Posts Tagged Focus news roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Sept. 23, 2022

TOP STORIES

U.S. diocesan synod reports highlight ‘enduring wounds’ in Church
“Throughout the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality, U.S. Catholics consistently highlighted several ‘enduring wounds’ that plague the nation’s church, including the still-unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, divisions over the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, and a perceived lack of unity among the nation’s bishops. The feedback was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 19, in a national synthesis of the diocesan synod phase. The synthesis is the culmination of diocesan Synod reports and contributions from other Catholic entities since last fall.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

South African Catholics: End clericalism, open ministry to women, be inclusive
“Widen the preaching circle to women and other laypeople, change the leadership style from autocratic and bureaucratic, move away from clericalism, and build more inclusive and welcoming communities, say Southern African Catholics. These were some of the major themes that emerged in the synthesis document for the synod on synodality released by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference at the end of August. The conference represents the Catholic bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Eswatini. The secretary general of the bishops’ conference, Fr. Hugh O’Connor, said that the synthesis aimed to reflect the wide range of opinions mentioned in the diocesan reports.” By Russell Pollitt, National Catholic Reporter

Bill eliminating statute of limitations for child sex abuse civil suits heads to Biden’s desk
“The House on Tuesday (Sept. 13) passed a bill eliminating the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse who seek to file civil claims, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk for final approval. The chamber cleared the bill, titled the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, by voice vote, a strategy reserved for non-controversial, popular measures. The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent in March. The measure calls for removing the statute of limitations for minors filing civil claims relating to a number of sex abuse crimes, including force labor, sex trafficking, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.” By Mychael Schnell, KGET-TV News

Finding the bishops we need
“There was considerable excitement in some quarters this summer when Pope Francis appointed three women as members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope for episcopal appointments in much of Latin-rite Catholicism. Whether this innovation will make any significant difference at the final stage of a long, complex process remains to be seen; given the byzantine ways of the Roman Curia (and its boys club atmosphere and dynamics), I have my doubts. But we shall see. In any event, deep reform in the process of selecting bishops in the Latin-rite Church would begin by bringing women, not to mention laymen, into the process at a much earlier stage.” By George Weigel, The Pilot

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Exclusive: Cardinal Grech on drafting the first global synod synthesis—and what’s in store for phase 2
“Even though the first phase of the Catholic Church’s two-year-long Synod on Synodality convened by Pope Francis only ended in mid-August, ‘We can already see the fruits of the synodal process,’ Cardinal Mario Grech, the general secretary of the synod, told America’s Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, in an exclusive interview conducted for America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast at the Jesuit Curia in Rome on Sept. 14. Cardinal Grech gave the interview before leaving Rome for two weeks starting today, Sept. 21, with a team of 35 people ‘summoned from all continents’ to study and analyze the feedback from the first phase, also known as the consultation phase, of the synodal process.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Synodality and its issues
“Persons worried about the current ‘synodality’ process in the Catholic Church have good reasons to be anxious. The car wreck of the German Catholic ‘synodal path’ on matters of sexuality and Church governance is one of them. Other key problems with Rome’s 2023 Synod on Synodality are the personalities and behaviors of some of the loudest people advancing it. More on that in a moment. The idea itself – synodality – is worth considering. But be warned and caffeinated: Roman documents ahead.” By The Catholic World Report

The synodality report
“What is synodality? Bishop (Harry) Silva defines it this way: “The Church always must defer to its Head, who is Jesus Christ. He is sacramentally represented by his bishops and priests, who act in his name as pastors, overseers and servants. But the clergy are not as wise or holy as the Head, and the Body must always be in communication with the Head. So while the Church is not a democracy, it is essential that the pastors be in touch with the thoughts, aspirations, needs and dreams of the members of the Body. Thus, we have pastoral councils, finance councils, priests’ councils, deacon councils, and a host of other consultative bodies so that the flow of communication between head and members may always be healthy. Synodality is the recognition that every member of the Body is important and contributes to the welfare of the whole body. It also offers concrete mechanisms by which this can happen.’” By Patrick Downes, Hawaii Catholic Herald

Synod on Synodality organizers: ‘Trust the process’
“The Synod on Synodality, Pope Francis’ massive consultation of all Catholic dioceses, parishes and organizations on the state of the church, completed its first phase, with Vatican officials receiving reports from countries around the world on their findings. As the second phase begins, and amid doubts that the results will be representative, the synod’s chief organizer, and even some participants, are encouraging Catholics to trust the process. ‘It’s the first time in the history of the church but also for humanity to have such a consultation,’ said Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary for the General Secretariat for the Synod at the Vatican. ‘It’s a huge achievement.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Sex and gender dominate German church debates. But Catholics in the Global South have difference challenges—and values
“There is a lot of talk about ‘synodality’ in the Catholic church these days. Synodality refers to a process in which bishops and priests consult with lay Catholics about issues in the church. In 2021, Pope Francis called for the ‘Synod on Synodality’… The Catholic Church is often assumed to look and feel the same everywhere. But Catholicism is culturally quite diverse. The most public disagreement involves African Catholics and those in the United States and Europe. For example, Ghanaian Catholic bishops have criticized advocates for LGBTQ rights for imposing ‘their so-called values and beliefs.’ Other African bishops have said they feel betrayed by liberal sentiments in European Catholicism, such as the push to allow Holy Communion for divorced church members.” By Mathew Schmalz, America: The Jesuit Review

Personal reflections on the synod on synodality
“Over the centuries, men and women religious have practiced synodality through chapters, community meetings, and conversation groups to prepare for chapters of elections and affairs, house meetings and more. Decisions are made through prayer, dialogue (sometimes intense), and contemplative discernment to come to a decision or a way forward. The synod handbook, or vademecum, states that ‘Synodal listening is oriented towards discernment. It requires us to learn and exercise the art of personal and communal discernment.’ As religious, we know that synodality and discernment is a way of life … The charism and rule of each institute creates the environment for both synodality and discernment to take place.” By Donna L. Ciangio, National Catholic Reporter

Germany’s synodal assembly ends with far-reaching proposals
“The fourth plenary assembly of Germany’s Synodal Way in Frankfurt has concluded with a series of far-reaching reform resolutions. They concern, for example, the position of women and trans people in the Church, sexual morality, gay priests and the future national leadership structure of the Church. It said all texts involving changes to Church doctrine were formulated as proposals for consideration by the Pope and not as independent dogmatic changes by the German Church.” By CathNews.com

BISHOPS

Finding the bishops we need
“There was considerable excitement in some quarters this summer when Pope Francis appointed three women as members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope for episcopal appointments in much of Latin-rite Catholicism. Whether this innovation will make any significant difference at the final stage of a long, complex process remains to be seen; given the byzantine ways of the Roman Curia (and its boys club atmosphere and dynamics), I have my doubts. But we shall see. In any event, deep reform in the process of selecting bishops in the Latin-rite Church would begin by bringing women, not to mention laymen, into the process at a much earlier stage.” By The Catholic World Report

PRIESTS

The future of the priesthood: Boston College theologians edited book on priestly ministry
“The priesthood is deeply cherished and lies at the heart of Catholic faith and people, but a fresh conversation is needed around the formation of priests in order for ordained ministry to flourish going forward, according to the new book Priestly Ministry and the People of God (Orbis Books), co-edited by three Boston College theologians. Priestly Ministry and the People of God presents a collection of essays from a variety of voices—a cardinal, bishops, seminary rectors, ordained and lay ministers, and academic theologians—who have put forth their best hopes for the future of the priesthood. The essays are faithful to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the best of Catholic tradition, while also responding to the needs of the Church today, say co-editors Richard Gaillardetz, Thomas Groome, and Rev. Richard Lennan.” By Kathleen Sullivan, University Communications, Boston College

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Will religious life rise again – and should it?
“The question this column purports to answer is a clear one: Will religious life rise again? Yes? But is it sensible in this day and age to even think of such a thing? The answer is actually a simple one but a potentially life-changing one at the same time. Several ancient stories long ago illuminated both the purpose and the spirituality of what it means to be a religious. Even now, even here. The first of those stories is from the tales of the desert monastics. One day, Abbot Arsenius was asking an old Egyptian man for advice on something.” By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Two historians track down Jesus’ women disciples
“When you hear the word disciple, what do you think of? Probably the 12 apostles, maybe some of the greater crowd following Jesus in the gospels. A few readers may perhaps picture Mary Magdalene. But overall, our image of the disciples is of a group of men sharing Jesus’ life and listening to his teachings. Joan Taylor and Helen Bond, both professors of Christian origins, decided to challenge this dominant picture of who the disciples were and what they looked like … Instead, Taylor and Bond say that there were just as many women as men in this group. Indeed, it would have been impossible for the gospel to spread as far as it did otherwise.” By U.S. Catholic

Deacons decision on hold
“Top advocate says Rome statement on women deacons won’t come soon. The Vatican is unlikely to make any statement on the possibility of women to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church until after the conclusion of the international bishop’s Synod on Synodality next year, said international expert Dr Phyllis Zagano. Dr Zagano was one of 12 scholars appointed by Pope Francis in 2016 to the commission to study the diaconate as it existed in the early Church to ascertain the possibility of women deacons. The Pope said their research was inconculusivew and in 2020 reconvened a new commission to examine the question.” By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the Church
“ Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the church on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, for an event aptly named “VOTF’s 20th Year Commemoration: 20 Years of Keeping the Faith, Changing the Church.” VOTF’s friends and supporters will gather to pray, learn, plan, and socialize as a community honoring its two-decade commitment. Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., professor of theology and religious education at Boston College and an internationally known author and religious education expert, will offer attendees an interactive keynote address called Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church. “I would like to spark people’s own thoughts about why Catholics often think of Church or Pope or Sacraments as the ‘heart’ of their faith and seldom Jesus,” Groome said.” By Voice of the Faithful on Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

St. Louis Archdiocese releases parish financial data as closures loom
“Catholics across the region can now take a detailed look at their church finances, Mass attendance and school enrollment as the Archdiocese of St. Louis moves to restructure its parishes. The archdiocese released data Thursday on all 178 parishes ahead of hundreds of listening sessions in October and November. At the meetings, parishioners will be shown two to four different models reflecting potential church closures or consolidations. The proposed plan for school closures is expected to be released early in 2023.” By Blythe Bernhard and Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Catholic cardinal calls for an end to celibacy in clergy
“A recent damning report into child sex abuses in the archdiocese of Catholic Cardinal Reinhard Marx in Germany led him to call for the lifting of the celibacy requirement for Catholic priests and Bishops. According to the influential Catholic archbishop of Munich and Freising, many priests would prefer to get married. Last year, a damaging independent report found that 235 people — including 173 priests — sexually abused 497 people between 1945 and 2019 in the Munich and Freising archdiocese.” By CTN News

VOICES

Through study and prayer, it’s not too late to get Vatican II right
“Sixty years ago, on Oct. 11, 1962, Pope St. John XXIII solemnly opened the Second Vatican Council. Addressing the council fathers, he said, ‘The major interest of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred heritage of Christian truth be safeguarded and expounded with greater efficacy.’ Referring to the sweeping political and economic changes that had occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries, John XXIII rejoices that the Church would have the opportunity to return to the essentials of the spiritual life, particularly the instruction of the faithful. Free from ‘worldly fetters that trammeled her in past ages,’ Holy Mother Church had a new opportunity to preach and catechize.” By Father Patrick Briscoe, Our Sunday Visitor

Americans lack confidence in some churches’ abilities to handle sexual-abuse allegatioins
“Three churches have made headlines recently for their alleged roles in covering up claims of sexual abuse. In May, leaders of the country’s largest protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, published a review alleging that reports of sexual abuse were suppressed by top church officials for two decades. In mid-August, Southern Baptist leaders announced that the church is under federal investigation for sexual abuse. Less than two weeks earlier, the Associated Press published an analysis of sealed records from a child sexual-abuse lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as the Mormon church) in West Virginia, revealing how the church’s helpline allows church leaders to divert abuse accusations away from law enforcement and toward church attorneys. The Catholic Church has long faced allegations of sexual abuse by its leaders, which continue to surface; last week, Pope Francis addressed these claims, saying he takes personal responsibility for ending the problem.” By Taylor Orth, Today.YouGov.com

An epic struggle for the soul of Catholicism
“(Author John T.) McGreevy begins his story with the near-death experience of the French Revolution, when a very Catholic country turned with bloodlust on the keepers of the faith. Priests were murdered, convents and monasteries closed, property seized. For a time, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris was renamed the Temple of Reason. Clergy members were required to take an oath of loyalty to the new regime or risk the guillotine. During this period of “dechristianization,” as it was called, the revolutionaries created new calendars, and renamed streets and public squares.” By Timothy Egan, The New York Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

ILLINOIS

Suburban priest Father David Ryan faces allegations of sexual abuse of a minor again
“A suburban priest is facing two allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. The Archdiocese of Chicago has asked Father David Ryan of Lake Zurich to step aside — again — while it conducts an investigation. In a letter Saturday (Sept. 17), Cardinal Blase Cupich called the news “upsetting” and said Ryan has agreed to cooperate. In late 2020 Ryan was asked to step aside amid an investigation into sexual abuse of minors 25 years prior. He was reinstated in 2021.” By CBS-TV2 News

MINNESOTA

Warrant issued for former southern Minnesota priest charged with sexual assault
“A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a former Catholic priest accused of sexually assault, after he missed his first court appearance Thursday (Sept. 8). Winona County District Judge Mary Leahy issued the warrant to hold Ubaldo Roque Huerta, 50, without bail after he failed to show up for the hearing. Roque Huerta is charged with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly performing sexual acts on another person without their consent. Roque Huerta was going through laicization — the process of leaving the priesthood — with the Diocese of Winona-Rochester when he allegedly assaulted a person in December 2020.” By Trey Mewes, Minneapolis Star Tribune

NEW MEXICO

Sex abuse settlement may disrupt plans for new church
“Another parish is feeling the pain of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s $121.5 million settlement in a bankruptcy case that stems from hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. Some congregants at San Isidro Catholic Parish in the village of Agua Fría had been told the parish would be receiving half the proceeds of a land sale to build a new church. But now there are doubts the parish will retain the building funds amid the archdiocese’s efforts to settle its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.” By Daniel J. Chacón, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

New York Archdiocese: ‘Vos estis’ Hubbard records can’t be turned over in sex abuse lawsuit
“The Archdiocese of New York argued in an Albany courtroom on Friday (Sept. 9) that records compiled during a Vatican-ordered investigation into a retired bishop are protected by the First Amendment, and cannot be turned over in response to a subpoena in a sexual abuse lawsuit. The case raises questions about the confidentiality of the Vos estis lux mundi process, promulgated by Pope Francis in 2019 as a mechanism for investigating allegations of abuse or misconduct against bishops.” By The Pillar

Summary judgment closes case against Catholic Diocese of Brownsville
“A state district judge in Cameron County has issued a summary judgment in a case brought against the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville that alleged church officials tried to protect a priest accused in the alleged sexual assault of two siblings. The case had been scheduled for a jury trial Monday (Sept. 12) but was canceled following the summary judgment signed Aug. 25, by 445th state District Judge Gloria Rincones, which closed out the case, court records show. The Brownsville Herald has reached out to the Diocese and the attorney representing the siblings for comment. As of late Monday afternoon, neither have replied to a request seeking comment.” By Laura B. Martinez, The Brownsville Herald

WISCONSIN

Next steps: Recommendations from Awake Milwaukee for our archdiocese
“Sexual abuse is a persistent evil that cannot be eliminated from our Church with limited, one-time interventions. Instead, an effective response requires Catholics to undertake an ongoing journey down two paths. First, we must accompany and support victim-survivors in their pursuit of truth, accountability, and healing. Second, we must work proactively to prevent future abuse. As committed Catholics, we believe that the duty of walking these two paths is not some abstract obligation that belongs to the narrow subset of church officials who are tasked with addressing the abuse crisis in their professional capacities. It is a concrete responsibility that falls on the shoulders of every member of the Body of Christ.” By AwakeMilwaukee.org

AUSTRALIA

‘I needed to step up’: former Surf Coast mayor sues church over alleged abuse
“A police officer and former Surf Coast mayor has launched legal action against the Vincentian order almost 50 years after he was allegedly abused by a priest while boarding at a former Catholic college in Bendigo. Brian McKiterick, 61, has claimed in a writ filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria that he suffered appalling sexual abuse at the hands of Father Murray Wilson, who was the dean of discipline, a maths teacher and football coach at St Vincent’s College.” By Cameron Houston, The Age

CANADA

Moncton archdiocese, insurer reach settlement in lawsuit over sex abuse compensation
“Although the details of the agreement with the Co-operators General Insurance Company are subject to a confidentiality clause, the resulting funds will be used to pay claims for sexual assaults that occurred in the archdiocese between 1955 and 1984, according to a statement issued by Archbishop Valéry Vienneau. ‘The settlement made does involve some compromise, but it provides immediate certainty, particularly in light of advice that the pending court hearing would be put over for another year due to a shortage of judges,’ he said.” By Bobbi-jean MacKinnon, CBC News

Oblates dismiss Rivoire as retired priest denies abuse allegations at meeting with Inuit
“As Inuit delegates from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. prepared to meet with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in France Wednesday (Sept. 14), they had a shock: the man they’ve accused of sexually abusing Canadian children would be there, too. The delegates have been in France all week to call for the extradition of retired priest Johannes Rivoire, who has been charged in Canada with sexual assault dating back to his time in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s. The meeting with Rivoire was one the delegation had sought, but hadn’t received any word about until they were nearly at their destination in Lyon, France.” By April Hudson, CBC News

Acclaimed podcast Stolen spurs lawsuit against estate of dead Catholic priest
“A British Columbia woman claims she was told the late Father Georges Chevrier had no history of the kind of sexual abuse complaints she was bringing forward. Then she listened to an acclaimed podcast titled Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s. Now she’s suing. The woman — known as LV — filed a B.C. Supreme Court claim this week against Chevrier’s estate and the corporation of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, which she accuses of failing to tell her the dead priest had a ‘known history of allegations of sexual abuse’ when she first asked for compensation.” By Jason Proctor, CBC News

Settlement proposed in class action on behalf of victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Halifax and Yarmouth
“A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against the Catholic Dioceses of Halifax and Yarmouth on behalf of victims of sexual assault by Priests. The action was certified as a class proceeding on March 31, 2020. This class action alleges that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Yarmouth are legally liable for sexual abuse committed by their Priests between April 14, 1954 and March 31, 2020. Both sides have agreed to a settlement.” By Yahoo.com

B.C. victim sues estate of priest sex offender and Catholic church officials
“A B.C. man who claims he was one of 17 young men who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest over a period of 25 years is suing the perpetrator’s estate and Catholic Church officials for damages. The victim, who is only identified by initials in the lawsuit, says that while on assignment in and around Terrace in 1981 or 1982, Father Harold Daniel McIntee sexually abused him and two other young men. He says that while staying overnight at the Secret Heart rectory with McIntee, he was experiencing abdominal pain and McIntee asked him to remove his pants to see if he had a swollen testicle.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

FRANCE

Inuit group ‘implores’ France to extradite priest accused of child sex abuse
“A group of Canadian Inuit have come to France to push for the extradition of a retired French priest accused of sexually abusing several Inuit children when he worked as a missionary in the north of Canada more than 40 years ago. The five-person delegation from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI) head to the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday to argue the extradition of Johannes Rivoire – a former Roman Catholic priest who lives at an Oblates nursing home in the southern city of Lyon.” By Allison Hird, rfi.fr

GERMANY

New German study finds Osnabruck Diocese ignored rights of abuse victims
“Church leaders in the northern German Diocese of Osnabrück failed over decades to fulfill their duties in responding to accusations of sexual abuse, according to a study presented by the University of Osnabrück Sept. 19. The German Catholic news agency KNA said the study found that, until recently, officials had neglected to conduct adequate monitoring of clerics after they had been removed from their posts following accusations of abuse. The main area requiring improvement was communication with victims, the project leaders said. In addition, the diocese had been defensive and bureaucratic in its handling of cases and “stingy” in its recognition payments.” By Catholic News Service on TheCentralMinnesotaCatholic.org

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Sexual abuse victims welcome apology from missionaries
“A victim of child sexual abuse at a priest training school has said missionaries ‘begged for forgiveness’ at a meeting. Mark Murray was one of several abuse survivors who met the Comboni Missonaries in London on Tuesday (Sept. 20). The 66-year-old from St Asaph, Denbighshire endured repeated abuse by a priest while at St Peter Claver College in West Yorkshire. The Comboni Survivors Group said it was “deeply moved” by the meeting.” By BBC News

Man who claims he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest settles High Court damages action for €350,000
“A man who claimed he was sexually abused by a Catholic Priest almost 50 years ago has settled his High Court damages action for €350,000. In his judgement on Friday Mr Justice Garrett Simons approved the settlement of the now 60-year-old man personal injuries claim, who currently resides in the UK, against The Sacred Heart Missionary Education Trust and his alleged abuser. The case was settled by the Trust, without an admission of liability by either of the defendants.” By Aodhan O’Faolain, Independent.ie

GUAM

Clergy sex abuse claimants vote on payout plan
“Survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults have a few days left to vote for or against the Archdiocese of Agana’s bankruptcy exit plan, which includes settlement of the abuse claims estimated at $37 million to $101 million. Their ballots must be received by the U.S. District Court of Guam clerk by Sept. 19 to be counted as a vote to accept or reject the disclosure statement, which is the plan to get the archdiocese out of bankruptcy. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood approved the adequacy of the third amended disclosure statement filed on July 19, giving each claimant a chance to be heard by their vote.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Pacific Daily News

Vatican: Questions to pope in Guam clergy abuse case ‘improper’
“The Vatican said judicial inquiries directed to the pope as a head of state are ‘improper,’ after a federal judge ordered the Holy See’s counsel to report on whether Pope Francis could meet with all survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults to help settle abuse claims. Attorneys for the Vatican, led by California-based Jeffrey Lena, also said the Holy See ‘has given no indication that it is currently inclined to settle the case at bar,’ or participate in similar lawsuits. All this is part of an ongoing case filed by a man seeking to hold the Vatican liable for the actions of Guam’s former archbishop, Anthony Apuron, who allegedly raped him when he was a minor student at Father Dueñas Memorial School in 1994-1995.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

Two late clergy sex abuse claims will be accepted
“Two men who were sexually abused by priests as children but filed their claims past the Aug. 15, 2019 deadline will get their full share of the Archdiocese of Agana’s compensation plan. This comes two weeks before a hearing on the archdiocese’s bankruptcy exit plan, a key part of which is paying out hundreds of abuse claimants. In the offer, the archdiocese and its creditors’ committee propose to pay abuse survivors $37 million to $101 million, plus a free burial plot and Catholic education for their children.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilver, Pacific Daily News

INDONESIA

Indonesian Church urged to tackle sexual abuse head-on
“A forum of priests, nuns, laypeople, and activists in Indonesia has urged the Catholic Church hierarchy to tackle sexual abuse head-on and to end the practice of cover-up for the sake of protecting the church’s image. The online discussion was held in collaboration between Let’s Talk About Sex and Sexualities, and Yayasan Sesawi dan Kawal Gereja (Mustard and Church Watchdog Foundation), a lay Catholic group, on Sept. 9. The organizers said the event sought to encourage Church leaders to be serious and proactive in investigating sexual violence within the church, in line with Pope Francis’ commitment to zero tolerance for sex abuse.” By UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former priest accused of breaching sexual offences prevention order
“A former priest who was a serial sex abuser for almost 20 years was yesterday accused of breaching his Sexual Offences Prevention Order. Almost four years to the day since he last appeared in court, Daniel John Curran (72) was charged at Downpatrick Magistrates Court with breaching his lifelong SOPO on August 12 this year. It is alleged that Curran, from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, breached the SOPO in that he ‘remained / loitered at Tullymore National Activity Centre which by its nature is likely to attract or be frequented by children under 16 years without permission of your designated risk manager.’” By The Irish News

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand child abuse survivors call for intervention from Pope Francis
“A New Zealand group representing survivors of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has called on Pope Francis to intervene in the redress process, claiming that church authorities were mishandling it and retraumatizing victims. In a letter sent to the Vatican and seen by Reuters, the New Zealand chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a global organization for child abuse victims, accused church officials in New Zealand of breaching procedures for managing abuse complaint cases.” By Praveen Menon, Reuters

SPAIN

Pope Francis orders new canonical process in abuse case at Opus Dei school in Spain
“The complaints of abuse against the teacher date to 2009 and 2011. After a long judicial process, the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in prison in 2020, but since it was his first conviction and did not exceed a two-year sentence, he wasn’t imprisoned. Bishop Joseba Segura Etxezarraga of Bilbao, Spain, has announced that Pope Francis has ordered a new canonical process for a case of abuse that took place at a school run by the prelature of Opus Dei. The announcement states that the Holy Father was aware in December 2014 of allegations of abuse against José María Martínez Sanz, a numerary member of Opus Dei and a teacher at Gaztelueta School.” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

Ex-priest gets 30 years in prison for child abuse in Spain
“Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday (Sept. 13) sentenced a former priest to 30 years in prison for abusing seven minors at a Catholic boarding school nearly a decade ago when he worked as their tutor. Allegations of child abuse by Catholic clergy and possible cover-ups by the church have surfaced in recent months in Spain, years after similar scandals rocked the Church in other countries such as the United States, Ireland and France.” By Reuters

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Aug. 26, 2022

TOP STORIES

Report: Catholic clergy’s unquestioned – and uneducated – power spurs abuse
“A new report based on interviews with some 300 Catholic priests, nuns and laypeople concludes that clergy aren’t adequately prepared to wield the power they exercise and need more education on questions of sex and gender. The report, ‘Beyond Bad Apples: Understanding Clericalism as a Structural Problem & Cultivating Strategies for Change,’ released Monday (Aug. 15), explores the links between clericalism — clergy’s focus on its authority — and clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse.” By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

In synod reports, U.S. Catholics call for women’s leadership, LGBTQ welcoming
“More than a half million U.S. Catholics have participated in synodal listening sessions over the past year as part of Pope Francis’ two-year process of grassroots listening ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome, and responses indicate that many Americans want a more welcoming church that reaches out to the marginalized, especially the LGBTQ community, and that allows women to serve in leadership positions, including ordained ministry. A review of more than a dozen synodal ‘synthesis’ reports, posted online by dioceses across the country, also indicates that most Catholics are tired of the polarization in the church; believe that clerics need to do a better job communicating and involving the laity in ecclesial governance; and appreciate the opportunity to be heard, even if they harbor misgivings about what the Synod on Synodality will ultimately accomplish.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

South African bishop supports ordaining married men to priesthood to increase access to sacraments
“The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ For at least one South African bishop, this teaching raises concerns about the global and local priest shortage that means some Catholics receive the Eucharist once a month or less. ‘This is where I would enter the debate,’ said Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha Diocese, a rare voice among the African Catholic hierarchy to voice his support for ordaining ‘proven married men’ to the priesthood.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Prominent cardinal named in sexual assault lawsuit against archdiocese of Quebec
“The name of a prominent Vatican cardinal, who is regarded as a potential successor to Pope Francis, appears on a list made public as part of a new class action against the archdiocese of Quebec, Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête has found. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who was the archbishop of Quebec when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was taking place, is among some 88 members of the clergy who are facing allegations of sexual assault. It’s the first time Ouellet’s name appears in the legal proceedings.” By CBC News

ACCOUNTABILITY

Should a member of the clergy report sex abuse of the penitent? A look inside the priest-penitent privilege in all 50 states
“Priests, pastors and bishops from various faiths say both sides of an apparent collision of ideals are sacred to them: protecting children from all forms of abuse, and keeping confessions confidential so penitents feel safe and motivated to acknowledge and stop their sinful — and sometimes criminal — behavior. The tension between doctrines about confessions and the impulse to protect children through mandatory reporting laws raises important legal, societal and religious questions about how religious leaders try to focus on and prioritize rescuing victims of abuse while also providing spiritual help to the person who has confessed.” By Tad Walch, Deseret News

Can the Catholic Church claim immunity from abuse lawsuits because it is a charity?
“When a man in Springfield sued the Catholic Church over abuse he said he suffered at the hands of a bishop in the 1960s, the church tried to use a now-abolished law to claim it cannot be sued because of its status as a nonprofit organization. GBH News legal analyst and Northeastern University Law Professor Daniel Medwed joined Morning Edition hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel to talk about how the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in that case, along with a few other summer rulings.” By Paris Alston, Jeremy Siegel and Daniel Medwed

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

In Asia and the Amazon, the synod gives voice to Catholics on the margins
“You have probably heard a lot about the synodal process in Germany, where, depending on whom you ask, everything is proceeding as planned or the Catholic world is about to implode, and you may be following the process in the United States or just in your home diocese. It is likely, however, that you have heard a great deal less about what the ‘synod on synodality’ has so far meant in other parts of the world. As the diocesan phase of the synod ended on Aug. 15, America touched base with some well-informed sources for insight into how the synod has gone so far in the Amazon region and Asia.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Whose voices will be heard?
“It’s the Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m on the wooded campus of Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, to learn how to listen. The all-male Saint John’s has a partner school six miles away, the women’s College of Saint Benedict. I’d been up here a few weeks before to walk around St. Benedict’s ‘brother campus’ with a girlfriend. We both had some loose ties to the place but still felt like outsiders visiting as we walked around on our own, lamenting the structural inequalities and other issues that can make it hard to see ourselves remaining part of the Church.” By Gabriella Wilke, Commonweal

How to make the church synodal? Inclusion, say respondents in three countries.
“Catholics on two different continents want more inclusion — including of women and LGBTQ Catholics — more adult faith formation and help with engaging young adults. The Vatican set a deadline of Aug. 15 for dioceses and Eastern Catholic churches to release syntheses of the listening sessions set up as part of preparation for the 2023 Synod of Bishops on synodality.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

I reviewed all of my diocese’s synod responses. Three missing elements could point the way forward for the church.
“As one of the coordinators of our archdiocesan consultation process for the Synod on Synodality in Chicago, I faced the daunting task of going through a foot-high stack of papers that represented the voices of many people. I read and eventually tried to synthesize everything that had been submitted. In the process, I gained a deeper understanding of synodality as well as a sense of the tasks and challenges that face us in the church.” By Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review

Campaigners hope report sent to Vatican will result in radical reform of Church in Ireland
“Campaigners for reform of the Catholic Church in Ireland are hoping a landmark report sent to the Vatican will help bring about radical change to an institution they see as increasingly out of touch. Advocates for change within the church are hopeful the report advocates for major reform on the role of women, the ability of priests to marry, and a greater recognition of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Pope Francis called a Universal Synod last year which — for the first time — aimed to gather feedback at all levels of the Church in every parish on its future.” By Conor Carplis, Irish Examiner

Swiss bishops’ Synod report: Catholic Church denies equality to women and excludes LGBT people
“On Monday (Aug. 15), the Swiss Bishops’ Conference published a document for the upcoming Synod on Synodality in Rome reporting the Catholic Church was seen as suffering from clericalism —as well as ‘denying equality to women’ and excluding ‘people with LGBTQ identity.’ ‘Several official church positions on the role of women in church and society, on sexuality and lifestyles are perceived as pejorative and exclusionary,’ the Swiss report said according to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

Synod reports from around the world raise clericalism, women as issues
“More than a year ago, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, an initiative to take the pulse of the Catholic Church. U.S. Catholics have been mostly silent about this effort, but in several countries, including Australia, France, England and Wales, and Germany, things are moving full steam ahead. Two major problems have come up time and time again: clericalism and the place of women in the Church. If you haven’t heard much about this effort, which completes its first phase this summer, you are not alone.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Synod report details US bishops’ avoidance of church teaching on creation care
“The story starts off simple enough. A woman starts a social justice group at her Catholic parish. During one particular meeting, she begins to talk about ‘Laudato Si,’ on Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on ecology. But she was quickly cut off. ‘We shouldn’t rock the boat,’ she said her pastor told her, as he felt the papal teaching document, the first ever devoted entirely to issues of the environment and humanity’s relationship with the rest of the created world, was too controversial.” By Brian Rowe, EarthBeat, National Catholic Reporter

Australian synthesis for global Synod of Bishops published
“Catholics in Australia have expressed a strong need for a Church that is missionary and a Eucharistic community that is inclusive, the national synthesis for the global Synod on Synodality reveals. The Australian synthesis, which emerged from a nine-month process that began in October 2021, draws from the diocesan consultation phase for the Synod of Bishops. Earlier this year, Australian dioceses published a report on the findings of their local consultation – a process that every diocese around the world undertook. The National Centre for Pastoral Research prepared the national synthesis based on those diocesan reports.” By CathNews.com

‘Too harsh’ and ‘out of step’: Survey finds NJ Catholic want a more inclusive church
“Thousands of New Jersey Catholics gathered over the past year in an unprecedented series of meetings designed to help steer the future of the church. The consensus, officials say, was clear: The Catholic Church needs to open its arms more to women, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and others who feel marginalized by the faith. The desire for more inclusivity was a major theme in discussions with 16,000 parishioners in four of New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses, according to summaries released recently by each diocese. While responses varied widely, many at the listening sessions said they too often feel unwelcome. Participants also cited distress at the church’s handling of the clergy abuse scandal.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

Conservative criticism of synodality suggests Pope Francis’ process might be working
“A recent article about synodality at First Things magazine by Francis Maier, the longtime amanuensis to former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, displays a rhetorical trick that has become a staple of some conservative political operatives and their media hangers-on: Focus on your opponent’s strength, and muddy the waters by claiming it is really his or her weakness. The attack is noteworthy because the opponent Maier has selected is Pope Francis.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope wants dialogue with bishops about the church’s ministries
“Fifty years have passed since St. Paul VI instituted the ministries of lector and acolyte, opening them to the laity, and Pope Francis wants a formal ‘dialogue’ with the world’s bishops’ conferences to discuss their experiences with the ongoing promotion of the church’s ministries so they foster unity and evangelization. The pope made the proposal for dialogue in a message published by the Vatican Aug. 24 and dated Aug. 15 — the 50th anniversary of his predecessor’s apostolic letter, ‘Ministeria quaedam.’ That document from 1972 determined that ‘minor orders’ be called ‘ministries’ and that these ministries — lector and acolyte — be open to laymen and no longer reserved only to candidates for ordination.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Newest U.S. cardinal: a San Diego-based ally of Pope Francis
“When San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy receives his prestigious red hat at the Vatican on Saturday (Aug. 27), he will bring to the College of Cardinals a fervent loyalty to Pope Francis that has often put him at odds with the conservative majority in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. McElroy, 68, is the only American among the 21 clerics being installed as cardinals by Francis in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica. He was chosen over numerous higher-ranking American archbishops, including two from his home state — outspoken conservative Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and José Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.” By David Cray, Associated Press

Reform of Vatican Curia to be considered at meeting of cardinals
“When the world’s cardinals meet in Rome beginning Saturday (Aug. 27), Pope Francis will create 21 new cardinals, then ask them and their new colleagues in the College of Cardinals to discuss his plans for reforming the Vatican Curia, the bureaucracy that helps him govern the Catholic Church. This will give the cardinals a chance to say what they like or dislike about the operations of the Curia and the recent reforms Francis has instituted. It will also give them a chance to get to know one another in preparation for the conclave to elect a new pope when Francis dies — or retires.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Carinal at the center of Vatican trial claims he has been ‘reinstated’ by Pope
“The Italian cardinal at the center of a historic Vatican trial about corruption and mismanagement, said on Sunday that Pope Francis had invited him to the consistory for the creation of 21 new cardinals, to be held on Saturday, Aug. 27, in Rome. ‘On Saturday, the pope phoned me to tell me that I will be reinstated in my cardinal duties and to ask me to participate in a meeting with all the cardinals that will be held in the coming days in Rome,’ Cardinal Angelo Becciu reportedly said Sunday (Aug. 21), during a private Mass celebrated before a group of faithful in Italy’s Golfo Aranci, where he is vacationing.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Report on Cologne cardinal’s PR strategy prompts renewed controversy
“A recent report on the public relations strategy used by Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki during a clerical sex abuse scandal has provoked renewed controversy, even after the cardinal’s March return from his six-month sabbatical initiated by Pope Francis, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. Tim Kurzbach, president of the Diocesan Council of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cologne, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper Aug. 15 the cardinal should take another, longer sabbatical. ‘I hope that someone will now soon take responsibility in the interests of the people in the Archdiocese of Cologne,’ Kurzbach said.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

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

VATICAN

Reform of Vatican Curia to be considered at meeting of cardinals
“When the world’s cardinals meet in Rome beginning Saturday (Aug. 27), Pope Francis will create 21 new cardinals, then ask them and their new colleagues in the College of Cardinals to discuss his plans for reforming the Vatican Curia, the bureaucracy that helps him govern the Catholic Church. This will give the cardinals a chance to say what they like or dislike about the operations of the Curia and the recent reforms Francis has instituted. It will also give them a chance to get to know one another in preparation for the conclave to elect a new pope when Francis dies — or retires.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH REFORM

Packed program, heated debate await Synodal Path plenary participants
“Participants will face a packed agenda and heated debate at the upcoming fourth plenary assembly of the Synodal Path reform project on the future of the Catholic Church in Germany. At their meeting Sept. 8-10 in Frankfurt, the approximately 230 delegates will discuss 14 papers. These include texts on church sexual morality, the role of priests, the participation of women and the mandatory celibacy of Catholic priests. Another text advocates the establishment of a synodal council in the Catholic Church in Germany. Made up of bishops and laypeople, it would be a permanent ‘advisory and decision-making body.’ That and other plans discussed in the Synodal Path have encountered strong opposition from more conservative Catholics and are also being viewed critically in the Vatican.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Pope Francis instructs Vatican entities to move all funds to Vatican bank by Sept. 30
“Pope Francis has ordered that the Holy See and connected entities move all financial assets to the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican bank. The pope’s rescript, issued Aug. 23, clarifies the interpretation of a paragraph in the new constitution of the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium, promulgated in March. According to Francis’ rescript, financial and liquid assets held in banks other than the IOR must be moved to the Vatican bank within 30 days of Sept. 1, 2022.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Opinion: Still no progress on statute of limitations reform for sex abuse victims
“Three years ago, the Rev. Geoffrey Drew was arrested on nine counts of child rape, and local parents still see no efforts to protect their children. At the time, Drew was the pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Green Township, which gave him superintendent-like authority over the largest parochial elementary school in Ohio. After his arrest, we learned that Archdiocese of Cincinnati employees were aware of Drew’s three decades-long and three Ohio countywide pattern of red flag behavior with children.” By Teresa Dinwiddie-Hermann, The Cincinnati Enquirer

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

The healing and causes of childhood sexual abuse
“There are few people in the world or in the Philippines who have not been physically, verbally, psychologically or sexually hurt and abused in their childhood. They have been emotionally damaged, and they carry the hurt and do not totally forget it. They are the brave victims/survivors — children and adults — of human family life. Their parents are likely to have been abused also and vented their pain and anger onto their children. The cycle of domestic violence and child abuse continues into the next generation.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times

MASSACHUSETTS

Advocate for victims of clergy abuse plans demonstration in North Attleboro
“The co-founder of a group that advocates for victims of clergy abuse is planning a demonstration and a call for ‘transparency’ Friday (Aug. 12) in the case of a local Catholic pastor suspended while being investigated for alleged misconduct. The allegations against the Rev. Rodney Thibault do not involve a minor, the Diocese of Fall River has said, but that’s not enough for Robert M. Hoatson, president of the New Jersey-based group Road to Recovery.” By The Sun Chronicle

MINNESOTA

Former Minnesota priest charged with sexual assault
“A former Catholic priest is accused of sexually assaulting another person in Winona County in December 2020. Ubaldo Roque Huerta, 50, of Rushmore, Minn., was charged last week in Winona County District Court with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly performing sexual acts on a victim without their consent. His first court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 8.” By Trey Mewes, Minneapolis Star Tribune

NEW JERSEY

Bergen priest accused of sexual misconduct is reassigned to Newark with inquire closed
“A Catholic priest who stepped aside from his Westwood church four years ago amid sexual assault allegations has reemerged at a church resource center in Newark that serves abuse victims, pregnant women and other vulnerable populations. The Rev. Jim Weiner, who took a leave of absence from the Church of St. Andrew in 2018 amid decades-old allegations, has been reassigned to the Mercy House in Newark, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark confirmed this week. The archdiocese said an investigation into the accusations against Weiner had closed, but it offered no further details.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

OHIO

‘I was a wreck’: Former Cincinnati priest’s rape victim shares his story of pain recovery and hope
“After living in a ‘hell’ created by the Catholic music minister who raped him more than 30 years ago, Paul Neyer told police in July 2019 that he was ready to file criminal charges against his rapist, Geoff Drew, who had become pastor of one of the Cincinnati area’s largest parishes. ‘I felt like I had an obligation to protect kids,’ Neyer told the WCPO 9 I-Team. Based on Neyer’s emotional testimony, a Hamilton County Grand Jury indicted Drew on 9 counts of rape. If convicted, there was a chance Drew would live the rest of his life in prison.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Sex abuse case against retired priest dropped by Allegheny Count DA’s office
“The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday (Aug. 9) withdrew charges against a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy in 2001. The paperwork dismissing the case against the Rev. Hugh Lang, 92, said it was being done in the best interest of the alleged victim. Lang was a priest at St. Therese in Munhall when police said he abused the boy. Authorities charged Lang in 2019 with indecent assault, indecent exposure, corruption of minors and attempted aggravated indecent assault.” By Paula Reed Ward, TribLive.com

Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg announces agreement I principle on final settlement with sex abuse survivors
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg said Thursday (Aug. 11) it has reached an agreement to settle any still-pending historic child sex abuse claims lodged against its priests or other church personnel as part of a plan to end the diocese’s Chapter 11 reorganization under federal bankruptcy laws. Final terms of the settlement were not immediately available Thursday night, including the total cost of all payments to creditors. PennLive’s attempts to reach attorneys for both the church and its creditor committee were not immediately successful.” By Charles Thompson, Patriot-News, on PennLive.com

RHODE ISLAND

Ongoing coverage of the Catholic Church, misconduct, and abuse by clergy in Rhode Island
“State prosecutors are conducting a 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. Read Globe Rhode Island’s ongoing coverage of the Catholic Church, misconduct, and abuse by clergy.” By The Boston Globe

UTAH

Two Utah lawmakers seek to end ‘clergy exception’ to child abuse reporting
“Two Utah lawmakers have asked legislative attorneys to draft bills seeking to end the ‘clergy exception’ to required child abuse reporting. Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, and Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, have each opened bill files to be considered during the Utah Legislature’s 2023 general session. In 2020, Romero introduced HB90, seeking to eliminate the clergy exception in state statute. The bill was numbered and introduced but was held in the House Rules Committee. The two plan to work cooperatively during the next legislative session, Romero said.” By Marjorie Cortez, Deseret News

ARGENTINA

Victim of Bisop Zanchetta: ‘Don’t turn your back on us; we didn’t deserve such treatment’
“A former seminarian and victim of the bishop emeritus of Oran, Argentina, Gustavo Zanchetta — who was sentenced to prison for sexual abuse in Argentina — asked the Catholic Church not to turn its back on him. On Aug. 12, ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, interviewed G.C., a 28-year-old former seminarian and one of Zanchetta’s victims, after the bishop was allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest in July.” By Walter Sanchez Silva, Catholic News Agency

AUSTRALIA

Australian court rules family of deceased choirboyt can sue Catholic church
“A Victorian judge has dismissed a claim by lawyers for the Catholic church that they were not liable to pay compensation to the father of a choirboy who alleged he had been sexually abused by Cardinal George Pell. The father of a deceased former choirboy is suing Pell and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, claiming he suffered psychological injury after learning his son had allegedly been sexually abused by Pell. Justice Michael McDonald ruled in the Victorian supreme court on Wednesday that legislation passed in 2018 that was designed to prevent unincorporated organisations – such as religious organisations – from relying on a legal technicality to avoid civil lawsuits applied to the father’s case.” By Nino Bucci, Australian Associated Press, in The Guardian

Ex-Catholic brother faces abuse charges
“A boy rejected attempts by a Catholic brother to tuck him into bed during a home prayer meeting thinking it was ‘weird and strange,’ a court has been told. But prosecutors allege the boy’s brother was indecently treated by Frank Terrence Keating the same night. The alleged victim and family members testified in the 79-year-old former Catholic brother’s committal hearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday (Auf. 15). Keating is charged with 18 counts that include indecent dealing, indecent treatment and carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.” By Cheryl Goodenough, Brisbane Times

CANADA

Clergy sex abuse blogger decides to shut down ‘Syliva’s Site’
“An Ottawa woman who has devoutly catalogued the clergy sexual abuse scandal in Canada for more than a decade has decided to shut down her encyclopedic blog known as Sylvia’s Site. In a recent post, Sylvia MacEachern said she will no longer update the site or allow people to post comments because of concerns that she ‘may be doing more harm than good.’ MacEachern, a practising Catholic, said she has been deeply pained to see “diocese after diocese” forced to sell off churches to settle victims’ damage claims.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

Quebec priest names in sexual assault lawsuit
“The archdiocese of Quebec removed a priest accused of sexual assault from his post in April of this year, just months after an alleged victim filed an official complaint against him. But court documents from a new civil lawsuit against the archdiocese show at least one parish official knew of allegations against him more than four years earlier. Details of the allegations against Léopold Manirabarusha were made public Tuesday (Aug. 16) in a class action that represents more than 100 victims. Some 88 members of the clergy are named in the lawsuit.” By Emilie Warren, CBC News

Canada discharged Catholic entities from $25M promise for residential schools: document
“Canada agreed to ‘forever discharge’ Catholic entities from their promise to raise $25 million for residential school survivors and also picked up their legal bill, a final release document shows. The Canadian Press obtained a signed copy of the 2015 agreement through federal Access-to-Information laws, marking what appears to be the first time the document has been widely publicized. ‘That’s a very, very important set of records,’ said Ry Moran, an associate librarian at the University of Victoria and founding director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.” By Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Retired Canadian priest pleads guilty to sexual assault
“A retired priest pleaded not guilty Wednesday (Aug. 17) in a Canadian court to a sexual assault that allegedly occurred more than 50 years ago at an Indian Residential School. Arthur Masse, 92, who was not in the courtroom, entered the plea through his lawyer, George Green. The indecent assault involves a 10-year-old girl who was a student at Fort Alexander residential school in the province of Manitoba. Sexual and indecent assault are the same charge in Canada.” By aa.com.tr, Anadolu Agency

Former Chilliwack Catholic priest accused of raping boy in the 1970s
“Duncan Goguillot’s name appeared in the pages of The Chilliwack Progress dozens of times from the 1970s to the year 2000. He was a priest for a decade at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He coached boys basketball in the ’70s, he served as the Chilliwack Community Arts Council co-ordinator in the 1980s, and for 15 years from 1993 to 2008, Goguillot was MP Chuck Strahl’s campaign manager. But allegations are being made that the Catholic priest has some extremely dark secrets.” By Paul Henderson, Mission City Record

COLOMBIA

Colombia bishops approve new safeguarding guidelines
“During their general assembly, Colombia’s bishops approved a new set of guidelines for the protection of minors. One of the lay experts behind the text, Ilva Hoyos, said it is a recognition by the bishops that they need a new perspective, ‘centered not in discipline but culture of care.’ ‘The adoption of the new guidelines is another step forward in the path of abuse prevention,’ said Hoyos, the former Colombian attorney general for children, adolescents and family. ‘In the culture of care, everyone is responsible. In our condition as people of God, we must act charitably and in synodality.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

COSTA RICA

Catholic Church is sentenced to pay 65 million colones ($102,558.00) for moral damages
“The Civil Court of the First Judicial Circuit of San José sentenced the Episcopal Conference and Archbishop José Rafael Quirós to pay ¢65 million colones ($102,558.00) for moral damages to the victim of sexual abuse by the former priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano. Catholic Church priest Mauricio Víquez, accused of sexual crimes, directed the parish of Patarrá de Desamparados between 1996 and 2003. The victim’s lawyer, Rodolfo Alvarado, confirmed the information, saying there are still two more lawsuits against the Catholic Church for acts attributed to the former priest. Alvarado pointed out that the Catholic Church was involved in a cover-up by not taking action when the complaints were made against the former priest.” By QCostaRica.com

INDIA

Kerala: Catholic priest arrested for abusing minor boy
“Kerala police, on Sunday (Aug. 14), said they have arrested a Catholic priest for allegedly molesting a minor boy. The arrest of Paravur native Father Joseph Kodiyan (63) was made based on a complaint lodged by the boy’s parents on Saturday, said the police. Kodiyan is a priest at a church near Varapuzha, where the alleged abuse took place.” By TheWeek.in

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Archbishop of Tuam describes clerical child aabuse as ‘darkest place in our Catholic story’
“Abuse of children by priests was addressed ‘clearly, directly and very movingly’ in the synthesis report sent to Rome last week by the Irish Catholic Church, people attending the novena at Knock were told on Monday. ‘The darkest place in our Catholic story is clerical and institutional abuse,’ said Archbishop of Tuam Francis Duffy in a homily during Mass in the Basilica. In the synthesis report ‘it is referred to as an ‘open wound’ that was concealed by the church for so long. Those who participated in the synodal preparations identified a sense of loss, anger, betrayal, estrangement, in addition to the deeply personal and living sense of hurt. There is also a clear desire for healing,’ he said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

MALTA

Marsaxlokk parish priest ‘misappropriated’ tens of thousands on porn sites
“Marsaxlokk parish priest Luke Seguna is believed to have spent nearly €150,000 of parishioners’ money on pornographic websites as he faces accusations of money laundering in court. Sources close to the investigation told Times of Malta that Seguna was accused of misappropriating parishioners’ donations and used large volumes on the sites that provide live sex shows by performing artists against a fee. It is understood that this went on for several years.” By Ivan Martin, Times Malta

NEW ZEALAND

‘We will die first’ – religious abuse survivors speak up after exclusion from government payouts
“Some sexual abuse survivors fear they may die before receiving any compensation after the government excluded them from a scheme to make rapid payouts to elderly and terminally-ill survivors. Public Services Minister Chris Hipkins has revealed plans to cut a 3000-strong waiting list of abuse claimants of abuse in state care – such as children’s homes – by making “rapid payments”. Survivors of abuse in religious settings, such as Catholic schools, the Salvation Army and the Exclusive Brethren are not included.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff

POLAND

Polish church official: state commission can’t access abuse documents
“A Polish Catholic official defended the church’s record in tackling sexual abuse by priests, after the head of the State Commission on Pedophilia complained it was refused access to clerical files. ‘This commission’s rights and competences, as established by law, do not include access to church documents — under current procedures, it must request this from the Holy See,’ said Father Piotr Studnicki, director of the Polish bishops’ Child and Youth Protection Office.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

PORTUGAL

Portugal abuse commission calls victims to testify
“An independent commission investigating sexual abuse in Portugal’s Catholic Church urged more victims to submit testimonies, especially during summer home visits by citizens living abroad. ‘In our work as a voice in the silence, we continue appealing to all adults who may have been victims as children,’ said the commission’s chairman, Pedro Strecht. ‘We make the same request to all members of the church who can spread this message as they consider appropriate, such as in homilies or on parish door notices.’” By Catholic News Service on UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Aug. 12, 2022

TOP STORIES

Detroit Catholic bishop halts public ministry after accusation he sexually assaulted boy
“A lawsuit filed this week alleges a Catholic bishop in Detroit who previously was a Vatican ambassador sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy 25 times decades ago in Massachusetts. According to the suit filed Monday (Aug. 1) in Boston, Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, 63, currently one of five auxiliary bishops in the Archdiocese of Detroit, raped the boy while Russell was a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston from 1989 to 1990. Pope Francis appointed Russell, formerly the Vatican’s ambassador to Turkey and Taiwan, to be a Detroit bishop in May and he assumed office last month.” By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

Portugal launches inquiries into alleged Catholic Church sexual abuse
“Portuguese prosecutors said on Thursday (Jul.28) they have launched 10 inquiries into alleged child sexual abuse by Catholic Church clergy, the first such move since a commission was created seven months ago to investigate accusations. A commission investigating child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the Iberian nation has collected around 350 testimonies since it started its work in January. It has said that number was ‘just the tip of the iceberg.’” By Catarina Demony, Reuters

Group’s report card shows many dioceses failing in financial transparency
“Before Voice of the Faithful prepared a report on diocesan finance councils, it gave dioceses a heads-up that it would be working on such a report and what it would be looking for when it visited the dioceses’ websites. The Massachusetts-based organization sent letters to diocesan bishops and chief financial officers of the 176 U.S. Latin-rite dioceses. Despite the advance notice, only 18 of the 176 dioceses got a grade of 60% or better — what the Voice of the Faithful considered a passing grade when it released the report July 13.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on AngelusNews.com

German Catholics want expanded lay roles, greater tolerance for dissent
“In a new report summarizing the conclusions of a national consultation process among German Catholics, the country’s bishops state a desire for greater inclusion in the church of women and laypeople generally, as well as those who disagree on certain moral teachings. Titled ‘For a synodal Church – community, participation and mission,’ the report summarizes the conclusions of the German bishops’ conference’s ‘Synodal Path’ sent to the Synod of Bishops in Rome, ahead of a Synod of Bishops on Synodality at the Vatican next year.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Is threat of schism between the German bishops and the Vatican real?
“The Vatican is concerned with ideas coming from Germany to reform the Catholic Church. On July 21, a statement was published through official channels of the Holy See warning Germany’s ‘Synodal Path’ reform project against breaking with the universal church. Tensions are rising between Germany and Rome. Is the threat of schism real? First of all: No. Germany does not want to split with the Catholic Church. However, tensions seem higher than they ever have been before.” By Renardo Schlegelmilch, National Catholic Reporter

Church must undergo profound reform to survive, says French sociologist
“The Catholic Church may be at a turning point in its history, believes Danièle Hervieu-Léger, a leading French sociologist on religion. To survive in secularized Western societies, the institution will have to reform itself, she says. In a new book with fellow sociologist Jean-Louis Schlegel that came out this past spring, ‘Vers l’implosion? Entretiens sur le présent et l’avenir du catholicisme (‘Toward Implosion: Interviews on the Present and the Future of Catholicism’), she dissects the causes of the current model and suggests possible changes. The book has been generally well received in France.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Two-year-old lawsuit accusing Theodore McCarrick of repeatedly raping boy still pending in New Jersey
“One of the more graphic sexual abuse lawsuits against former cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick is still pending in New Jersey after the parties recently failed to settle the nearly two-year-old case, court filings show. The civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark in September 2020, accuses McCarrick of raping and sexually assaulting an unnamed adolescent boy on more than 50 occasions from 1985 to 1990. The lawsuit also names the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen as defendants, alleging that they failed to protect the boy from McCarrick while he led those New Jersey dioceses.” By Shannon Mullen, Catholic News Agency

Vatican’s reprimand falls disappointingly short
“The Vatican’s belated and inadequate reprimand of now-retired Yakima Bishop Carlos Sevilla shows that some church leaders still struggle to grasp the seriousness and complexity of the problem of clergy sexual abuse. It also shows that they feel little obligation to be transparent enough to reassure the community that local parishes are safe and that the church stands ready to hold clergy accountable for any misdeeds. Even now. Even after the church has had to answer for thousands of clergy around the world who’ve been plausibly accused of abusing young boys and girls over the years.” By Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial Board

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

‘Synodal spirit is alive in Africa,’ say speakers at major theological summit
“An old African proverb says that ‘until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.’ A second gathering of the Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society and Pastoral Life, which took place in Nairobi in July, showed that the lions are not only writing their own history now, but they are shaping their future — and also that of the global Catholic Church. In 1900, an estimated 2 million Catholics lived on the African continent. Today, that number stands at about 236 million.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Catholics’ reports on the state of the Church are in. Here’s what they have to say.
“More than a year ago, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, an initiative to take the pulse of the Catholic Church. The U.S. Catholics have been mostly silent about this effort, but in several countries, including Australia, France, England and Wales, and Germany, things are moving full steam ahead. Two major problems have come up time and time again: clericalism and the place of women in the Church. If you haven’t heard much about this effort, which completes its first phase this summer, you are not alone.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis is right. The Catholic Church cannot go backwards.
“During his press conference on the plane returning to Rome from Canada, Pope Francis made a remark about so-called traditionalists that rankled some conservative Catholics and confused others. ‘A church that does not develop its thinking in an ecclesial way is a church that goes backward,’ the pope said. ‘That is the problem of many today who claim to be traditionalists. They are not traditionalists, they are ‘backwardists.’ Tradition is the root of inspiration in order to go forward in the church.’ The operative word here, of course, is not ‘traditionalists’ or ‘backwardist,’ although the latter is expressive and accurate. The key word is ‘ecclesial.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Pope: Canadian residential schools were cultural ‘genocide’
“Pope Francis agreed Saturday (Jul. 30) that the attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run residential school system amounted to a cultural ‘genocide.’ Speaking to reporters while en route home from Canada, Francis said he didn’t use the term during his trip to atone for the Catholic Church’s role in the schools because it never came to mind. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined in 2015 that the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes and placement in the residential schools to assimilate them constituted a ‘cultural genocide.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CARDINALS

Another red hat for a McCarrick ally
“Four years have passed since Theodore McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals. We are still coping with the aftershocks of the scandal he caused. Moreover—the reason I write about this subject today—we are still coping with the clerical system that allowed that scandal to fester unchecked for so many years … Since that time, Pope Francis has named five bishops from the US to the College of Cardinals. Barring a dramatic last-minute change, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego will soon join Cardinals Cupich, Tobin, Farrell, and Gregory. All five have had close connections with McCarrick.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org

BISHOPS

Bishop Libasci sex abuse lawsuit stalled over bankruptcy
“The New York lawsuit filed last year that accuses New Hampshire’s Bishop Peter Libasci of sexually abusing a child in the 1980s is stalled in court, with nothing happening in the case since it was filed last July. The reason for the inaction is the more than 500 other claims of abuse lodged against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre. The diocese filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2020, which put a halt on all the potential abuse lawsuits.” By Damien Fisher, InDepthNH.org

Bishop accused in lawsuit of abusing child in Lynn, Massachusetts, parish decades ago
“A former parishioner at a Massachusetts church has filed a lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused as a child more than 30 years ago by a Roman Catholic priest who is now an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The plaintiff, identified in court documents as John Doe No. 12, was a 12-year-old parishioner at Saint Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Lynn in 1989 and 1990 when he was sexually assaulted about 25 times by Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Boston.” By WCVB-TV5 News

PRIESTS

It isn’t just the priest’s fault: Six tips for lay people for a better homily experience
“Media outlets frequently publish reports of new surveys, showing how dissatisfied Catholics are with their homilies. The approval ratings are always significantly lower than the parallel Protestant ones. The primary persons to blame for this situation are Catholic preachers, and rightly so. Then the usual suspects are lined up as the causes of their poor performance: inadequate seminary training, insufficient preparation time, preachers being out of touch with the ‘real world’ and unable to address women’s perspectives. These are real problems that need to be addressed.” By Terrance Klein, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN’S VOICES

Pope’s recent appointment of women is too little, too late
“Administrative tinkering to Vatican bureaucracy is hardly the stuff of stop-the-presses headlines, but Pope Francis’ recent naming of three women to the office that helps select bishops around the world is certainly more substantive than changing the office’s name from ‘congregation’ to ‘dicastery.’ On July 13, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had named two religious sisters —Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Raffaella Petrini and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Sr. Yvonne Reungoat — and a laywoman, Maria Lia Zervino, as members of the Dicastery for Bishops. The appointments were made just over a week after the pope had told a Vatican journalist of his plans.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

In Chile, five women lead the Church’s anti-clerical abuse campaign
“Experts have long said that, in order to fully address clerical sexual abuse, the laity has to get involved. In Santiago, Chile, devastated like few others after the fall of several highly respected priests and two consecutive archbishops accused of cover-up, this tactical change is spearheaded by five women. Andrea Idalsoaga heads the Pastoral Office for the Reception of Allegations of the Archdiocese of Santiago. She was called in when the office was created, after being a judge of the National Ecclesial Tribunal for 16 years.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Chile’s Catholics see chasm separating hierarchy from increasingly hostile laity
“To put it mildly, the Catholic Church in Chile has a big problem. Chilean Catholics describe a giant chasm between the hierarchy, which some church-watchers describe as elite and out of touch, and an increasingly incredulous and hostile laity. Without a real effort of both parties to bridge the gap, these same experts fear the church will never regain its once honored place in the country. One striking place the strain is showing up is in the numbers.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CHILD PROTECTION

Former FBI child sex abuse expert on what parents should know about ‘grooming’
“A former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) expert on child abuse — and ‘grooming’ — said there are a number of steps parents can take if they have concerns their children could be in danger. On Monday (Aug.7), GoLocal unveiled that priest Eric Silva had been reassigned to a Narragansett church after being removed from two other churches earlier in the year for asking children ‘inappropriate questions’ about sex … Kenneth Lanning, who was a special agent with the FBI for more than 30 years and has worked as a consultant in the area of crimes against children, said that while some behaviors of adults interacting with children might not rise to the level of criminality, there are steps parents can take if they believe their child is potentially being ‘groomed’ for abuse.” By GoLocalProv.com

VATICAN

Vatican enlists influencers to get young, disenchanted Catholics to answer Synod survey
“Last fall, Catholics around the world began gathering in church basements and school gyms to, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say.’ These listening sessions were the first phase of the two-year-long Synod on Synodality that will end in 2023 when the bishops meet to chew over what they’ve learned. Now that parishes have recorded testimony from the faithful and compiled it in official reports, the Vatican is sending the message that they want to hear from those they may have missed – young or inactive Catholics who failed to show up at the parish meetings.” By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Warning by archbishop on future of Catholic Church in Ireland
“Where the Catholic Church in Ireland is concerned ‘the one certainty is the ongoing and sustained decline both in the numbers who practice and in the numbers of those who answer the Lord’s call to priesthood and religious life,’ Archbishop of Tuam Francis Duffy has said. ‘All trends are dramatically downwards with no turning point in sight. I suggest you look at your priest, he may be the last in a long line of resident pastors and may not be replaced,’ he said. ‘I suggest you look at your church, you may be lucky to have a Sunday Mass or several, but for how much longer? I suggest you look at your fellow parishioners at Mass, who among your neighbors will continue to be the new leaders and carry on pastoral work in your parish, alongside a much smaller number of clergy? Who among them will lead prayer services and keep faith alive and active through catechesis and other initiatives?’ he said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Roman stunner: More or less, the Vatican tells the truth about its money
“If you were listening closely this week, your ears may have picked up a subterranean rumbling out of Rome. It was the sound of the tectonic plates of history shifting, as, perhaps for the first time ever, the Vatican actually more or less came clean about its finances. In the old days, it used to be said that how much money the Vatican has was among the mysteries of the faith, akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Funds were distributed among a bewildering variety of entities and accounts, many of them off the books – in some cases, cash was literally stuffed into desk drawers and cabinets in Vatican offices, replenished and doled out with no paper trail at all.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Why all the people of God must take some responsibility for clericalism
“Pope Francis has described pedophile priests as ‘tools of Satan’ and has often said that the cause of the clergy abuse crisis is ‘clericalism.’ But when in August 2018 he wrote a ‘Letter to the People of God’ that appeared to widen responsibility for the abuse to the whole Church, there was outrage. ‘With shame and repentance,’ he wrote, ‘we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that … we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.’ The Pope concluded, ‘I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting.’” By Hatty Calbus, The Tablet

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

The Catholic Church should end its policy of celibacy for priests
Up to the Second Lateran Council in 1139, most priests married, sharing that experience with the majority of the families in the pews. It seems that the main reason for the unfortunate policy alteration related to priests’ children claiming inheritance based on parentage. Understandably, this clashed with the church’s commitment to maintain ownership of any accumulated wealth. The inheritance problem could and should have been dealt with by other means than the extreme prohibition against marriage by priests. Sigmund Freud asserts that after self-preservation, the next most demanding human drive involves procreation, and celibates must find ways to respond to that human sexual imperative as much as married men.” By Gerry O’Shea, Irish Central

Ending priestly celibacy would not stop abuse
“The Economist recently ran a lead article arguing that if the Catholics ‘want to reduce the scourge of sexual abuse by priests, they should demand an end to the rule requiring priestly celibacy.’ I found myself checking the year of publication. Surely this must have been an article from 20 years ago. But no: In the same week in which the Catholic bishops of the United States published their annual report on the (still falling) number of abuse claims made in American dioceses, the Economist was running with a tired, discredited argument.” By Ed Condon, National Review

VOICES

The Catholic Church in Africa: The single most impactful institution in Africa
“This is a video news release distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Symposium of Episcopal Conderences of Africa and Madagascar, featuring the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast in Ghana.” By african.business

The Catholic Church is at a crossroads: Will it choose renewal or decline?
“The Pew Research Center finds just 26 percent of Catholics attend church weekly, while 65 percent say they attend ‘a few times a year or less.’ Another survey reveals 63 percent of Catholics believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases; only 31 percent think communion should be denied to politicians who support abortion rights; and 77 percent said Catholics who identify as LGBTQ should be allowed to receive the Eucharist. Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, says the rift between the laity and bishops on these issues ‘reveals a breakdown in communication and trust — shepherds who are far removed from the sheep.’” By John Kenneth White, Opinion Contributor, The Hill

Stephen Rowland: Always take allegations of sexual abuse seriously
“Why is it that pastors (or priests), of all people, are often the ones who stonewall an investigation into sexual abuse claims in their churches/parishes? It’s a definite problem — we all have followed the news in times past about the Pope apologizing to victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by certain priests. It was suppressed and covered over for decades. Then there was the Southern Baptist organization apologizing to sexual abuse victims not long ago. The burning shame of these humiliating ordeals is that you would think a church is the last place on earth to find such atrocities.” By Stephen Rowland, The Columbia Daily Herald

I’ve been a Catholic my entire life. But the church’s dark past is making me lose faith
“When the Pope came to visit Edmonton on his ‘penitential pilgrimage,’ my colleagues were joyfully planning carpools to Commonwealth Stadium where he would hold a public mass for 60,000 people. A lifelong Catholic, I went to Ticketmaster to reserve seats, but my fingers hovered over the screen for a while before I finally exited the website. Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to be Catholic. I grew up in the Philippines, where Catholicism is not only a personal religion but permeated every institution, organization and household.” By Alyssa Aco, CBC News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

CALIFORNIA

Compensation program opened for California Roman Catholic sex abuse allegations
“In the last several years, the Catholic church has increasingly had to reckon with accusations of decades’ worth of sexual assault and abuse committed by priests and other church leaders within its ranks, all across the country. This was in large part prompted by a groundbreaking report published by a Pennsylvania grand jury back in August 2018 … The grand jury report has caused a wave of reactions across the country. In the wake of the report, Catholic dioceses all across the country have begun opening investigations, compensation programs, and even releasing lists of priests credibly accused of abuse.” By Joanne Szabo, TopClassActions.com

DELAWARE

Former DeSales University priest pleads guilty on child porn charge
“A former DeSales University priest who had ties to the Royal Family in Europe has pleaded guilty in a child pornography case. William McCandless, of Wilmington, Delaware, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to access with intent to view child pornography, according to online court documents. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop the other two charges of transporting and possessing child porn, says the document, which was filed in May.” By WTMZ-TV69 News

ILLINOIS

Chicago Archdiocese settles sex abuse case for $1.75 million
“A sex abuse case against the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Carmelites, a Catholic religious order, has been settled for $1.75 million, attorneys for the victim announced Friday (Aug. 5). The case was filed by a woman who said she was repeatedly abused as a child in the 1980s by Robert Boley, a Carmelite priest who taught at St. Cyril Catholic School, 6423 S. Woodlawn Ave. which has since closed. ‘During one school year, he abused her multiple times in the classroom, having her stay inside for recess and sexually assaulting her while also telling her she was a bad child, that God was angry with her and making her read the Bible during the abuse,’ according to a statement Friday from Romanucci & Blandin, the law firm that represented the woman.” By Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times

MAINE

Midcoast priest returns to duties after being cleared of sexual abuse allegations
“The Rev. Robert C. Vaillancourt will return to his duties after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland determined allegations of sexual abuse were unfounded. Vaillancourt was placed on administrative leave in July 2021 while being investigated for an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor girl in the 1980s. Although he has not yet been assigned his newest post, Vaillancourt will be returned to active ministry effective immediately, according to the Portland diocese.” By Leela Stockley, Bangor Daily News

MARYLAND

Survivors of abuse in Catholic Church demand attorney general release findings
“For nearly four years, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General has been investigating allegations of widespread sex abuse against children in the Catholic Church. Survivors are still waiting for the results.” By CBS News

MASSACHUSETTS

High court allows sex abuse suit against diocese to proceed
“A lawsuit brought by a former altar boy who alleges he was sexually abused as a child in the 1960s by a now-deceased Roman Catholic bishop and other clergy can proceed, the highest court in Massachusetts said in a decision released Thursday (Jul. 28). The man from Chicopee identified in court papers as John Doe alleges in the suit filed in February 2021 that not only was he abused by former Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon as well as two priests, but also that the church engaged in a yearslong coverup to protect the bishop’s reputation.” By Mark Pratt, Associated Press

NEW MEXICO

Santa Fe priest removed from post amid misconduct investigation
“A Roman Catholic priest who heads a large parish on the city’s south side has been removed from his post amid an investigation into an allegation of misconduct, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe confirmed Monday (Aug. 1). Archdiocese spokeswoman Leslie Radigan confirmed the Rev. Daniel Balizan of Santa María de la Paz Catholic Community was the subject of ‘an allegation that is not substantiated, but not beyond the realm of the possible’ in an email Monday. Radigan did not outline the nature of the alleged misconduct.” By Nathan Lederman, The Santa Fe New Mexican, on Yahoo.com

Priest says he was put on leave for speaking out on sex abuse settlement
“The Rev. Vincent Chávez, pastor of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Albuquerque, said he has been placed on a leave of absence after publicly criticizing the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s request that its parishes contribute $12 million to a $121.5 million sexual abuse settlement. Chávez said after he spoke out publicly in a July 3 story in The New Mexican, he was called into a tense meeting that ended with the priest being placed on leave. Chávez, 59, said the leave will last four to six months starting Aug. 1. During this time, as Chávez understands it, he will not be able to attend archdiocese events but can still see and socialize with parishioners outside of parish buildings.” By Sean P. Thomas, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Victim of clergy abuse asks Catholic church leaders for transparency
“Before July 6, Stephen Mittler was simply known as John Doe 1988-1989 in a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and former priest Mark Haight. The Saratoga Springs man decided to make his story public in hopes the awareness would inspire others to come forward and to encourage transparency from the diocese. Mittler had a busy week, making the rounds and meeting with officials of the Catholic church.” By Jana DeCamilla, The Post-Star

Albany bishop meets with sexual abuse survivor outside Corpus Christi Catholic Church|
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany made efforts to connect with survivors of sexual abuse on Sunday. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger was in attendance for Mass at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. At the front steps of the church, Scharfenberger met with Stephen Mittler, who is a survivor of abuse in the late 1980s. The two held a conversation and discussed what are the next steps to help survivors and how the church can make sure no abuse happens in the future. Mittler says conversations like this go a long way towards helping survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church.” By Spectrum News Staff

PENNSYLVANIA

Harrisburg Diocese reaches settlement with clergy abuse survivors
“The Diocese of Harrisburg has reached an agreement to settle claims of people who say they were victims of clergy sexual abuse. The Diocese has agreed to set up a $7.5 million trust as part of a proposed settlement that will allow the Diocese to come out of bankruptcy protection.” By WGAL-TV8 News

Former Beckley priest charged with sexual assault of a minor in Pennsylvania
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has released a statement from Bishop Mark Brennan, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston : ‘My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Many of you share my concern upon learning late yesterday that Fr. Pericles ‘Perry’ Malacaman, 84, was recently arrested in Beckley, WV, and is accused of sex abuse of a family member in Pennsylvania. The Diocese was not aware of the allegation until the day it was made public. We have not seen the criminal complaint and, as a matter of policy, we cannot comment on pending criminal investigations.’” By Annie Moore, WDTV-TV5 News

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island priest removed from Barrington and Cranston churches after allegations now at new church
“Priest Eric Silva was removed from two Rhode Island Catholic churches in February of 2022 for improper behavior. Now, he has back at another Rhode Island Catholic church offering mass. Earlier this year, Silva had been assigned to St. Luke’s Church in Barrington and was a visiting priest in Cranston. Parents alleged that Silva was asking inappropriate questions to children about their sexual orientation and sexual activity.” By GoLocalProv.com

TENNESSEE

Knoxville diocese fought to name plaintiff in rape cover-up suit
“A Tennessee judge struck down Friday (Aug. 5) the Diocese of Knoxville’s plea to dismiss a lawsuit which alleges that Knoxville’s bishop impeded a diocesan investigation into a rape allegation, and defamed an alleged rape victim, by charging publicly that the victim was actually the aggressor. Judge Jerome Melson also dismissed a petition from the Knoxville diocese for a protective order, which would have exempted from subpoena all diocesan records related to a Vatican investigation into complaints against Bishop Rick Stika.” By The Pillar

WISCONSIN

Amid criticism, AG Kaul calls his actions on Wisconsin clergy sex abuse a ‘review’ not an investigation
“Wisconsin’s attorney general is responding to Action 2 News after receiving criticism from an organization that represents victims of church sexual abuse. The group Nate’s Mission criticized Attorney General Josh Kaul last month for what it thought was an investigation the AG launched last year into the state’s five archdioceses and religious orders. But Kaul is clarifying telling Action 2 News what he is doing is a review of allegations.” By Joshua Peguero, WBAY-TV2 News

AUSTRALIA

Churches have ‘key role’ in reconciliation
“Writer and historian Jackie Huggins believes Australian churches have a key role in ‘truth-telling’ – an essential part of reconciliation in which the history of Australia’s First Nations peoples is told. The Bidjara/Birri-Gubba Juru woman from central and north Queensland, shared her family history – a story of shattered lives including forced removal from traditional lands and child servitude – at the first Laurel Blow Speaker Series for 2022, a joint event facilitated by Australian Catholic University and Evangelisation Brisbane.” By CathNews.com

Church puts safety at center of mission with new draft code
“Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference have this week released the first draft of the Church’s new code of safety, titled Our Common Mission. Our Common Mission sets out the commitment of the Catholic Church in Australia to put safety at the center of mission. It is a document intended to be adopted by all Church entities to inform ongoing formation in ministry and service for both people in religious ministry and lay people. ACSL CEO and Advisory Group Member Ursula Stephens said that in drafting Our Common Mission, the intention has been to create something that can speak directly and inclusively to diverse groups.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Newfoundland church sales bring justice to abuse victim – and leave longtime parishioners in need of a spiritual home
“For the first time on his papal visit to Canada, Pope Francis acknowledged the sexual abuse perpetrated by ‘some of [the] sons and daughters’ of the church in Canada, describing them on July 28 as ‘scandals that require firm action and an irreversible commitment.’ ‘Together with you, I would like once more to ask forgiveness of all the victims,’ he said. ‘The pain and the shame we feel must become an occasion for conversion: never again!’ The long-awaited moment of institutional remorse for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous survivors of sexual abuse came as Catholics in a part of the country not included on this papal journey continued a difficult path of their own toward reconciliation emerging from another source of national anguish.” By Aloysius Wong, America: The Jesuit Review

CHILE

Chilean bishop deals with aftermath of abuse crisis in his diocese
“When Bishop Sergio Pérez de Arce was appointed apostolic administrator of the Chilean diocese of Chillán, 250 miles south of Santiago, he had the difficult task of succeeding a bishop removed by Pope Francis in 2018 following allegations of sexual abuse. Two years later, Pérez was confirmed as bishop, in a small ceremony held during a critical moment in the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Pérez has been working closely with the laity and the priests to try to understand what went wrong, and identify possible solutions. In addition, he is the secretary general of the Chilean bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

FRANCE

France mulling Canada’s request to extradite Catholic priest accused of abuse
“France is considering a request to extradite a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting Inuit children in Canada, local media reported Friday (Aug. 5). The Foreign Ministry confirmed that the request to extradite Joannes Rivoire is being processed by the Justice Ministry. The 92-year-old priest is currently living in an elderly care home in Lyon. A dual national, he lived for more than 30 years in Canada, where he has a fresh arrest warrant issued since February. Another arrest warrant was issued between 1998 and 2017 for sexually assaulting three minors. The exact number of victims allegedly abused by Rivoire is not known.” By Shweta Desai, aa.com.tr

GERMANY

German bishop, accused of abuse, found to have helped wanted pedophile priests escape to Latin America
“A German prelate who served as bishop in Ecuador is not only accused of having sexually abused minors in several countries. As director of a German aid organization he also helped pedophile priests wanted by authorities escape prosecution, according to an independent investigation published Monday (Aug. 8). The late Bishop Emil Stehle (1926-2017) — known in Latin America as Emilio Lorenzo Stehle — has been accused of sexual abuse in 16 cases, a statement by the German Bishops’ Conference said on Aug. 8.” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Priest accused of sexual conduct towards four girls at two Glasgow churches
“A priest is accused of sexual conduct toward four girls at two churches. Neil McGarrity, 68, allegedly attacked the girls between December 2017 and February 2020. Court papers state McGarrity engaged in sexual activity with a girl between the age of 13 and 15 at St Thomas’ church in Glasgow’s Riddrie. It is stated that he touched the girl on the body. A second girl was alleged to have been sexually assaulted at St Thomas’ between the ages of 10 and 11. It is claimed McGarrity repeatedly placed his arm around her, touched her on the body, hugged and pulled her towards him.” By Connor Gordon, GlasgowLive.com

INDIA

Catholic priest arrested for sexually harassing three school girls in TN
“A Catholic parish priest has been arrested under the POCSO Act for sexually harassing three underage girls. He noticed them attending the church alone and took them to his private chambers on the pretext of conducting ‘special prayers’ for their studies. John Robert (46) is the parish priest of St. Arulanandar Church in Mandapam near Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu. Three school going girls aged between 15-17 accused him of sexually harassing them in the church. As per the news reports, the three girls used to come to the church alone. Noticing this John Robert started talking to them and established a relationship with them.” By MahaKrishnan

NICARAGUA

A Nicaraguan priest is accused of abusing a minor. Human rights activists aren’t convinced
“When a priest is accused of abusing a minor, public opinion seldom gives him the benefit of the doubt — often for good reason. But in Nicaragua, things are different. At least for Monsignor José Leonardo Urbina. Urbina is pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish of Boaco, a city 50 miles east of Managua, the country’s capital. He was arrested on July 13 and formally accused of raping an adolescent girl. And Urbina’s story is unlike most that begin with a priest arrested for sexual abuse — because Nicaraguan media outlets, and human rights activists –some of them fierce critics of the Catholic Church– have rallied behind Fr. Urbina, citing significant procedural irregularities and raising questions about whether the priest is receiving due process.” By Edgar Beltrán, The Pillar

PHILIPPINES

Church is challenged to end trafficking, child abuse
“Christian leaders, bishops, priests and laypeople should be outraged at the extent of human trafficking and child abuse in families and online and be motivated by faith to take every opportunity to help the victims by good deeds and action for justice as well as denounce the evil on the internet that is pervading society. A worthwhile prayer is that which motivates people to act for justice. Where are the organized militant ‘Catholic internet trolls for human rights and child protection?’ None that I know of. We need the revival of Catholic Social Action groups in every parish, led by dedicated internet-savvy students and youth fighting every day for social justice.” By UCANews.com

PORTUGAL

Portugal’s Catholic Church child sex-abuse scandal deepens
“Bit by bit the hideous truth that Catholic priests in Portugal have been left relatively free (if not almost completely free) to sexually abuse children for decades is coming home to roost. The scandal that hit the headlines in France less than a year ago, and which precipitated the opening of an inquiry in Portugal in January, has opened the floodgates on an accelerating domino-effect of horrors. Today, Expresso reveals another 12 priests have been outed by one of their own – half of them still in active duties. The story is all the more disturbing for the mantle of silence purportedly imposed by the Church’s hierarchy.” By Natasha Donn, PortugalResident.com

SPAIN

Spanish commission probes unreported clerical abuse cases
“The lawyer leading the Spanish Catholic Church’s investigation into clerical sexual abuse said he is currently looking into thousands of suspected cases that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. In an interview with Spanish news agency Europa Press published July 25, Javier Cremades, who is leading the investigation, said he also has received hundreds of unreported cases since he was appointed by the bishops in February. ‘Between those that the bishops’ conference has and those that the newspaper El País has, we are talking about approximately between 1,000 and 2,000 cases. Now we are sorting and classifying those that have reached us,’ Cremades said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 26, 2022

TOP STORIES

Federal bankruptcy judge rejects Catholic diocese’s bid to stop state litigation on child sex abuse, excoriates ‘heavy-handed threat’ to survivors
“On Monday (May23), a federal bankruptcy judge granted survivors to resume their previously paused actions against hundreds of independent Catholic corporations that did not seek bankruptcy protection. His scathing ruling slammed what the judge perceived as the Diocese’s hardball tactics. ‘Portraying itself as a victim, trying to do right by the Abuse Survivors, the Diocese predicts that if state court litigation is permitted to move forward against any of the Catholic Corporations, ‘the Diocese may be forced to pursue a non-consensual plan of reorganization,’’ U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren wrote in a 16-page decision and order. ‘That is a pretty heavy-handed threat to be leveled at the people who are the real victims here—the Abuse Survivors.’” By Adam Klasfeld, LawandCrime.com

New Italian church head faces demands for abuse inquiry
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (May 24) named a bishop in his own image, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, as the new head of the Italian bishops conference, as the Italian Catholic Church comes under mounting pressure to confront its legacy of clerical sexual abuse with an independent inquiry. Zuppi, 66, is currently the archbishop of Bologna and has long been affiliated with the Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic charity particularly close to Francis. The Italian Catholic Church is one of the few in western Europe that has not opened its archives to independent researchers to establish the scope of abuse and cover-up in recent decades.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

New head of Italian bishops tasked with handling clergy sex abuse, By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Spanish Catholic Church’s internal child abuse investigation of little use, prosecutor says
“An internal investigation by the Spanish Catholic Church into alleged child sexual abuse by members of the clergy is ‘partial’ and ‘of little use,’ the office of Spain’s national prosecutor wrote in a letter to the country’s ombudsman that was made available to Reuters. The Spanish Catholic Church in January launched diocesan-level inquiries after Spanish newspaper El Pais reported in December more than 1,200 cases of alleged abuse between 1943 and 2018.  The revelations came years after sexual abuse scandals had rocked the Church in countries such as the United States, Ireland and France.” By Reuters

Francis’ clergy abuse law, ‘Vos Estis,’ isn’t working. Here’s how to fix it.
“Three years ago, as the Catholic Church faced an unprecedented reckoning with clergy sexual abuse, Pope Francis introduced a church law that promised to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse that they commit or cover up. Entitled Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), the law was touted by papal spokesmen as a turning point in the fight to end child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It’s ‘revolutionary,’ said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich. ‘The silence, omertà and cover-ups can now become a thing of the past,’ said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope’s trusted abuse investigator.” By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Fordham conference on abuse highlights way the church can foster healthier culture of sexuality
“Last month, scholars from all over the world met to discuss projects related to the clergy sexual abuse as part of Fordham University’s ‘Taking Responsibility’ initiative. Some attendees disclosed their abuse by Jesuit priests, adding a palpable solemnity to the larger, systemic issues that make up the Catholic sexual abuse crisis. These stories also laid the backdrop for how important it was to research and answer exactly how Jesuit institutions can ‘take responsibility.’” By Mark A. Levand, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Catholics with disabilities share their vision of a synodal church
“Catholics with disabilities can be and want to be active members of the church and missionary disciples, but that will require fighting discrimination, exclusion and paternalism, participants told an online listening session for the Synod of Bishops. The Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, sponsored a two-hour session May 19 with representatives of bishops’ conferences and international Catholic associations to hear directly from Catholic with disabilities, ‘who are often on the margins of our churches,’ according to a media statement.” By Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Listening & Discernmnet
“Listening and discernment are perhaps the two words that have been most used in this first phase of the synod process. Those who were able to participate in listening sessions, in spiritual conversations, were able to rediscover the meaning of these words that have often lost the force of their meaning in our daily vocabulary. But how does one listen and discern correctly? Apparently, listening and discernment belong to two distinct moments: first listening and then discerning, but on closer inspection they are perhaps two sides of the same coin. In short, there can be no true listening without discernment, just as there can be no side of a coin without the back.” By SynodRources.org Editorial Staff

Towards Pentecost 2022
“The Scottish Laity Network has organized a program ‘Towards Pentecost 2022,’ focusing on listening and responding to the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth. From 28 April to 2 June there will be six sessions with different speakers. In a world brutally divided between rich and poor, suffering wars and violence, and failing to take radical action to prevent climate devastation, they seek to discern how the Spirit is calling for a response.” By SynodResources.org

Justice and peace in the Synod process
“The Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries and the Preparatory Commission of the Holy Land for Synod 2021-2023 encourage us, during the synod process, to be more aware of the lives of those in our ecclesial communities, neighborhoods, and society who are affected by the lack of justice, inequality and permanent violence in all its forms. That is why it is necessary to listen with these keys: to know people’s lives better, to promote community solidarity, to understand justice-inequality-peace as a right for all, and to promote integration and participation in society.” By SynodResources.org

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

New head of umbrella group for women’s religious sets sights on synodality
“Sister Nadia Coppa, the newly-elected president of one of the largest international conglomerates of women religious, is set on creating a global network of collaboration among congregations based on Pope Francis’s much-touted spirit of synodality. Speaking to Crux, Coppa said she believes synodality ‘is a horizon of the church, so it’s also a path for us.’ ‘We want to continue to promote the style of synodality,’ she said. ‘We want to be really open, to listen to one another, because listening is demanding, and it calls us to be really open, to make space for others. It also means letting go, letting go of my own desires, my own interests.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

The Catholic Church lacks an imagination for lay agency
“Some two years ago, I attended the Called and Co-Responsible conference at the University of Notre Dame. It was a conference about the role of the laity in the Church. One of the speakers, Fr. Michael Sweeny, O.P. made two insightful statements in his talk that resonated deeply with my experience working with parishes all over the country. He said, ‘Formation in the Church has always been for the sake of a mission;’ and ‘as a Church, we have no imagination for lay agency.’” By Peter Andrastek, Church Life Journal

Cardinals, theologians discuss decision-making role of laity in church
“As the Catholic Church continues to reflect on synodality through a two-year process of listening and dialogue, a panel of six notable theologians and canonists discussed the nature of consultation and decision-making in a synodal church. The discussion took place May 20 at the Vatican’s Palazzo Pio during the presentation of a new book released by the Vatican publishing house and written by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the office charged with interpreting canon law.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Arlington Catholic Herald

CHILD PROTECTION

The eerie parallels between the Southern Baptist and Catholic sexual abuse crises
“When news broke that Southern Baptist leaders had covered up sex abuse for decades I felt a numb sense of familiarity. I came of age as a Catholic against the backdrop of our own ongoing sex abuse crisis. It would be years before I would truly understand how sexual violence and the criminal conspiracies that perpetuated it had defined contemporary U.S. Catholicism. One thing was clear quite quickly, however. The sex abuse scandal cast doubt on the moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church itself. A similar crisis of moral authority is underway for arguably the most significant white evangelical institution in the country. I say this both as a U.S. religious historian and as a Catholic who grew up in Alabama surrounded by Southern Baptists.” By Matthew J. Cressier, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Rome conference revisits ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and church’s call to welcome marginalized Catholics
“Although Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ landmark 2016 document on marriage and family life, has been widely praised for its call for greater integration of divorced, remarried and LGBTQ Catholics into church life, theologians have long said the text’s implementation on the ground has been mixed. A major May 11-15 conference at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, however, brought together nearly 200 bishops, priests, religious women and theologians from 25 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, South America and Europe with an aim of firmly cementing the pope’s magisterial teaching on these matters into pastoral practice around the world.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican airs dirty laundry in trial over London property
“The Vatican’s sprawling financial trial may not have produced any convictions yet or any new smoking guns as prosecutors work through a first round of questioning of the 10 suspects accused of fleecing the Holy See of tens of millions of euros. But testimony so far has provided plenty of insights into how the Vatican operates, with a cast of characters worthy of a Dan Brown thriller or a Shakespearean tragicomedy. Recent hearings showed a church bureaucracy that used espionage, allowed outsiders with unverified qualifications to gain access to the Apostolic Palace and relied on a pervasive mantra of sparing the pope responsibility — until someone’s neck was on the line.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Adult Survivors Act for abuse victims on track to pass in New York
“A long-sought bill that would allow adult survivors of sexual abuse to hold their alleged abusers accountable is on track for approval. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) announced Thursday (May 19) that there are enough votes in her chamber to pass the Adult Survivors Act before the end of the legislative session early next month. ‘Today is a watershed moment for survivors of sexual assault in New York and across the country,’ Rosenthal said. ‘Today, New York State recognizes that ensuring justice for survivors of sexual assault is more important than maintaining arbitrary statutes of limitations that have for years shielded predators from justice.’ By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Haaland seeks healing for Native American boarding school survivors
The Interior Department found that the U.S. operated or actively supported more than 400 American Indian boarding schools between 1819 and 1969 – a history that affects the agency’s own leader. Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary, tells NPR’s All Things Considered that she had grandparents who were taken from their homes and placed in these schools.” By Michel Martin, National Public Radio

Catholic Church to investigate abuse claims at children’s homes
“The Roman Catholic Church will investigate allegations of child abuse in the December 2021 Judith Jones Report on children’s homes. In a press release on Wednesday (May 18), Archbishop Jason Gordon said the investigative team would include independent and qualified experts in the fields of psychology, childcare/social work, law and human resource management. The investigation was launched in response to the 139-page report entitled Safeguarding Children in Community Residences and Child Support Centres in TT which was laid in Parliament on April 29 by Minister in the Office of the PM, Ayanna Webster-Roy.” By Janelle De Souza, Newsday

CALIFORNIA

Sex abuse suits pouring in as state’s Catholic leaders seek relief from highest court
“Now, facing hundreds of lawsuits, a group of Catholic bishops is taking those challenges to the nation’s highest court. Saying they faced ‘potentially ruinous liability,’ the bishops last month asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the California lookback window unconstitutional.” By Nigel Duara, LostCoastOutpost.com

IOWA

Catholic priest, once suspended for inappropriate conduct, resigns from central Iowa parish
“A Catholic priest who was suspended by the Diocese of Des Moines in 2020 after allegations of inappropriate conduct resigned from a parish he was recently assigned to in Elkhart. Rev. Jim Kirby resigned from the St. Mary/Holy Cross Parish in Elkhart, according to the parish newsletter. The dioceses hopes to fill the position, the newsletter said, but no other priests are available at this time.” By Philip Joens, Des Moines Register

NEW YORK.

Rochester diocese offers $147.75 million to abuse victims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has put forward a $147.75 million offer to settle claims filed by 475 sexual-abuse survivors in the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Whether the nine-figure offer will bring a quick end to the long-stalled bankruptcy at this point seems far from certain. The offer was outlined in a filing posted with the Rochester Bankruptcy Court late Friday afternoon … Despite its size, the offer—tendered nearly two and a half years into a bankruptcy whose slow-moving pace survivors have seen as frustrating—is being met with disdain by the abuse survivors it is meant to placate.” By Will Astor, Rochester Beacon

OKLAHOMA

Sex abuse suit filed against Oklahoma City Catholic school
“Ten current and former students of Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City and six parents or guardians are suing the private school, alleging it fostered ‘a rape culture’ for more than 10 years. School officials have known since 2011 that female students have been victims of rape and sexual assault by students, teachers and coaches and done nothing to stop the attacks, according to the lawsuit filed Monday (May 16).” By Ken Miller, Associated Press

RHODE ISLAND

Lawsuit accuses Providence Diocese of ‘victim blaming’ in clergy sex-abuse complaints
“A newly filed lawsuit by one of the alleged child molestation victims of recently suspended Smithfield priest Francis C. Santilli accuses the leaders of the Rhode Island Catholic Church of ‘victim blaming’ while disregarding multiple accounts of sexual misconduct by ‘Father Frank.’ The lawsuit was filed Thursday (May 19) against current and former Bishops Thomas Tobin and Louis Gelineau of the Catholic Diocese of Providence, and the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Atwells Avenue in Providence.” By Katherine Gregg, The Providence Journal

GERMANY

Insurers suddenly raise stakes on German churches’ sex abuse response
“Germany’s Catholic and Protestant churches have been criticized for their handling of clergy sexual abuse for years now by victims, believers and the media. Now they face new pressure from an unexpected corner: the insurance industry. VBG, a national association of accident insurance providers, recently complained to the two predominant church bodies in the country that they had not been notified of the thousands of sexual abuse cases that have been found in the church groups’ ranks.” By Tom Heneghan, Religion News Service

GUAM

Vatican uses NY decision to seek dismissal of a Guam abuse case
“The Vatican is using a New York court’s recent decision to bolster its push for the dismissal of a Guam case that seeks to hold the Holy See responsible for former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s alleged sexual assault of a child. California-based attorney Jeffrey Lena said the New York court ‘supports dismissal with prejudice of all claims against the Holy See.’” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

ITALY

Survivors, advocates push Italian bishops for national abuse inquiry
“A collective of abuse survivors and advocacy groups have published an open letter to the Italian bishops, who are meeting to elect new leadership, calling for the adoption of several measures aimed at acknowledging the problem and prevention. ‘Abuses perpetrated within the Church affects people in their bodies, in their lives, in their conscience: they are violations of human rights. If the Church does not respect human rights, it cannot preach the Gospel,’ the letter said.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

POLAND

Catholic diocese in Poland to pay compensation to victim of child sex abuse by priest
“The Catholic diocese of Kalisz has been ordered by a court to pay 300,000 zloty (€65,000) to a man who was abused as a child by one of its priests. The case is one of a number relating to sexual abuse in Poland’s Catholic church that have come to light in recent years. It has drawn particular attention because the victim, Bartłomiej Pankowiak, and his brother Jakub, who was also abused, confronted the priest in a documentary film broadcast in 2020.” By NotesFromPoland.com

PORTUGAL

Portugal’s clergy abuse commission wants more help from church officials
“After four months of activity, an independent commission created by the Portuguese bishops to investigate child abuse has received at least 326 allegations of abuse. The fact that 214 of them were collected within the first month of operation demonstrates that there has been a significant decline in the rhythm of testimonies over the past few months. Some of the group’s members are now calling on the country’s bishops to better publicize their work and encourage abuse victims to come forward. It was the initiative of the Portuguese bishops’ conference to create the commission, a decision taken in November 2021 after the release of a report on abuse and cover-up in the French church shocked many across Europe.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, National Catholic Reporter

TIMOR-LESTE

Carmelite fathers show strong commitment to child safety
“A safeguarding audit report of the Carmelite Fathers Australia and Timor-Leste published today by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd has found a strong commitment to child safety across the religious institute’s operations. The audit assessed the Carmelite Fathers’ progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, a framework for the safety and protection of children in Catholic organizations. The Carmelite Fathers’ work in Australia serves communities across a variety of operations, including administering three parishes in partnership with local dioceses, working as chaplains in hospitals and schools, and running a spirituality and retreat centre. Since 2001, the Carmelite Fathers have also provided ministries in Timor-Leste focused on forming young men as seminarians.” By CathNews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 25, 2022

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

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

PRIESTS

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

CONNECTICUT

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

ILLINOIS

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

INDIANA

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

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

MISSISSIPPI

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

NEW YORK.

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

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

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

WISCONSIN

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

AFRICA

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

CANADA

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

EAST TIMOR

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

FRANCE

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

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

SWITZERLAND

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 28, 2022

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

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

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

BISHOPS

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

PRIESTS

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

WOMEN’S VOICES

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

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

CLERICALISM

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

VOICES

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

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

INDIANA

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

KANSAS

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

LOUISIANA

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

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

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

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

MICHIGAN

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

NEW HAMPSHIRE

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

NEW JERSEY

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

NEW YORK.

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

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

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

OHIO

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

SOUTH CAROLINA

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

SOUTH DAKOTA

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

TENNESSEE

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

ARGENTINA

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

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

CANADA

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

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

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

CHILE

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

GUIANA

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

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

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

LUXEMBOURG

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

NEW ZEALAND

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 14, 2022

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

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

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

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

BISHOPS

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

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

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

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

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

WOMEN’S VOICES

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

CONNECTICUT

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

INDIANA

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

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

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

MINNESOTA

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

MONTANA

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

NEW MEXICO

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

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

NEW YORK.

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

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

OKLAHOMA

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

TENNESSEE

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

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

VERMONT

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

CANADA

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

GERMANY

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

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

GUAM

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

INDIA

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

INDONESIA

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

JAPAN

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

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

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

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

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

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

PRIESTS

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

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

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

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

WOMEN’S VOICES

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

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

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

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

CALIFORNIA

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

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

LOUISIANA

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

NEW JERSEY

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

OHIO

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

SOUTH CAROLINA

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

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

VERMONT

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

WASHINGTON

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

CANADA

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

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

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

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

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

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

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

Portugal

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

SWITZERLAND

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


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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

August 9, 2021

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

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

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

CARDINALS

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

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

BISHOPS

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

PRIESTS

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

VATICAN

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

CHURCH REFORM

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

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

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

ILLINOIS

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

LOUISIANA

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

MICHIGAN

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

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

MISSISSIPPI

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

NEW JERSEY

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

NEW YORK.

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

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

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

RHODE ISLAND

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

WASHINGTON

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

WISCONSIN

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

CANADA

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

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

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

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

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

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

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

NEW ZEALAND

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

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 30, 2021

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

CARDINALS

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

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

BISHOPS

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

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

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

WOMEN’S VOICES

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

VATICAN

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

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

CHURCH REFORM

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

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

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

VOICES

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

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

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

CALIFORNIA

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

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

ILLINOIS

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

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

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

IOWA

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

KANSAS

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

LOUISIANA

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

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

MICHIGAN

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

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

MISSISSIPPI

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

MISSOURI

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

NEW JERSEY

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

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

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

NEW YORK.

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

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

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

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

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

NEVADA

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

TEXAS

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

WISCONSIN

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

AUSTRALIA

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

CANADA

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

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

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

GERMANY

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

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

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

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

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

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

POLAND

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

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