Posts Tagged Focus news roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Feb. 3, 2023

TOP STORIES

Fordham report faults Jesuits for stressing discretion in handling abusive priests
“Anew report from the Jesuit-run Fordham University on the long-term impacts of clergy sexual abuse criticizes the global Jesuit religious order for placing importance on discretion when handling Catholic priests accused of abuse, instead of on discipline or prevention of further abuse. The report, released Jan. 26, summarizes the findings of 18 research projects that were part of a yearslong effort to better understand clergy abuse.” By Aleja Hertzler-McCain, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis admits mishandling of sex abuse cases, says church must do more
Pope Francis has shed light on the Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse allegations against East Timor’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning independence hero, suggesting that he indeed was allowed to retire early rather than face prosecution or punishment. Francis made the revelation in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday (Jan. 17) with The Associated Press, in which he also denied he had a role in deciding the case of a famous Jesuit artist whose seemingly preferential treatment cast doubt on the Vatican’s commitment to cracking down on abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican weighs in on German plan for governing ‘council’ of laity and bishops
“Senior Vatican officials have notified the bishops of Germany that they are not empowered to create a proposed legislative body made up of clergy and laity, which would act as a governing body for the whole Church in the country. ‘We wish to make it clear that neither the Synodal Path, nor any body established by it, nor any Episcopal Conference has the competence to establish the ‘Synodal Council’ at the national, diocesan or parish level,’ a Jan. 16 letter sent to the German bishops explained.” By Luke Coppen and J.D. Flynn, The Pillar

Vatican’s handling of Rupnik case shows church considers women unequal
“The global Jesuit order issued a notice in early December that it had placed restrictions on the ministry of Jesuit Fr. Marko Rupnik, an internationally known religious artist, after accusations he had abused several adult women. While remaining deliberately vague about the reasons for the move, the Jesuits seemed keen to stress that ‘no minors were involved.’ While the Jesuits and the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith avoided further comments on the case, some Italian blogs reported that Rupnik, a charismatic star in certain circles, had been accused of spiritually and sexually abusing consecrated women of the Loyola Community, a religious community he had co-founded in Slovenia in the early 1980s.” By Doris Reisinger, National Catholic Reporter

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY

‘Confusion, control and abuse’: Report offers new details about Jean Vanier’s secret sect and sexual exploitation
“When revelations emerged nine months after his 2019 death that Jean Vanier — a philosopher, author and activist once deemed a living saint — had sexually and spiritually abused women, his legacy was upended. Now a massive report, released Jan. 30, seeks to untangle and analyze many pieces of the dark and complex story of Vanier’s decadeslong hidden life, highlighting both the extent of abuse and the ‘incredible persistence of a perverse nucleus’ of abusers. Produced by an independent, interdisciplinary commission of French academics, the nearly 900-page report validates the claims of 25 non-disabled women against Vanier, who founded a worldwide organization supporting adults with intellectual disabilities.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Spanish bishops lament low participation in Synod on Synodality, especially by young people
“The Spanish bishops consider ‘synodality to be advancing in our Church’ although they report low participation, especially among young people, to whom the Church must learn to listen and modulate the way of communicating the Gospel, they say. The Spanish Bishops’ Conference has presented the Synthesis for the European Continental Stage of the Synod on Synodality, which will be used in preparing the final document to be taken to the Continental Assembly.” By Catholic News Agency

Each of us must become a synod, says Sr. Nathalie
“‘This is a very special time for the Church and, as you know, we are all together, everywhere in the world, living this Synod now,’ Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ said as she commenced her Australian tour in Melbourne on Tuesday (Jan. 31). The Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops gave her perspective on synodality, its challenges, and the future of the global Church at a public forum hosted by Newman College in Parkville, in Melbourne’s inner north.” By CathNews.com

The role of bishops in the synodal process
“On the eve of the celebration of the Continental Assemblies, it is with a letter addressed to all the eparchial bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches and diocesan bishops around the world that the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, and the General Relator of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, address the topic of the bishop’s role in the ongoing synodal process.” By Cardinal Mario Grech and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich

Rigid definitions of ‘Catholic’ leave too many out in the cold
“Collectively, it’s led to a sense that the church has to do something about those who walk away and don’t come back. At the global level, Pope Francis has called a synodal listening and discernment process for the whole church slated to run into late 2024. The U.S. bishops have initiated their own call for renewed teaching and understanding of the Eucharist. Beneath the surface of each initiative are foundational questions about who gets to call themselves Catholic, who gets to call anything Catholic, and who even wants to be called Catholic.” By Don Clemmer, U.S. Catholic

POPE FRANCIS

The Anti-Francis Gatekeepers: this January exposed the opposition to Francis
“New Year in Rome, normally a quiet time, is when the Vatican slowly emerges from the post-Christmas shutdown. While keeping one eye on the pope’s address to foreign diplomats, many reporters dare to take time off. In January 2023 that was a bad idea. The passing of Benedict XVI—ninety-five and long ailing—on December 31 was followed by the unexpected death on January 10 of a giant figure of conservative Catholicism, Cardinal George Pell, eighty-one, who had concelebrated Benedict’s funeral just five days earlier. What made this one of the most turbulent months of the past decade was not just these two deaths but what they exposed: the tactics and mindset of a group of conservatives who, smelling the end of the Francis era, are determined to secure its reversal in the next conclave.” By Ausen Ivereigh, Commonweal

Pope Francis recalls a ‘conversion moment’ on abuse
“In a wide ranging interview with the Associated Press, published on January 25, 2023, Pope Francis explained how he had a ‘conversion moment’ on the issue of abuse within the Church during his 2018 trip to Chile. He also commented on two important abuse accusations that have emerged over the last months. The first concerns an East Timorese Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bishop, Carlos Ximenes Belo, and the second a Slovenian Jesuit artist, Father Marko Rupnik, whose paintings are found in churches all over the world.” By Isabella H. de Carvalho, Aleteia

Pope discusses his health, critics and future papacy
“Pope Francis says he hasn’t even considered issuing norms to regulate future papal resignations and plans to continue for as long as he can as bishop of Rome, despite a wave of attacks by some top-ranking cardinals and bishops. In his first interview since the Dec. 31 death of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis addressed his health, his critics and the next phase of his pontificate, which marks its 10th anniversary in March without Benedict’s shadow in the background.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope Francis, between reality and representation
“The news that the French priest and psychiatrist Tony Anatrella has been barred from public life, but not reduced to the lay state, after his final conviction for abuse, has arrived for Pope Francis while the echoes of the Rupnik case have not yet quiet down … Probably, the decisions of Pope Francis must be considered the natural implementation of measures that had already been put in place in the past. Of course, there are new elements, but the line of judgment is the same. Indeed, Pope Francis allows for even more exceptions and is more personal in his decisions.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Monday Vatican

CARDINALS

Prominent Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet denies 2nd allegation of sexual misconduct
“Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet is denying allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by a woman in 2020. On Friday (Jan. 20), the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Quebec City confirmed that it had received a second complaint against Ouellet, the former archbishop in the provincial capital. A Vatican investigation was conducted in the wake of the second complaint against Ouellet, but Pope Francis decided ‘not to retain the accusation against the cardinal’ who now serves as head of the Vatican’s bishops’ office.” By CBC News

BISHOPS

Stika told priests accused seminarian was ‘victimized’
“The Pillar has confirmed a recently-made allegation, that Bishop Rick Stika told priests a seminarian accused of sexually assaulting a parish organist had actually been victimized by the organist – essentially recasting the story so that the accused seminarian was the victim, rather than the alleged aggressor. The allegation came in a lawsuit refiled last week, which charges that Stika impeded an investigation into the claim that former seminarian Wojciech Sobczuk sexually assaulted the lawsuit’s plaintiff, who worked as a musician at the Diocese of Knoxville’s cathedral.” By The Pillar

India: Bishops need to be serious about their meetings
“In recent years, the simple church-going Catholics in India, the world’s biggest democracy, have been scandalized by allegations of clerical sex abuse and financial crimes rocking the Catholic Church in India. Will that be a botheration for the bishops as they gather for their annual plenary meeting this week in southern Indian Bangalore city? The growing rift and spirited fight among the bishops, priests, and the laity, some of them involving court cases, have undermined Catholics’ faith in the Church’s self-stabilizing system and exposed to the world the serious lack of leadership in the Indian Catholic Church today.” By Michael Gonsalves, UCANews.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Is there room in the tent?
“As the Church prepares for the next phase of the Synod on Synodality, one of the most pressing issues is the relationship between women and the Church, combined with the problem of clericalism. The Working Document clearly states that ‘almost all reports raise the issue of full and equal participation of women.’ (No. 64.) Many national reports asked to restore women to the ordained diaconate, yet the Synod’s Working Document for the Continental Stage refers to ‘a female diaconate’ … While women are increasingly included as professional managers within Church structures, notably within the Roman Curia, deep resistance to accepting historical precedence of women’s ordained ministry remains.” By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano

Installing women as lectors, Pope says Word of God is for all
“Pope Francis Sunday (Jan. 22) celebrated a special Mass marking the Day of the Word of God, during which he conferred the ministry of lector on seven lay people, five of them women, and said the Gospel is intended primarily for the sick and far away. Francis formally opened the ministry of lector, along with that of acolyte, to women in a 2021 decree. He established the Day of the Word of God on the third Sunday in ordinary time in 2019. In his homily for the Jan. 22 Mass, the pope noted that Jesus in the scriptures is ‘always on the move, on his way to others.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Australian Catholic groups push for progressive church reforms in wake of George Pell’s death
“A coalition of 20 Catholic groups will this week push for significant reform of the church in Australia to make it more inclusive, saying the conservative stance of the late Cardinal George Pell ‘may have galvanized the mood’ for change. The Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform will gather on Thursday (Feb. 2) – the same day as the funeral planned for Pell at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral – in support of Pope Francis’s commitment to a more inclusive church and less autocratic and patriarchal leadership.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Pope Francis confers lay ministries upon 10 people in St. Peter’s Basilica
“Pope Francis formally conferred the ministries of lector and catechist upon four men and six women from the Philippines, Mexico, Congo, Italy, and the U.K. on Sunday at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Celebrating the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 22, the pope presented Bibles to three new lectors and said: ‘Receive the book of Holy Scripture and faithfully transmit the Word of God, so that it may germinate and bear fruit in the hearts of men.’’ By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

CHILD PROTECTION

Protecting God’s children
“The approach of Catholic Schools Week gives us an opportunity to revisit the efforts the Archdiocese of Chicago has been taking to keep our children safe. First, we must acknowledge forthrightly the serious mishandling in the past of child abuse in our parishes and schools by clergy and others. The pain caused by these failures is the reason this archdiocese has, for more than 30 years, been at the forefront of creating and continually improving policies and programs to address the scourge of child sexual abuse and support survivors.” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, Chicago Catholic

Catholic Church doing opposite of public statements on abuse safeguarding – advocate
“The leader of a network for survivors abused by priests says the Catholic Church’s new promises to change are not genuine. Earlier this week a 10-point statement was issued by NZ Catholic Bishops Conference president Cardinal John Dew, and Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa president, Fr Thomas Rouse … But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Aotearoa leader, Dr Chris Longhurst, told RNZ: ‘What the bishops and the congregational leaders of the Catholic Church are saying in public is not what’s happening behind closed doors.’” By Radio New Zealand

VATICAN

Vatican to hear final appeal of former pastor removed from St. Matthew Catholic Church
“The legal fight behind the walls of the Vatican over the pastorship of Charlotte’s largest Catholic church has reached its end game. Rev. Patrick Hoare, who was removed as spiritual head of massive St. Matthew Church based on allegations of misconduct involving young people, has filed his final appeal to reverse the 2020 decision by Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte. While the Diocese of Charlotte previously has acknowledged that its investigation of Hoare had not revealed any incidents of sexual abuse of young people, his odds of reversing his removal appear small.” By Michael Gordon, The Charlotte Observer

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Where is Mass attendance highest? One country is the clear leader
“A compilation of new data by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University sheds light on the countries around the world that have the highest Mass attendance numbers. CARA researchers used data from the World Values Survey (WVS), a major international study of religious belief that has been conducted for decades, to examine 36 countries with large Catholic populations. Of those countries, the researchers ranked them by the percentage of self-identified Catholics who say they attend Mass weekly or more, excluding weddings, funerals, and baptisms.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

Running the numbers, Africa isn’t the Catholic future – it’s the present
“While Catholicism officially numbers around 1.3 billion adherents worldwide, a good share of that total is fairly nominal. In terms of setting the tone within the church, those who are more active generally punch far above their weight – generating a greater share of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, for instance, as well as various lay roles. In much Catholic parlance, it’s long been said that Africa is the future of the church. Looking at the numbers in terms of who actually shows up, however, Africa isn’t the future. It’s the present, and it has been for a while.” By John L. Allen, Jr, Cruxnow.com

Seattle Archdiocese announces sweeping plan to consolidate parishes
“The Seattle Archdiocese is consolidating parishes in a sweeping plan that will affect virtually every Catholic Church community in Western Washington. In Masses and vigils over the weekend from the Canada to Oregon borders, pastors announced the four-year plan to group two or more parishes together in ‘families’ that will share one priest and one assistant priest. Some churches will likely close or be repurposed for uses such as early learning centers or homeless shelters.” By Nina Shapiro, The Seattle Times

Losing their religion: why U.S. churches are on the decline
“Churches are closing at rapid numbers in the US, researchers say, as congregations dwindle across the country and a younger generation of Americans abandon Christianity altogether – even as faith continues to dominate American politics. As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year in the country – a figure that experts believe may have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic.” By Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian

CHURCH FINANCES

$5.4 million altar for Work Youth Day generates controversy in Portugal
“Although Pope Francis hasn’t even formally confirmed his presence yet, the 2023 edition of World Youth Day in Lisbon is already generating controversy over a $5.4 million price-tag for the altar area from which the pontiff is expected to celebrate a closing Mass. Last week Lisbon city officials published details for the massive 54,000-square foot altar and stage area, at a cost of 4.2 million Euro plus VAT, or value-added tax, for a total outlay close to $5.4 million. The contract has been awarded to Portugal’s largest construction company, Mota-Engil.” By Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Is the Vatican clericalist in all the wrong places
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller suggested recently that the Vatican could appoint a layman or woman to serve as Secretary of State, in line with curial reforms issued by Pope Francis last year. The suggestion from the former prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has been widely taken as either ironic, or as a barbed attempt at humor around the Vatican. But what point was he trying to make? And if the idea of a layperson serving at the top of the Roman curia isn’t to be taken seriously, what does it say about the nature of Francis’ reforms in Praedicate evangelium, the apostolic constitution promulgated last year?” By Ed Condon, The Pillar

VOICES

The Church’s memory problems: trying to reckon with the past—and the present
“One month into 2023, it seems there are fewer comforting pages of Church history to balance out the increasing number of shameful ones. The past five years of Francis’s decade-long pontificate have presented no shortage of difficulties tied to the abuse crisis—from his disastrous trip to Chile in January 2018 to last month’s revelations about Jesuit artist and alleged serial abuser Marko Rupnik. The recent deaths of Benedict XVI and Cardinal George Pell have brought to light further reminders of the unpleasant past; their records on the abuse crisis and Vatican governance are, in different ways, problematic and controversial and unlikely to be settled anytime soon.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Considerations for a Church in crisis
“In terms of its harm and far-reaching effects, the present crisis in the church must be compared with the Reformation and the French Revolution. It is this conviction that brings to my mind the forthright declaration of the Second Vatican Council, Our era needs wisdom more than past ages…. The future of the world is in peril unless wiser men and women are forthcoming (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World, No. 15).” Originally published May 27, 2002, by John R. Quinn, retired archbishop of San Francisco who died in 2017

Academic theology needs to be more connected to the church
“The confused sense of purpose in the theology departments at many of our Catholic institutions of higher learning is one of the biggest challenges facing the Catholic Church in the United States. Deconstructionism, with its hostility to the very idea of a canon, and its various post-modern offshoots, have left their mark on theological scholarship, frustrating or making any attempt at a lived connection with the life of the church nonsensical. This is a difficult story to report. Colleagues do not like to complain publicly about each other.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Clerical loss of power – Germany, synodality and the synodal way
“The Roman Catholic Church is in the midst of the greatest church crisis since the Reformation, which is not triggered by the worldwide abuse scandals, but finds a focal point in them … Will uncoordinated processes of ecclesiastical decision-making and reform lead to the self-destruction of the previous Roman Catholic world system? Or can the current disputes between the Vatican and above all the Church in Germany pave the way for a new, more comprehensive ecclesiastical self-understanding?” By Sigrid Grabmeier and Christian Weisner, The Tablet

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Low blow by PA lawmakers: playing politics with kids abuse by clergy, harmed by polluters
“In what only can be described as a low blow (or, more likely, an immoral partisan backroom deal), the Pennsylvania State Legislature seems prepared to use the constitutional amendment dubbed “Marsy’s Law” — meant to guarantee the rights of crime victims’ rights — to also move two other highly contentious amendments related to voter identification and regulatory review. Even my hometown Blair County Republican Representative Jim Gregory said, ‘What they’re trying to do, in my opinion, is use victims as pawns in a political game, and I’m not going to play that.’” By Mitchell Hescox, York Daily Record

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Former nun adds to abuse accusations against prominent Slovenian Jesuit priest
“A Slovenian former nun has come forward to accuse a Jesuit priest once prominent at the Vatican of sexual and psychological abuse, at least the fourth public accuser in a case that has shaken the worldwide religious order. The Italian investigative newspaper Domani, which has been breaking ground on the story for the past few months, on Monday (Jan. 23) published an interview with the woman, who said she was pressured into sexual acts by Father Marko Ivan Rupnik.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

WA lawmakers propose bill requiring clergy to report child abuse, citing InvestigateWest Reporting
“In response to InvestigateWest reporting on Jehovah’s Witnesses covering up allegations of sexual assault, Washington state lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. Senate Bill 5280, and its companion bill in the state House, would make it illegal for clergy not to report sexual abuse allegations to authorities unless the information came in the form of a confession. Currently, Washington is one of a handful of states in the country that do not list clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect at all.” By Wilson Criscione, InvestigateWest

CALIFORNIA

Santa Rosa priest was accused of child sex abuse by error, plaintiff’s attorney said
“A veteran Sonoma County priest who was named among the perpetrators in a crush of new clergy abuse lawsuits last year has been vindicated by the very man who first accused him. Monsignor James Pulskamp, one-time director of the Hanna Boys Center in the Sonoma Valley, was misidentified by the alleged abuser, the plaintiff’s attorney says. The accuser has since identified his alleged assailant as disgraced Rev. John Crews, who succeeded Pulskamp in 1984 as director of what was then a residential school for at-risk boys.” By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat

COLORADO

Man sues Denver archdiocese over abuse by convicted priest
“A man who says he was repeatedly sexually abused as a teen by his Catholic priest more than two decades ago filed a lawsuit against the now-defrocked priest and the Archdiocese of Denver on Thursday (Jan. 19), taking advantage of a recently passed law that allows victims to sue even if the statute of limitations has expired. The lawsuit targets Timothy Evans, a priest convicted in 2007 of sexually abusing other teens in two Colorado counties around the same time frame.” By Colleen Slevin, Religion News Service

KANSAS

KBI produces what archbishop had requested: a serious study
“On Friday, Jan. 13, in the late afternoon, then-Attorney General Derek Schmidt released a summary report conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) on Catholic clergy abuse in the state of Kansas. The investigation was undertaken on Nov. 15, 2018, after my request to Attorney General Schmidt … I am grateful to the attorney general and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for the considerable time and resources they devoted to this investigation. They provided what I hoped for: an objective, thorough examination of the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and the deficiencies of the response by Catholic officials, namely bishops.” By Archbishop Joseph Nauman, The Leaven

Lawmakers, survivors call on Kobach to release names of priests investigated for abuse
“Survivors of sexual abuse are calling on Kansas’ new attorney general, Republican Kris Kobach, to release the names of Catholic priests investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for perpetrating or ignoring abuse. A coalition of sex abuse survivors, lawmakers and advocates made the plea outside the Johnson County Courthouse weeks after Kansas’ previous attorney general, Republican Derek Schmidt, released a 21-page summary of a multi-year investigation on his last full business day in office.” By Ketie Bernard, The Kansas City Star

KENTUCKY

What we know about the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville investigations and lawsuits
“In the last year, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has been hit with two lawsuits alleging improper investigations into sexual assault complaints. These lawsuits cracked open the inner workings of the diocese. In the course of reporting on the lawsuits, Knox News has published a number of articles detailing different aspects of how the diocese has, and has not, held itself accountable. Here is a look at the findings of Knox News’ investigation.” By Tyler Whetstone, Knoxville News Sentinel

NEW JERSEY

Abuse survivors say Catholic church has failed to disclose hundreds of cases in NJ
“Four years ago, when New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses released a list of 188 clergy who had been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually assaulting children, church leaders vowed that they would continue to update the names as new allegations arose. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, leader of the Newark Archdiocese, wrote that he hoped releasing the names would be ‘an expression of our commitment to protecting our children’ and ‘a new level of transparency in the way we report and respond to allegations.’ But today, Newark’s inventory of 63 credibly accused clerics remains unchanged.” By Deena Yellin and Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK.

New York diocese, abuse victims file competing bankruptcy plans
“A Roman Catholic diocese on Long Island, New York, proposed a bankruptcy plan on Friday (Jan. 27), moving to retake control of its Chapter 11 case after a committee representing sexual abuse victims filed a competing restructuring proposal. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, one of the largest in the United States, said in a statement Friday that the proposed aggregate payment and the payment each abuse victim would receive under its proposed plan are ‘well in excess of any other Diocesan Chapter 11 plan in history.’’ By Dietrich Knauth, Reuters

PENNSYLVANIA

Pa. House leaders are on a listening tour. Sex abuse survivors feel unheard – again
“Before every interview she does, Lara Fortney-McKeever clasps a delicate key-motif bracelet around her wrist — a symbol of the years she and her sisters spent locked in silence about their childhood sexual abuse. Even after the arrest of the parish priest who had groomed and molested Fortney-McKeever and four of her younger sisters, a gag order signed as part of a settlement with the Diocese of Harrisburg prevented them from speaking about it.” By Bethany Rodgers and Bruce Siwy, PhillyBurbs.com

Former priest sentenced to 37 months on child porn charges
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of collecting thousands of child pornography images while serving overseas and then bringing them with him when he returned to the United States has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison. The Rev. William McCandless, 57, of Wilmington, Delaware, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Easton to 37 months in prison on a conviction of having used his cellphone to try to access pornography featuring underage boys.” By The Associated Press on abcnews.go.com

TENNESSEE

Anti-abuse advocates: diocese’s move to require victim’s name in lawsuit is ‘heartless’
“In an unusual move, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville won a legal effort to force an alleged rape victim to use his legal name instead of a pseudonym if he wants to continue his lawsuit against the church. The diocese’s push to name the victim alarmed clergy sex abuse advocates across the country. Several told Knox News the maneuver is meant to intimidate the man and scare off those who consider reporting a sexual assault in the future.” By Tyler Whetstone, Knox News

TEXAS

San Antonio priest quietly removed after sexual misconduct investigation
“Fr. Duncan Amek, a Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of San Antonio has been removed from active ministry following an investigation of sexual misconduct involving women and financial impropriety. On May 15, 2019, in St. Ann’s Church, where he had been a deacon for the previous year, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, ordained Duncan Amek, a native of Homa Bay, Kenya, to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Amek then went to work for St. Matthew Church and School in San Antonio, Texas.” By Zach Hiner, snapnetwork.org

Pavone was accused of ‘sexual misconduct’ before laicization
“Laicized priest Frank Pavone was accused before his laicization of sexual harassment, grooming behavior, and coercive physical contact with young women, several sources close to the allegations have told The Pillar. The Pillar has learned that at least two reports of misconduct were sent to the Diocese of Amarillo during or before 2010, with additional complaints also likely filed, sources said. Reports involved allegedly inappropriate behavior toward interns and junior employees of Priests for Life, the non-profit organization Pavone has headed since 1993.” By the Pillar

El Paso Diocese sex abuse lawsuit settled
“A settlement on the eve of jury selection in Deming’s Sixth Judicial District Court last week pre-empted a civil trial against the Catholic Diocese of El Paso alleging past sexual abuse by a priest who is now deceased. The trial had been set to begin today (Jan. 24). The plaintiff, identified as John Doe 117 in the 2019 complaint, alleged he was abused during road trips to Deming by Father Pedro Martinez, a priest at the Mt. Carmel parish in El Paso, where the plaintiff also lived at the time.” By Algernon D’Ammassa, Demming Highlight

AFRICA

Pope urged to sanction Congo priest in child sex abuse case
“Kinshasa, DR Congo- Congolese and foreign activists on Monday (Jan. 30) called on Pope Francis to sanction a priest accused of sexually abusing a minor in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he arrives on Tuesday. A girl identified as Marie told reporters by video conference how she was raped nearly two years ago by a priest from the Tshumbe diocese in the center of the country, when, at the age of 14, she was ‘aspiring’ to join the church. Marie said she had informed the church authorities in Congo. Since then, ‘I am not living in safety, everyone around me is under threat,’ she said.” By Agence France-Press in Manila Bulletin

AUSTRALIA

Ex-Vic priest extradited on assault charge
“A former Victorian priest who was jailed for sexually abusing six schoolboys will be extradited to Tasmania to face more indecent assault charges. David Edwin Rapson was in 2015 found guilty of abusing the boys, aged between 11 and 16, at two Victorian boarding schools in the 1970s and 1980s. He was sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail, with a non-parole period of nine years and four months. The Victorian attorney-general office on Monday (Jan. 30) lodged an application in Melbourne Magistrates Court, requesting Rapson be extradited to Tasmania.” By Australian Associated Press on YahooNews.com

‘Tip of the iceberg’: hundreds of victims allege sexual abuse at Victorian state school
“Almost 400 civil claims have been made against the Victorian government for historical child sexual abuse in state schools in the past 12 years, with more than half settled out of court, documents obtained under freedom of information laws show. Since 2010, 381 claims have been made for abuse that occurred in Victorian state educational settings between 1960 and 2018, including primary and secondary schools, specialist schools, early learning centers and after-school care.” By Benita Kolovos, The Guardian

CANADA

Court rules on Mt. Cashel settlement for abuse cases
“A Jan. 12 decision by the Newfoundland Labrador Supreme Court is expected to solidify and focus the compensation claims process for the victims of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Geoff Budden, a lawyer for the claimants, told The Catholic Register that while ‘it isn’t the process that we advocated, it is a process we are fine with.’ ‘The court wrote that from our four representative plaintiffs, we’d get insights that would perhaps lead to resolutions for the other plaintiffs. The claims officer, he or she, could take these decisions as sample guidance to help determine the rewards for the balance of the claims,’ said Budden.” By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

Canada to pay Indigenous abuse survivors more than $2bn
“Canada will pay hundreds of Indigenous communities more than $2 billion in compensation for nearly a century of abuse suffered by children in residential schools, its government has announced. The Can$2.8 billion (US$2.1 billion) settlement, the result of a class action lawsuit by 325 Indigenous groups, will be placed in a not-for-profit trust independent of the government. It will be used to ‘revitalize Indigenous education, culture, and language -– to support survivors in healing and reconnecting with their heritage,’ according to a press release.” By France24.com

FRANCE

‘We want justice’: Victims of sexual abuse by French Catholic Church seek financial compensation
“On 5 October 2021, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the French Catholic Church published its report. Its revelations were chilling. From 1950 to 2020, no less than 330,000 minors were victims of sexual abuse by clerics or laypersons within the Church. In response, two independent bodies were created to deal with reparations: The National Body for Recognition and Reparation, and the Commission for Recognition and Reparation. More than a year later, have the victims been able to find peace? Far from it, says Nancy Couturier.” By Johan Bodinier, Euronews.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND AND WALES

Peterborough Catholic priest, 74, accused of abusing children
“A 74-year-old Catholic priest has gone on trial accused of sexually abusing two children in the 1980s. Dennis Finbow, who had worked in Dogsthorpe in Peterborough, faces six counts of indecently assaulting a boy and girl aged between 10 and 13. The trial at Huntingdon Crown Court heard the prosecution say that the defendant had touched the girl while she was in bed.”

 By BBC News

Shamed Glasgow priest convicted of sexually abusing girls
“A shamed priest was convicted today (Jan. 20) of sexually abusing four girls. Father Neil McGarrity, 68, preyed on his victims at two churches in Glasgow as well as his parish home in the city. McGarrity played ‘footsie’ under the table with one of the girls and was caught in a ‘prolonged embrace’ with another. The priest of 33 years, from the city’s Maryhill, also touched and rubbed the girls with one victim claiming he hugged her while sat on a couch.” By Connor Gordon, The Scotland Herald

Exclusive: bishop reported to police for abuse as Vatican probes lockdown sex parties
“Bishop Robert Byrne has been reported to the police following an allegation of abuse made against him by a Catholic priest, the Catholic Herald can reveal. The Oratorian stepped down as Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle in December – almost a decade before he was due to retire – saying that the demands of his office were ‘too great a burden.’ Last week, however, the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops launched an investigation for ‘an in-depth report into the events leading up to Bishop Byrne’s resignation”’ which will be overseen by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool.” By Simon Caldwell, Catholic Herald

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Spiritans told abuse survivor (74) they would deny everything and ‘get him’ for costs
“A survivor of abuse at a school run by the Spiritan congregation in south Dublin was told they would deny all allegations against them, force the case to a higher court and ‘get him’ for costs. Dr John Connolly (74) says he went to the Spiritan congregation in recent years with allegations of his abuse as a child in 1958 by the late principal Fr Robert Stanley (‘Stanno’) at their Willow Park school in Blackrock. However, Dr Connolly ended up in the Round Hall of the Four Courts in Dublin where he was told ‘they would not only deny everything but force it to a higher court and get me for costs [range €40,000-€80,000].’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

PHILIPPINES

Philippine Church must let the law take its own course
“Pope Francis has forbidden attempts to obstruct justice and asks to turn over clerical child abusers to civil authorities. The institutional Church in the Philippines has never had a priest jailed for child sexual abuse so far because as Cardinal Antonio Tagle told the BBC’s Hardtalk TV program, it was an internal affair handled by Church authorities. That policy is now changing as Pope Francis and the Vatican have forbidden such handling. The days of impunity are past. Or are they?” By UCSNews.com

Prosecutors, children win convictions of sex abusers
“It is a happy day when I can write about victories and convictions. Prosecutors are fighting hard for child rights and are winning important convictions. Judges, too, believe testimonies of children with horrifying accounts of multiple rape and sexual assault by biological fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles and Catholic priests. These are great victories for those who hunger or thirst for justice and have had their fill.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times

SPAIN

How is Spain facing up to its Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal
“For a long time, Fernando Garciá-Salmones found it hard to accept his own reflection in the mirror. When he was a schoolboy, aged just 14, a priest named José María Pita da Veiga began to sexually abuse him. Fernando says, ‘the vulture made the little mouse feel guilty.’ ‘The priest came to me one rainy day and asked me to go upstairs to dry off in his room and that’s when it started,’ he said.” By Carlos Marlasca, EuroNews.com

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Jan. 20, 2023

TOP STORIES

Hierarchy’s sacramental betrayal in abuse scandal obstructs synodality
“What I eventually came to understand about the scandal affected not only my career … It would also ultimately place in question much of what I knew and understood about the church. What transpired regarding the scandal in the more than 35 years since that phone conversation continues to be the dominant lens through which I view developments in the church, including the synodal process underway. I agree with theologian Massimo Faggioli and Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, who wrote recently in this space: ‘It must be understood that the chances of the synodal process that will soon begin its continental phase are closely tied to what the Catholic Church is doing and not doing on the abuse crisis. It’s about the abuse crisis even when it’s not explicitly about the abuse crisis.’” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

The life and complicated legacy of Pope Benedict XVI
“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at 95 on Saturday (Dec. 31), leaving behind a complicated legacdy and a lasting impact on Catholics across the globe. Margaret Roylance, vice president of Voice of the Faithful – a lay group that supports survivors of clergy sexual abuse – and Thomas Groome, professor of theology & religious education at Boston College, spoke to Liz Neisloss about the positive changes the late pope made within the Church, as well as the darker periods of his papacy.” By WGBH-TV News

Exclusive: Vatican must treat abuse victims better, pope’s lead investigator says
“Pope Francis’ lead clergy abuse investigator has acknowledged survivors’ frustrations with the Vatican’s strict culture of secrecy about Catholic bishops accused of misconduct or cover-up. Victims who bring a claim forward have a right to know how it is handled, said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna. In a National Catholic Reporter interview, Scicluna admitted the Vatican is not at what he termed ‘an optimal point’ with regard to how it follows up with abuse victims, calling the matter ‘something that needs to be developed.’” By Joshua J.McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Traditionalists, reform and women
“As the Catholic Synod on Synodality enters its ‘continental phase,’ some have wondered if the church is moving toward Vatican Three. Of course, there are still fights going on about Vatican Two. Not long ago, Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, said the current synod would lead ‘to a new reception of the Second Vatican Council,’ allowing the reforms of the mid-1960s to finally take hold. A small but vocal cadre of Catholics fears that precise possibility, which they caricature as a church overrun with bad liturgy, bad moral theology and guitar music.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service

Women and the Church
“We should not forget Sarah, but rather, we should remember her more than we do, and recognize her role in salvation history was at least equal to Abraham’s. What has happened to Sarah, the way we tend to forget about her and think only of Abraham, shows how easy it is for us to ignore the role women have played in salvation history. We must not think this is a problem only for those women born before Christ, for if we look at Christian history, it is clear that the role Christian women have played in history has been marginalized or forgotten, just like it was for their pre-Christian counterparts.” By Henry Karlson, Patheos

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY

Diocese again receives high grade in annual VOTF report
“In the recent 2022 financial transparency report by the Voice of the Faithful, a national lay organization of Catholics that formed after the revelations of clerical sexual abuse in 2002, the Fall River Diocese was again ranked among the top dioceses belonging to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For the second consecutive year the diocese earned a score of 92 out of 100 points. The report is based on a review of 177 dioceses across the country. The review was done last summer by a team of independent reviewers, with results published on November 30. The average score for the 177 dioceses surveyed was 70 (up from 69 last year).” By Anchor News of the Diocese of Fall River

McCarrick’s lawyers say he’s not competent to stand trial
“Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is in ‘significant’ mental decline and may not be fit to stand trial for allegedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy, his attorneys say in a new court filing. The legal team for the 92-year-old ex-prelate said it plans to file a motion to dismiss the case, citing a neurological exam conducted by Dr. David Schretlen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The exam took place on Dec. 5, 2022, at a facility in Missouri where McCarrick is living.” By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Pope Francis: synodal journey ‘a challenge and task’ for American seminarians
“Pope Francis told American seminarians in Rome that they are called to take up the ‘challenge and task’ of the synodal journey — of listening to the Holy Spirit and to one another — as they study to become priests. The pope met with students, staff, and faculty of the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican on the morning of Jan. 14. ‘Your time here in Rome,’ he said, ‘coincides with the synodal journey that the whole Church is presently undertaking, a journey that involves listening, to the Holy Spirit and to one another, in order to discern how to help God’s holy people live his gift of communion and become missionary disciples.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Church in Oceania prepares response to Synod of Bishops report
“The rich diversity of the Catholic Church across Oceania, as well as its unity, was evident during a meeting in Melbourne last week of representatives of the region’s four bishops conferences and Eastern Catholic churches. More than 20 people from across the Pacific gathered to reflect on and respond to the Working Document for the Continental Stage released by the Synod of Bishops Secretariat, titled Enlarge the Space of Your Tent. The discernment and writing group was convened to prepare a draft report from Oceania to be considered at next month’s assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) in Fiji.” By Catholic Outlook, News from the Diocese of Parramatta

Synod on Synodality: ‘great moment of ecclesial communion’: Catholic bishops in CAR
“The ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality offer an opportunity for ‘ecclesial communion’ among the people of God in the Central African Republic (CAR), Catholic Bishops in the country have said. In a statement issued Sunday, Jan. 15, members of the Central African Episcopal Conference (CECA) say the synodal process has helped the Church in CAR to seek a new beginning in Christ.” By Jude Atemanke, aciafrica.org

If taken seriously, the synodal process could transform race relations in the U.S. church
“Since our nation’s origin, color and race have crippled the quest for equality. The racial gap that many believed was narrowing has abruptly widened. White backlash to eight years of a Black president, police and vigilante killings of unarmed Blacks, the cumulative impacts of mass incarceration, disparities in health care, job opportunities, home financing, school suspensions, criminal justice sentences and other inequities confirm the 1968 Kerner Commission finding that America is two unequal societies.” By Daryl Grigsby, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis reorganizes Diocese of Rome in face of ‘epochal change’
“Pope Francis on Friday Jan. 6) issued a document reorganizing the Vicariate of Rome in what he called a time of ‘epochal change.’ The apostolic constitution, In Ecclesiarum Communione, replaces a 1998 constitution promulgated by Pope John Paul II. It goes into effect on Jan. 31. ‘In arranging this new Constitution for the Vicariate,’ Francis wrote in the preface, ‘in the face of an ‘epochal change’ that involves everything and everyone, I hope that it will be primarily an exemplary place of communion, dialogue and proximity, welcoming and transparent, at the service of the renewal and pastoral growth of the Diocese of Rome, an evangelizing community, a synodal Church, a people which credibly witness to God’s mercy.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, in National Catholic Register

Benedict’s burial leaves Francis alone, and unbound
“Since the first day of his papacy nearly a decade ago, Pope Francis has had to navigate an unprecedented complication in the Roman Catholic Church: coexisting with his retired predecessor in the same Vatican gardens. Supporters of Francis studiously played down the two-pontiff anomaly, but it generated confusion, especially when conservative acolytes of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sought to wrap their fervent opposition in their leader’s white robes.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

CARDINALS

George Pell, cardinal whose abuse conviction was overturned, dies at 81
“Cardinal George Pell, an Australian cleric and adviser to Pope Francis who became the most senior Roman Catholic prelate to be sent to prison for child sexual abuse and was later acquitted of all charges, died on Tuesday (Jan. 10) in Rome. He was 81 … Cardinal Pell was for decades one of Australia’s most powerful religious figures. A former athlete with a formidable intellect and a combative streak, he was a conservative voice heard regularly in the media, opposing abortion while defending the church against accusations of child abuse as the archbishop of the Melbourne diocese and then the Sydney diocese.” By Natasha Frost and Damien Cave, The New York Times

Woman accusing prominent cardinal of sexual misconduct reveals identity
“The woman who alleges she experienced unwanted sexual touching by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet has revealed her identity, saying she wants more transparency from the Vatican and to encourage others to come forward with their stories of abuse. Paméla Groleau is one of the more than 130 people taking part in a class action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec, which includes allegations of sexual misconduct against 96 members of its clergy dating back to 1940.” By CBC News

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

LCWR leaders talk about unprecedented transformation of religious life
“The biggest issues in religious life in the United States today all revolve around the transformation it is undergoing, say leaders of the organization representing about two-thirds of the country’s Catholic sisters. That was the focus of an hourlong interview Global Sisters Report staff had via Zoom with officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2022, during a GSR staff ‘summit’ at the National Catholic Reporter offices.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

For 2023, USIG officers prioritize the synodal journey and a ‘culture of care’
“Catholic sisters are looking both deeply outward and deeply inward — affirming both ministries to help heal a broken world and accompanying people on their spiritual journeys. Those are among the takeaways from a nearly 90-minute interview Global Sisters Report staff had via Zoom with officers of the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at National Catholic Reporter offices in Kansas City, Missouri.” By Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Dolores Curran had the shocking idea that laity might lead the Catholic Church
“With a peal of laughter, the dynamic, groundbreaking Dolores Curran arrived in heaven on Dec. 4. At a time when the U.S. Catholic Church was dominated by priests and religious, she introduced the then-shocking notion that the laity might also play a part. In her groundbreaking 1985 book “Who, Me Teach My Child Religion?” she suggested the home was an arena for spirituality and that parents just might find God there. She taught that the sacred work of relationships doesn’t happen only at church or on retreat, but in kitchens, garages and bedrooms.” By Kathy Coffey, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

Safeguarding requires experts, survivors, support, cardinal says
There can be no improvising or going it alone when it comes to preventing and handling cases of abuse in the Catholic Church, said U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Everything must be considered with an accusation: ‘the rights of victim, the rights of the accused, the civil authorities, the church, the parish, the families’ and more, the cardinal told Catholic News Service in Rome Jan. 6.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicReview.org

VATICAN

French priest restricted, not defrocked, after abuse claims
“The Vatican has ordered a prominent French priest who advised the Holy See for years on matters of sex and homosexuality to cease his psychotherapy practice following allegations he sexually abused men in his therapeutic care. But the Vatican didn’t defrock or otherwise sanction the Rev. Tony Anatrella despite several well-documented complaints against him, in further evidence of the Holy See’s reluctance to invoke harsh measures to punish priests who abuse adults.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The legacy of Cardinal George Pell: Is it what the church needs now?
“Cardinal George Pell, who died this week as a result of complications related to hip surgery, was the poster boy for Pope John Paul II’s ‘heroic priesthood,’ a discernible type of prelate that was common throughout the 20th century. Conspicuous, forceful, determined, dismissive toward contrary opinions, he was a polarizing figure convinced of the need to risk polarization in order to defend the church’s teachings.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

More Americans stay away from church as pandemic nears year three
“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every congregation in the United States shut down, at least for a while. For some Americans, that was the push they needed to never come back to church. A new report, which looked at in-person worship attendance patterns before the beginning of the pandemic and in 2022, found that a third of those surveyed never attend worship services. That’s up from 25% before the start of the pandemic.” By Bob Smietana, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Diane Langberg on church leaders and abuse: ‘We have utterly failed God’
“Not long after Diane Langberg began working as a clinical psychologist in the 1970s, a client told her that she had been a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Not sure of what to do, Langberg went to talk to her supervisor. The supervisor, Langberg recalled, dismissed the allegations. ‘He told me that women make these things up,’ Langberg said. ‘My job was to not be taken in by them.’ The supervisor’s response left Langberg in a dilemma. Did she believe her client? Or did she trust her supervisor’s advice?” By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service

Benedict XVI’s quiet exit at odds with his lasting imprint on the pontificate
“Some popes go out with a bang. The announcement of Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005 reverberated around the world, and in Rome, locals will tell you that his funeral was the biggest one in memory: Cars were abandoned mid-traffic, as mobs rushed toward St. Peter’s Basilica. An estimated 3 million faithful lined up for hours on end to glimpse John Paul’s casket. By comparison, the news of Benedict XVI’s death, delivered on New Year’s Eve, was met with an unmistakable air of quiet.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Survivors of sexual abuse plead for changes in Kansas law that protects pedophiles
“Four survivors of childhood sexual abuse revealed details about the worst moments of their lives in a public rebuke of state law that protects pedophiles from criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits. Backed by a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers, the women emphasized that it can take years before a survivor accepts what happened and is willing to talk about it. Most people who are victimized as children won’t share their experiences until they are over age 50. Kansas state law requires requires survivors to file a civil lawsuit by age 21.” By Shermin Smith, Louisiana Illuminator

New Pa. speaker wants ‘work group’ after slow session start
“A week after he was a surprise choice to become speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Monday (Jan. 9) canceled sessions for the rest of the week after failing to reach a deal on his primary legislative priority. Lawmakers were brought to the Capitol for a hastily called special session designed to speed passage of a two-year window for letting some victims of child sexual abuse file otherwise outdated lawsuits.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

Child sex abuse is ‘soul murder.’ Massachusetts should lift the statute of limitations
“A recent change in Maine law has given people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s a chance to seek justice, at long last, for the sex abuse they endured as children. The measure retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in these cases, allowing victims to seek restitution from the churches and summer camps and Boy Scout troops that had failed them so grievously decades ago. Robert Dupuis, 73, is among those who have filed suit since the law changed.” By The Boston Globe Editorial Board

Part 2: Law could eliminate statute of limitations in civil cases involving sexual assault
“Churches across the country, including Corpus Christi, have survivors of sexual abuse by priests asking for information about their alleged assailant. Patrick Wilkes has requested secret files on his father, James Wilkes, who was a priest in Corpus Christi but he said they have not been provided. He also said his father sexually abused him, his siblings and others.” By Bryan Hoffman, KRIS-TV6 News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Archbishop Scicluna defends Benedict XVI’s efforts to fight abuse
“Benedict XVI’s passing has reignited talk about how adequately he addressed sexual abuse in the Church. From being the first Pontiff to meet with abuse victims, to taking action against powerful and guilty priests, to being accused of mismanaging cases in his diocese when he was a bishop in Germany, the Pope Emeritus left a mixed record, according to many observers. However, the Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, has instead strongly defended the Pope Emeritus’ efforts in various statements published by multiple media outlets.” By Isabella H. de Carvalho, Aleteia

How might the latest George Pell coverage affect child sexual abuse survivors?
“You might have wondered if the recent death of George Pell, who was jailed in 2019 for child sexual abuse and then later acquitted, would bring a sense of relief or closure for victim survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse. After all, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found Pell had failed to do enough during his time in senior church roles in Australia to stop priests who abused children.” By The Conversation

CALIFORNIA

‘Just find the truth’: How ex-FBI aagents help the LA Archdiocese vet accusations
“For 25 years, Marty Gallagher tracked down kidnappers, investigated government fraud and foreign counterintelligence, and in one case even helped send a young military contractor to prison for espionage. After retiring from his post as a Los Angeles-based FBI agent in 1988, he spent time in the private sector … Then, in the 2000s, he discovered a new calling that asked for his talents and experience: helping the Catholic Church investigate allegations of clerical sexual abuse, part of a crisis that was then shaking the institution to its core.” By Tom Hoffarth and Pablo Kay, Angelus News

KANSAS

Kansas clergy not mandatory reporters for child sex crimes
“Following a KBI report involving child sexual abuse by Catholic Clergy in Kansas, the KSHB 41 I-Team has been digging into allegations made in the past, as well as examining possible solutions to prevent this type of abuse in the future. And, what we’re hearing from some critics, is that not enough is being done to ensure these crimes are reported.” By Caitlin Knute, KSHB-TV41 News

Victims’ attorney reacts to KBI report detailing child abuse by Catholic clergy in Kansas
“The 21-page report details what KBI calls an immense investigation. It has a scope of more than 50 years, looking into all four archdioceses of Kansas. During the four-year investigation, KBI’s Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Task Force identified more than 400 victims, opened 125 criminal cases and investigated nearly 200 clergy members. The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, recommended this investigation to the Attorney General’s Office in November 2018. On Saturday (Jan. 7), they released a statement in response to the report — saying you cannot read it without your heart breaking.” By Peyton Headlee, KMBC-TV9 News

MAINE

Suit alleges sexual abuse at religious retreats in Bucksport and Bar Harbor decades ago
“An unnamed Oregon woman, ‘Jane Doe,’ who lived in a Catholic orphanage in Massachusetts in the 1950s, has filed a federal civil suit against the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate alleging sexual abuse by priests during Oblate-run retreats in Bar Harbor and Bucksport when she was a young child … The Maine Legislature in June of 2021 lifted a statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases, which is allowing the case of “Jane Doe” and a dozen others to move through the Maine civil court system.” By Jennifer Osborn, The Ellsworth American

Lawsuit alleges Bangor Catholic priest sexually assaulted woman in 1970s
“Another lawsuit has been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, alleging sexual abuse. Mary Banks, a former Cumberland resident, alleges former priest Renal C. Halle at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor sexually assaulted her while she was a member of the diocese’s youth organization, according to the Portland Press Herald. The lawsuit includes seven counts, including sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” By CBS-TV13 News

Decades-old abuse claims against Portland diocese, once blocked, pour in after state law change
“When the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino allegedly sexually abused a 6-year-old Ann Marie Burke at St. Peter Parish nearly 60 years ago, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland already was aware of at least one other girl Sabatino had reportedly abused at a different church in Lewiston several years earlier. The church moved Sabatino from Lewiston to Portland in 1958, after 6-year-old Patricia Butkowski‘s parents presented church officials with evidence the priest had sexually abused their daughter, a report from the Maine Attorney General’s office revealed 46 years later.” By Emily Allen and eric Russell, Portland Pess Herald

MASSACHUSETTS

Abuse victim speaks out
“The priest who sexually abused David Rigby in 1976 said he was giving the young student a medical exam. ‘As a naive, 14-year-old boy I didn’t realize that priests with no medical qualifications don’t have the right to give a medical exam to anybody,’ Rigby said Monday (Jan. 9). He was speaking on a corner in Andover across from St. Augustine Parish, where he was accompanied by Robert Hoatson of Road to Recovery, a charity that assists victims of sexual abuse. Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston attorney who represents clergy sex abuse victims, was present on Zoom. He said he earned a low, six-figure settlement a month ago for Rigby’s abuse and that of one other boy at the hands of the priest, Robert Turnbull.” By Will Broaddus, The Eagle-Tribune

MISSOURI

Former St. Louis priest sentenced to prison for thousands of child porn images
“A former Catholic priest was sentenced Tuesday (Jan. 10) to five years in prison after admitting to possessing thousands of pieces of child pornography and putting them into PowerPoints that he edited over the course of more than a decade. Father James Beighlie, 72, was a Vincentian priest who most recently served as an associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis. He pleaded guilty in October to two counts of possession of child pornography. In exchange, prosecutors recommended he receive a prison sentence within a federal guideline range of just over seven years in prison.” By Katie Kull, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

How much will Pa. have to pay for child sex abuse claims if lawsuit window is opened up?
“As state lawmakers decide the political costs of opening a two-year window for child sex abuse survivors to sue, much of the debate about the two-year window for those past the statute of limitations has been about the potential financial impact on the catholic church over the egregious abuse claims outlined in those grand jury reports. But that proposal would open the door for all adult victims of child sexual abuse, and a new study shows how much that could ultimately cost taxpayers.” By WJAC-TV21 News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Catholic priest who formerly served in Charleston indicted on federal sex abuse charges
“Federal prosecutors charged a Catholic priest who served for several years in the Charleston Diocese with sexually abusing an 11-year-old child. Jaime Adolfo Gonzalez-Farias, 68, was arrested Nov. 28, 2022, in Florida, court records show. The Chilean national had worked in South Carolina as a visiting priest of the Diocese of San Bernardo, Chile, between 2015 and 2020, according to church records. Prosecutors charged him in an October 2022 indictment with three counts of sexual crimes: coercion or enticement of a minor; transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; and aggravated sexual abuse of children.” By Jocelyn Grzeszczak, The Post and Courier

TEXAS

Six investigates obtains secret documents held by the Diocese of Corpus Christi
“The history of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church is widely documented. Locally, there are at least 12 pending civil cases against the Diocese of Corpus Christi. 6 Investigates obtained secret documents from the Diocese of Corpus Christi, which showed the steps they took, or didn’t take, when dealing with accusations against a local priest.” By Bryan Hoffman, KRIS-TV6 News

VERMONT

Vermont lawmaker to seek to close clergy reporting exemption
“The head of the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee says he’s going to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session to close an exemption to the state’s child abuse and neglect reporting laws for members of the clergy. Democratic Sen. Richard Sears of Bennington says he was unaware that the Vermont law requiring members of a number of professions, including doctors, teachers, social workers and the clergy, to report abuse if they become aware of it contains an exemption for members of the clergy if they become aware of abuse during a setting that is considered privileged, such as during confession.” By Wilson Ring, Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

Former altar boy’s father to press on with abuse case against Pell
“The father of a former altar boy will press ahead with legal action against Cardinal George Pell’s estate over the alleged sexual abuse of his son, his lawyers said Wednesday (Jan. 11). Shine Lawyers said they would continue to pursue the claim against any estate left by the cardinal, who died Tuesday in Rome. The former altar boy died in 2014, and his father — who has not been identified — filed the claim against Pell and the Archdiocese of Melbourne in 2021.” By Agence France-Presse, on UCANews.com

CANADA

French demonstrators demand extradition of retired priest accused of abusing Inuit children
“The French government denied Canada’s extradition request for Johannes Rivoire last fall. ‘For us as French citizen[s], it’s a real shame that our government refuses to make part of justice for Inuit people,’ said Amandine Sanvisens, who was among the demonstrators. ‘We wanted to show and to put the light on this place where he lives.’ The allegations against Rivoire stem from his time working as an Oblate priest in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s.” By CBC News

CHILE

‘Blanquita’ turns real-life case of child abuse into indictment of injustice
“In spite of her youth, Blanquita (Laura López) knows she doesn’t want to be a saint. She’s tried it before, she says, and it didn’t work out. By age 18, she’s seen enough of life’s darkest side to know being good doesn’t mean she’ll be treated justly. She has spent her life living under a care system that’s failed to care for her when she needed it most, allowing men to abuse and exploit her in myriad ways. All she wants now is a place to live with her baby daughter, the identity of the father anyone’s guess considering she’s been sexually abused repeatedly and forced to engage in sex work in order to survive.” By Jose Solis, National Catholic Reporter

FRANCE

Former archbishop of Paris under investigation for sexual assault is ‘outraged but serene’
“The former archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, is reportedly under preliminary investigation for sexual assault on a vulnerable person, according to a report from the Archdiocese of Paris in late November 2022, French news channel BFMTV reported. According to the TV channel’s report, the allegations date back to 2011 and concern a vulnerable former parishioner, subject to a judicial protection measure. Aupetit is suspected of having exchanged sexual emails with this parishioner, who suffers from a “slight mental deficiency.” By Solène Tadié, Catholic News Agency

GERMANY

Catholic Church: one year Munich abuse report
“Many who were abused by Catholic clergymen as children or young people find that too little has happened. One of them is Rolf Fahnenbruck, who experienced severe sexualized violence as a child in the diocese of Essen and now lives in the diocese of Passau. He is the spokesman for the local Advisory Board. So far, he has been compensated for his suffering with 25,000 euros. But it’s not about the money, he says in an interview BR24. Because even with the performance notice, a person affected by abuse is alone again with his problem.” By David Sadler Globe Echo World News

INDIA

Vatican replaces Indian bishop accused of serious crimes
“An Indian Catholic bishop probed by a Vatican-appointed team of bishops for alleged involvement in serious crimes like murder, rape and misappropriation of church funds, has been ordered to ‘take a period of absence from the ministry.’ Bishop Kannikadass A William of Mysore (now Mysuru) has been replaced by retired Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore as apostolic administrator of southern India’s Karnataka state.” By UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Spiritan scandal: ‘Why was Fr. Arthur Carragher moved to Canads, where he was free to abuse my 10-year-old brother?
“Pete Fischer was standing in a queue at the supermarket when the call came that turned everything he knew, or thought he knew, about his older brother Jeff on its head. It was August 2018. The Pope’s visit to Ireland was making international headlines. An Irish man was interviewed on Canadian television about the sexual abuse he’d suffered as a child in Dublin at the hands of a priest called Fr Arthur Carragher, who was later shunted off to Canada.” By Maeve Sheehan, Independent.ie

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand church leaders make commitments to abuse survivors
“The bishops and the leaders of religious orders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand have published a statement of commitments adopted in response to the continuing work of the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care. The statement is signed by Fr Thomas Rouse SSC, President of the Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa New Zealand, and Cardinal John Dew, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, on behalf of their respective members. The set of 10 commitments – along with others previously made – will become part of what the Church calls the ‘Tautoko Roadmap’ for the path the Church is taking in response to the royal commission and the wishes of abuse survivors.” By CathNews.com

PHILIPPINES

Old clerical abuse habits die hard in the Philippines
One serious case shows how some Church authorities still look to cover up sex attacks on minors—The many incidents of child sexual abuse by predator priests have shamed thousands of good bishops and benevolent clerics who have been justly angered by the rampant salacious acts of their fellow pedophile priests and in some cases by high-profile bishops and high-ranking cardinals. They feel helpless when their bishop protects the abuser priest and calls him ‘his son.’ They long for justice for the victims and wish to exonerate their own vocation and the blemished priesthood from the tyranny of abuser priests.” By UCANews.com

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Dec. 2, 2022

Dec. 2, 2022

TOP STORIES

Exclusive: Pope Francis denounces polarization, talks women’s ordination, the U.S. bishops and more
“On Nov. 22, 2022, five representatives of America Media interviewed Pope Francis at his residence at Santa Marta at the Vatican. Matt Malone, S.J., the departing editor in chief of America, was joined by Sam Sawyer, S.J., the incoming editor in chief; executive editor Kerry Weber; Gerard O’Connell, America’s Vatican correspondent; and Gloria Purvis, host of ‘The Gloria Purvis Podcast.’ They discussed a wide range of topics with the pope, including polarization in the U.S. church, racism, the war in Ukraine, the Vatican’s relations with China and church teaching on the ordination of women.” By the Editors at America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis wants to consider ordaining married men as priests
“Pope Francis has stirred Catholics around the world with his relatively open comments on homosexuality, abortions and climate change, but his latest statement hints he may be looking at moving the Church toward loosening one of its most stringent rules. The Pope said in an interview Thursday (Nov. 17) that he might consider ordaining married men who could work in rural areas where there are few priests, according to the Associated Press. His remarks came in an interview with the Germany newspaper Die Zeit.” By Abigail Abrams, Time

Maryland finds that for hundreds of clergy abuse victims, ‘No parish was safe’
“The attorney general of Maryland has identified more than 600 young victims of clergy sexual abuse over the course of 80 years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, according to a court document filed Thursday (Nov. 17). The filing, which broadly outlines the attorney general’s findings, requests that a judge allow the release of the full report: a 456-page document detailing decades of clergy sex abuse in Maryland. The new report marks a symbolic milestone in the long-running international abuse scandal that has shaken faith in the Catholic Church and led to some reforms and billions of dollars in settlements.” By Ruth Graham, The New York Times

Italian bishops take cautious step toward transparency on abuse
“On Thursday (Nov. 17) the Italian bishops released their first-ever report on national safeguarding efforts, revealing nearly 100 new and old cases documented in the past two years, but sharing few details about these incidents. The report spanned just two years, from 2020-2021, and found that 89 complaints had been made against 68 alleged abusers, which many observers consider a significantly high number, given that these complaints were made through diocesan-run listening centers established in dioceses throughout Italy for the specific purpose of receiving abuse reports.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Stika, Knoxville diocese to face apostolic visitation
“A Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation will be conducted in the Diocese of Knoxville next week, several sources close to the diocese. Sources told The Pillar Friday (Nov. 25) that Bishops Barry Knestout of Richmond and Michael Burbidge of Arlington have been directed to visit with priests, diocesan officials, and lay Catholics over several days, amid ongoing concern over the leadership of Bishop Rick Stika. The decision to commission an on-site assessment of the diocese comes more than 18 months after priests in the diocese reported to the Vatican concerns about Stika’s handling of reports against a former diocesan seminarian, who was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting other seminarians and a parish organist.” By The Pillar

Seattle Archdiocese criticized for buying $2.4 million home for archbishop
“Seattle Archbishop Paul Etienne will be moving from a parish rectory into a newly purchased $2.4 million home in an upscale waterfront neighborhood. Archdiocesan officials say the relocation is necessary to better accommodate guests but the decision has also garnered criticism. ‘The move is breaking a promise that the archbishop made to us in a pretty major way,’ said Tim Law, a Seattle Catholic and attorney who is a member of Heal Our Church, a Washington-based alliance calling for a lay-led review of the Seattle Archdiocese’s private records on clergy abuse.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

Bills to mandate clergy report abuses will return to the Utah state legislature
Bills that remove priest-penitent privilege when it comes to disclosures of child abuse will be run in the upcoming legislative session. Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, told FOX 13 News on Monday (Nov. 21) she has drafted and numbered a bill that would require clergy to report any disclosure of abuse by a perpetrator to law enforcement to investigate. Failure to report abuse would be a misdemeanor crime under the legislation, on par with other professions that are required to report disclosures.” By Ben Winslow, FOX-TV13 News

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synod process has faced ‘temptations’ along the way
“While some want Church ‘reform’ and others want ‘to put the brakes on the Synod process,’ those involved in preparing the next phase of the Synod on Synodality want to ‘mend’ the Church, said a top cardinal. As final plans are made for the continental phase leading to the Synod of Bishops 2023-24, the bishops and coordinators responsible for the regional meetings met at the Vatican on Monday (Nov. 28) and Tuesday. Meeting Pope Francis on Monday, the Synod’s relator general, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, said the process has faced ‘temptations’ along the way. Particularly in the media, he said, there is a temptation to politicize the Church, looking at it ‘with the logic of politics.’” By CathNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis removes Caritas Internationalis leaders, appoints temporary administrator
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (Nov. 22) removed the entire leadership of an international confederation of charities and appointed a temporary administrator to improve the organization’s management. Pope Francis issued a decree Nov. 22 appointing Pier Francesco Pinelli, an Italian management consultant, as temporary administrator of Caritas Internationalis (CI). With the same ordinance, the pope said the positions of the Catholic confederation’s leadership are to cease immediately. This decision includes Caritas Internationalis president Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and secretary general Aloysius John. The positions of the vice presidents, treasurer, ecclesiastical assistant, executive council, and representative council also end.” By ACI Prensa Staff in The Pilot

BISHOPS

Hierarchicalism is the root of U.S. bishops’ culture war mentality
“NCR’s former executive editor, Tom Roberts, referred to (James) Keenan’s writing on hierarchicalism after the June 2021 bishops’ meeting, when he opined about the conference’s proposal to deny Communion to pro-choice politicians: The move to produce a document designed to render a severe and public judgment of President Joe Biden was engineered by men who, ensconced in a culture capable of stunning depravity and cover-up, have been searching for any means to reestablish their authority. I believe that this problem of hierarchicalism is one of the most important issues that needs to be addressed at the universal synod scheduled for 2023 and 2024.” By Jim Purcell, National Catholic Reporter

Interview: Bishop Stowe wants the USCCB to take Pope Francis’ priorities seriously
“Just a few hours after its bishop-members voted down the candidacy of Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark for the number-three spot at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 16, Bishop John Stowe, O.F.M. Conv. of Lexington, Ky., was smiling through evident frustration. In a few hours he would—again—implore his fellow bishops to consider a complete rewrite of its quadrennial Faithful Citizenship statement, with the aim of reflecting the ecological and economic issues prioritized over the last decade by Pope Francis.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Archbishop Broglio, questioned on abuse, homosexuality and whether he’s a ‘Pope Francis’ bishop in first press conference as USCCB head
“If his first press conference is any indication of what is in store for him over the next three years, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the president-elect of the USCCB, may be in for a bit of a bumpy ride—and with him the church in the United States. In just a few short minutes after being introduced to the press for the first time as president-elect of the conference on Nov. 15, the archbishop was asked about his past relationship with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whether or not he still believed that homosexuality in the priesthood was among the primary drivers of the church’s clerical abuse crisis and, finally, whether his election to the U.S.C.C.B presidency signified a continued estrangement among bishops in the United States from the aims and hopes of Pope Francis for the global church.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

10 key things the U.S. bishops did at their fall meeting in Baltimore
“The U.S. Catholic bishops are headed back to their dioceses after gathering in Baltimore this week for their annual fall meeting. Here’s a summary of key actions taken at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) fall plenary assembly …” By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report

German bishops assure Vatican but vow to proceed with reform
“Germany’s Catholic bishops insisted Saturday (Nov. 19) that their reform process won’t lead to a schism and vowed to see it through, after tense meetings with Vatican officials who want a moratorium on proposals to ordain women, bless same-sex unions and rethink church teaching on sexuality … The periodic once-every-five-year visit took on far greater import this time given the demands for change and reform among Germany’s rank-and-file Catholics following the German church’s reckoning with decades of clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Bishops mark charter’s 20th year, pledge continued outreach to survivors
“Twenty years ago, the big news from the bishops’ general assembly in Dallas was the adoption of the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,’ a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. This year, at their assembly in Baltimore Nov. 14-17, they acknowledged the charter’s anniversary and said that they have made steps in addressing clergy sexual abuse and would continue to listen, care for and walk with survivors.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Accused Albany bishop asks to be removed from the priesthood
“The retired bishop of Albany, New York, who has admitted to covering up for predator priests and has himself been accused of sexual abuse, has asked Pope Francis to remove him from the priesthood. Emeritus Bishop Howard Hubbard, 84, announced the decision in a statement Friday (Nov. 18), the day the United Nations designated as the World Day for the Prevention of, and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Q&A with Sr. Anne Munley, discerning the future of religious life for LCWR
“The 2021 assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious introduced Sr. Anne Munley as the associate director for LCWR’s Emerging Future Initiative. At the 2022 assembly in August, Munley presented an update on the process, specifically the five Collaborative Leadership Hubs held across the United States between April and June in which leaders contemplated, discussed and discerned the emerging future of religious life.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Vatican appoints first lay finance chief after prefect resigns
“Pope Francis has appointed the first non-cleric to manage the Vatican’s finances after the current prefect, a Jesuit priest, resigned due to health reasons. Maximiliano Caballero Ledo, 62, a Spanish financier who has worked for the United States multinational Baxter Healthcare, becomes the Prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy, an office with authority over all economic affairs of the Holy See.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese recognized for financial transparency
“The Diocese of Allentown has been recognized for its financial transparency in a nationwide report. The findings were contained in a report by Voice of the Faithful, a group of lay Catholics focused on Church governance that conducts an annual survey of diocesan financial transparency each summer. The group produces a scorecard that rates dioceses against each other, and against the national average performance, in an effort to spur improvement. The 2022 report listed the Diocese of Allentown among the five most-improved dioceses in the nation in financial transparency.” By Diocese of Allentown

Vatican officials seek to hamstring former auditor’s $9.6 million lawsuit
“Just a week after the Vatican’s first auditor general and his deputy filed a $9.6 million lawsuit for wrongful dismissal, the Vatican’s legal system has seemingly sought to hamstring the claim by refusing to certify the plaintiffs’ chosen lawyer. Speaking to journalists Nov. 17, Libero Milone, the Vatican’s first auditor general, who appointed in 2015 and fired in 2017 along with his deputy Ferruccio Panicco, said that a week after filing their suit, their lawyer had been rejected by officials in charge of certifying attorneys to appear before Vatican courts.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Cardinal Becciu and the twists and turns of the Vatican finance trial
“As the Vatican trial against Cardinal Angelo Becciu and nine others rounds the corner in its 16th month, recent court hearings have introduced a few revelations about the case as well as possible new accusations against the Secretariat of State’s former No. 2. Here are some of the latest twists and turns in the trial to prosecute people in and around the Vatican for financial crimes.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

VOICES

U.S. bishops’ decline into irrelevance will continue
“I suppose it was fitting, in a depressing kind of way, that the U.S. bishops’ conference plenary coincided with former President Donald Trump’s announcement he is seeking the presidency in 2024. In both church and state, the future will be dominated by divisiveness and a culture war ethic for the next few years, a result that contradicts the founding mission of both. The future is grim. The church understands its most essential mission to be proclaiming Christ as ‘Lumen gentium,’ the ‘Light of nations’ in the words of the Second Vatican Council … Alas, the ‘unity of the whole human race’ is not likely going to be part of the U.S. bishops’ agenda during the tenure of Archbishop Timothy Broglio as president of the conference.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Geographic

Dear bishops: We know the church is struggling. Let the rest of us help you.
“Recently, the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced a proposal that would close more than half of its 178 parishes. The issues that the archdiocese has cited are all too familiar in the United States: decreasing attendance and an aging clergy. The fact is, in the United States, young Catholics are not coming to church … I am hardly in a position to understand what it’s like to be a bishop facing what seems like our own Catholic version of oncoming climate change disaster. But if I had one wish for the U.S. bishops right now, it is that those who are concerned or uncertain about our future would share that experience with the rest of us. As paradoxical as it may seem, I think doing so could be a tremendous source of not only hope but enthusiasm in these trying times.” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Adult survivors of past sexual abuse now have a year to sue the alleged abuser
“There is a statute of limitations for reporting adult sexual abuse. That statute is being waived for one year, which began Thanksgiving day, due to the Adult Survivors Act. The act is modelled on the Child Victims Act, which was approved in 2019. It allows people who were over 18 years of age when they experienced sexual abuse to have a one year window of opportunity to file a claim against their alleged abuser in civil court. They can bring legal action even if the statute of limitations for the crime has expired.” By Karen DeWitt, WAER-FM

CA ‘look-back’ window closing for adult victims of childhood sex abuse
“Southern California resident Patricia Egan, 65, is breathing easier, she said, after having her day in court. In November, Egan, now 65, won an $18 million lawsuit against her former brother-in-law, the man she says sexually abused her during the ’60s and ’70s, starting when she was 11 years old. Now, however, the three-year legal window that enables older adult victims such as Egan to sue for damages against their childhood sexual abusers is about to close in California.” By Ashley Ludwig, Patch.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic Church sexual abuse victims in Baltimore speak out in favor of AG report release
“Individuals abused by Catholic priests in Maryland gathered in front of the Baltimore Archdiocese office on Friday (Nov. 18) to speak out in favor of public release of the grand jury investigation into religious leaders accused of abuse. After four years of investigation, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office has gathered a 456-page report that identifies 158 priests who are accused of abusing more than 600 children over an 80 year period. Attorney General Brian Frosh is seeking a court order, as required by state law, to release the grand jury documents to the public.” By Scott Maucione, WYPR-FM National Public Radio Baltimore

CALIFORNIA

These 10 Bay Area clergy are now linked for the first time to Catholic Church sex abuse scandal
“As a deadline looms for new lawsuits to root out decades-old abuse, 14 Northern California priests — including 10 in the Bay Area — have been accused for the first time of sexually abusing children, adding to the list of dozens of disgraced clergy already exposed in recent years in a scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic church for a generation. The 14 accused priests came to light in a torrent of litigation unleashed by Assembly Bill 218, which opened a three-year window from 2020-2022 during which adults who say they were abused long ago as children are allowed to sue.” By John Woolfolk, Daily News

New lawsuits filed against Hanna Boys Cener as CA clergy abuse law deadline approaches
“More than a dozen new lawsuits have been filed against Hanna Boys Center of Sonoma by men who say they were abused by Catholic priests and staff there when they were children. We’ve been speaking to survivors, former staff, and officials now running the residential treatment center. A state law that allows survivors of clergy sexual abuse to file lawsuits — no matter how long ago it happened — expires at the end of next month. As a result, there has been a rush of new complaints. No question, Hanna Boys Center has done some good over the years, helping kids struggling with school or family life.” By Dan Noyes, ABC-TV7 News

INDIANA

Catholic Diocese of Evansville clears priest of sexual misconduct allegation
“The Rev. Bernie Etienne, a priest who had been accused of sexual misconduct, has been returned to active ministry, the Catholic Diocese of Evansville said Friday (Nov. 25). The move comes ‘following completion of a thorough investigation,’ according to a statement released Friday morning by the Diocese. Etienne’s return is effective immediately. At the time he was placed on administrative leave in March, Etienne was serving as pastor at Evansville’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 1301 S. Green River Road.” By Thomas B. Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press

MARYLAND

Baltimore archdiocese is funding attorneys seeking to seal abuse proceedings
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore confirmed Tuesday (Nov. 22) that it is helping pay the legal expenses of an anonymous group of people seeking to seal the proceedings around a report by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office on clergy sexual abuse of minors. Christian Kendzierski, an archdiocese spokesman, reiterated that the church is not seeking to suppress a 456-page report by the office of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. But, Kendzierski said, the church has unspecified obligations to a group of individuals who are named in the attorney general’s report but are not accused of sexual abuse and who have argued that their side should be heard before the report is made public.” By Fredrick Kunkle and Michelle Boorstein, The Washinton Post

Baltimore’s Catholic archdiocese will not oppose public release of AG report detailing sexual abuse
“After days of mixed signals, the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore announced Tuesday (Nov. 22) that it would not oppose the public release of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s report showing the extent of sexual abuses committed by clergy over the past eight decades. The announcement comes after Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office revealed in a court filing that it had completed a 456-page report detailing how 158 priests and other church officials had sexually abused more than 600 people — some of them as young as preschool age. What’s more, the report reveals how the church often ignored abuse reports, and often helped cover the abuses up.” By Lainey Steadman, Baltimore News Source

Maryland probe finds 158 abusive priests, over 600 victims
“An investigation by Maryland’s attorney general identified 158 Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who have been accused of sexually and physically abusing more than 600 victims over the past 80 years, according to court records filed Thursday. Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that his office has completed a 463-page report on the investigation, which began in 2019. He filed a motion in Baltimore Circuit Court to make the report public. Court permission is required because the report contains information from grand jury subpoenas. It’s unclear when the court will make a decision.” By Brian Witte, Religion News Service

NEW YORK.

Judge orders NY Archdiocese to turn over its investigative records on Hubbard
“A state Supreme Court justice has ordered the Archdiocese of New York to turn over roughly 1,400 pages of internal records related to its investigations of Howard J. Hubbard, rejecting the organization’s arguments that the documents regarding the former Albany bishop are constitutionally protected under the religious clauses of the First Amendment.” By Brendan J. Lyons, Buffalo Times Union

Insurers in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy put on notice by Rochester abuse settlement plan
“The Rochester Diocese’s novel strategy to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy by paying childhood sex abuse survivors $55 million and allowing them to sue the diocese’s insurers for additional damages may provide a template for other bankrupt dioceses in New York, including Buffalo, according to legal experts. Across the United States, insurance contributions have been a backbone of most diocese bankruptcy settlement plans over the past decade, with insurance companies paying hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid litigation in sex abuse cases.” By Jay Tokasz, Buffalo News

PENNSYLVANIA

Harrisburg Diocese settlement calls for payment of $18 million to about 60 clergy abuse survivors
“After more than two-and-a-half years of negotiation, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and a committee representing survivors of sexual abuse by its clergy have announced agreement on an $18.25 million settlement fund designed to resolve all remaining abuse claims. The settlement agreement – part of an overall reorganization plan to resolve the diocese’s bankruptcy case – was filed in federal court Friday (Nov. 18), and still needs approval from the various classes of creditors and the judge overseeing the diocese’s bankruptcy case.” By Charles Thompson, Patriot News, on PennLive.com

RHODE ISLAND

Why do sexual abuse scandals keep happening in Rhode Island?

This year, the state has been rocked by a series of child sexual abuse scandals in the schools and Catholic Church … In February, the Diocese of Providence removed two priests from ministry. Pastor Francis C. Santilli of St. Philip Parish in Greenville was placed on administrative leave after multiple allegations of sexual abuse. The diocese also removed Father Eric Silva from church assignments in Barrington and, later, in Narragansett after parents in Cranston and Barrington alleged that he asked their children questions about their sexual orientation and activity during confession, reportedly accusing them of lying if they denied being gay or sexually active.” By Ellen Liberman, Rhode Island Monthly

TENNESSEE

Chattanooga Catholics call for removal of Knowville bishop, allege mishandling of sexual abuse claims, finances
“In late October, two Chattanooga-area Catholics, Theresa Critchfield and Kristy Higgins, drove with their children to a protest outside the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Knoxville. The protest was held by SNAP of Tennessee, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Its principal organizer, Susan Vance, has for two decades agitated, often alone, for more transparency from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville. In February, after an anonymous plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the diocese claiming Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika had impeded an investigation into a sexual assault allegedly committed by a then-diocese employee, Vance called for the bishop to resign.” By Andrew Schwartz, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Widow says she was groped by Catholic priest during grief counseling session
“A Honduran asylum-seeker living in Tennessee alleges in a federal lawsuit that the Diocese of Knoxville tried to sabotage a police investigation after she accused a priest of groping her during a grief counseling session following her husband’s death. Identified in court papers as Jane Doe, the mother of three alleges in the lawsuit filed on Nov. 10 that the diocese ‘obstructed law enforcement’ and tried to intimidate her into ‘abandoning her cooperation with the criminal prosecution’ of the Rev. Antony Devassey Punnackal.” By Corky Siemaszko, NBC-TV News

WISCONSIN

Superior Diocese releases list of 23 credibly accused priests, including one man removed this year
“The Diocese of Superior has named 23 priests that it believes have been credibly accused of sexual abuse over the course of its history, including one priest removed from the ministry in September over accusations from the 1990s. According to the records, James Bartelme was placed on administrative leave on September 8, relating to a single allegation of abuse that occurred in 1990 and 1991 in Superior. According to a 2021 guest column in the Catholic Herald, Bartelme, 71, is a retired priest.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

AUSTRALIA

Law against secrecy of confession takes effect
“The law applies to Western Australia, the largest of the Australian states. Entering into force on November 1, 2022, it obliges ministers of religion to report all cases of child abuse, including those for which the information obtained would have been within the framework of the Sacrament of Penance. These changes are part of new laws introduced by the government of Mark McGowan, currently Premier of Western Australia. However, this law was passed in October of 2021.” By FSSPX.news

CANADA

As church sales continue, lawyers bicker over how millions for abuse victims should be paid
“While a Catholic archdiocese in Newfoundland and Labrador continues to sell off its properties, lawyers are squabbling over how millions in proceeds from those sales should be paid out to abuse victims. The two sides are miles apart, but only one side is talking. ‘We believe there are better ways of approaching it,’ said St. John’s lawyer Geoff Budden, who represents dozens of abuse victims, on Monday (Nov. 21).” By Terry Roberts, CBC News

FRANCE

Another retired French bishop admits to hiding past sexual abuse
“Another retired French archbishop has admitted to past sexual abuse and a parish priest was sidelined after his abuse case came to light. The fallout from recent revelations of past sexual abuse by a cardinal and a bishop continues to torment the French Catholic Church. Former Strasbourg Archbishop Jean-Pierre Grallet, 81, admitted making ‘inappropriate gestures’ to an adult woman in the past and now faces civil and canonical inquiries. The woman, prompted by calls for victims to come forward, informed French police during the summer.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

French Roman Catholic Church wants to regain faith of population
“Several cases of sexual abuse have undermined the trust in the Roman Catholic Church in France. Therefore, the French Conference of Bishops has decided to take measures to regain the population’s confidence … Marie-Jo Thiel, theologian, doctor and professor of ethics, argues for a strategy to denounce all the culprits. Furthermore, she pleads for better training for new bishops. Now, they only have to follow a 48-hour training course in Rome that should equip them for their entire episcopate.” By CNE.news

INDIA

Priest arrested under POSCO, remanded to one-day police custody
“Pune city Police on Saturday (Nov. 26) arrested Father Vincent Pereira, a priest, under sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). He was remanded to one-day police custody by a city court. Pereira was arrested in connection to a case of sexual abuse registered with Bundgarden police on Friday, said Assistant Police Inspector Shilpa Lambe. ‘There are other sexual abuse cases pending against him in various police stations,’ she told The Indian Express.” By The Indian Express

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Blackrock and Spiritan pupils look back: ‘I was never sexually abused at school, but …’
“This week, The Irish Times invited people who had attended Spiritan and other schools to share their experiences in the wake of revelations of widespread abuse at the order’s schools. They include Willow Park, Blackrock, St Mary’s and St Michaels colleges in Dublin, Rockwell College in Co Tipperary, and others in Ireland and overseas. We sought responses from people who had experienced abuse themselves, had witnessed it, or had learned only recently that it occurred in their school.” By Carl O’Brien, The Irish Times

Priest sexually assaulted boys while telling parishioners he was disgusted by church abuse
“A former priest who will be sentenced in December for a horrific series of rapes and sex attacks on a schoolboy was a serial predator who abused a number of boys while telling parishioners he was sickened by the extent of abuse within the Catholic Church. The now defrocked Denis Nolan (70) formerly of The Presbytery, Rathnew, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of anal rape, one of oral rape and five of sexual assault of the schoolboy on dates between January 2001 and December 2005.” By Alan Sherry, Sunday World

ITALY

Italy church says 600 sex abuse cases sent to Vatican
“Italy’s Catholic bishops provided their first accounting of clergy sexual abuse and revealed Thursday (Nov. 17) that more than 600 cases from Italy were on file at the Vatican since 2000. The report of the Italian bishops’ conference, which only covered complaints that local Italian church authorities had received over the last two years, did not mention the hundreds of cases. It identified 89 presumed victims and some 68 people accused.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Religion News Service

POLAND

Jesuit ministry leader accused of sexual abuse in Poland
“The Jesuits in Poland are going through a seismic upheaval after the abuse of a minor and a vulnerable adult by a charismatic youth and retreat minister was revealed by Więź magazine in mid-November. In a statement released on Nov. 22, the Southern Poland Province of the Jesuits said that Father Maciej Sz. [his full name cannot be used under Polish law] was removed from all ministry and moved to an undisclosed secluded non-Jesuit location where he is forbidden to say Mass or wear clerical garb.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment