Posts Tagged issues facing church

Voice of the Faithful Focus

May 21, 2017

TOP STORIES

Abuse survivor wants papal panel to push back on Vatican resistance
“On Saturday (May 13), Pope Francis called Marie Collins(link is external), an abuse survivor who recently quit his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors citing Vatican resistance to reform, a ‘great woman’ and said she’s ‘right on some things.’ In a Crux interview, Collins expressed gratitude but also said that the Church still needs uniform global standards and a way to hold bishops accountable.” By John Allen, Ines San Martin and Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

Lawsuit accuses Minnesota bishop of coercion in clergy abuse case
“Ron Vasek said all he wanted was to become a church deacon and support his son, a Catholic priest. But in a lawsuit filed this week(link is external) (May 9), Vasek claims that Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner threatened to undermine his religious work and his son’s if he didn’t retract a clergy abuse claim. It’s among the allegations in an unusual lawsuit that, for the first time, accuses a U.S. bishop of coercion in a clergy abuse case, said Vasek’s attorney Jeff Anderson.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minnesota bishop sued for coercion, blackmail over sex abuse accusation(link is external), By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
Deacon candidate accuses Minnesota bishop of blackmail to keep abuse allegations quiet(link is external), By Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review
Attorney: Suit to allege Minnesota bishop threatened retaliation against victim(link is external), By Paul Walsh, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Hartford Archdiocese announces parish consolidations, church closings
“The Hartford Archdiocese announced May 7 that its 212 Connecticut parishes will be consolidated into 127 by June 29, downsizing the archdiocese by about 40 percent(link is external). It may be the most massive effort of its kind in a series of consolidations that have taken place in dioceses in the Northeast and the Midwest over the past decade as the number of priests and Catholic Massgoers in those regions decline.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter
After reorganization, a look at the future of the Catholic Church in Connecticut,(link is external) By Catie Talarski, WNPR, Connecticut Public Radio

What did Cardinal George Pell know about allegations of child sex abuse within the church?
“New allegations of alleged conspiracies, cover-ups and broken lives(link is external) have emerged, with questions about what Pell knew about pedophilia in the Catholic Church before he become Archbishop of Melbourne.” By Louise Milligan, Canberra Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Pope Francis says sex abuse survivor is ‘a bit right’ to complain about 2,000-case backlog
“Pope Francis says the Vatican has a 2,000-case backlog in processing clerical sex abuse cases(link is external) and admits criticism of the slow pace is justified. But he says more staff are being added and the Vatican is ‘on the right path.’ Francis was making his first comments about the criticism leveled at the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases by Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor who resigned from Francis’ sex abuse commission in March. Collins quit because of what she called the ‘unacceptable’ resistance in the Vatican to implementing the group’s proposals to better care for victims and protect children.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press in Time magazine
Pope says abuse survivor who quit Vatican panel was ‘right on some issues,(link is external)By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH REFORM

Priests’ group accuses bishops of refusing to support pope’s openness to reform
“An internationally renown group of reform-minded priests(link is external) in Austria has criticized the world’s bishops for not capitalizing on Pope Francis’ openness to make significant changes in Church ministry and pastoral practice. The Austrian Priests’ Initiative (API) is urging the bishops to take up the leeway the pope has given them to look at such issues as the possibility of ordaining married men of proven virtue (viri probati) to the priesthood, women to the diaconate and allowing remarried divorcees to receive the Eucharist in certain cases.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, LaCroix

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Archdiocese plan calls for sweeping changes for Connecticut Catholics
“As Roman Catholics across the Archdiocese of Hartford learned the fate of their parishes(link is external) this weekend, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair acknowledged that there might be more changes for parishes throughout Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties in the future. ‘I can’t stand before you here today and say that with this plan, the next 10 years now we don’t have to do anything,’ Blair said. ‘That would be irresponsible on my part and simply not the case. I can tell you that what we are doing today goes a long way to providing stability in the assignment of priests and in the life of these parishes.’ By Jordan Otero Sisson, Hartford Courant
Catholics prepare for changes under new archdiocesan plan(link is external), By Jordan Otero Sisson and Ken Byron, Hartford Courant
Hartford Archdiocese announces parish closings, mergers(link is external), By Associated Press & WTNH.com

Disrupters and rebuilders
“It’s hard to know what the Modesto meeting portends for the future of the U.S. church(link is external). The pope’s clear desire to recalibrate Catholic identity away from the culture wars—part of his distaste for a hunkered down, fortress Catholicism—still leaves some vocal American church leaders and lay faithful more jittery than energized … At the same time, a network of Catholic activists on the right that has attacked the church’s commitment to community organizing for decades remains well-mobilized and relentless.” By John Gehring, Commonweal

Activist wants NYC’s shuttered churches put to use
“Like his nemesis Donald Trump, Felix Cepeda knows something about Manhattan real estate. Location, location, location. That’s the mantra of real estate. And it’s what now-closed properties in the New York Archdiocese(link is external) offer in abundance. One such property is Our Lady of the Scapular/St. Stephen Church on East 28th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenue.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Howells, Nebraska, has only about 550 residents – but two Catholic churches
“Howells, Nebraska, is in fact the last small town with two Catholic parishes in the entire Omaha Archdiocese. These two Catholic churches of Howells are a quirk of fate(link is external), an oddity of American immigration, a faded symbol of long-forgotten ethnic strife and also a newer symbol of this town’s persistence and cooperation … The two churches of Howells are something else, too: endangered.” By Matthew Hansen, Omaha World-Herald

VATICAN

What happened to ecumenism?
“This is the second of a series of posts(link is external) discussing issues related to the coming review and re-evaluation of ‘Liturgiam Authenticam,’ the document which governs the translation of liturgical texts – When Pope Francis and the Coptic Orthodox Pope, Tawadros II, issued a joint statement in Egypt this past week (May 3), they landed squarely on an ecumenical issue of great importance … ‘Let us deepen our shared roots in the one apostolic faith by praying together and by seeking common translations of the Lord’s Prayer …’ Common translations have been, and continue to be, one of the important tools of ecumenism.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Vatican’s point man on family says Church needs to go positive
“Cardinal Kevin Farrell, president of the Vatican’s new Dicastery for Marriage, Family and Life, says that Pope Francis’s document ‘Amoris Laetitia’(link is external) will be the basis for the looming World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland.” By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency, on Cruxnow.com

‘Amoris Laetitia’ is about accompaniment, not the divorced and remarried
“Three professors from the John Paul II Institute in Rome have produced a handbook explaining how to apply ‘Amoris Laetitia,(link is external)‘ which was just published in English. They argue discernment should help find ways to live spousal fidelity, and not ways to be excused from the Church’s moral law.” By Father Matthew Schneider, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

With declining numbers, women religious are invisible to many non-Catholics
“…But in doing research for the piece, she learned this(link is external): ‘The number of women religious across America has been in steady decline since 1965, when there were approximately 180,000 sisters in the country. The total now is about 49,000, roughly 90 percent of whom are more than 60 years old. In Philadelphia — where one in four people identify as Catholic — there are only about 2,400 nuns, a 30-plus percent decrease in just the past 16 years.’” By Bill Tammeus, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Editorial: The enemy is not the secular world, it is fear
“Can these two men (Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Cardinal Joseph Tobin) be leaders of the same church? One implores us to encounter, to stand by the ‘other,’ to welcome the stranger. The other suggests a theology of fear — fear of outside forces and fear of change. The stark difference in focus illustrates the cultural and political divide that is expanding within the church(link is external), especially in the United States. For some bishops, the fight has taken on the theme of church vs. the devil they view as the secular world.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Knights of Columbus’ financial forms show wealth, influence
“For more than a decade and a half, under the leadership of a former political operative, the Knights of Columbus has increasingly used its enormous wealth to influence the direction of the church(link is external), underwriting think tanks and news outlets while gaining entrée to some of the highest levels of decision-making in the church.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter
Why do we write about the Knights of Columbus?(link is external) By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter
‘Find common cause,’ Knights spokesman advices NCR(link is external), By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Continental Drift
“‘Il Tevere è più largo.’ Students of Italian history are familiar with the metaphoric expression describing the ever-growing distance between the Vatican and Italian politics: ‘The Tiber has become wider(link is external)’ … But the widening of the Tiber is little compared to the spreading of the world’s oceans. The ‘Catholic Pangea’ itself is breaking up, undergoing a kind of continental drift. The expanding gap between Rome and the world is perhaps best symbolized by the growing distance between Rome and the U.S. Catholic church, itself owing to the uncomfortable relationship between Francis and many American bishops—among other things.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal
Catholic Citizenship: Massimo Faggioli on the role of public theologians today(link is external), By Kaya Oakes, Religion Dispatches

Church Militant’s nonsense not authentically Catholic
“The ‘Atlantic’ video about Church Militant(link is external) and their founder Michael Voris was, at the same time, fascinating and frustrating. The fascination stems from the easy way that normalcy and extremism seem to coincide in the lives of Voris and his colleagues. One minute he is eating pizza with his dad, and the next he is prepping for a broadcast that will, like all his broadcasts, be viciously extreme and extremely vicious. He drops by a Subway for a sandwich, and then is shown spouting gibberish.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church’s good deeds are being erased, says archbishop
“Decades of service by countless nuns and priests in education and healthcare are being ‘almost obliterated by a revised and narrow narrative that religious ethos(link is external) cannot be good for democracy,’ Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin has said. He said there was a view that religious ethos stands ‘against the progress and flourishing of society and the rights of citizens’ and that there was a tendency in some public discussion to give the impression that things related to faith were ‘unconnected with reason.’ By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Bishop John Stowe leads prayer at LGBT Catholic gathering
“Clad in traditional brown Franciscan robes, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, seemed at home among the rainbow of colors at New Ways Ministry’s eighth annual symposium here April 28-30. This was the first time that the bishop had spoken in front of the advocacy group(link is external), which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics. ‘New Ways Ministry made me want to come here,’ the bishop told NCR during a 40-minute interview at the gathering. He has been observing and admiring the group’s outreach to LGBT Catholics over several years, he added.” By Patricia Lefevere, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Priest who stole from Northboro church returns to parish work
“A Catholic priest who pleaded guilty in court to stealing(link is external) nearly $240,000 from St. Bernadette Parish and School in Northboro to feed a gambling habit has been returned to parish ministry on a limited basis. The Rev. Stephen M. Gemme will be allowed to celebrate Mass and other sacraments in parishes in need of assistance when their own priest is on vacation, retreat or unavailable because of illness or emergency, Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Worcester Diocese announced Friday (May 12).” By Mark Sullivan, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Vatican’s financial watchdog cites progress, but still no prosecutions
“The Vatican’s financial watchdog presented a rosy annual report(link is external) on Thursday (May11), suggesting a drop in reports of suspicious activity and an increase in cooperation with international partners in tracking transactions. However, there still has been no public prosecution of anyone for financial crimes in the Vatican, which faces a ticking clock to get that done from the Council of Europe’s review process.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Priest pleads guilty to stealing $500K for casinos, concerts
“The rector of a church-owned retirement home for Roman Catholic priests has admitted embezzling a half-million(link is external) to pay for casino visits, high-end dinners and Philadelphia Pops concerts. Monsignor William A. Dombrow pleaded guilty Thursday (May 4) to four federal wire fraud counts for skimming money over nine years from a Villa St. Joseph account he controlled. The Philadelphia Archdiocese runs the facility in Darby to house aging priests and treat those accused of sexual abuse.” By Associate Press on FOX29-TV

Embezzlement charges filed against Catholic priest
“St. Joseph County prosecutors have filed embezzlement charges against a former Branch County Catholic priest. Reverend Richard Fritz is accused of stealing over $213,000(link is external) from St. Mary’s Assumption in Bronson and St. Barbara Mission in Colon. A pre-examination conference has been scheduled for next Tuesday (May9). A preliminary hearing is set for May 16, 2017. Fritz is currently free on bond.” By Ken Delaney WTVB-FM

Former pastor from St. Frances Xavier Catholic Church pleads guilty to federal bank fraud charges
“On Monday, May 1, 2017, John S. Mattingly, age 71, of Charlotte Hall, Maryland, pleaded guilty to bank fraud in connection with a scheme to steal funds from St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church(link is external), while he was the pastor. The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron, and St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney Richard Fritz.” By Southern Maryland News Net

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Outdated laws, unpunished child abusers
“Around the country, religious groups, and predominantly the Catholic church, have balked at the prospect of similar laws(link is external) (Child Victims Act), claiming they could lead to so much litigation that their institutions would become bankrupt.” By Ginia Bellafante, The New York Times

Sex assault statute of limitations bill pondered in Nevada legislature
Victims of child sexual abuse(link is external) may get another decade to decide if they will sue an attacker. The clock would start after a victim turns 18 or discovers as an adult, through counseling or other means, that they were abused. Assembly Bill 145 would extend the statute of limitations for civil suits from 10 years to 20 years from the later date.” By Ben Botkin, Review Journal

Church supports alternative to Child Victims Act
“As lawmakers prepare for the closing weeks of session, victims of childhood sexual abuse are pushing once again for a controversial bill that would give them a chance to seek justice for decades-old cases. The Child Victims Act(link is external) (S.809) would allow victims to file legal action against their abusers, regardless of when the crime took place.” By Kaleb H. Smith, The Legislative Gazette

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Abused by a Catholic priest as a child, this man turned back to faith for forgiveness
“Today, (Miguel) Prats has a wide-eyed, happy-go-lucky demeanor. But he says 15 years ago, he was angry and tortured inside. In 2002, when the Boston Globe uncovered widespread sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, the story brought back a memory that Prats says he had repressed: shortly after he turned 18, he himself had been sexually abused by a priest(link is external).” By Jake J. Smith, Morning Edition from NPR, KALW-FM

Merced County authorities arrest former priest on child porn charges for second time
“Shortly after finishing his jail sentence, a Los Banos priest is facing child pornography charges again(link is external). Robert Gamel faces a felony charge of possession of child pornography with prior conviction after he was arrested in April.” By Nathalie Granda, ABC30-TV

CONNECTICUT

Former Danbury priest defrocked after sex abuse allegations
“Parishioners of a Catholic church where a former pastor was accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) a decade ago stressed their commitment on Tuesday (May 9) to supporting the victim. ‘Faith communities have been through this before, and the way forward is with as much transparency as possible, and to offer support services to any victims who come forward,’ said Thomas Saadi, a parishioner at St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church.” By Jim Shay an Rob Ryser, Danbury News Times

MAINE

Priest at Waterville church removed over sexual abuse allegation
“A priest at a Waterville church was removed from the priesthood Sunday after a report of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) about 15 years ago in Connecticut was substantiated, according to a church official. The Rev. Larry Jensen, 62, was removed from the St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church, by Bishop Gregory John Mansour, head of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, New York, the official said.” By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News
A week after priest’s ouster, St. Joseph congregation continues to grapple with allegations against him(link is external), By Kate McCormick, Morning Sentinel

MINNESOTA

Diocese of Crookston’s Hoeppner sued, Grundhaus accused
“The former Vicar General of the Diocese of Crookston, Father Roger Grundhaus, is being accused of child sexual abuse(link is external) and Minnesota Bishop Michael Hoeppner is the first bishop to be sued for coercion for suppressing a report of abuse, according to a media advisory by Jeff Anderson and Associates attorney’s office. At a news conference Tuesday (May 9) in St. Paul, attorney Jeff Anderson, a child abuse survivor, and a Minnesota priest announced the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of the survivor, Ronald Vasek, naming Bishop Hoeppner and the Diocese of Crookston as defendants.” By Crookston Times

Archdiocese bankruptcy reorganization plan rejected by sex-abuse survivors
“A group of sexual abuse survivors(link is external) engaged in bankruptcy court mediation with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has overwhelmingly rejected the archdiocese’s proposed bankruptcy reorganization plan, which includes how much it should pay victims.” By Tad Vezner, Twin Cities Pioneer Press
Clergy abuse victims reject archdiocese compensation plan(link is external), By Adrian Schramm, Twin Cities Agenda

PENNSYLVANIA

Justice for Sister Cathy is long overdue
“Catherine Cesnik was the valedictorian of her Catholic high school class in Lawrenceville in 1960, where she’d also been the May Queen and the president of the senior class and student council. Nine years later, Sister Cathy was brutally murdered in Baltimore. Nearly 48 years have passed and the killer has yet to be named, but Baltimore County Police haven’t given up … Many of (Sister Cathy’s students) believe that Father John Maskell, the priest whose body (has been) exhumed, was either the killer or an accomplice. He was the school chaplain and guidance counselor, and several of these women say he sexually molested them(link is external).” By Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Death of Johnstown man, 31, claims a voice for abuse survivors
“Just over a year ago in a Hollidaysburg courtroom, Corey Leech took the stand and, in a poised and confident voice, testified in excruciating detail how a Franciscan friar began sexually abusing him(link is external) from his early teens. Mr. Leech gave voice to scores of victims of the late Stephen Baker in his testimony, which took place in the pretrial hearing of three Franciscan supervisors who face criminal charges for allegedly failing to protect children from the abusive friar.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

SOUTH CAROLINA

Nearly 10 years later, conflict over $12 million settlement between Catholic diocese of Charleston and victims of sex abuse continues
“After nearly a decade, legal wrangling continues over a $12 million settlement paid to victims who were sexually abused by Catholic priests(link is external) in the Charleston area more than 30 years ago. A lawsuit on behalf of one of the victims, identified only as John Doe 10, was filed in September 2010, according to court documents. The plaintiff was molested at his church school and parish beginning in 1983 according to the suit.” By Gregory Yee, The Post and Courier

ARGENTINA

Roman Catholic nun allegedly helped priests sexually abuse deaf children in Argentinian school
“The nun, a woman named Kosaka Kumiko, of Japanese heritage but Argentine nationality, was arrested and charged Friday (May 5) on suspicion of helping priests sexually abuse children(link is external) at the Antonio Provolo Institute, a school for the hearing-impaired in the Mendoza province of Argentina, authorities said. She was also charged with physically abusing the students.” By Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, in National Post

AUSTRALIA

Victoria police receives advice on investigation into Cardinal George Pell
“Victoria Police has received advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions about its investigation into Cardinal George Pell, days after fresh details of historic sex abuse allegations(link is external) were aired. Detectives from the Sano taskforce, the squad set up to investigate historic child abuse allegations, will now consider the DPP’s advice, police spokeswoman Creina O’Grady said on Tuesday night.” By Beau Donelly, The Age
Pope aide denies new Australia abuse claims,(link is external) By Agence France-Presse, in Daily Mail
How George Pell gazumped other bishops to claim credit for tackling child abuse in the church(link is external), By Louise Milligan, The Sydney Morning Herald

Child sex abuse victims to be compensated in Federal budget
(May 9, 2017) “Commonwealth child sex abuse survivors(link is external) will get access to payments of up to $150,000 under a new redress scheme to be live by mid next year. The Turnbull government tonight announced a $33.4 million commitment to establish the scheme that would provide abuse survivors with counseling, apologies from the organization responsible and financial compensation.” By Lanai Scarr, News Corp Australia Network, in Herald Sun

Australian bishops gather in the light of the royal commission
“The government and the Catholic Church both face difficulties when commending values(link is external). The difficulties will dog events during the next week in which both institutions are on public display — the bringing down of the budget and the meeting of the Australian Catholics Bishops Conference.” By Andrew Hamilton, EurekaStreet.com

Dave Joseph Perrett granted conditional bail to live in Armidale on historical sex abuse charges
“An ex-priest accused of molesting young boys(link is external) in the New England has been granted bail amid reports detectives have received another complaint. Since The Leader revealed David Joseph Perrett’s extradition to NSW on Friday (May 5), police have been contacted by other members of the public looking to speak to investigators. New England Detective Inspector Ann Joy told The Leader investigations were continuing.” By Breanna Chillingworth, The Northern Daily Leader

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Retired priest faces trial over abuse claims
“A former Catholic priest charged with sexually abusing children(link is external) in the 1970s and 80s is set to stand trial. Father Paul Moore, 81, who worked in Ayrshire, is also accused of abusing a student priest in the 1990s.” By BBC News

GUAM

Guam Catholic school sued
“After more than 60 sex-abuse lawsuits(link is external) named former priests as alleged perpetrators, a new lawsuit accuses a former Guam Catholic school teacher for the first time in recent years. And unlike the previously filed cases, in which the former priests no longer hold positions in the church that directly involve children, the newly accused still teaches music to youth, but he’s no longer in Guam.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post

Guam archbishop’s first sex abuse accuser testifies before Vatican tribunal
“Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and the Vatican tribunal is wrapping up the discovery phase and is entering another phase in the groundbreaking canonical trial of Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron(link is external). John Toves, the first to publicly accuse Apuron in 2014 of sexual abuse of a minor, testified before the Vatican tribunal at the archbishop’s residence in San Francisco on Monday (May 8) (Tuesday, Guam time), about Apuron’s alleged sexual abuse of Toves’ cousin while the cousin was an altar boy at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News, in USA TODAY
Guam archbishop’s accusers pray Vatican defrocks him for sex abuse(link is external), By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News, in USA TODAY

Another victim names Father Mannetta as abuser
“A 60th lawsuit has been filed(link is external) against the Archdiocese of Agana and former Guam priest Andrew Mannetta is named as the perpetrator. This is not the first time that Father Mannetta has been named, he was previously named in two other lawsuits that were filed in April. Like the first two victims to accuse Father Mannetta, the 60th plaintiff to file suit is only identified by initials C.C. According to the complaint, the sexual abuse happened in the early 1980s when C.C. was between the ages of 8 to 10.” By Janela Carrera, Pacific News Center News First

Vatican gets testimony from more Apuron accusers
“The Vatican tribunal working on Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron’s canonical penal trial will be hearing testimony in California from John Toves, the first person to publicly accuse Apuron in 2014 of sexual abuse(link is external), of his cousin. Led by Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, the tribunal also received a written testimony from John Michael ‘Champ’ Quinata, alleging that Apuron raped his brother, the now deceased former altar boy Joseph Anthony ‘Sonny’ Quinata, when his brother was 9 years old.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

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Voice of the Faithful Focus

Voice of the Faithful’s twice monthly news roundup highlighting
issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

VOTF LogoMay 8, 2017

TOP STORIES

Evidence likely sufficient for Vatican to decide on Apuron by late July
“Minnesota-based canon lawyer and former priest Patrick J. Wall said there appears to be more than sufficient evidence for a Vatican tribunal(link is external) to come to a decision on Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron’s canonical penal trial, after two accusers provided testimony in March. ‘In short, the Roman Pontiff can step in and make a decision since he is the supervisor of Apuron,” said Wall.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

U.S. priests’ group calls Vatican vocations document ‘insulting’
“Declarations in the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy’s recent document ‘The Gift of the Priestly Vocation’ have been called ‘disrespectful,’ ‘ambiguous’ and ‘insulting(link is external)’ by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. In a statement released April 19, the 1,200-member Ohio-based organization charged that ‘the terms ‘homosexual tendencies’ and ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ are ambiguous and disrespectful of the personhood of those who identify with a homosexual orientation.’ The terms appear in the Dec. 8, 2016, document’s section titled ‘Persons with Homosexual Tendencies.’” By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

Montana Catholic officials say bankruptcy ‘best and only way’ to compensate the sexually abused
“The recent bankruptcy filing by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings was the ‘best and only way’ it could meet its obligations to all victims with sexual abuse(link is external)claims and continue its ministry, church officials said … The bankruptcy is likely to be complicated and take time. How it could affect the diocese’s operations, along with parishes, schools and other church programs, is not yet clear.” By Clair Johnson, Billings Gazette

Catholic bishops urged to renew celibacy rules amid shortage of priests
“Catholic bishops in England and Wales are facing a fresh call for a national commission on the ordination of married men(link is external) amid mounting concern that the church’s celibacy requirement is contributing to a shortage of priests … The Movement for Married Clergy (MMaC) is renewing its call for a national commission of bishops, clergy and laity to discuss ways of tackling the shortage of priests. ‘We’re asking bishops to recognize the issue and examine possible solutions in good faith,’ said the MMaC secretary, Chris McDonnell.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

Council of Cardinal speaks about decentralizing authority in the church
“The group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy spoke in their latest meeting about how to decentralize authority in the Catholic church(link is external) and improve relationships between the Vatican and local bishops’ conferences. The nine member Council of Cardinals spoke in their April 24-26 meeting about how the Vatican can ‘be more at the service of local bishops’ spokesman Greg Burke said.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Child sex abuse survivors visit Wall Street’s fearless girl, urge to fix child-rape law
“The ‘Fearless Girl’ has nothing on child sex abuse survivors(link is external) Bridie Farrell and Steve Jimenez. The unflinching pair came to Wall Street, urging passage of a long-rejected proposal that would finally give a full voice to the victims of sexual predators. They stood behind the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue in the Financial District to recount their own stories of abuse — and support the 11-year-old ‘Child Victims Act.’” By Micah danney and Larry McShane, New York Daily News

POPE FRANCIS

Letter from Rome: Don’t say ‘We have always done things this way’
“Vatican II pulled down the sectarian walls(link is external) behind which the Catholic Church had long taken refuge. It rediscovered and deepened the real consequences of our Christian belief in the incarnation of Jesus Christ and how that demands us to be involved in the world and not stand apart from it.” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal

Two key takeaways from the Pope’s TED talk
“Pope Francis recently gave a talk at the TED international conference, which brings in influential speakers. The talk – a surprise for all in the audience – recapitulated the key themes of the Argentinian pope’s view(link is external) of the human person: We are all related and interconnected; scientific and technological progress must not be disconnected from social justice and care for the neighbor; and that the world needs tenderness.” By Massimo Faggioli, Religion News Service

PRIESTS

Catholic church struggling to recruit future priests
“Facing an acute shortage of priests(link is external) brought on by aging in its ranks, and hoping to connect with younger parishioners, the Catholic Church is intensifying its recruitment of young men to the priesthood, an effort made more difficult by the different motivations and interests of the millennial generation.” By Sara Flores, Beaumont Enterprise
Save the Date, Jun. 19-22, for priests association assembly
“I just received this press release from the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. The association’s annual meeting(link is external) will convene in Atlanta, Georgia, this June. Below are the details: The AUSCP 2017 Assembly, Peacemaking in Our Fractured Society, will be held June 19-22 at the Airport Marriott in Atlanta …” By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Vermont Catholics prepare for ‘extraordinary council’
“Emerging from a priest-sex-abuse scandal but still confronting challenges with finances and decreasing participation, Vermont’s Roman Catholic diocese is embarking on a yearlong re-examination of church structure and rules(link is external). Bishop of Burlington Christopher Coyne plans to convene ‘an extraordinary council of the church’ known as a synod next year — the first for Vermont’s Catholics in more than half a century … Events surrounding the synod are set to begin this fall, when the bishop plans to embark on a listening tour of sorts to hear from a wide range of parishioners who make up Vermont’s dominant religion.” By Adam Silverman, Burlington Free Press

Woman theologian examines new forms of religious life
“Kottayam: Kochurani Abraham, a feminist theologian, left a congregation of women religious to lead an independent religious life in her home state of Kerala, southern India. Her name, ‘Kochurani,’ means ‘little princess.’ Although born in a traditional Catholic family, she said religion did not attract her when she studied in Catholic schools in Kerala. However, a Catholic youth program she organized made her rethink her values. She said it awakened a dormant spirituality in her life that made her sensitive to the marginalized(link is external).” By Philip Matthew, MattersIndia.com

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Ethicist sees “Joy of Love’ as call-out for family, justice
“There’s a lot going on in ‘The Joy of Love(link is external)’ (Amoris Laetitia), the exhortation Pope Francis published last year after the two-part synod on the family, but, says theologian Julie Hanlon Rubio, the core of it is pretty simple. An array of social forces makes marriage and family life more difficult — poverty, incarceration, migration, violence, racism, individualism and many more. ‘The pope says, if we care about marriage and family, we have to care about these issues as well …’” By Patrick Reardon, National Catholic Reporter

Dissenters’ conference on Amoris Laetitia hears call for an answer to the dubia
“Pope Francis ‘needs to be fraternally corrected’ because he has issued ‘Amoris Laetitia(link is external),’ the post-synodal exhortation on the family, ‘that implies heresies,’ and although he ‘does not directly contradict the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage, he does so indirectly,’ Professor Claudio Pierantoni, an Italian who teaches in a university in Chile, stated at a conference in Rome today (Apr. 22).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Marriage and divorce: The limits of the Roman Catholic mind
“The conservative resistance to Pope Francis(link is external) has circled its firing squad around ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ the year-old apostolic exhortation that opens the door to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. A week ago, speakers at a conference in Rome accused the pope of heresy … ‘The pope,’ declared Australian theologian Anna M. Silvas, ‘is a skandalon (scandal), the rock has become the stumbling block.’ To be sure, the other side has mounted a defense, but it’s striking how little attention has been paid on either side to the theological concept that best supports the pope’s opening — and how ill-informed that attention has been.” By Mark Silk, Religion News Service

CELIBACY

Fresh concerns over celibacy rules for Catholic priests
“Rules preventing Catholic priests(link is external) in England and Wales from getting married should be open to fresh discussion, it has been claimed. The call comes from the Movement for Married Clergy (MMaC) which fears a celibacy requirement is deterring men from pursuing ordination. Secretary of the MMaC, Chris McDonnell, told Premier: ‘The Pope has made it very, very clear that he wants a listening church.’” By Alex Williams, Premire.org.uk

VOICES

The unhappy leadership history of St. Luke’s Institute
“There’s irony in the news that a laicized priest, who once ran a counseling center, has agreed to counseling as a condition of his parole(link is external). In case you missed the story, Edward Arsenault resigned from his post as head of the St. Luke Institute in Maryland in 2013, after he was charged with financial as well as sexual improprieties. He was eventually sentenced to a 4-year prison term after pleading guilty to misappropriating over $300,000 from the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, where he once served as chancellor. The sexual improprieties, involving an adult male recording artist, were not criminal offenses.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org

CHURCH FINANCES

Former Catholic pastor pleads guilty in scheme to steal Maryland church funds
“Prosecutors say a former church pastor in Maryland has pleaded guilty in connection with a scheme to steal more than $76,000 in church funds(link is external). Prosecutors said in a statement Tuesday (May 2) that 71-year-old Rev. John S. Mattingly of Charlotte Hall, Maryland, pleaded guilty to bank fraud. Prosecutors say that Mattingly was the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Leonardtown, Maryland, from 1994 to 2010.” By Associated Press on WJLA-TV

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Protecting children every day
“Child abuse can include sexual, physical and mental abuse, encompassing anything from neglect, abandonment, or even exploitation. In Oklahoma, 15 out of every 1000 children were abused in 2014, which was almost twice the rate that was reported in 2011 … This session, there are two bills moving through the legislative process aimed at helping child abuse survivors seek justice(link is external) against their abusers. The measures would amend the timeframe for abuse survivors to file criminal and civil cases against their abusers.” By Sen. Wayne Shaw, Pawhuska Journal Capital

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Website launched containing database of child sex abusers
“A new website has been launched which provides statistical information about alleged sexual abuse of minors by the Catholic Church(link is external) in 49 countries. It was created and designed to encourage legislation to expand the statute of limitations on sex crimes committed against minors. According to the website’s creator and analyst, G.R. Pafumi, the database took him two and a half years to complete.VictimsSpeakDB.org contains a database of Survivor Accounts of Catholic Clergy Abuse, Denial, Accountability and Silence, or SACCADAS.” By Donna De Jesus, Pacific News First

ILLINOIS

Former Catholic pastor pleads guilty to child porn, gets 4-year sentence
“A former associate pastor at an Arlington Heights church was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday (Apr. 28) for distributing child pornography(link is external), according to court records. Clovis Vilchez-Parra, 36, also was ordered to register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to the charge during a hearing in Cook County’s Rolling Meadows branch court. Numerous other pornography charges were dropped in exchange for his plea.” By George Houde, Chicago Tribune

Chicago Archdiocese to pay $4.45 million to settle priest abuse lawsuits
“The Archdiocese of Chicago will pay $4.45 million to settle three lawsuits brought by three men who allege they were sexually abused(link is external) more than a decade ago by former Roman Catholic priest, basketball coach and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack, the plaintiffs’ attorney said Tuesday. According to Mark Brown, the attorney for the three plaintiffs, two brothers reached settlements in late January.” By Manya Brachear Pashman, Chicago Tribune

LOUISIANA

Breauz Bridge priest pleads not guilty to 20 child porn charges
“Nearly 10 months after his arrest in a child pornography investigation(link is external), a Roman Catholic priest made his first court appearance on Tuesday (May 2) to plead not guilty to the alleged crimes. Felix David Broussard, 51, has been formally charged with 20 counts of possessing pornography involving juveniles. He appeared in 16th Judicial Court in St. Martin Parish on Tuesday (May 2) for an arraignment.” By KATC-TV

MAINE

York gathers for form child sexual assault awareness campaign
“Jean Browne had been sexually abused at 5, and as a teenager(link is external), was a victim of date rape … Dennis O’Connor was abused by his parish priest when he was a kid, and his disclosure ultimately led to the priest’s prosecution … Heather Brower was 11 years old when she was sexually abused … These York residents were among a group of about 30 people who came to the York Library Friday (Apr. 28) afternoon to become involved in a local campaign to raise awareness of child sexual abuse.” By Deborah McDermott, SeacoastOnline.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Central Catholic sex abuse demonstration will unveil new allegations from 1960s incidents
“An international group that supports sexual abuse survivors will be on the public sidewalk in front of Central Catholic High School in Lawrence late Monday (May 1) morning. The group, Road to Recovery, is coming to the city after Central Catholic administrator Andrew Nikonchuk was fired last Tuesday (Apr. 25) due to allegations that he drugged and raped a student(link is external) in 2006. Road to Recovery is also exposing new information and allegations regarding sexual abuse of a boy by a priest at St. Patrick’s Church and members of a Catholic order of brothers who worked at Central Catholic High School in the 1960s, said Dr. Robert Hoatson, founder and leader of Road to Recovery.” By Jill Marmacinski, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune
Central Catholic teacher from Salisbury under investigation(link is external), By Newburyport Daily News
Central Catholic: We’ll be transparent on new abuse allegations(link is external), By Aaron Curtis, Lowell Sun

MISSOURI

New allegation of abuse surfaces against deceased former priest
“A complaint of sexual abuse involving a minor(link is external) and Larry Gregovich, a former Catholic priest who died earlier this year, has been made to the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, the diocese announced in a statement Monday (May 1). The diocese, which covers the southern third of Missouri, also said in the statement that it notified civil authorities of the incident, which occurred more than 30 years ago, but did not say who was notified, or where. The allegation also was forwarded to the diocesan Safe Environment Review Board, which found it ‘credible’ during a recent meeting.” By The Joplin Globe

NEW YORK

Fugitive former priest accused of sexually abusing a six-year-old girl is extradited to the U.S. to face charges
“A defrocked priest on the run for allegedly sexually abusing a young girl(link is external) in 2014 was tracked down in Guatemala and extradited back to the US, where he will finally face abuse charges in Long Island, N.Y. Upon landing at JFK Airport on Saturday (Apr. 22), Cortez — a former Catholic priest of the Vincentian Congregation — was arrested and sent to jail without bail.” By Daily Mail

RHODE ISLAND

Probable cause that R.I. Supreme Court justice Flaherty violated ethics code
“The state Ethics Commission voted 5-2 Tuesday (Apr. 24) that there was probable cause to find that Supreme Court Justice Francis X. Flaherty violated the state ethics code by failing to disclose his leadership position in a Catholic nonprofit organization … (Helen) Hyde, a former Rhode Island resident, alleges that Flaherty held that role while presiding over her appeal before the state Supreme Court. She and a man who alleged that a Roman Catholic priest sexually abused them(link is external) more than four decades ago sought to recover damages from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence. Flaherty wrote the decision denying Hyde and Jeffrey Thomas damages.” By Katie Mulvaney, Providence Journal

CAMBODIA

Scrutiny turns to child abusers among clergy
“Up to seven foreign clergymen are serving time in Cambodian prisons for child sex crimes(link is external), according to the executive director of a child protection NGO, a situation highlighted by the arrest of a Dutch priest who was charged last week with producing child pornography. Evrard-Nicolas Sarot, 53, who was a parish priest in the Netherlands, is accused of paying 19 boys, all under the age of 15, a few dollars each to pose nude for photographs in Siem Reap City.” By Hannah Hawkins, The Cambodian Daily

Catholic Church knew of alleged child abuser
“A Dutch priest who was arrested in Siem Reap City last week after allegedly taking more than 1,000 photographs of naked boys(link is external) had told a bishop in his home country about his ‘sexual preference for underage boys,’ church representatives said on Sunday Apr. 23). Evrard-Nicolas Sarot, 53, was charged with possessing and producing child pornography by the Siem Reap Provincial Court on Thursday (Apr. 20) and is accused of paying 19 boys, all under the age of 15, a few dollars each to pose nude for photos.” By Hannah Hawkins, The Cambodia Daily

CANADA

Suspended Ottawa priest acquitted of sexual assault charges
“An Ottawa courtroom erupted in applause today (May 2) after a Catholic priest was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a young boy(link is external). Reverend Stephen Amesse said he had forgiven his accuser, but the 14-year-old boy’s family left the court house in tears. It’s been nearly three years since police began their investigation after an allegation that the boy had been sexually assaulted in a west end Ottawa church. Three long years for both the priest and the boy, but only one of them left the courthouse feeling justice had been done.” By Joanne Schnurr, CTV News Ottawa

Disgraced priest sentenced to three years in prison
“A retired Roman Catholic priest convicted in September of sexually assaulting a young boy(link is external) in Kingston over a period of about four years in the late 1980s and early 1990s was sentenced Wednesday (Apr. 26) to three years in prison. Robin Quinton Gwyn, 69, has also been ordered included on the Sex Offender Information Registry for 20 years and Superior Court Justice Wolfram Tausendfreund has imposed a 20-year judge’s order that forbids the priest attending public parks, swimming areas and other places where children are or could reasonably be expected to be present, including play grounds, school grounds and community centers.” By Sue Yanagisawa, Kingston Whig-Standard

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Abuse priest failings found
“Concerns raised about a Catholic priest later jailed for sexual assault were not acted upon or taken seriously by the Church, a review has found. Anthony McSweeney, 70, was jailed for three years in 2015 for abusing a boy at a west London care home(link is external). In the wake of the case an independent review was commissioned by the Dioceses of Brentwood and East Anglia. The review said McSweeney was found with videos of adolescent boys in 1998 but this was not reported to police.” By BBC News

GUAM

RMS property among assets archdiocese may sell to compensate abuse victims
“The once-controversial Redemptoris Mater Seminary is among the properties the Archdiocese of Agana may be looking to sell as part of a larger effort to liquidate assets that will be used as compensation for clergy sexual abuse victims(link is external). During a press conference today (May 2), Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes fielded questions about a reported list of assets the archdiocese put together of that could be potentially sold. The archdiocese has already contributed $1 million in seed money for the Hope and Healing fund that will provide counseling services and compensation to clergy sex abuse victims.” By Janela Carrera, Pacific News First

SNAP: Put survivor on Hope and Healing board
“The world’s largest network of priest sex abuse survivors(link is external) says a program to help Guam clergy abuse victims should have an abuse survivor on its board. ‘To claim to know what survivors want and need in a ‘Hope and Healing’ program without having a survivor on the board is a bit patronizing,’ said Joelle Casteix, volunteer western regional director for the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. ‘Survivors are the ones who truly know how they can be helped the best.’” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Former Saipan bishop Thomas A. Camacho accused of clergy sex abuse again
“Former Saipan bishop Tomas A. Camacho stands accused a second time of clergy sex abuse(link is external). Filed in the District Court of Guam late Wednesday (Apr. 26), 65-year-old B.C. alleges he was sexually molested by Father Camacho in the early 1960s at Nuestra Senora de las Aguas Parish in Mongmong.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

Another Apuron accuser talking to Vatican
“Roy Quintanilla, the first former altar boy in 2016 to come forward and publicly accuse Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of sexually abusing him(link is external), said Tuesday (Apr. 25) he will testify before a Vatican tribunal. The tribunal, led by Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, is handling Apuron’s canonical penal trial. Quintanilla said it will receive his testimony in Honolulu on May 6.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Limtiaco leads board to help victims of priest abuse
“Guam’s previous top federal prosecutor has been named chairwoman of the board of Hope and Healing, the organization created by the archdiocese to address multiple accusations of sexual abuse(link is external) by former Guam priests, decades ago. Chairwoman Alicia Limtiaco’s role was announced during a press conference yesterday (Apr. 22) at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa. Limtiaco is the previous U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Northern Marianas.” By The Guam Daily Post

Archbishop seeks reporting of child abuse, sexual assault
“Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes has asked Catholics to join the rest of Guam in observing child abuse prevention month(link is external), to help bring hope and healing to victims, including those who are sexual assault survivors.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Sex abuse victims’ attorney warns Vatican could be next
“Attorney David Lujan says more lawsuits will be filed in the coming days(link is external) including two new ones next week that will name new priests. He just filed two Wednesday (Apr. 19) in District Court, marking the 52nd and 53rd lawsuits to be filed in a matter of months. Both lawsuits filed name former Guam priest and Boy Scout master Father Louis Brouillard as the alleged perpetrator … M.W.’s lawsuit further accuses the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of plotting together, saying they ‘developed and maintained a relationship …. by which pedophilic priests exploited the opportunity to serve as scout masters for the specific purpose of having access to young boys.’” By Janela Carrera, PNC News First

INDIA

Indian Catholics frustrated over clergy sex abuse cases
“A rash of recent alleged sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests(link is external) in Southern India have left Christians distraught and frustrated over the local church’s lack of response. More than 100 theologians, women religious, priests and feminists have written to India’s bishops to demand they react quickly in accordance with the pope’s call to end such transgressions. ‘We are trying every way to get the bishops to act. We thought this is a good opportunity,’ says Virginia Saldanha, a theologian who was part of the team that drafted the March 22 letter to the bishops.” By Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland child abuse victims slam ‘derisory’ recommended compensation payment of £7,500
“The victims, who were abused in children’s homes run by some churches(link is external), charities and state institutions, said the payment should be higher and should reflect the length of time spent in the institutions. In January the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) recommended that victims should receive financial redress. Chairman of the inquiry Sir Anthony Hart said the payments should range from £7,500 to £100,000. A 30-page response by victims has criticized the level of basic payment recommended.” By Deborah McAleese, Belfast Telegraph

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