA

Diocese finds 1976 sexual abuse allegations against former St. Augustine priest ‘credible’
“A retired St. Augustine Catholic priest was accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) 44 years ago in a recent complaint, the Diocese of St. Augustine announced in a statement Monday (Mar. 23). Father John H. Dux, a former clergyman at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Augustine, was immediately suspended indefinitely in May 2019 after the alleged victim’s attorney sent the Diocese a copy of the complaint.” By Matt Bruce, The St. Augustine Record

IOWA

Diocese of Des Moines investigating priest accused of sexual misconduct
“A Catholic priest has been placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Des Moines after allegations of sexual misconduct in the 1990s(link is external) surfaced. The Rev. Robert ‘Bud’ Grant was placed on leave March 4, the diocese said Wednesday (Mar. 18) morning. A complaint about sexual misconduct was made to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office last fall, the diocese said. The complaint involves an incident that allegedly occurred in the early 1990s, according to the diocese.” By Philip Joens, Des Moines Register

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese paid settlements for priest accused of sex, would not answer questions about bankruptcy, report says
“A New Orleans Archdiocese attorney said Wednesday (Mar. 11) the church paid out four financial settlements in cases involving former priest Lawrence Hecker, who is accused of sexually molesting children(link is external). According to The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, attorney Dirk Wegmann also said in court the church found out about at least one abuse allegation against Hecker in 1988. That is 14 years before he was removed from public ministry.” By WVUE-TV8 News

MICHIGAN

Former priest returns to Michigan to face additional sex abuse charges
“A former Michigan priest who relocated to New Mexico has returned to the state to face additional charges for allegedly sexually abusing children(link is external) decades ago. Gary Allen Jacobs was formally arraigned late Tuesday in Ontonagon County on two additional criminal sexual conduct cases that he reportedly committed in the 1980s while serving as a priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula.” By WWJNewsRadio.radio.com

MINNESOTA

Bankruptcy judge approves New Ulm Diocese’s clergy sexual abuse settlement
“Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel’s final approval clears the way for the 93 clergy abuse survivors to begin receiving compensation under the settlement(link is external). It also marks the end of a three-year bankruptcy process for the diocese. The diocese also has committed to 17 child protection protocols. In a statement, Bishop John LeVoir of New Ulm apologized for the harm abuse survivors endured and said he knows the settlement can’t make amends for all that was taken from them.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

NEW MEXICO

Lawyer: Archdiocese moved assets before bankruptcy filing
“A creditors committee of clergy abuse survivors believes the Archdiocese of Santa Fe moved assets to hinder creditors before it filed for bankruptcy(link is external) protection, a lawyer said. Attorney James Stang told a federal judge Monday that the committee may seek standing in the case to challenge the movement of assets, the Albuquerque Journal reports.” By Associated Press

NEW YORK

High-ranking Buffalo Diocese priest accused of misconduct
“An allegation of sexual misconduct against one of the region’s most high-profile priests(link is external) led to another shakeup in the Diocese of Buffalo on Saturday (Mar. 21). The Rev. Peter J. Karalus, one of the closest aides to acting Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, was placed by the bishop on administrative leave while an independent investigator looks into the allegation made against Karalus, the Buffalo Diocese announced Saturday.” By Dan Herbeck, The Buffalo News

Abuse plaintiff calls committee’s work ‘awesome responsibility’ to uncover the truth
“Richard Brownell recalled watching a 1993 television newscast in which the Rev. Bernard ‘Corky’ Mach, a popular Catholic priest assigned to a Lockport parish at the time, tearfully denied molesting a 14-year-old boy. Brownell immediately turned to his wife during the newscast and said the priest was lying. He told her the Rev. John Aurelio had sexually assaulted him when he was 11 or 12 years old(link is external), and Aurelio was a close friend of Mach. It was the first time he had told anyone about the abuse.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Judge orders Buffalo Diocese to release secret files for two ‘notorious’ priests
“Two weeks before the Diocese of Buffalo declared bankruptcy, a state judge ruled that the diocese must turn over the ‘secret files’ of two of its most ‘notorious’ pedophile priests(link is external). But most Catholics — and by extension, dozens of the priests’ alleged victims — are still barred from seeing the files because of conditions the judge placed on their disclosure. State Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Chimes ruled Feb. 13 that after months of fighting their release, lawyers for the diocese must disclose the personnel files of Fr. Norbert F. Orsolits and Fr. William F.J. White.” By Charlie Sprecht, WKBW-TV7 News

Trustee in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy appoints seven abuse victims to creditors committee
“A trustee for the federal bankruptcy court has selected seven people suing the Buffalo Diocese over clergy sexual abuse to serve on a creditors committee(link is external) that will investigate the diocese’s finances and negotiate a bankruptcy settlement. U.S. Trustee William K. Harrington interviewed at least 20 people for seven spots on the committee, which will represent all unsecured creditors and play a major role in formulating a reorganization plan for the diocese.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota priest says he’s not sorry for sexually abusing two kids, but regrets the emotional trauma
“A disgraced former North Dakota priest said he’s not remorseful for sexual assaults he carried out on young children(link is external) decades ago. New documents released following an investigation into more than 50 Catholic Clergy from the Fargo and Bismarck Dioceses have named 53 priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, including one Martin Cullen.” By Akshay Pai, MEAWW.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Prosecutors file notice of appeal of ruling in abuse case
“Prosecutors have filed a notice of appeal of a western Pennsylvania judge’s ruling throwing out the conviction of a retired Roman Catholic priest accused of having assaulted a boy(link is external) almost two decades ago. A spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney’s office said Monday that the brief setting out reasons for the appeal to Superior Court in the case of the Rev. Hugh Lang will be filed at a later date.” By Associated Press

Msgr. Lynn on trial again for covering up clergy sexual abuse
“More than three years after his release from state prison, Monsignor William Lynn is scheduled to face a familiar, but unwelcome sight: a Philadelphia jury(link is external). Lynn, the first U.S. Catholic Church official to be convicted of covering up clergy sex abuse, will also face familiar allegations next week, when the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office begins retrying the 69-year-old on one felony count of child endangerment.” By Aaron Moselle, WHYY-FM National Public Radio

Victims expect more dioceses to declare bankruptcy
“Adult survivors of priest abuse across Pennsylvania expect that other dioceses will follow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and declare bankruptcy to force victims tons seek damages through bankruptcy court rather than civil court(link is external). Mary McHale, a Reading women involved with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said ‘I think it’s only a matter of time’ before other dioceses in Pennsylvania declare bankruptcy, a move announced by the Harrisburg diocese in mid-February.” By John Finnerty, The Tribune-Democrat

VIRGINIA

Former Purcellville Church Friar Indicted in 1985 Sexual Abuse Case”

“Attorney General Mark R. Herring today (Mar. 16) announced former clergyman Scott Asalone, 63, of Asbury Park, NJ, was indicted on one felony count of carnal knowledge of a minor between 13 and 15 years old(link is external). The indictment is related to alleged sexual contact by Asalone in 1985, while he was a friar assigned to St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville involving a former parishioner in 1985.” By LoudounNow.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Councilmember David Grosso was a childhood victim of indicted former Catholic priest
“At-Large Councilmember David Grosso revealed in an emailed statement today (Mar. 17) that he was sexually assaulted as a minor by a former Virginia priest(link is external) who was recently indicted for the alleged crime. Scott Asalone, 63, was arrested March 12 in New Jersey and is now charged with sexually assaulting a minor between the ages of 13 and 15, according to a news release from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Asalone will be tried in Loudoun County Circuit Court and is among the 50 priests the Virginia dioceses said had been credibly accused of sexual abuse between 1974 and 2007.” By Mitch Ryals, Washington City Paper

WEST VIRGINIA

Lay Catholic group presses West Virginia Diocese for action on Bransfield
“A group called Lay Catholic Voices for Change has sent a letter to Bishop Mark Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, asking that the diocese investigate charges of sex abuse of minors by former Bishop Michael Bransfield(link is external). The letter also asked that Bransfield be ordered not to use the title bishop emeritus to describe himself.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

WYOMING

Police’s sex abuse investigation into retired Cheyenne bishop finishes
“Cheyenne police’s follow-up investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by a retired Catholic leader in Wyoming concluded last week(link is external), right around the time that another alleged victim of the clergyman came forward in Missouri. The investigation into retired Bishop Joseph Hart will turn 2 years old in April. Cheyenne police have said they began investigating in spring 2018, after the Diocese of Cheyenne launched its own investigation into Hart and concluded he’d sexually abused at least two then-adolescents in the 1970s and 80s. Since then, four more victims have been identified in Wyoming alone.” By Seth Clayman, Casper Star Tribune

AUSTRALIA

Convicted pedophile Bernard McGrath abused dozens of children. The Catholic Church failed to report his offending
“Former brother of St John of God, Bernard McGrath, will be eligible for parole in December 2044. McGrath, who is serving two prison sentences in NSW for sex crimes against children, says his religious order and the Catholic Church covered up his offending at schools in Australia and New Zealand(link is external). In the early 1990s, after decades as a sex offender, new reports emerged about McGrath’s abuse of children at schools and a residential program he’d run for street kids in Christchurch, New Zealand.” By Sarah Ferguson, ABC News

Convicted pedophile Vincent Ryan confessed to a priest—then he continued abusing children
“Vincent Ryan is a Catholic priest and a aedophile, convicted of sexually abusing more than 30 children. In Australia’s first television interview with a convicted clerical sex abuser, Ryan said there was no reason why he should not remain a priest(link is external). ‘It’s a duty. I’ve committed myself to it,’ he said. ‘It’d have to be a very serious reason, unless I’m stopped by authority, for me to make that decision and at this moment I don’t see it.’” By Sarah Ferguson, ABC News

CANADA

Clergy sex abuse victim: ‘My name is Barbara Erlandson and I am sharing my story’
“An Ottawa woman who was sexually abused by Rev. Barry McGrory(link is external) in the mid-1970s says a senior church official made her feel that she was to blame for the crime. Barbara Erlandson says she met in 1977 with then Bishop John Beahan, one of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa, to relate her story of abuse.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

FRANCE

Defrocked French priest jailed for abusing scouts over 20-year period
“A defrocked French Catholic priest has been sentenced to five years in jail for sexually abusing scouts(link is external) in his care several decades ago, ending a case in which it was claimed his superiors shielded him from prosecution. After survivors testified about the abuse during his trial in Lyon, Bernard Preynat, 75, confessed in January to “caresses” he knew were forbidden.” By Agence France-Presse in Lyon

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest from the Fens steps down following historic child sex abuse claims
“A statement released by Bishop Alan Hopes and the Diocese of East Anglia on Friday (March 20) explains Father Michael Ryan had recently been accused of the non-recent sexual abuse of children(link is external). It says he voluntarily stepped down from his responsibilities while the investigation is ongoing and that the accusations have been reported to the relevant authorities, including police.” By Cambridge Times

‘Those told of abuse must report it,’ says Workington MP
Any person in a position of responsibility who is told about the sexual abuse of a child should report it to the police(link is external), says Workington MP Mark Jenkinson. The politician spoke out after the News & Star reported on the cases of two Allerdale men whose abusers were clergymen – one with the Catholic Church and the other with the Church of England – and both were allowed to continue working after they confessed their paedophilia. Neither was reported to the police by their church bosses.” By Phil Coleman, News & Star

INDIA

Court dismisses discharge petition filed by Bishop Franco in rape case
“In a major setback to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former head of the Latin Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, the Additional District and Sessions Court I, Kottayam, on Monday (Mar. 16) dismissed the discharge petition filed by him in connection with the rape case registered against him(link is external) by the Kuravilangad police. The judge G Gopakumar directed bishop Mulakkal to face the trial in the case, which was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by a Catholic nun of the same diocese.” By The Indian Express

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


Mar. 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

Vatican sends top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico
“The Vatican is sending its top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico(link is external) on a fact-finding and assistance mission as the Catholic hierarchy in the world’s second-largest Catholic country begins to reckon with decades of clergy sex abuse and cover-up. Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu teamed up in 2018 to investigate the Chilean church and its wretched record of protecting pedophile priests — a bombshell expose that resulted in every active Chilean bishop offering to resign.” By Nicole Winfield and Maria Verza, Associated Press

Papal task force to help bishops, religious write, revise abuse guidelines
“Pope Francis has set up a task force of qualified experts and canon lawyers to help bishops’ conferences and congregations of men and women religious with drawing up or revising guidelines for the protection of minors(link is external). The Vatican will also be releasing — at an ‘imminent,’ but unspecified date — a handbook or vademecum, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to help bishops and religious superiors clearly understand their responsibilities and the procedures for handling allegations of abuse.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

L’Arche founder’s printed legacy damaged in sex-abuse report
“Revelations that Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, sexually abused at least six women(link is external) continues to reverberate throughout the Roman Catholic and wider church world. Vanier, who died in 2019 at age 90, wrote 30 books. Christian bookstores and publishers are among those dealing with the fallout of last month’s report on Vanier’s ‘manipulative sexual relationships.’ In Winnipeg, Stephanchew’s Church Goods took the only book by Vanier in the store off its shelves.” By John Longhurst, Winnipeg Free Press

West Virginia Catholics turn to ‘restorative justice’ I wake of bishop revelations
“More than one hundred West Virginians ranging from victim-survivors to key diocesan officials gathered at Wheeling University last week to learn how restorative justice practices might bring healing to their scandal-plagued Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston(link is external). Following Bishop Michael Bransfield’s resignation in September of 2018, West Virginians gradually learned about extensive allegations of sexual harassment and financial abuse during his thirteen-year tenure … Against that backdrop, participants at last week’s conference explored the theological and biblical foundations for the use of restorative justice.” By Nick Mayrand, Cruxnow.com

Dozens of Catholic priests credibly accused of abuse found work abroad, some with the Church’s blessing
“The Rev. Jose Antonio Pinal, a young priest from Mexico, arrived at his first parish in rural Northern California in 1980, fresh out of seminary … Thirty years later, in the spring of 2019, the Diocese of Sacramento put Pinal’s name on its list of credibly accused priests. The list had five allegations of sexual abuse against Pinal dating to the late 1980s. Pinal had ‘fled to Mexico,’ according to the list, and the diocese had prohibited him from performing priestly work in public in the 20 counties that make up the diocese. But an investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle shows the Catholic Church allowed or aided dozens of priests — including Pinal — to serve abroad as priests after being credibly accused of abuse in the United States(link is external).” By Katie Zavadski, Topher Sanders, ProPublica, and Nicole Hensley, Houston Chronicle

ACCOUNTABILITY

A year later, Catholic Church checks progress on abuse
“Since Pope Francis convened a historic summit at the Vatican one year ago to address clergy sex abuse and accountability, much has been done, but advocates say more is needed(link is external). Dozens of experts, abuse survivors and their advocates came to Rome the same week as the summit’s anniversary to emphatically reiterate the need to never let ignorance, complacency or denial ever take hold again and to make the Church safe for everyone.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in Arkansas Catholic

Pope lets French cardinal embroiled in abuse cover-up resign
“Pope Francis on Friday (Mar. 6) accepted the resignation of a French cardinal who was convicted and then acquitted of covering up for a pedophile priest(link is external) in a case that fueled a reckoning over clergy sexual abuse in France. Lyon Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, 69, had offered to resign when the Lyon court in March 2019 first convicted him and gave him a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report the predator priest to police.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on WSLS-TV10 News

Leading Catholic figure Francis Sullivan calling for changes after sex abuse crisis
“LEADING Catholic figure Francis Sullivan has criticized Church authorities for a ‘glaring lack of moral leadership’ over the child sex abuse crisis(link is external) and has called for the Church to change its ‘terms of engagement’ if it is to remain relevant and engaged in Australia. ‘Unless we break the shackles of entitlement and cronyism, become inclusive and more representative in our decision-making we risk losing any claim to renewal and reform,’ Mr Sullivan, former chief executive officer of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, told the biennial Catholic Social Services national conference in Melbourne on February 27.” By Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader

Turning the abuse crisis discussion to deeper themes
“Two Catholic leaders recently turned the discussion about the crisis in the church away from a focus on institutional change to the less measurable work of transformation(link is external), the significance of relationships and the need for members of the hierarchy to confront that culture’s past. Sr. Carol Zinn, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, widely considered one of the most significant forces in revealing the truth of the sex abuse crisis, advanced their ideas in separate interviews.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Vanier abuse revelations prompt Catholic soul-searching
“When news went public last week that Jean Vanier, the renowned Canadian theologian who transformed the way the world views the disabled, had sexually abused several women seeking his spiritual counsel, the revelations provoked not just shock, but also serious reflection(link is external). Given that the news was so unexpected from a figure such as Vanier, many Catholic experts and admirers pondered deep questions, such as just how widespread this form of manipulative abuse of adults is within the Catholic Church; the speed at which such towering figures as Vanier are popularly declared as saints; as well as the complex intersection of sin and virtue, as Vanier is someone who clearly exhibited both deviance and inspiration.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com, in Angelus

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis’ diplomatic triumph with U.S. bishops
“For some time, a narrative has developed among Catholic pundits and observers suggesting that Pope Francis and the bishops of the United States do not get along with each other(link is external). While much of that narrative has been a creation of media spin, relationships between the U.S. bishops and the Holy See did, in fact, decline in recent years amid the real tension occasioned by the McCarrick scandal.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Father James Alison on how Pope Francis is changing the church
“Imagine picking up the phone only to hear Pope Francis’ voice on the other line. It seems almost absurd, yet this is what happened to me a couple of years ago. After a senior member of the Brazilian church hierarchy sought to have me forcibly laicized (which I have written about in further detail elsewhere), Pope Francis called me to confirm my vocation to the priesthood(link is external).” By James Alison, U.S. Catholic

CARDINALS

Cupich on new Catholic Church abuse protection task force: ‘regaining trust has to begin with a profound sense of responsibility
“In their first interview since Pope Francis named them among the leaders of a new worldwide task force on sexual abuse protections(link is external), Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Rev. Hans Zollner this week sketched out how they plan to help Catholic leaders across the world comply with new protection guidelines. The task force was created by Francis to help bishops write new local guidelines to adhere to universal church rules issued last year.” By Javonte Anderson, Chicago Tribune

CARDINAL PELL

The word is George Pell will walk free … but first the high court must have its say
“The word around the bars is: George Pell will walk free. These barristers don’t have a heads up. They’re only talking among themselves. But those who have followed this prosecution as it has made its slow and dramatic way to the high court must face the possibility that the cardinal is about to be acquitted(link is external). Historic child sex assaults make difficult cases. The facts are frequently bizarre. So often there is no corroborating evidence and the word of the accuser is simply pitted against the denials of the accused. These trials test the criminal law.” By David Marr, The Guardian

BISHOPS

Philippine bishops say abuse of women is an ‘affront to God’
“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has highlighted the value of women, noting that abuse of women is ‘an affront to God(link is external).’ ‘God made man and woman according to his own image and likeness. Every offense against the dignity of women is a direct offense against God himself,’[ said Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan, chairman of the CBCP’s Commission on Women.” By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Study finds more than 50 accused priests active outside U.S.
“A new analysis of diocesan lists of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse in the United States finds that more than 50 such clerics have been able to continue in ministry in another country(link is external), including work with minors, suggesting global gaps in the Church’s response to the abuse crisis. The findings, published jointly last week by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle, is a follow-up to an investigative effort commenced last year and published in January that includes the launch of an independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse in America.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Whistle-blower priest seeks lifting of suspension imposed by disgraced bishop
“As Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, the temporary leader of the Diocese of Buffalo, considers whether to reinstate a whistleblower priest, further questions have emerged(link is external) about both whistleblower protections and potential conflicts of interest regarding the priest in question. Father Ryszard Biernat last year secretly recorded private conversations with Bishop Richard Malone in which the now disgraced bishop raised serious questions about his handling of abuse cases and diocesan personnel matters – including a matter involving Biernat himself.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN DEACONS

Women deacons possible after ‘Synodal Way,’ says German bishops’ chairman
“The new chairman of the German bishops’ conference has said that calling for the ordination of women could be a conclusion of the two-year ‘synodal way(link is external)’ being undertaken by the Church in Germany. Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg said in a radio interview Monday (Mar. 9) for International Women’s Day that such a conclusion would require Roman approval.” By Bishop Georg Bötzing of Limburg, Catholic San Francisco

What we can learn from the women deacons of the early Eastern Christian church
“The earliest period of Christianity flourished with great attention to the members of the community, with great care shown for women in the church(link is external). The New Testament demonstrates concern for the widows as well as the general well-being of women. The nascent Christian community worked assiduously to continue to spread the message of Jesus Christ and to develop ways of continuing to realize His mystery in their midst.” By Sean Salai, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Catholic women seek changes in policies, practices of church
“On International Women’s Day on Sunday (Mar. 8), women have demanded equality in the Catholic Church of India(link is external). In a memorandum submitted to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and advisor to Pope Francis, women have called for a prophetic church where their voices count, and demanded respect from the clergy in their communication.” By Jyoti Shelar, The Hindu

Germany: women demand more sway in Catholic Church
“Catholic women in Germany have intensified their demand for more sway in the church(link is external) as leaders met on Tuesday to elect a new leader of the Catholic Church in Germany. Women’s rights advocates on Monday (Mar. 2) had presented church leaders at the German Bishops Conference —the governing body of the Catholic Church in Germany — with a petition with over 130,000 signatures calling for more women in leadership roles. More than 50 women also gathered outside the cathedral in the western city of Mainz, where the conference is taking place, to show their support for the movement coined ‘Maria 2.0.’ By Deutsche-Welle

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Clergy and laity share ‘co-responsibility’ if Church, bishop says
“Caggiano recounted this story at a session of the ‘Called and Co-Responsible: Exploring Co-Responsibility for the Mission of the Church’ conference, hosted by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame on March 4-6. The three-day event is part of a series of programs hosted by Notre Dame as a response to the clergy sex abuse crisis in the Church(link is external). The talks at the event addressed different facets of “co-responsibility,” a phrase Pope Benedict XVI favored over “collaboration” to describe the relationship between laity and the clergy.” By Jack Lyons, Cruxnow.com

VATICAN

Who’s missing on the Vatican’s new abuse task force?
“Recently the Vatican announced Pope Francis has created a task force to help bishops’ conferences around the world address the clerical sex abuse crisis. The lineup is impressive, but much like a high-profile February 2019 summit on child protection, laypeople — women in particular — are the missing link(link is external). The eight-man lineup for the task force includes seven clerics, two of whom are regarded by all sides as part of the solution to the abuse crisis: Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, once the Vatican’s top prosecutor on priestly abuse of minors; and German Father Hans Zollner, SJ, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and director of the Center for Child Protection of Rome’s Gregorian University.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com, on AngelusNews.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Jury gets case of former Rapid City priest
“The trial of a former Rapid City Catholic priest accused of stealing from church collections is now in the hands of the jury(link is external). The jury got the case of 41-year old Marcin Garbacz after closing arguments Monday morning (Mar. 9). Garbacz is facing a total of 65 charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, transportation of stolen money and filing a false tax return. In his closing statement Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Patterson told the jury that they believe Garbacz stole nearly $260,000 from parishes in the Rapid City Diocese, depositing the money in his bank account, then taking that money across state lines when he moved to Missouri and didn’t declare the money on his tax return.” By Jack Caudill, KOTA-TV News

CHILD PROTECTION

No system ‘will ever by perfect’ but Church abuse prevention is improving
“According to one of the lay members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, it would be ‘naïve’ to think that every case of abuse can be prevented(link is external), though much can be done to greatly reduce the number of cases and stop repeat offenders. ‘If we would expect that with all the guidelines we have in place we can prevent abuse 100 percent, we would be naïve,’ said Dr. Myriam Wijlens of the Netherlands. ‘We cannot prevent it in the Church in as much as we cannot prevent it in the Scouts or sports. No system will ever be perfect.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

The Protection of Minors meeting a year on: an Irish perspective
“It’s been a year since Church leaders, abuse survivors and experts came to the Vatican for an unprecedented summit entitled the ‘Protection of Minors in the Church.(link is external)’ The meeting provided the opportunity to listen to victims, raise awareness, develop new norms and procedures, and share good practices. It also focused on three key themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency.” By Lydia O’Kane, Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Argentina’s Catholic numbers in sharp decline, following Latin American trend
“A recent national survey reports that the number of Catholics in Argentina is declining while the proportion of people without a religion is increasing(link is external), but analysts consider that the still-high percentage of people who believe in God—82 percent—is a sign that the church has an opportunity to prevent further losses in the South American country … Juan Cruz Esquivel is a professor at the University of Buenos Aires and a Conicet researcher. He was part of the team that conducted the study. ‘The 1960 census showed that Catholics represented 90 percent of the population in Argentina,’ he said, noting the figure dropped by almost 14 percentage points by 2008, “a period of 48 years,’ and experienced another 14 percentage-point drop by 2019, this time over a period of only 11 years.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Leadership Roundtable brings a dose of reality to the church
“No event planner could have orchestrated a scene that better explains the state of the church in the United States at this moment than the recent tableau that unfolded in a large ballroom in the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Leadership Roundtable, more than 260 people gathered in small groups at, appropriately enough, round tables for a by-invitation only discussion of some of the weightiest questions facing the U.S. church in the 21st century … Here in this kind of synodal space of the future, no one, not even the papal representative, voiced a public objection to the prevailing motivation for the gathering: the church is in crisis and needs help.(link is external)” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Healing the scars of scandal
“This Lent, perhaps more than ever, the critically wounded Catholic Church is being called to more deeply examine its dark side(link is external). The process of repentance and reform is both individual and communal, but time has taught us that the road to conversion also needs to be collaborative. All of us — including clergy, seminarians, sisters and brothers, and the laity — need to examine the church’s past and envision its future together and use our gifts to breathe life into a gasping institution.” By Pat McDonough, Newsday

Fully reckon with the harm caused to victims of childhood sexual abuse
“The Catholic prayer known as the ‘Act of Contrition’ is prayed when seeking forgiveness. The prayer says nothing about shielding oneself from the consequences of one’s sins. It’s a simple and penitential plea, an acceptance of responsibility and a resolution to do better. If only that had been the guiding principle of the Roman Catholic Church in its handling of priestly sexual abuse of children(link is external).” By The Sentinel-Journal Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Lawmakers hear testimony on ending the Statute of Limitations on sex assault
“Victims of childhood sexual abuse urged lawmakers Tuesday (Mar.3) to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual abuse(link is external). Children with that traumatic experience need time to heal before disclosing what happened and that is often longer than the current time limit for prosecution of 22 years, said Catherine Devine, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney. ‘Closing the courthouse door on an arbitrary time limit does not change prosecution,’ Devine told the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.” By Garry Rayno, InDepthNH.org

Outlier South Dakota Legislature again fails to protect children
“The South Dakota Legislature has again had the chance to vote to open the statute of limitation for survivors of child sexual abuse. The politicians again have voted it down(link is external), unlike 14 other states in the country. This is nothing new. They went so far in 2010 as to pass one of the most restrictive laws for survivors in the country. They do this despite examples of ongoing abuse such as at the St Paul’s Mission School. When will the South Dakota Legislature start protecting the children, not the predators?” By Mike Bryant, The Legal Examiner

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Walking with ‘suffering Christ’ means standing with victims, priest says
“Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, one of the world’s leading experts on safeguarding minors, said the church is suffering ‘institutional trauma’ from clerical sexual abuse(link is external), trauma that it must learn to integrate into its theology and understanding of salvation if it is to overcome it. He visited the Archdiocese of Chicago March 1-3 to speak with seminarians, clergy and members of religious congregations on ‘The Present Status of Safeguarding in the Church,’ which also was the topic of his March 2 DePaul University talk.” By Michelle Martin, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Survey of sex abuse victims hopes to dispel myths about survivors
“A survivor of sexual abuse is conducting what she believes is the first broad survey of victims of sexual abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external), with the hopes that the information will clarify and counteract common misperceptions about the survivor community. Among those myths: that all the victims are male and were abused by priests.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Notre Dame Forum examines Catholic laity’s role in responding to sex abuse crisis
“The 2019-20 Notre Dame Forum series, ‘Rebuild My Church: Crisis and Response,’ continues March 4-6 with a look at the relationship between clergy and laity in addressing the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis(link is external). Called & Co-responsible will be an academic and pastoral conference hosted by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame. Drawing upon Pope Benedict’s 2012 speech, the conference will address questions about the nature of leadership in the Church, and how lay people are not to be merely collaborators with the clergy, but are rather truly co-responsible for the Church’s being and activity.” By Anna Bradley, Notre Dame News

ILLINOIS

Accused priest in Rock Island sues Peoria Diocese: ‘I am innocent’
“Sometimes, John Onderko celebrates Mass alone in his home in Rock Island. Other times, he hears confessions from people who knew him from the old days, before he was barred from priestly duties by the Roman Catholic Church over sexual abuse allegations(link is external). A priest for 58 years, Onderko served from June 1981 through June 1993 at St. Mary’s in Moline, then was reassigned to LaSalle, Ill., and served at numerous other parishes in Illinois. Onderko, 83, no longer can publicly represent himself as a priest or engage in any priestly functions. Yet he maintains his innocence.” By Linda Cook, Quad City Times

LOUISIANA

Times-Picayune, three TV stations seek unsealing of records on accused predator priest
“The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate and the city’s three leading television news outlets filed a motion Monday (Mar. 9) asking a judge to publicly release court records detailing the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ handling of a retired priest who stands accused of being a serial child molester(link is external). Attorneys for an alleged victim suing both the priest, Lawrence Hecker, and the archdiocese already have the documents in question, but the archdiocese has claimed the records are confidential and subject to a protective order preventing their release.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

Retired New Orleans priest likened in court docs to notorious Boston clerical abuser
“A trove of still-hidden church documents show a retired New Orleans priest was ‘a serial pedophile’ who abused children for decades(link is external) and was never reported to all relevant law enforcement authorities by Archdiocese of New Orleans officials, according to allegations in a court filing Monday (Mar. 2) by attorneys representing a person claiming to be one of the priest’s victims.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

MICHIGAN

Former Michigan priest charged with additional child sexual abuse charges
“A former Catholic priest who allegedly abused his power to sexually abuse children while working in the Upper Peninsula was arraigned on more criminal sexual conduct charges(link is external) on Tuesday, March 10. Gary Allen Jacobs, 74, was arraigned on two additional criminal sexual conduct cases that he reportedly committed in the early 1980s while serving as a priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, the Michigan Department of Attorney General announced.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MINNESOTA

Court approves $34 million clergy abuse settlement with New Ulm Diocese
“After tearful testimony by several survivors of clergy sexual abuse and a heartfelt apology from Bishop John LeVoir, the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm and area churches won approval Tuesday (Mar. 10) of a $34 million settlement with nearly 100 claimants(link is external). Just as important to the victims: The diocese agreed to adopt 17 protocols designed to protect children from abuse and to turn over its files on credibly accused priests.” By Dan Browning, Star Tribune

MISSOURI

Witness testifies, third allegation presented against retired Catholic priest
“One witness took the stand and publicly testified to his allegations of being sexually assaulted by retired Catholic priest Fred Lutz(link is external) at a bond hearing Monday. The retired priest was arrested Feb. 19 at his home in Springfield, Missouri, and charged with the unclassified felony of forcible sodomy, two class C felony counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and one class C felony count of sexual abuse.” By Ben Matthews, Southeast Missourian

NEW JERSEY

Priest sexually abused me for years and N.J. diocese knew he was a danger, woman says in suit
“A New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Camden accusing a priest of sexually abused her(link is external) decades ago when she was a child while church officials allowed it to happen. Patricia Cahill, 67, of Bergen County, claims the Rev. Daniel Francis Marks Millard, sexually abused her from 1957 to 1965, according to the suit, filed Feb. 4 in Camden County Superior Court.” By Anthony G. Attrino, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Buffalo’s Bishop Edward Grosz
“Pope Francis Monday (Mar. 2) accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward Grosz, the auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, who has been accused of mishandling a sex abuse allegation(link is external). Grosz, who turned 75 on February 16, offered his resignation at the age required by canon law. The Vatican’s March 2 announcement accepting Grosz’s resignation did not indicate whether it will conduct any investigation into the allegation against the bishop.” By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

Buffalo Roman Catholic Diocese seeks bankruptcy protection
“The embattled Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday (Feb. 28), taking another major step in its effort to recover from a clergy misconduct scandal that’s been the basis for hundreds of lawsuits(link is external), Vatican intervention and the resignation of its bishop. With its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the western New York diocese became the second in the state to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, and one of more than 20 dioceses to seek bankruptcy protection nationwide. Most recently, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, filed Feb. 19.” By Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, in Citrus County Chronicle

New strategy includes suing parishes to get around Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy
“South Buffalo resident Dennis Archilla filed a childhood sex abuse lawsuit in September to expose the Buffalo Diocese for protecting a pedophile priest. ‘I wanted the public to know just how deep the deception is in the Catholic Church(link is external),’ Archilla said. Archilla believes that deception continued when the diocese on Friday (Feb. 28) filed for bankruptcy – effectively bringing his and more than 250 other Child Victims Act lawsuits to a grinding halt.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

NORTH CAROLINA

Charlotte Diocese adds two new names to list of clergy ‘credibly accuses’ of abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte has made additions to a list of clergy it considers credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). The diocese initally published a list in late December that included 14 former clergy members and 23 clergy members who were assigned here but were accused elsewhere. The update on the diocese’s website includes two new names.” By Sarah Delia, WFAE-FM Public Radio

NORTH DAKOTA

Ex-Fargo priest says he isn’t remorseful for sexually abusing kids
“A former Fargo priest says he is not remorseful for sexual assault incidents(link is external) that happened dozens of years ago. New documents revealed his name, Martin Cullen, as well as 52 other North Dakota Catholic priests who were moved to other churches after being accused of sexually abusing minors. Three lawyers held a press conference in Fargo on Thursday (Mar. 5) stating they are making it their business to change state laws for victims of sexual abuse.” By Joshua Peguero, Valley News Live

Lawyers demand North Dakota Catholic dioceses ‘end cover-up of clergy abuse,’ release files
“Lawyers representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clerics released a report detailing the assignments of priests the church has identified as having been accused of sexual abuse and demanded the public release of church files(link is external). The lawyers provided information about the church assignments of 53 priests, deacons and others who face substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in a news conference on Wednesday, March 4. The Catholic dioceses of Fargo and Bismarck had released the names of the priests and others in January, but did not share details about which parishes they had served.” By Patrick Springer, Inforum.com

OHIO

Why aren’t Ohio officials investigating Catholic sex abuse cases
“A year after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus released its list of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse, some survivors and advocates still are pressing Ohio officials to take action. The list, one of many released by dioceses across the country, was spurred in part by a state grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, released in August 2018. But when asked why Ohio doesn’t investigate the issue, state officials point to a home-rule law stating that county prosecutors must request such an investigation before the attorney general can initiate it.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

Strongsville priest awaiting indictment by federal grand jury
“Strongsville priest Robert McWilliams is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals as he waits indictment from a federal grand jury on child sex crime charges(link is external). McWilliams, 39, who was previously a seminarian at St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Newbury Township appeared in federal court Feb. 27 where court records show he waived a preliminary hearing on charges of child pornography, child exploitation and juvenile sex trafficking.” By Andrew Cass, The News-Herald

PENNSYLVANIA

Rev. Hugh Lang’s abuse conviction overturned by judge
“A judge on Monday (Mar. 9) morning tossed out the conviction and sentencing of the Rev. Hugh Lang, arguing that the Catholic priest received an unfair trial(link is external) last year when he was convicted on charges he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy in 2001. ‘I’m going to grant a new trial,’ said Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani, who took over the case from Judge Mark Tranquilli, who presided over the trial last year.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Monsignor Willian Lynn back in court prepping for retrial for allegedly covering up clergy sex abuse reports
“Monsignor William Lynn was back before a Philadelphia judge on Monday (Mar. 2). The former archdiocesan official is prepping for his retrial in two weeks. Lynn and lawyers won’t comment because of a gag order. Prosecutors are arguing pretrial motions to get certain evidence admitted, including grand jury testimony and testimony from his first trial. Lynn was the first highest ranking church official convicted of covering up reports of clergy sex abuse(link is external).” By Philadelphia CBS3 Staff

Allentown Diocese says earlier accusation against now jailed priest was ‘unfounded.’ Prosecutors disagree.
“In May 2016 a 15-year-old girl told someone that the Rev. Kevin Lonergan had touched her inappropriately(link is external). The allegation triggered investigations by the Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Division, Forks Township police, and the district attorney’s office. Lonergan was suspended during the investigation, and the Allentown Catholic Diocese said Monday that it reinstated him a few months later because Children and Youth determined the accusation was ‘unfounded.’” By Peter Hall, Daniel Patrick Sheehan and Sarah M. Wojcik, The Morning Call

Harrisburg Diocese files for reorganization under Chapter 11 of Bankruptcy Code
“Bishop Ronald W. Gainer said Feb. 19 the restructuring process provided for by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection will allow the Diocese of Harrisburg to lay a foundation to build upon and secure its future(link is external). ‘Our diocese has had to come to terms with the harsh reality that we no longer have the funds to meet our current obligations,’ the bishop said at a news conference to announce the diocese has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.” By Rachel Bryson, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

RHODE ISLAND

An explosive new clergy abuse lawsuit is filed as the Rhode Island Attorney General reviews the Providence Diocese’s records
“As an explosive allegation of clergy sexual abuse(link is external) in Rhode Island emerged in a lawsuit filed Thursday (Feb. 28), state prosecutors said they are conducting an exhaustive review of more than 100,000 documents related to the sexual abuse of children that have been turned over by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. The attorney general’s office is examining files going back 70 years to determine whether any of the cases warrant criminal charges — and whether there are any credibly accused clergy still in the ministry.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe

TENNESSEE

Catholic diocese releases list of 20 priests ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Memphis has released a list of priests accused of child sexual abuse during their time in Memphis and West Tennessee. The list of ‘credibly accused’ priests spans more than 50 years and was compiled at the request of Bishop David Talley shortly after he became leader of the Diocese that covers West Tennessee including Memphis.” By Bill Dries, Daily Memphian

WEST VIRGINIA

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston expanding safety, background program
“In a mission to increase safety and reduce risk in Catholic schools and parishes, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is expanding its Safe Environment Program(link is external). Bishop Mark Brennan and the diocese announced changes to the program on Thursday (Mar. 5). This comes 16 months after the diocese released the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors, and follows former Bishop Michael Bransfield stepping down amidst sexual harassment allegations.” By MetroNews Staff

WISCONSIN

Priest accused of sex abuse cleared by Madison Diocese
“The Catholic Diocese of Madison has deemed allegations of sexual misconduct against the Rev. William A. Nolan not credible(link is external). Nolan served in several southern Wisconsin parishes. ‘In the coming days, Fr. Nolan will be reinstated to his previous status as a retired priest of the Diocese of Madison in good standing,’ according to a news release from diocese communications director Brent M. King.” By Frank Schultz, GazetteXtra

AUSTRALIA

Broome bishop Christopher Saunders stands down over serious allegations
“One of Australia’s highest-ranking Catholics has voluntarily stood aside amid serious allegations(link is external). On Wednesday (Mar. 11) afternoon the Catholic Church issued a statement saying Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders, 70, had stepped aside from the administration of the diocese and Monsignor Paul Boyers had been appointed to take care of the day to day running of the parish.” By Marta Pascual Juanola, WAToday

ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson on making Revelation and coming face-to-face with two of the Catholic Church’s worst serial pedophiles
“Sarah Ferguson spends her working life wading through murky waters, tackling difficult, confronting and harrowing stories but none has tested her like the project that consumed her for the past year: Revelation — a three-part documentary investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church(link is external), in which she comes face to face with two of Australia’s most notorious serial paedophiles. ‘I’m used to intense projects but this one has been more intense and more challenging than anything I have ever done,’ says Ferguson. ‘Throughout the long-running scandal of clerical abuse in Australia, there was one voice we hadn’t heard and that was the perpetrators.’” By Natasha Johnson, ABC

BRAZIL

Sao Paulo Archdiocese creates commission to investigate abuse
“The Archdiocese of Sao Paulo announced the creation of a commission to investigate allegations of sexual abuse linked to the Catholic Church(link is external). Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo said the measure follows Pope Francis’ May 2019 document establishing new procedures for reporting abuse and violence within the Catholic Church. He said the commission will not only receive reports of sexual abuse committed by clergy and religious, but it will look at all areas of the church’s life in order to prevent abuse.” By Lise Alves, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

CANADA

Survivors irritated: IDs of most Canadian bishops protection committee members secret
“The Canadian bishops’ Standing Committee for the Responsible Ministry and Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons met for the first time in January, but the fact that the identities of the majority of its members is kept secret irritates victims(link is external), who see a lack of transparency. Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia, chairman of the Standing Committee, said it was clear ‘from our first meeting that they are eager to work and bring forward real change to prevent abuse from ever occurring, as well as to assume their critical role as advocates for the healing of victims-survivors.’” By Franois Gloutnay, Catholic News Service, Cruxnow.com

‘I keep asking why,’ victim tell scourt during Barry McGrory sentencing hearing
“The victim of a Catholic priest’s sexual abuse(link is external) says the incident caused him to lose his desire to be a priest, his faith in God, and his trust in the church. In a victim impact statement read at the sentencing hearing of defrocked priest Barry McGrory, the man, now an adult, said the betrayal has affected every aspect of his life. ‘The worst thing is I lost my faith for a long time: I felt so terrible without God in my life,’ he said in the written statement, read in court.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

GERMANY

German bishops approve guidelines for abuse case payments
“Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday (Mar. 5) approved new guidelines that likely will provide for payments ranging up to about 50,000 euros ($55,700) each for victims of sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). The church has been shaken in recent years by scandals in several countries, including Germany. A church-commissioned report in 2018 concluded that at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014 — more than half of them 13 or younger and nearly a third of them altar boys. A top bishop has apologized for the abuse.” By Associated Press

GUAM

‘A fugitive from justice’: concerned Catholics back move to laicize priest over abuse
“Concerned Catholics of Guam, which helped lead efforts to expose Guam’s clergy sex abuse of minors, backs the Archdiocese of Agana’s move to laicize Father Adrian Cristobal over alleged sexual abuse of multiple minors(link is external). ‘Father Adrian is a fugitive from justice, living outside of Guam, in an unknown location. Obviously, he is afraid to face his accusers for the alleged sexual abuse of children,’ Concerned Catholics of Guam President David Sablan said.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

INDIA

Vatican dismisses Indian priest jailed for rape
“A diocese in southern India has announced completion of the process of laicization of a priest who is serving a 20-year jail term for raping and impregnating a minor girl three years ago(link is external). The laicization of Father Robin Vadakkumcherry has been completed with his acceptance of the Vatican’s dismissal decree and by informing the Vatican of his acceptance on March 1.” By Kochi, UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Feb. 28, 2020

TOP STORIES

Amazon Catholics pledge to press on after Pope says no to married priests
“Catholic communities across the Amazon said they would keep pushing for married men to be allowed to celebrate Mass in the remote rainforest region(link is external), after a papal decision on Wednesday (Feb. 12) blocked their path to the priesthood. In one of the most significant decisions of his papacy, Pope Francis on Wednesday dismissed the proposal designed to ease an acute scarcity of priests in the Amazon, where the Roman Catholic Church faces growing competition from Evangelical Christian faiths.” By Gabriel Stargardter and Maria Cervantes, Reuters

Defrocked priest appeals conviction for sex crimes in Maine
“A former Catholic priest is appealing his conviction for sexually abusing a young boy on trips to Maine in the 1980s(link is external). Ronald Paquin, now 77, was found guilty in 2018 of 11 counts of gross sexual misconduct. A York County jury acquitted him of similar charges related to a second boy. A judge sentenced him last year to 20 years in prison with all but 16 years suspended. Paquin was one of the priests exposed in the early 2000s by a sweeping Boston Globe investigation into clergy sex abuse.” By Megan Gray, Portland Press Herald

Cardinal McCarrick secretly gave nearly $1 million to group led by cleric accused of sexual misconduct
“In the years before his removal from ministry, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick secretly gave nearly $1 million to a controversial group of Catholic missionaries and supported leniency for its founder after the Vatican punished him for sexual wrongdoing(link is external), internal church documents show. From 2004 to 2017, McCarrick sent the Institute of the Incarnate Word dozens of checks — some as large as $50,000 — from a charitable account he controlled at the Archdiocese of Washington, according to ledgers obtained by The Washington Post.” By Shawn Boburg and Robert O’Harrow, Jr., The Washington Post

Survivor advocacy group accuses pope of cherry-picking abuse reforms
“As the one-year mark of Pope Francis’s landmark summit on child protection approaches, survivors of clerical abuse are arguing that the pope, while taking positive steps, is inconsistent in his response to the problem(link is external). Survivors have also called for the publication of the report on the Vatican’s lengthy investigation into former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and criticized Francis for apparently backing out of a commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to the issue.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Pennsylvania diocese, facing more abuse claims, files for bankruptcy
“The Diocese of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday (Feb. 19), becoming the latest Roman Catholic diocese to seek protection from creditors as it faces tens of millions of dollars in outstanding claims from people who were sexually abused by clergy members(link is external). The diocese’s Chapter 11 filing came nearly two years after a devastating state grand jury report found that bishops and other leaders of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement agencies not to investigate it.” By Michael Levenson, The New York Times

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …

Pssst! Have you ever clicked that little link above, the one that says “read the rest of this issue”? You should … You will find links for just about everything going on in our Catholic world that pertains to VOTF’s mission and goals. This week, in addition to the top stories, you will find links on accountability, Pope Francis, Cardinal Pell, various bishops and priests, women in the Church, church finances (a bunch), celibacy and married priests, lay voices … go ahead, click the link!

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


February 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis sets aside proposal on married priests
“Pope Francis has for now rejected a landmark proposal by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas(link is external), a potentially momentous change that conservatives had warned would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions. Francis’ decision, in a papal letter made public on Wednesday (Feb. 12), surprised many given the openness he had displayed on the subject and his frequently expressed desire for a more collegial and less top-down church.” By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Nonprofit created for Diocese of Fort Worth donations to avoid bishop intervention
“Those who spearheaded a petition asking for Bishop Michael Olson’s removal have formed a nonprofit organization to financially support Diocese of Fort Worth parishes, clergy and charities(link is external) without the intervention of the bishop. ‘We don’t trust where the bishop is spending money, but we still want the church to exist,’ said Stephen Knobbe, a founding member of the Laity in Unity Foundation.Pat Svacina, a spokesman for the diocese, said the bishop could not comment on the foundation because he had not been made aware of it.” By Nichole Manna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

We’ve gotten a lot of questions about our database of credibly accused priests. Here are a few answers
“We published a database in Januaryof Catholic clergy who have been deemed ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse or misconduct(link is external) by nearly 180 dioceses and religious orders around the country. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have searched the database.A number of those people have reached out with questions about the project. Many have shared personal stories as survivors of abuse. And although the officially released lists total more than 5,800 unique names, dozens of people have written in to suggest names of clergy who they believe have been left off. We’re glad to hear from readers, and we wanted to provide answers to several of the most common questions we’ve received.”By Ellis Simani, Pro Publica

Landmark priest abuse retrial now missing its key witness
“The first US church official ever imprisoned over priest abuse complaints(link is external) will soon be retried in court without a single victim. A landmark 2011 case first began the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, 69, who was eventually convicted of ‘felony child endangerment’ for his time working as a secretary for the clergy at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”By Allie Miller, Philly Voice

Suzanne Healy named chair of U.S. Bishops’ National Review Board
“Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has appointed Mrs. Suzanne Healy, the former Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as the next chair of the National Review Board(link is external). Mrs. Healy succeeds Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., who concludes his term as chair after the bishops’ June 2020 meeting.The National Review Board advises the bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and works closely with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection in accordance with the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.” By U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

States use Catholic clergy abuse lists to screen applicants
“In the wake of revelations that scores of Roman Catholic priests and religious workers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living unsupervised in communities across the country, state officials face a quandary: Should they screen former clergy members who seek licenses for jobs that put them in contact with children(link is external)? And, if so, how? An Associated Press investigation last fall found nearly 200 accused clergy members had been granted teaching, mental health or social work licenses, with roughly six dozen still holding valid licenses to work in those fields in 2019.” By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, The Associated Press

Abuse victim advocates, laity suffer from ‘vicarious trauma’
“The past two decades have been traumatic ones for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and for the Catholic Church as whole. Waves of scandals, financial crises and closures of parishes and schools have battered the faithful, leaving many discouraged and disgusted(link is external). In particular, the ongoing clerical sexual abuse crisis has profoundly wounded scores of victims within the archdiocese, while also scarring loved ones, counselors, advocates and rank-and-file Catholics.” By Gina Christian, CatholicPhilly.com

Martinsville priest refuces to sign order to silence from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond
“That truce reached last week in a dispute between a Martinsville priest and a Richmond bishop that preserved the priest’s job now appears to have been short-lived. About 24 hours after that meeting last Wednesday (Feb.5), Father Mark White, priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rocky Mount, was visited in Rocky Mount by officials of the Diocese of Richmond and again was threatened with the loss of his position(link is external).” By Bill Wyatt, Martinsville Bulletin

ACCOUNTABILITY

Why Catholics should welcome ProPublica’s clergy sex abuse database
“On Jan. 28, the nonprofit news organization ProPublica published a report headlined ‘Catholic Leaders Promised Transparency about Child Abuse. They Haven’t Delivered.” This report contains the names of the 5,800 priests and deacons who have been publicly identified by the bishops or superiors of 174 dioceses and religious orders as having had credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor made against them in recent decades(link is external). In other words, ProPublica has created the only ‘List of Lists’ of Catholic clergy abusers in the United States.” By Kathleen McChesney, America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic investigations remain shrouded in secrecy
“Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone resignedin December 2019 after intense public criticism for his handling of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y.His departure came three months after the Vatican announced what’s called an ‘apostolic visitation’ into Malone’s diocese, or region.In my research on clergy sexual abuse, I’ve learned that these investigations are still shrouded in secrecy(link is external).” By Brian J. Clites, Case Western Reserve University, in The Salt Lake Tribune

Should clergy in Utah be required to report confessed child abuse? Catholic Church opposes bill
“In the 2019 fiscal year, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services received 42,428 reports of child abuse or neglect, according to their annual report. Of that number, 21,401 were accepted for formal assessment by Child Protective Services and 10,828 confirmed child victims were found.All of those numbers were up from 2018, according to the same report … But what if there were a way to help even more children? One lawmaker hopes to do just that by making amendments to Utah’s child abuse reporting laws, eliminating exemptions for clergy including priests, rabbis and other religious leaders from reporting child abuse(link is external).” By Holie Reina, St. George News

CARDINALS

French cardinal to offer resignation again to Pope Francis despite acquittal over sex abuse cover-up
A cardinal in France says he will again offer his resignation to Pope Francis – despite being acquitted over a sex abuse cover-up(link is external). Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, was convicted last March and given a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report an abusive priest to police.Pope Francis refused Barbarin’s first offer to quit, saying he wanted to wait until the appeals process is complete.Barbarin was acquitted on appeal on Thursday (Jan. 30).”By Euronews with Agence France-Press and Associated Press

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

McCarrick report: questions needing answers
“The Vatican is getting ready to release a report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was found to have sexually abused minors and slept with seminarians(link is external). The report, mandated by Pope Francis, will need to be detailed and comprehensive if it is going to satisfy the public’s demand for more transparency in the church.Few scandals have rocked the Catholic Church like the story of McCarrick’s sexual abuse of minors and seminarians.”By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Parolin: on McCarrick report release, Pope Francis has ‘final word’
“Pope Francis will make the final decision on when to publish a highly-anticipated report on former cardinal Theodore McCarrick(link is external), the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Thursday. ‘I think that [the report] will come out soon, I cannot tell you exactly when,’ Parolin told a small group of journalists on February 6. Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on holiness, the cardinal said “we are trying to speed up the time to arrive” at the publication of the report on the Vatican’s internal investigation into the disgraced former cardinal. Parolin did confirm that he expects the document to be released ‘in the near future.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency in Catholic Herald

BISHOPS

Polish bishop investigated over sex abuse allegations
“The Catholic Church is investigating claims that a bishop in Poland sexually abused a young girl(link is external) decades ago, the clergyman confirmed on Monday (Feb. 10). Jan Szkodon, a bishop in the southern city of Krakow, said in a statement that the Vatican had told him of the inquiry, adding that the accusations were ‘false and harmful’ — though he gave no further detail. The Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper carries claims that he molested a 15-year-old girl in 1998.” By Agence France-Presse on VOANews.com

Catholic Church orders more inquiry into Minnesota bishpop
“Roman Catholic Church leaders in Rome authorized more investigation into claims that a northern Minnesota bishop interfered with past investigations into clerical sexual misconduct with children(link is external), the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Tuesday (Feb. 5).The investigation into Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner began in September and was the first known of its kind under a new Vatican protocol designed to hold the Catholic hierarchy accountable for failing to protect their flocks.” By The Associated Press on Minnesota Public Radio News

Catholic bishops’ lists of ‘credibly accused priests’ is not what it appears to be
“A fascinating story has just come out showing how deceitful and self-serving Catholic bishops are when it comes to their lists of ‘credibly accused’ child molesting clerics(link is external). In short, it shows that most bishops provide inadequate and inaccurate information about these predator priests. Why? Well, Mary Gautier, a Catholic researcher at a Catholic school, wants us to believe that one reason is that ‘smaller dioceses with limited budgets’ supposedly ‘lacking the money or staff to dig through their archives.’ That’s bunk.” By AdamHorowitzLaw.com

PRIESTS

Peace be with you
“Martinsville priest Father Mark White’s popular blog has drawn lots of readers and the scorn of leaders of the Richmond Diocese because of his criticism of the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. But his voice and his words have been silenced. This week he could be out of a job … That announcement, though, was only a byproduct of a much more troubling announcement that same month that has started a process that could threaten the appointment of a third priest in Martinsville, one whose only contribution to the sex scandal were his widely consumed comments about how badly he thought the church was handling(link is external) it.”By Bill Wyatt, Martinsville Bulletin

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Presence is vital to recruit younger women for consecrated life, congregations say
“An event in a Toronto pub eventually prompted a woman in her 30s to discern a call to religious life. A vocations director describes herself as ‘a ‘talent scout’ for God and my congregation. One community hired a 33-year-old married woman as a vocation coordinator because of her theology background and her familiarity with social media.These were among the more than 50 responses to Global Sisters Report’s invitation to share how congregations are reaching out to younger women(link is external)and about new members under age 40 who have joined their community in the past five years.” By Gail DeGeorge, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Professing faith: Impact of women in the Catholic Church is significant
“Today’s article takes another form. Yours truly was contacted by a young lady doing a research project on the role of women in the Catholic Church(link is external) and provided a series of questions. Herewith are my replies to some of them. I hasten to say that the following are my own opinions and not necessarily those of the Diocese of San Bernardino, of which I am a part.” By Gregory Elder, Redlands Daily Facts

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese releases audited financial statements
“In the continued practice of full transparency, the Diocese of Bridgeport has released its Consolidated Financial Statements for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2019… Hanlon (Michael Hanlon, CPA, chief financial officer of the diocese) said he was again pleased to learn that the diocese of Bridgeport ranked again near the top of a recently released Voice of the Faithful nationwide annual report on diocesan financial transparency(link is external) practices and policies. The VOTF study reviewed the financial transparency and accountability of 145 dioceses and 32 archdioceses by analyzing transparency practices and policies. On a scale of 0-100, the Diocese of Bridgeport received a score of 92 for its policies and disclosures toward financial transparency.” On BridgeportDiocese.org

Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo bankruptcy imminent
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo faces near certain bankruptcy after posting a $5 million loss in 2019(link is external), and with a barrage of lawsuits from the clergy misconduct scandal still pending, according to a financial report released Thursday (Jan. 30). ‘In response to the magnitude of the number of claims, lawsuits and alleged damages, the (Central Administrative Offices) has determined that a filing of a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code is imminent,’ the diocese’s 2019 financial report said.” By Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, in The Washington Times

Woman steals more than $250,000 from Del City Catholic church, police say
“An arrest warrant has been filed for a woman after police said she embezzled $253,000 from St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church(link is external) in Del City. According to police, personnel at the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City found discrepancies in the church’s payroll.The suspect, Darla Bralley, was an administrative assistant and bookkeeper at the church and, according to police, had been overpaying herself.”By Melissa Scavelli, FOX-TV25 News

CLERICALISM

Clericalism cited as root of sex abuse crisis
“In a Jan. 29 talk at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner said that clericalism is the root cause of the damage done to the church(link is external) and called out past systemic failure in reporting, punishing and stopping abuse. ‘There is general mistrust and suspicion on cardinals and bishops. This is not just happening in U.S. and Australia — the level of trust on bishops is below zero. And this has devastated an institution that is built on trust and faith,’ he said.” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Germany’s synodal assembly draws praise, criticism from participants
“The first synodal assembly on the future of the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external) drew both praise and some criticism, with many of the 230 participants lauding what they called a special atmosphere in the debates on key reforms.Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, said the spirit of the talks had been “positive and encouraging” and referred to the synodal path process as a “spiritual experiment,” reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

VOICES

‘Querida Amazonia’ shows how Francis is looking for deeper change
“Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia is a multifaceted document. I would like to look at what I found the most striking aspect of the text, its ecclesiological significance(link is external). Many NCR readers will be disappointed that the pope did not move forward on either ordaining viri probati to the priesthood, older deacons who could then preside at Eucharist and absolve sins in the sacrament of penance, or ordaining women deacons. Certainly, the final document of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon last October invited him to address both these issues. Why didn’t he? I think the pope is looking for a deeper change.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

For healing, Catholic Church must open sexual-abuse scandal records
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission model recently proposed for the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle offers a path of healing in the aftermath of the sexual-abuse scandal perpetrated by clergy and officials of the church(link is external). We are part of a much broader group of concerned Catholics, abuse survivors and current and former clergy who have been meeting the last year and a half in various parishes seeking accountability and healing.” By John McKay, Terrence Carroll and Colleen Kinerk, The Seattle Times

Time for the Buffalo Diocese to confess
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo faces many agonizing questions, two of which are how best to handle the tsunami of sexual abuse allegations against its priests and how to reclaim the support of parishioners who have stopped giving as a result of the revelations.Both factors are leading the church toward a decision to seek protectionin federal bankruptcy court. Both factors also share a solution: Don’t hide(link is external).” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

Catholic Church’s handling of abuse cases betrays core values
“I applaud California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for his decision to investigate the Catholic Church in California (State opens investigation into San Jose, Oakland Dioceses’ handling of sex abuse allegations). I am a clergy abuse survivor and still a practicing Catholic, but I have been fighting for this type of investigation for more than 20 years(link is external).As a child, I suffered abuse at the hands of Father Joseph Pritchard, formerly of Saint Martin of Tours Parish. My case was first reported to the San Jose diocese by Monsignor Michael McKiernan in 2000.” By John Salberg, The Mercury News

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Senate passes bill extending sex crimes statute of limitations
“A bill that would have done away with the statute of limitations for certain child sex abuse crimes is making headway in the 2020(link is external) Indiana General Assembly. But some advocates are disappointed in how the bill has panned out. Indiana Senate Bill 109, proposed by Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, initially aimed to extend the amount of time survivors have to bring criminal charges against their abusers. Under current state law, Hoosiers who were sexually abused as children have until age 31 to criminally prosecute those who harmed them.” By Katie Stancombe, The Indiana Lawyer

Lawmakers seek to close gap in statute of limitations for sex crimes against children
“Lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would close a gap in the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children(link is external).According to the current law, cases must be brought to a judge within six years if the victim is between the ages of 13 and 17. There is no time limit for a case to be prosecuted if the child is under the age of 13. ‘I feel really bad for the victims. I feel bad that we would set a time limit, a timer, on those crimes at all,’ said Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana).”By Ryan Laughlin, KOB-TV4 News

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The survival of David Clohessy
“On June 13, 2002, David Clohessy stepped into the light of history. A former altar boy in a rural Catholic church in Moberly, Missouri, he stood at a podium in a massive hotel ballroom in Dallas — and staring back at him from row up upon row of tables, packed into the room ten-deep, were some 280 Catholic bishops. Many in that audience were already familiar with Clohessy as the national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests(link is external), or SNAP, the country’s longest-active support group for victims of clergy abuse. Clohessy had spent years trying to grab the bishops’ attention.” By Danny Wicentowski, Riverfront Times

Victim-survivor says affirmation, sharing his story a pathway to healing
“Michael Callaghan’s healing from clergy sexual abuse(link is external) took a big step forward after he saw the movie ‘Spotlight’ in 2015. The Academy Award-winning fact-based drama detailing the clerical abuse scandal in Boston moved Callaghan deeply and continues to drive him to help the healing process in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.” By Catholic News Service in Catholic Sentinel

Church damaged by abuse, ‘but more damage done to people,’ says abuse expert
“Almost 200 people filled the Driscoll Hall Auditorium on Villanova University’s campus Jan. 29 looking to deepen their understanding about global perspectives on the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church(link is external). The evening event was the third conference in the four-part series of discussions … It featured Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a licensed German psychologist and psychotherapist with a doctorate in theology and one of the church’s leading experts in the area of safeguarding minors … ‘Much damage has been done to the church’ due to clergy sexual abuse, said Zollner, ‘but more damage has been done to human beings.’” By Gia Myers, Cruxnow.com

Lawmakers push for extension of Child Victims Act window
“More than 1,300 civil suits have been filed since the one-year look-back window for the Child Victim’s Act took effect last August. Now, there is a push in Albany to extend the window for another year(link is external).The current look-back window for victims to file civil claims on old cases expires on August 14. That means as of that date, past instances of sexual abuse against a minor cannot have any civil litigation, unless it is within the statute of limitations. New instances of abuse can have civil suits brought up to the age of 55.”By Mike Baggerman, WREN-AM

Most Utahns, LDS or otherwise, support a clergy confession bill
“No matter their faith affiliation, Utahns overwhelmingly support legislation that would require clergy to report child abuse — even if the information is divulged during a religious confession(link is external), a new poll shows.Most Catholics, Protestants and members of the state’s predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, back a full-reporting requirement, according to a Salt Lake Tribune survey conducted by Suffolk University.”By Kathy Stephenson, The Salt Lake Tribune

ALASKA

Sex abuse victims’ advocates call Anchorage Archdiocese’s report too little, too late
“None of the Catholic priests reported to have been involved in sexual misconduct in a 50-year review of records released last month by the Anchorage Archdiocese was ever convicted of a crime. There is also no indication the report has prompted any new criminal investigations(link is external) since its release. The report, made public Jan. 16, is based on an independent commission’s review of the church’s records. It lists 14 employees of the Anchorage Archdiocese, 13 of whom it says engaged in sexual misconduct with minors or vulnerable adults and one who was caught viewing child pornography.” By Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media

CALIFORNIA

After suspending priest, Fresno Catholic diocese is sued over his 2002 abuse case
“A now-suspended priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno is the subject of a new lawsuit centering on allegations of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl(link is external) in the early 2000s. Los Angeles attorney Paul Mones filed a lawsuit against the Diocese and two of its churches alleging they were negligent in supervising Father Miguel Flores and failing to warn about his potential actions, given prior knowledge.” By Alex Tavlian, The Sun

East Bay priest asked to leave school as police investigate sex-misconduct claims
“A priest already removed from an Alameda County parish and at the center of an investigation by Alameda police over possible sexual misconduct(link is external) will no longer be allowed to live at a Pleasant Hill rectory, according to police and officials with the Catholic Diocese of Oakland.Rev. George Alengadan had been staying at Christ the King Catholic School in Pleasant Hill since first leaving St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda in December. He was removed from that parish after Alameda police opened an investigation into him regarding possible sexual misconduct.”By Rick Hurd, East Bay Times

Man alleging molestation by a priest says Diocese of Orange officials tried to intimidate him
“A man who has alleged in a lawsuit against the Diocese of Orange that he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest when he was 6 years old(link is external) in 1994 said Monday (Feb. 3) that Diocese officials have attempted to ‘intimidate’ him.Last week, a judge cleared the way for the public identification of the priest, Father Edward Poettgen, who was most recently assigned to St. Boniface Catholic Church in Anaheim. The man suing him held a news conference Monday from the offices of his attorneys to say the Diocese has treated him ‘like an enemy of the church.’”By The Orange County Register

L.A. Archdiocese settles priest abuse case for $1.9 million
“The kids in the parish knew him only as Father Larry.That’s how he was known to one boy, referred to in court documents as John BR Doe, while he was an altar boy at San Gabriel Mission Church in 1982-84, years during which the priest sexually abused him(link is external), he said, from ages 9 to 11.As a teen, Doe told church officials what he’d suffered. Years later, he would learn that Father Larry — Lawrence Lovell — had been convicted of child molestation in 2003and sentenced to 14 years in prison. And he would find a redacted version of his own account on the internet, detailing the abuse he said Lovell enacted when he was a child.” By Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times

COLORADO

Colorado’s Catholic priest abuse reparations program received 78 claims, has already paid out more than $1 million
“Colorado’s reparations program for people abused by Catholic priests when they were children has already paid out more than $1 million to nine of the 78 people(link is external) who submitted claims by Friday’s (Jan. 31) filing deadline.Another $500,000 in payments are due to four other victims and more than 60 cases still are being reviewed, said Camille Biros, one of the independent administrators of the reparations program.”By Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun

In Colorado, some Catholic clergy sexual abuse victims are excluded from reparations
“Terry Schippers has been trying to come to terms with the years of sexual abuse he allegedly experienced by a Catholic friar(link is external). Colorado’s Catholic Church has a reparations fund for abuse victims but Schippers is ineligible for compensation.Andrew Kenney of Colorado Public Radio reports.”By Andrew Kenney, Colorado Public Radio

ILLINOIS

Sexual abuse reports from Illinois’ Catholic dioceses are still missing a log of data
“While researching a bit of context to introduce this week’s newsletter, I came across a column from May 2019 written by Chicago Sun-Times journalist Laura Washington. In it, she writes about the horror she felt as she sat in the pews of her church earlier that year while a representative of the Archdiocese of Chicagoinformed the congregation that its ‘beloved pastor’ had been accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1979(link is external), when he was at another parish.”By Logan Jaffe, Pro Publica Illinois

Former Texas priest charged with sexually assaulting child arrested at St. Louis-area Catholic Facility
“A former Dallas-area priest charged with sexually assaulting a child(link is external) was arrested Wednesday (Jan. 29) at a Catholic facility here housing disgraced clergy, including those accused of sexual abuse.Missouri and Dallas authorities confirmed the arrest Wednesday of Richard Thomas Brown, 78, on \ a warrant issued Tuesday by Dallas police on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child in North Texas in 1989.”By NassimBenchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MICHIGAN

Catholic priest from Burton, Flushing parishes heading to trial on sex charges
“A former Catholic priest is facing trial on sex charges dating back to his work at parishes in Burton and Flushing in the 1980s to 2000s. Vincent DeLorenzo is facing three counts of first-degree and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct(link is external) from 1995 to 2000 in one case and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct from 1987 in the second case.” By WJRT-Tv12 News

MINNESOTA

Crookston bishop faces further investigation, loses authority to handle sex abuse allegations
“The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has been cleared by Catholic Church leadership to continue its probe into the Crookston bishop’s alleged cover-ups of clerical sexual abuse(link is external). The Congregation for Bishops in Rome authorized Archbishop Bernard Hebda to proceed with further investigation into Bishop Michael Hoeppner, who has been under investigation since September, according to a Tuesday, Feb. 4, statement from the Catholic Diocese of Crookston.” By Alex Derosier, West Central Tribune

Victim-survivor says ‘ripple effects’ of clergy sex abuse ‘go on and on’
“For Frank Meuers, a victim-survivor of clergy sexual abuse, the impact is far-reaching and never-ending(link is external). ‘It’s like a stone in a pond,’ he said, ‘the hole disappears, but the ripple effects go on and on.’ The director of the southwest Minnesota chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, Meuers described the anger he lived with for years — and the help he received through therapy.”By Joe Ruff, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

NEW JERSEY

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’: major deadline looms for victims of clergy abuse in New Jersey
“A big deadline is looming for victims of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey. Acompensation fund for victims of sexual abuse is about to close down its registration(link is external), making it one less option for victims seeking justice. ‘This priest came into my life, he was stationed in our parish,” Mark Crawford said.For most of Crawford’s teenage years, he was manipulated and sexually abused by a Catholic priest.” By Cleve Bryan, CBS-TV3 News

NEW MEXICO

Ex-Catholic priest acquitted of abuse charges in New Mexico
“A jury has acquitted a former priest(link is external) of charges he sexually abused a first-grade student more than 30 years ago. Marvin Archuleta, 82, was cleared of both charges including criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 and attempting to commit kidnapping.” By Associated Press

NEW YORK

Ex-FBI director to probe sex abuse claims against Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio
“The New York Archdiocese has hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh to probe sex abuse allegations against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, according to a new report.

DiMarzio, 75, is accused of repeatedly molesting Mark Matzek when he was an altar boy and student at St. Nicholas Church and School in Jersey City in the 1970s, according to Matzek’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian.” By Sara Dorn, New York Post

Albany-area priest on administrative leave following allegations
“Albany Roman Catholic Diocese Bishop Edward Scharfenberger said Saturday (Feb. 8) he has placed a priest who retired from active ministry in 2008 on administrative leave following allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) in the 1960s and 70s.” By Rick Karlin, Albany Times Union

Syracuse Diocese reinstates priest accused of abuse after review
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has reinstated a priest who was accused of sexually abusing a boy in the early 1980s(link is external). Rev. Paul Angelicchio went on voluntary leave in November while a diocese review board investigated the person’s allegation of abuse.” By Patrick Lohmann on Syracuse.com

OHIO

Toledo Diocese quietly updates accused clergy list, includes new name
“The Diocese of Toledo quietly updated its list last year of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external) amid calls for transparency in a rekindled sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.The update included a new name: Paul Knapp, a religious order priest who served as the associate pastor of St. Gerard Parish in Lima, Ohio, between 1981 and 1983.” By Nicki Gorny, The Blade

OKLAHOMA

Catholic Church is in a tough position in confronting a use scandal
“…More than 33 years later, I told Nan the stunning news: The retired Leven had been suspended from the priesthood because an Archdiocesan investigation found two ‘substantiated’ allegations of abuse against minors(link is external).My mind raced …”By Joe Hight, The Journal Record

PENNSYLVANIA

Clergy sex abuse class action lawsuit against Pittsburgh diocese seeks to add Greensburg, others
“Lawyers in a class action suit trying to force the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to open its clergy abuse archives(link is external) expanded their campaign to include the Greensburg, Harrisburg and Altoona-Johnstown dioceses as well as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The move comes one month after Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Christine Ward ruled the lawsuit could move forward with regard to the Pittsburgh diocese.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Retired priest, 89, sentenced for sexual assault of boy
“Following an emotional hearing, a judge on Thursday (Feb. 6) sentenced a retired Catholic priest to a jail term of nine to nearly 24 months over his conviction last year for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy(link is external) in 2001. But the priest walked free for at least another month due to a last-minute legal plot twist, complicated by a sudden turnover in two of the key players in his November trial, his own defense lawyer and the judge.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In Philly, $39 million in clergy-abuse payouts so far – about $215,000 per damaged life
“At first, the number seems huge: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid out nearly $39 million to 181 sexual-abuse victims through the compensation fund it opened last year. Wow, you might think to yourself. Finally, the institution whose leaders allowed generations of children to be destroyed by the sexual depravity of countless priests while bishops and monsignors helped cover it up, is paying up from the treasury it so immorally had fought to protect. But don’t be fooled(link is external). This is a mammoth number only when you consider how difficult victims have found securing just compensation in one of the nation’s largest Catholic dioceses thanks to resistance by the church itself. Accountability has arrived, yes. But at discount rates.” By Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer

New report shows church response to abuse remains inconsistent, insufficient
“Many Roman Catholic dioceses are now releasing the names of priests who have had credible allegations of child sexual abuse brought against them.That’s the good news.The bad news is that those lists are often ‘inconsistent, incomplete and omit key details(link is external),’ according to a report out this week from ProPublica, a nonprofit watchdog news agency, and the Houston Chronicle.” By Chip Minemyer, The Tribune-Democrat

RHODE ISLAND

Attorney general to release report on clergy abuse claims
“Rhode Island’s attorney general said Feb.6 he expects to release a public report later this year with findings from his review of allegations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clerics(link is external) in the state. Democrat Peter Neronha continues to review the allegations to figure out what happened, what the response was and whether anyone can be held responsible in Rhode Island, one of the most heavily Catholic states. ” By Jennifer McDermott, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

SOUTH DAKOTA

House bill removes statute of limitations that could revive sex abuse claims
“South Dakota lawmakers will hear a bill that strips the statute of limitations for adults who bring lawsuits on sexual abuse they experienced as children(link is external). Similar bills have failed in the past. It’s been 10 years since state lawmakers placed a statute of limitations on child sex crimes. It says anyone over the age of forty can only recover damages from any person or entity that perpetrated the sexual abuse act. Since then, one group of Native women has been trying to overturn that statute of limitations. They are trying again this year.” By Lee Strubinger, South Dakota Public Radio

TEXAS

Lawsuit says Dallas diocese did not protect young girl from priest’s abuse
“Richard Thomas Brown, who in the 1980s was assigned as an assistant pastor at Holy Family of Nazareth in Irving, repeatedly sexually assaulted an 8-year-old girl from the parish(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed Thursday (JaSn. 30).One day, Brown took the girl out of Sunday school class and molested her in the rectory – the priest’s residence, where most of the assaults took place, according to the lawsuit.” By Cavid Tarrant, The Dallas Morning News

State of Texas: the accused one year later
“Texas’ 15 Catholic dioceses released names of 286 clergy — priests, deacons and brothers — credibly accused of child sex abuse(link is external) one year ago Friday (Feb. 1). Our extensive analysis of Catholic directories obtained through a source found that there are at least 332 Catholic clergy members, mostly priests, accused of child sex abuse in Texas.That’s almost 50 more names than what was publicly released in 2019. Moreover, the church’s list was incomplete, with some clergy members still being shuffled within the church.”By Anthony Cave, KXAN-TV News

People continue to ask Texas AG’s office to investigate clergy sexual abuse
“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office is being pressed by citizens to investigate clergy sexual abuse, although his office has said it cannot began an examination on its own,KXAN reported.The TV station’s open records request shows that a dozen people have asked the AG’s office to launch an investigation since Catholic dioceses across the state released lists on Jan. 31, 2019, of priests accused of abuse.”By The Texas Monitor Staff

WASHINGTON

Longtime Seattle police victim advocate was accused of child sex abuse while he was a priest
Before Garry Boulden was a victim advocate with the Seattle Police Department — guiding victims and their families through the aftermath of tragedies — he was a Catholic priest in Spokane, where he was accused of molesting a child(link is external) … Boulden is one of thousands of clergy members on dioceses’ lists across the country — that number includes 81 on Seattle’s, 30 on Spokane’s and 21 on Yakima’s — many of whom were never criminally prosecuted. An Associated Press investigation last year found that hundreds are working with vulnerable groups like children and sexual-assault survivors.” By Asia Fields, The Seattle Times

WISCONSIN

Diocese of La Crosse releases names of accused clergy
“Another Catholic Diocese in Wisconsin has released the names of clergy facing substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). The list includes 25 clergies, nine of which at one point, served at a parish in Stevens Point … The Diocese of La Crosse, which serves nearly 200,000 Catholics and includes Portage County, released the public list on Jan. 18. The Diocese of La Crosse states that an allegation is deemed to be substantiated “if it has been sufficiently confirmed so as to believe that abuse occurred,” meaning, allegations on the list are not derived through a legal process.” By Nathan Dorn, The Pointer, University of Wisconsin

AUSTRALIA

National Redress Scheme: Sex abuse survivors say victims are dying before receiving compensation
“It has been more than 18 months since the National Redress Scheme was introduced as a way of compensating survivors of clergy child abuse. But those who were supposed to benefit from it have labelled it ‘appalling(link is external)’ with some saying that many people are dying before receiving any compensation. Roy Janetzki, 74, said he spent his teenage years in four orphanages, where he endured physical, mental, and sexual abuse at the hands of four clergymen, including Catholic priests and brothers.” By Samantha Dawes, ABC Riverland

Catholic Church continues to silence alleged victims of child sexual abuse
“A Catholic priest from the Lismore diocese in Northern New South Wales is fighting the church over sexual abuse he allegedly suffered as a 12-year old altar boy.The case is believed to be the first involving a priest suing the church for historical child sexual abuse.The Catholic Church is seeking a permanent stay to stop proceedings being brought against it … But many see this as just another attempt by the Church to silence a complainant(link is external) so that details of the alleged incidents are never heard, at a time the institution claims to be working towards transparency andaccountability, and doing right by those it has wronged.”By SydneyCriminalLawyers.com

CANADA

#MenToo gains support in Ontario where male sexual
“There’s a growing trend in Ontario.Men are speaking out about the sexual abuse they have suffered and demanding resources, or setting up their own groups, to access support.”We call it the MenToo movement,” said Bob McCabe, a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest(link is external).The abuse started in 1963 when McCabe was 11. He didn’t tell anyone about it for 29 years, when he finally told his mother. It took another two decades for McCabe to speak out publicly and take legal action against his perpetrator.” By Kerry McKee, CBC News

CHILE

Pope Francis fills two episcopal vacancies in Chile left by sex abuse scandal
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Feb. 5) appointed bishops to the dioceses of Osorno and San Bartolomé de Chillán, both of which had been left vacant in 2018 amid the sex abuse scandal of the Church in Chile(link is external). On Feb. 5 Bishop Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo was named Bishop of Osorno, and Father Sergio Hernán Pérez de Arce Arriagada, was named Bishop of San Bartolomé de Chillán. Both had been serving as apostolic administrators of their new respective sees.” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Audit of Scottish dioceses says safeguarding vision ‘has yet to be fully realized’
“An audit of the safeguarding standards of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh found it had ‘clearer and more transparent structures and processes,’ but noted more work is needed in ‘rebuilding trust(link is external).’ The audit was commissioned from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)/Children in Scotland (CiS) by the Catholic Church in Scotland with the aim of supporting safeguarding improvements.”By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

POLAND

Broken icons: abuse in Poland’s Catholic Church
“The toppling of Jankowski (’sstatue) was a step towards forcing the government and clergy to reckon with the problem of child abuse in the Church(link is external). But what really forced everyone to take notice was the 2019 documentary Tell No One. The film shows victims who are now adults confronting elderly priests about the abuse they suffered decades earlier, and details how priests accused of paedophilia were transferred to other parishes where they could continue working with children.”By Madeline Roache, NewHumanist.org.uk

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


January 31, 2020

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

BISHOPS

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

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

PRIESTS

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

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

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

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

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

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

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

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

ALASKA

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

CALIFORNIA

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

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

COLORADO

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

FLORIDA

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

LOUISIANA

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

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

MICHIGAN

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

MINNESOTA

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

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

NEW JERSEY

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

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

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

NEW MEXICO

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

NEW YORK

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

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

OHIO

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

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

OKLAHOMA

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

TENNESSEE

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

TEXAS

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

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

WASHINGTON

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

WISCONSIN

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

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

CHILE

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

FRANCE

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

GERMANY

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

GUAM

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

SLOVENIA

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


January 17, 2020

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

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

BISHOPS

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

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

PRIESTS

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

CLERICALISM

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

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

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

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

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

ALASKA

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

ARIZONA

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

CALIFORNIA

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

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

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

FLORIDA

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

INDIANA

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

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

MINNESOTA

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

NEBRASKA

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

NEW JERSEY

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

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

NEW YORK

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

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

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

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

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

NORTH CAROLINA

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

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

NORTH DAKOTA

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

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

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

TENNESSEE

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

UTAH

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

WASHINGTON, D.C.

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

WYOMING

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

FRANCE

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

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

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

GUAM

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

MEXICO

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

PHILIPPINES

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

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


December 10, 2019

TOP STORIES

Buffalo bishop resigns after scandal over secret list of abusive priests
“First, a whistle-blower revealed that Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo had kept files about abusive priests that he hid from the public. Then leaked recordings showed that he was reluctant to remove a parish priest whom he called a ‘sick puppy.’ On Wednesday (Dec. 4), after months of pressure from priests and lay leaders, the Vatican said in a statement that it had accepted the resignation of Bishop Malone, effective immediately(link is external). Since the Vatican did not specify the reasons behind the resignation, it was unclear whether Bishop Malone had been forced to quit.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

Legal reckoning: new abuse suits could cost church over $4B
“At the end of another long day trying to sign up new clients accusing the Roman Catholic Church of sexual abuse(link is external), lawyer Adam Slater gazes out the window of his high-rise Manhattan office at one of the great symbols of the church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. ‘I wonder how much that’s worth?’ he muses. Across the country, attorneys like Slater are scrambling to file a new wave of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by clergy, thanks to rules enacted in 15 states that extend or suspend the statute of limitations to allow claims stretching back decades.” By Bernard Condon and Jim Mustian, Associated Press, in Time

Argentine court finds two Catholic priests guilty of sexually assaulting deaf children; first convictions in long-alleged abuse
“An Argentine court on Monday Nov. 25) found two priests and a lay worker guilty of the sexual abuse and rape of 10 former students of a Catholic institute for the deaf(link is external), the first legal victory for a string of hearing-impaired victims stretching from Italy to the Andes whose denunciations against one of the clerics to church officials including Pope Francis went unheeded for years. The landmark verdict related to the Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in the western Argentine city of Luján de Cuyo is the latest stain on the church’s handling of sex abuse cases in Francis’s native Argentina. Argentine prosecutors last week requested an international arrest warrant for Catholic Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta—a longtime associate of the pope accused of sexually abusing two seminarians.” By Anthony Faiola, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, The Washington Post

Lawsuit: Church pressured victims into unfair settlements
“Two impoverished Mississippi men who say they were sexually assaulted by Franciscan missionaries filed a federal lawsuit Thursday (Nov. 21) claiming that Catholic officials pressured them into signing settlements that paid them little money and required them to remain silent(link is external) about the alleged abuse. The lawsuit, filed in New York, claims the church officials drew up the agreements a year ago to prevent the men from telling their stories or going to court — a violation of a 2002 promise by American bishops to abandon the use of nondisclosure agreements, as part of an effort to end the cover-up of sexual abuse within the church.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

Children’s rights group says ‘third wave’ of abuse scandals hitting Latin America
“A children’s rights group is warning that a ‘Third Wave’ of clerical sex abuse scandals is hitting Latin America, with revelations showing how the Catholic Church has continued to try and hide the extent of the crisis(link is external). The London-based Child Rights International Network (CRIN) released The Third Wave: Justice for survivors of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Latin America on Nov. 20. It looks at the scale of abuse and cover-up by the Church in every Latin American country, as well as reviewing whether national laws on child sex crimes adequately protect children.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

Questions of faith: exclusive survey of Catholic Church employees
“A vast survey of the Roman Catholic Church workforce in America shows the people who know best how the church is run – the employees themselves – are deeply split on key issues facing parishes across nation(link is external). The survey reveals diocesan priests are far more likely to view clergy abuse as a problem of the past, while nuns and other religious employees often consider sex abuse and misconduct to be major problems even today. And just as Pope Francis considers expanding the role of married men and women in the church, the survey highlights vivid differences in how female and male employees view a host of religious reforms under the Vatican’s consideration.” By Dan Corcoran, NBC-TV Connecticut News

ACCOUNTABILITY

Bishops need to recognize their own checkered history
“Novelist William Faulkner wrote, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ Faulkner’s insight is worth remembering in church circles as Catholics deal with the fallout from the ongoing process of bishops investigating other accused bishops(link is external). In the short time since the church formalized that process to deal with its seemingly never-ending crisis, we are finding out that it’s had, to put it mildly, its hiccups.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

German Catholic women call for change as ‘synodal path’ gets underway
But the momentum for real change — the loudest voice for a transformation of the church — comes from Catholic women(link is external) who are no longer willing to accept a subordinate role in a male-dominated church. ‘The grief that women had to endure through the power of churchmen was too great, and the hope for real change was too small,’ said Mechthild Heil in an email, noting that many women have turned their backs on the Church. Heil is the leader of the Catholic Women’s Association in Germany and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party in the Bundestag.” By Donald Snyder, National Catholic Reporter

Diocese: Bransfield should apologize and pay $792,000 restitution
“Disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield would make public apologies and pay $792,638 restitution(link is external) if he accepts a proposed ‘plan of amends’ from the Wheeling-Catholic Diocese. Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Mark Brennan on Tuesday outlined the penance for Bishop Michael Bransfield, whose sexual and financial activities continue to receive scrutiny.” By Brad MdElhinny, MetroNews

CARDINALS

Cardinal Cupich: how can we end clerical sex abuse and purify the church?
“One day, a man in his mid-50s came to my office and shared the painful story of being sexually abused by his pastor(link is external). He started serving Mass when he was 9 years old, and the pastor always asked him to stay afterward to tidy up the sacristy. One day the priest took him to the basement and sexually abused him. He did this every Sunday over four years … Seeing the suffering in this victim-survivor’s eyes, witnessing his courage in sharing this horrible experience with me, I knew I had to act.” By Blase J. Cupich, America: The Jesuit Review

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

NJ’s Former Top Roman Catholic Cleric Among Clergy Named in New Sex Abuse Lawsuits
“Theodore McCarrick — the now-defrocked, one-time top Roman Catholic cleric in New Jersey — is among the defendants named in dozens of lawsuits filed this week(link is external) after lawmakers eased the state’s legal bar on claims of past sexual abuse by clergy members and others in a position of trust. A lawsuit filed on behalf of 37-year-old John Bellocchio alleges that he was assaulted by McCarrick, then the archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese, in the vestry of Hackensack’s St. Francis of Assisi Church in the mid-1990s, when he was a 14-year-old altar server.” By Brenda Flanagan, NJTV News

Pennsylvania, New Jersey bishops ask Vatican for McCarrick report
“The bishops of Pennsylvania and New Jersey discussed sexual abuse with Pope Francis in a Thanksgiving Day meeting, according to Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania, who was present at the meeting. The gathering was a central part of the bishops’ ‘ad limina’ visit, during which the bishops also asked the Vatican to release the results of its investigation into Theodore E. McCarrick(link is external), who had served in two New Jersey dioceses before being named archbishop of Washington and a cardinal, then was dismissed from the clerical state when the Vatican determined he had abused minors.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

BISHOPS

Adrift & alone
“The 2019 fall gathering of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore lacked the drama of last year’s meeting, where a breakdown in communications between the USCCB and Rome on addressing the sex-abuse crisis was visible for all to see (an embarrassment for which the official explanation contradicts the well-documented history). This time around, the bishops avoided major public missteps(link is external) and everything appeared to go according to plan.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Sex abuse claim dismissed by church foreshadowed years of allegations against W.Va. bishop
“Michael J. Bransfield was just a couple of years into his tenure as West Virginia’s bishop in 2007 when one of his former students called a church sexual abuse hotline(link is external). Decades earlier, at a Catholic high school, Bishop Bransfield had repeatedly summoned him from class, escorted him to a private room and fondled his buttocks and genitals, the caller said. The former student said he was a freshman when the unwanted touching began.” By The Washington Post in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Argentine bishop says he’ll return to face sex allegations
“An Argentine bishop close to Pope Francis said Saturday (Nov. 23) he’ll return voluntarily to Argentina to respond to prosecutors’ accusations of sex abuse(link is external). Javier Belda Iniesta, the canon law lawyer for Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta issued a statement that the monsignor would arrive in Argentina on Tuesday (Nov. 25) and would fully cooperate with authorities. Zanchetta has been formally accused of ‘aggravated continuous sexual abuse’ of two seminarians, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He has denied the charges.” By Associated Press

The failed leadership of U.S. bishops is clear
“What a mess. It doesn’t take an ecclesiologist to arrive at that conclusion about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops after witnessing its dysfunction during the group’s recent meeting in Baltimore. If there is an upside to the proceedings, it is that neither the bishops nor the faithful need any longer pretend that the church is being led competently or that the bishops are acting in unity(link is external). What has become clear is that too many of the bishops still are captives of the political culture wars; that the conference as a whole has been drained of authority and credibility because of the ongoing sexual abuse scandal; and that the bishops have been frozen in place by their inability to collectively and honestly examine the secretive, privileged culture that was the pathway to the current mess.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

PRIESTS

Fallen priests: should we hear their stories
“Speaking about the church’s sex-abuse scandal at a September conference on the ‘Catholic Imagination’ at Loyola University in Chicago, the essayist Richard Rodriguez said a very brave thing(link is external). ‘What do we know about these priests? We know nothing about the burden of these fallen priests,’ Rodriguez said, according to articles in the National Catholic Reporter. ‘We don’t know their stories. What do they think they were doing? … We have no idea who they were, or what they suffered…. Our imaginations have gone dull.’” By Paul Baumann, Commonweal

WOMEN DEACONS

Possibility of female deacons gives some Catholic hope
“There are many roles open to women in the Catholic Church today, said (St. Louis University professor of theology Rev. David) Meconi, including campus chaplain and Eucharistic minister. (Eucharistic ministers serve Communion but do not consecrate the bread and wine themselves.) Still, he believes restricting ordination to men is an essential part of the faith(link is external).” By Shahla Farzan, National Public Radio

VATICAN

Vatican still refusing to expel priests condemned in Provolo case
“This week’s convictions of priests Horacio Corbacho and Nicola Corradi for the sexual abuse of minors at the Antonio Próvolo Institute in Mendoza exposes yet another failure by the Vatican to act and respond to judicial sentences against members of the Catholic Church(link is external). In a historic judgment, both priests were convicted for the repeated rape and abuse of deaf students at the school in Luján de Cuyo. Corbacho received 45 years in prison for his crimes and Corradi received 42 years. The institution’s former gardener, Armando Gómez, was given 18 years behind bars.” By Mariana Sarramea, Buenos Aires Times

Vatican accused of harboring bishop in sex abuse claims
“The Vatican has been accused of harboring a bishop wanted for alleged sex abuse offences, as Pope Francis railed against the evils of sexual exploitation on a visit to Thailand. Prosecutors in Argentina have issued an international arrest warrant for Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, who is accused of sexually abusing young trainee priests(link is external), known as seminarians. He denies the charges. Bishop Zanchetta, 55, who is close to his fellow Argentine Pope Francis, lives in the Vatican.” By Ruth Sax, Premiere.org.uk

Vatican charity knew in 2017 of pedophilia concerns about Central African Republic director
“The Vatican’s Caritas Internationalis charity says it learned in 2017 of pedophilia concerns involving its Central African Republic director, but left it for his superiors to investigate and he remained in place and in ministry until this year(link is external). CNN revealed the scandal over the Rev. Luk Delft this week (Nov. 25), reporting that the Belgian Salesian priest was appointed to lead the Vatican’s main charity in the poverty-stricken country despite a 2012 criminal conviction in Belgium for child sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.” By Associated Press in Los Angeles Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican officials: Swiss bank suspected of money laundering led to Pell conflict
“The Holy See’s relationship with a disreputable Swiss bank triggered an internal dispute(link is external) between the Secretariat of State and Vatican financial authorities. At the center of the conflict was a multimillion-dollar line of credit used to fund a controversial investment in London property speculation. Sources inside the Vatican’s Prefecture for the Economy confirmed to CNA that a substantial part of the $200 million used to finance the Secretariat of State’s purchase of a luxury development at 60 Sloane Avenue came through credit extended by BSI, a Swiss bank with a long track record of violating money-laundering and fraud safeguards in its dealings with sovereign wealth funds.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Study shows 65% of U.S. dioceses post audited financial reports online, but 27% post no financial information
“Voice of the Faithful has completed its third annual study of U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency(link is external) and concluded that, although a majority of dioceses have made a commitment to financial transparency, a sizable minority share little or no verifiable financial information with their members.” By Voice of the Faithful in Longview News-Journal

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

German Catholics’ celibacy debate could lead to schism with Vatican
“German Catholics are meeting to debate what remain taboo subjects for many in the church — lifting celibacy policies and whether to allow women to play bigger roles in ecclesiastical life(link is external). The German Bishops Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics will start a two-year process of reckoning and reform on Sunday (Dec. 1), the first day of Advent. The meeting comes in response to damning revelations of sexual abuse in the church.” By Ivana Kottasova, CNN

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German Catholic Church debates sexuality, celibacy and women’s roles
“The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has a split identity(link is external). At home, attendance is falling and many Germans say they regard the church’s teaching on social issues as hopelessly out of touch. But globally, the German church is one of the most powerful — and liberal — regions of the Catholic world, a player whose wealth and theological influence are now creating a challenge for the entire church.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

VOICES

Viewpoints: healing reconciliation, reform: a path forward for he diocese of Buffalo
“Last December, the Movement to Restore Trust empaneled six working groups involving about 150 Catholics who developed a series of reports and recommendations for reform in the Diocese of Buffalo. These reports were released to the public this past July. The Movement was working with the diocese on the early stages of implementation of various reforms when it determined in early September that it did not believe that it could make further progress on its reform agenda while Bishop Richard J. Malone remained in office(link is external). The Movement called for the bishop’s resignation on Sept. 5. He has refused to resign.” By John J. Hurley, Special to The Buffalo News

Our View: State falls short on abuse reform
“The 2018 release of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s grand jury report exposing decades of Roman Catholic clergy child sexual abuse offered state lawmakers the opportunity to level a gross imbalance of power and speed justice to damaged victims. They failed to deliver in full(link is external). Landmark legislation guaranteed to protect future victims is heading to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk to be signed into law … But when it comes to the grand jury recommendation that victims be given a time window to sue the church retroactively, those victims who want to confront their abusers independently and transparently in a court of law again must wait.” By GoErie.com Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Ohio House GOP leader ‘open’ to statute of limitations reform after I-Team report on Catholic church

“The author of a 2006 bill that reformed Ohio’s civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse wants to revise the law again after reviewing materials uncovered in the I-Team’s three-month investigation of the Catholic Church(link is external). Rep. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Green Township, said he would like to encourage more public disclosure in the church and correct problems a Columbus judge cited in 2010. As majority floor leader, Seitz sets the Republican agenda in the House.” By Dan Monk, WCOP-TV9 News

How some sex abuse victims are finding different ways to sue clergy in Pennsylvania
“The #MeToo movement and revelations around child sexual abuse have prompted lawmakers across the U.S. to extend the window to sue for old sexual assaults(link is external). Pennsylvania’s Legislature just passed a bill that would move forward a constitutional amendment that allows these suits. But that process can take years. From member station WHYY, Laura Benshoff reports on a group of victims who are not waiting for that to happen to sue the Catholic Church.” By Laura Benshoff, Blue Ridge Public Radio

Pennsylvanians get more time on sex abuse charges, suits
“The state where a grand jury’s groundbreaking report set off a new wave of reckoning over sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church passed legislation Thursday (Nov. 21) giving victims more time to sue and police more time to file charges(link is external). The Pennsylvania House sent the statute-of-limitations bill to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf with a 182-5 vote, along with a measure that invalidates secrecy agreements in lawsuit settlements that prevent child sexual abuse victims from talking to investigators.” By Mark Scolforo, The Morning Call

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Advocacy group urges changes to Catholic abuse review boards
“The bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Roman Catholic diocese, who was recently appointed chairman-elect of the U.S. Catholic church’s national committee for protecting abuse victims, should lead an effort to change boards that review abuse allegations(link is external) to make them more transparent, inclusive and willing to publicly identify predator priests, an advocacy group said Friday (Nov. 15).” By Margaret Stafford, Associated Press

Clergy abuse reparations are closure for some victims, resurface trauma for others
“For some, these payments provided a kind of closure, after years of ‘howling into the wind(link is external),’ as 67-year-old John Quinn put it. He first came forward two decades ago with allegations of sexual assault by a Philadelphia priest and said he considered waiting to sue. Instead, he received $250,000 from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Independent Reparations and Reconciliation Program in February. ‘I’m a man of my word; I signed it and I said I wasn’t going to go after them anymore,’ said Quinn. Still, doubts and questions persist, he said. ‘I get stressed, I get depressed, I get what-ifs … what if it didn’t happen this way, where would I be?’” By Laura Benshoff, National Public Radio

Pennsylvanians to get more time on sex abuse charges, suits
“The state where a grand jury’s groundbreaking report set off a new wave of reckoning over sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church passed legislation Thursday (Nov. 21) giving victims more time to sue and police more time to file charges(link is external). The Pennsylvania House sent the statute-of-limitations bill to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf with a 182-5 vote, along with a measure that invalidates secrecy agreements in lawsuit settlements that prevent child sexual abuse victims from talking to investigators.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

CALIFORNIA

Pedophile priests operated at this Bay Area school for decades. This is the Catholic order that covered up their abuse
“Two boys, born into deeply religious families, both sent to Catholic school, and both abused by the very priests and teachers meant to protect them(link is external). George Stein and Joey Piscitelli grew up a decade apart, but they are connected by their abuse at the hands of priests and brothers from a Catholic order founded to help and support vulnerable children. Their experiences reveal a pattern of abuse and cover-up going back more than half a century.” By Nima Elbagir,Barbara Arvanitidis, Katie Polglase,Bryony Jones and Alex Platt, CNN

Pinay filmmaker sues LA’s Catholic archdiocese over childhood sexual assault by Filipino priest
“A Filipina American filmmaker from Hollywood is suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles over sexual assault she experienced as a child by a Filipino priest(link is external).  The suit is said to be the first civil lawsuit against the nation’s largest Catholic diocese since California passed a law giving childhood sexual assault survivors more time to file civil lawsuits.” By Rae Ann Varona, Asian Journal

MICHIGAN

Former Coloma, Michigan, priest pleads guilty to a felony after clergy abuse investigation
“Michigan Attorney Dana Nessel said a 57-year-old Coloma priest pleaded guilty to felony charges Wednesday(link is external) (Nov. 20). The Rev. Brian Stanley pleaded guilty to attempted false imprisonment during a pretrial conference in an Allegan County Circuit Court. Stanley faces five years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender for 15 years. ‘Mr. Stanley’s decision to plead guilty to attempted false imprisonment ensures that he will be held accountable for the pain and suffering he has caused,’ Nessel said in a written statement on the pleading.” By WWMT-TV3 News

NEW JERSEY

New accusers file suits alleging sex abuse by defrocked Paterson Diocese priest
“At least two new accusers came forward this week(link is external) (Dec.4) to file sex abuse lawsuits naming a now-defrocked Paterson Diocese priest, James T. Hanley, who has admitted to abusing children and was at the center of the 2002 Catholic Church scandal in New Jersey related to an alleged cover-up of sex abuse by some bishops.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

New sex abuse lawsuits roll in as New Jersey law takes effect
“Three years ago Sunday (Dec. 1), Carolyn Fortney woke up in a hospital. She had tried to end her life, she said, because of sexual abuse she endured from a priest decades ago(link is external). Her sisters were with her then, and three were next to her Monday (Dec. 2) in Newark, when the family announced a new lawsuit against Newark’s Archdiocese. ‘Did they know he was a pedophile, prior to moving him to PA?’ asked Lara Fortney-McKeever, one of Carolyn’s sisters who said she was also abused in Pennsylvania by the same priest.” By Blake Nelson, New Jersey Advance Media for NJ.com

New accuser names former Cardinal McCarrick as dozens of lawsuits are filed un New Jersey law
“The first wave of lawsuits was filed Sunday (Dec. 1) under a new state law(link is external) that opened the way for perhaps hundreds of people to bring sex abuse claims against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America and other institutions. They included a new accuser saying in court papers that he was abused as a child growing up in Hackensack by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, once one of the most powerful leaders in the U.S. Catholic Church. McCarrick was defrocked earlier this year amid allegations that he sexually abused minors and harassed adult seminarians.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Diocese of Metuchen addresses indictment, alleged crimes predating accused’s tenure as priest
“The former pastor of Our Lady of Mount Virgin Parish in Middlesex, Fr. Patrick J. Kuffner, identified on the list of names of clergy currently under investigation(link is external) by civil authorities as released by the Diocese of Metuchen in February of this year, was arrested Nov. 20 by the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department on three counts of sexual assault of a minor that date back more than three decades to when he was a layperson and while in Massachusetts.” By Diocese of Metuchen

NEW YORK

Sexual abuse and its widespread damage
“During the last two decades, we have learned more about sexual abuse than we ever expected or wished to know. The suffering that victims and their families endured has been twofold(link is external) — the abuse itself and the trauma of being silenced or ignored. Much has changed in the church since the adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the Dallas Charter) in June 2002, but the pain continues.” Editorial by The Tablet, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn

NORTH CAROLINA

Reporter Sarah Delia talks about ‘The List,’ a new investigative series from WFAE
“Most Catholic dioceses in the country have released a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse. The diocese of Charlotte has not released a list(link is external), but its bishop has said he’s committed to doing so by the end of the year. In the meantime, WFAE’s Sarah Delia has been learning how such a list is compiled, what it means, and how victims of clergy continue to deal with the abuse they suffered.” By Sarah Delia, WFAE-RF National Public Radio

More ‘credible’ sexual misconduct claims found against former Belmont Abbey leader
“Belmont Abbey College announced late Tuesday (Nov. 26) that four more claims of sexual misconduct have been found ‘credible’(link is external) against one of the school’s former top officials. The findings involve Monsignor Mauricio West, who was most recently the vicar general and chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. He stepped down from those roles in March after an initial claim of sexual misconduct against him – concerning an incident in the mid-1980s – was found to be credible by authorities with the diocese.” By Michael Barrett, Gaston Gazette

OHIO

These priests, credibly accused of child sexual abuse, still live quietly in the Tri-State
“The Diocese of Covington suspended the Rev. Jack Goeke from ministry in 1994 after two women accused him of sexually abusing them while they were as young as 11(link is external). More than two decades later, local Catholic Church and community leaders participated in a celebration to honor Goeke. A Facebook photo from June 2018 shows a smiling Goeke at a groundbreaking ceremony for a legacy house honoring his quarter-century of work at Housing Opportunities for Northern Kentucky, a nonprofit that renovates and builds homes for low-income families.” By Paula Christian, Craig Cheatham and Don Monk

OKLAHOMA

Internal investigation clears Tulsa priest of sexual abuse allegations
“A Tulsa Roman Catholic priest is being allowed to return to work after officials with the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma say an internal investigation failed to substantiate allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). The diocese on Tuesday announced that the Rev. Joe Townsend is no longer on administrative leave and could be considered for a pastoral assignment next year.” By KFOR-TV4 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania’s clergy abuse hotline received 1,900 calls since grand jury report
“Nearly one year after a landmark grand jury report revealed accusations of sexual abuse against more than 300 priests across Pennsylvania, the state‘s clergy abuse hotline is still ringing. The hotline has received 1,862 calls since being instituted last August(link is external), according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The majority of the calls, roughly 90 percent, were related to allegations of abuse or cover-ups within the Catholic church. The remaining calls were related to institutions or individuals outside the Catholic church.” By Hoback Herald

Survivors conflicted about compromise to change Pennsylvania sex abuse law
“When Pennsylvania overhauled its child sexual abuse laws this week after a years-long battle, absent from the bill-signing ceremony were some of the people who had worked hardest for the changes. Some sexual-abuse survivors and victim advocates felt conflicted by the compromise package(link is external): Missing was a cornerstone of the recommendations by last year’s landmark grand jury report on child sexual abuse inside six of Pennsylvania’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses. That recommendation was for a two-year window in state law to allow now-adult victims of child sexual abuse to sue over claims that are past Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations.” By Marc Levy, Associated Press, in The Morning Call

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Catholic priest Urbano Vasquez gets 15 years for sexual abuse of children
“A Catholic priest has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing two children(link is external) at a DC church. The Washington Post reports that most of the more than 80 people who filled the courtroom Friday were supporters of 47-year-old Urbano Vazquez, providing a visual representation of how this case has divided his former parish.” By Associated Press on WJZ-TV13 News

WYOMING

Gordon says he’ll talk to AG about priest abuse in Wyoming
“Gov. Mark Gordon said he would talk with Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill about investigating sexual abuse by priests in the Equality State, in the wake of other states launching their own inquiries(link is external) into the history of abuse by Catholic clergymen. ‘My sense is I probably will, now that you bring it up, probably ask Attorney General Hill her point of view of where the state’s role should be,’ Gordon said during a wide-ranging interview with the Star-Tribune on Tuesday (Dec. 3). ‘Those are horrific cases. Horrific cases.’” By Seth Klamann, Caspar Star Tribune

Police say no plans to look into investigation into bishop, despite criticism from victim’s family
“There doesn’t appear to be much interest at looking back to 2002. Cheyenne police say they have no plans to reexamine that year’s most high-profile sexual abuse investigation(link is external). In April 2002, recently retired Wyoming Bishop Joseph Hart was accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in Cheyenne in the 1970s. The Cheyenne police investigation that followed lasted two months before the allegation was declared unfounded because of a lack of victim cooperation.” By Seth Klaman, Caspar Start Tribune

AFRICA

How a Catholic order dedicated to protecting children failed them
“A pedophile priest was sent to work for an aid organization helping vulnerable families in an African country, even though his Catholic order knew he had been convicted of abusing children years earlier in Europe(link is external), a CNN investigation has found. Father Luk Delft is accused of abusing at least two other boys in the Central African Republic (CAR) while in a key role at Caritas, a leading Catholic charity.” By Nima Elbagir, Barbara Arvanitidis, Katie Polglase, Bryony Jones and Alex Platt, CNN, on WRAL.com

ARGENTINA

Argentine prosecutor calls for international arrest of bishop accused of sex abuse
“An Argentine criminal prosecutor has requested the arrest of a Roman Catholic bishop after officials said he ignored repeated calls and emails relating to an investigation of sex abuse allegations against him(link is external). The prosecutor in charge of gender violence and sex crimes for Oran, in the northern province of Salta, called for the arrest of Gustavo Zanchetta. The official request would need to be made by an Argentine judge, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said on Thursday (Nov. 21).” By Cassandra Garrison, reuters, on WTVBAM.com

AUSTRALIA

States agree on uniform mandatory reporting laws
“A federal and state agreement to standardize laws making it mandatory for priests to report child sexual abuse revealed during confession(link is external) is ‘counter-productive and unjust,’ Archbishop Mark Coleridge said. The state and federal attorneys-general agreed to three principles for the laws at a meeting in Adelaide on Friday (Nov. 29). The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president said that while the Church supports nationally consistent mandatory reporting regimes and reportable conduct schemes that include ministers of religion as mandatory reporters, it does not consider the removal of legal protections for the sacramental seal of confession to be ‘helpful or necessary.’” By CathNews.com

CANADA

36 cases of abuse by Catholic priests uncovered in B.C.
“A file review of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy within the Archdiocese of Vancouver has uncovered 36 cases, most of them involving minors(link is external). A report released Friday (Nov. 22) says Archbishop Michael Miller appointed a committee last year to conduct the review following the disclosure of global sexual abuse by clergy. ‘This past year, guided by divine providence, we have studied and learned more than ever before about the pain suffered by you, victims/survivors of clerical sexual abuse in our Archdiocese,’ Miller says in a pastoral letter preceding the report.” By Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press, on HuffingtonPost.ca

Judge to investigate Montreal archdiocese’s handling of priest’s sexual abuse
“Montreal’s archdiocese enlisted a former Quebec Superior Court justice on Monday (Nov. 25) to investigate the case of a priest found guilty of sexually abusing two boys(link is external). Pepita G. Capriolo will conduct the investigation into Rev. Brian Boucher, a Catholic priest who was sentenced in March to eight years behind bars.” By The Canadian Press

FRANCE

French cardinal’s career at stake in sex abuse case
“A French cardinal said Thursday (Nov. 28) he did not understand why he was found guilty of covering up sexual abuse of children(link is external), speaking at an appeals court hearing that will help determine his future within the Catholic Church. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin tried to resign after his original conviction in March for failing to report a predator priest to police. But Pope Francis refused to accept the resignation until the appeals process is complete.” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press

GUAM

Guam Catholic Church enters bankruptcy amid sex abuse claims
“Guam‘s Catholic Church filed for bankruptcy Wednesday (Nov. 20), a move that will allow the archdiocese to avoid trial in dozens of child sexual abuse lawsuits and enter settlement negotiations(link is external). Ford Elsaesser, an attorney representing the church, said the Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition was filed with federal court in Guam. The church faces multimillion-dollar lawsuits for sexual abuse from about 190 accusers. Elsaesser couldn‘t put a figure on the dollar amount the church is hoping to raise for its settlement. But it said its current assets are valued at $22.9 million with liabilities of $45.6 million. The church also plans to sell non-essential real estate and add the proceeds to the settlement fund.” By Stock Daily Dish

INDIA

Catholic priest arrested for allegedly making schoolgirls view porn
“An elderly Catholic priest, who worked as a correspondent of a school in Coimbatore, was arrested on Thursday (Nov. 21) for allegedly sexually harassing students of the institution(link is external). The priest, Maria Antony Raj, was reported to be around 60 years of age. Raj had been the correspondent of the St Mary’s High School in the Gandhipuram area of Coimbatore for over a year. The Hindu reported Raj allegedly forced ‘at least’ five girls of the school to open lewd content on his mobile phone on multiple occasions.” By The Week

MEXICO

Victim ignored by bishop today pushes Mexican Church on reform
“From the time she was 10 until she turned 17, Maria says she was sexually abused by a priest in San Ambrosio in the Mexican state of Sonora(link is external). Years after the local bishop refused to investigate her allegations, her abuser was finally removed from the clerical state. For the past two years, she’s been asked by several abuse prevention experts to share her story, including before several hundred South American bishops.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

In 10 years, 550 sexual abuse complaints against Catholic Church
“Mexico has had the highest number of sexual abuse complaints against members of the Catholic clergy in Latin America(link is external) over the last decade. According to the Child Rights International Network (CRIN), there have been 550 complaints from 2008 to February of this year against priests and other workers in the Catholic Church. In the last nine years, 152 priests have been suspended from their duties for presumed sexual abuse.” By Mexico Daily News

Priest abused by head of Catholic order abused at least eight girls aged 6-11
“A priest abused as a teenager by the founder of the Legion of Christ Catholic order himself went on to abuse children in at least two cities(link is external) in Mexico. Fernando Martínez Suárez admitted to having sexually abused at least eight girls aged 6 to 11 between 1990 and 1993 at the Cumbres Catholic Institutes in Mexico City and Cancún.” By Mexico News Daily

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